Mike Haslin, Chief Executive Officer at TUCO, The University Caterers Organisation, discusses how to achieve value for money in these unpredictable times
A call for more IT resources
The British Educational Suppliers Association has launched a campaign to highlight the impact of the sharp drop in resources expenditure in UK schools over the past two years, with IT resources hit the hardest
Procurement research published by BESA shows that primary schools are spending 3.7 per cent less on resources than last year, and secondary schools are spending 5.7 per cent less. ICT in secondary schools is being hit the hardest, with a year-on-year decline in expenditure of 7.5 per cent.
The research, undertaken with a representative sample of 906 school leaders by the National Education Research Panel (NERP), reveals that 53 per cent of primary schools and 52 per cent of secondary schools say their school isn’t adequately funded to provide a suitable teaching and learning environment. Looking ahead to the next year, 79 per cent of primary leaders and 92 per cent of secondary leaders say they are not optimistic about funding for their schools.
Whilst the current conservative government maintains spending in schools is at record levels, most, if not all of schools are feeling the pressure of tightening purse strings.
In response to this, the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) has launched a campaign to highlight the impact of the sharp drop in resources expenditure.
The ‘Resource Our Schools’ campaign has already attracted support from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and numerous subject associations.
It is intended to highlight the importance of ensuring that every school has access to the resources they need to deliver the education that our children deserve. Schools, parents, suppliers and general election candidates alike are encouraged to sign up to the Resource Our Schools statement in the run up to the election, with the signatures presented to the next Secretary of State for Education when the new government is in place.
Announcing the launch of the campaign, Caroline Wright, Director General of BESA, said: “It is vital that pupils have access to high quality classroom resources. The unprecedented and continued pressure on school budgets over recent years is now having a real and lasting damaging impact on the quality of our children’s education. Politicians must act to stop the cuts now.”
Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, said: “Schools are currently being expected to make £3bn of savings by 2020. These reductions put the stability of the whole education system at risk. NAHT’s Breaking Point Survey from January 2017 revealed that eight out of ten school leaders are cutting back on equipment in order to balance their budgets.
Six out of ten are cutting back on the hours worked by support staff. Support staff are crucial to making sure that all pupils in the class can participate fully in practical subjects like science and technology. Any future government needs to commit to fund education fully and fairly, reversing the £3bn real terms cuts that schools are facing.”
Alan Kinder, Chief Executive, Geographical Association, said: “To introduce children and young people to the amazing variety and complexity of their ever-changing world, teachers need curriculum materials of the highest quality. At the same time, teachers themselves need professional guidance to develop their expertise. If the resources in our schools and classrooms do not match the excellence of our teachers and young people, we do them a great disservice.”
NORTH OF THE BORDER
Meanwhile in Scotland, a recent conference by union NASUWT revealed that ICT provision in Scottish schools is failing teachers and pupils. It was highlighted how IT systems and equipment in schools are not fit for purpose and must be “urgently upgraded to cope with the demands of the curriculum”.
Teachers at the conference have called on the Scottish government to “commit to making adequate finances available to ensure all schools have effective and up to date ICT systems for pupils and staff.”
Representatives discussed the problems with current ICT infrastructure in their schools, including outdated software, poor internet connections, lack of or ageing hardware and unacceptably limited capacity on computer networks, meaning multiple pupils cannot use school computers at the same time.
Chris Keates, the union’s general secretary, said: “It is clear that current ICT systems in many schools are not fit for purpose and significant investment is required to ensure that they meet the needs of 21st Century education provision.
“It is also clear that there are inequalities between schools in terms of the quality and quantity of ICT hardware and software. This must be addressed to ensure all schools have high-quality equipment to aid pupils’ learning.”