Sorry, the cash just isn't there

11th March 2005 at 00:00
I see that Stephen Twigg has suggested there is sufficient money to help fund the new teaching and learning allowances.

Er, no Stephen. We have already had to allocate all of the "extra" planning, preparation and assessment time and Headroom money to our PPA time since, as with most schools, we feel teachers should teach our primary pupils. And most of the much-trumpeted 5 to 6 per cent will go on statutory pay rises for staff. Not much left.

I despair of a government that believes the general funding has improved.

In terms of hard cash, in a local education authority where the standard spending assessment (SSA) does it no favours, we have looked down the barrel of deficit budgets again and again - this despite key stage 2 class sizes averaging the mid-30s.

I am angered by those in high places who tell heads to stop whingeing. I am more than angered by those in the National Remodelling Team who suggest we might raise cash by such wheezes as getting a better deal on school photographs. And I am incandescent with fury at those who suggest we should think afresh about how we organise our staffing or finance. What do they think we do when we decide on our spending plans at budget-setting meetings, and when we meet with our governors?

It has been said that schools inhabit a secret garden and they need to join the real world. I know there are headteacher colleagues by the thousand who share my belief that it is those at Whitehall and Westminster who inhabit the secret garden. We battle with the reality of inadequate funding every day.

Might I suggest that Ruth Kelly, or Stephen Twigg, actually sits down in real schools, in an authority that is not advantaged by the SSA, and looks at real budgets, involving real people and real costs.

I suggest they start with the primary schools, where the funding per pupil, especially at key stage 2, is the lowest. This is the real world.

Tony Laycock

Primary head in South Yorkshire

95 Bannercross Road


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