Schools struggle as every penny is made to count

Schools struggle as every penny is made to count

Head teachers who are warning that the school system could implode under swingeing budget cuts are painting a very bleak picture for the 24,000 state schools in England.

The National Audit Office reports schools will face cuts of 8% by 2019 / 2020 as Head teachers face a plethora of increasing costs, including:

– higher contributions to national insurance and teachers’ pensions;

– the introduction of the ‘national living wage’;

– pay rises;

– the apprenticeship levy.

To add salt to the wound, the education services grant, worth £600m, is also being cut, meaning there will be less money for local authorities and academies to provide services such as school improvement.

While heads nervously await proposals for a new funding formula, they face the twin crises of increased costs and a lack of new staff. Heads from West Sussex recently took action, writing to MPs warning that the school funding shake-up had failed to tackle ‘extremely bleak budget shortfalls.’ Their letters reportedly challenged their local MPs to say how they should cut spending – whether they should lay off teaching staff, reduce school hours or close counselling services.

Separately, an alliance of six unions representing school staff have published a ‘league table’ of England’s 533 parliamentary constituencies, showing that schools in each one stand to lose out. The six unions, including the National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Association of Head Teachers, Unison, Unite and GMB, say this amounts to an average loss of £339 for every primary pupil and £477 for every secondary pupil.

The have highlighted a number of losses, which include:

– £655 per pupil in Education Secretary Justine Greening’s Putney constituency, with the worst-hit school losing £834 per pupil

– £377 per pupil in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency, with the worst hit school losing £872 per pupil.

Now, more than ever before, it is important that schools make sure that what they are paying for absence cover is money well spent. And in a supply agency marketplace that has an unenviably poor reputation for quality of service and value for money, finding good value, quality absence cover is not easy.

It is a problem that Connex Education is addressing head on, and schools are starting to take note of the agency which is determined to turn the industry on its head. An 18-month programme of restructuring and remodelling the business has resulted in an agency which has put it on record that it will put its schools – and not profit – first.

The new-look Connex Education promises:

– Excellent, committed staff who have passed rigorous safeguarding and quality checks

– staff who have special training in SEN, Team-Teach etc…

– a personal service from a development manager who knows the school and what they need, (so no call centre on the other end of the phone)

– targeted candidate choices for vacancies (emphatically NOT the ‘get any backside on the seat’ approach of many other agencies)

– creative, money-saving solutions to covering absence (our development managers often suggest an excellent (and cheaper) cover supervisor as an appropriate option

– industry-leading apps so bookings can be made and accepted round the clock

– a wide range of free accredited training made available to schools for their staff and pupils

– all supply and office staff with up-to-the-minute Ofsted-approved safeguarding training

– annual rebate cheques for regular users, including enhanced rebates for schools which work in clusters.

And we treat our staff with the same care – all are paid PAYE, and are entitled to a wide range of employee benefits.

All this means that Connex is rapidly gaining a reputation for being the service-led, intelligent, and savvy agency whose USP is its absolute commitment to offering the best possible value for its schools’ money, and the best treatment for its staff.

If you would like to learn more, call: 0845 266 0650. A distinctly un-pushy development manager will take whatever time you need to identify how we can best support your school, save it money and add value to the money which has to be spent on cover.

If you HAVE to use dwindling budgets on cover, we will make sure that every penny spent will count, and working with us will be an addition to the school, not a drain.

If you would like to find out more about the recent developments over school funding, more information can be found here:

Guardian – Education Crisis

BBC news Education

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