Proof, if any was needed, that Michael Gove, Education Secretary (above) is using education funding as a way of furthering his ideological agenda. The Guardian has trawled through government data about public spending and has found that, comparing the first year of the Coalition Government (2010-11) to the second (2011-12), the overall education budget reduced in real terms by 5.7%. However, disproportionately, school infrastructure spending reduced by 81% (the continuing effect of Gove cancelling Labour’s ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme), and the children, young people and families budget was reduced by 17%, reflecting the curbs on Labour’s ‘Sure Start’ programe. Nonetheless, the academies budget increased by 191% to £5.3 billion (see earlier post).
We now have schools receiving loads of dosh if they become academies – you’ll see them putting up for example a new ‘Expressive Arts Block’ as I saw in Rugby recently, whilst those who don’t take the bribe languish in ever-deteriorationg buildings. In September, the TES surveyed 2000 teachers and 20% thought their classrooms were unsuitable for good teaching and two-thirds said their school’s infrastructure was outdated.
Back in May, the Observer surveyed headteachers and 40% said their school buildings were not fit for purpose.
In July the DfE launched ‘Priority School Building’ for the most desperate examples but any work that does take place must conform to strict austerity guidelines: smaller corridors, cheaper materials, no curves, no glazed areas and no atriums.
Do our children deserve to be taught in decent buildings? Do our teachers deserve to work in decent conditions that are conducive to good teaching? There is now a real and stark divide in this country between those who ‘made the cut’ and got their new buildings before the rug was pulled (see example, left), or who have since taken the academy route, and the rest. Mr Gove and his friend Sir Michael Wilshaw at OFSTED, are keen on talking about the quality of education children deserve and, obviously, a state-of-the-art new building isn’t everything. But it helps.