“English secondary schools ‘facing perfect storm of pressures’ “

Head teachers are not known for hysteria, so this is serious.

Secondary schools in England are facing a “perfect storm” of pressures that could have severe consequences for children, headteachers have said.

Budget cuts, changes to exams, problems recruiting teachers and Brexit are causing major upheaval, according to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

The union is also expected to argue against government proposals to expand grammar schools at its annual conference this weekend.

Speaking ahead of the Telford meeting, the NAHT general secretary, Russell Hobby, said: “The combination of challenges facing secondary schools and their students has never been greater.

“Many school leaders are concerned about maintaining high standards in the face of simultaneous upheaval on so many fronts. It’s a perfect storm. The government is loading more uncertainty onto the secondary system than ever before. There is a real risk it will break.”

Hobby repeated warnings that schools are facing “unacceptable levels of financial pressure”, with an NAHT survey showing that 72% of headteachers believe that school budgets will be unsustainable in two years’ time.
“This is a result of the government’s choice to freeze spending and keep it at 2010 levels for each pupil. The 2010 cash isn’t going as far as it used to. You can’t expect it to. But the government is flatly refusing to admit the reality.”

Ministers have argued that school funding is at record levels, and that this will increase further as pupil numbers rise. The outgoing NAHT president, Kim Johnson, attacked suggestions that schools need to make efficiency savings.

“It’s quite insulting to have ministers say to you: ‘You need to renegotiate your photocopying contract, perhaps think about the paper you’re getting in, club together with six other schools and you’ll get it cheaper.’”

Schools are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain staff, the NAHT said, particularly in key subjects such as maths, science and languages.

“Year after year, the government has missed its own targets for teacher recruitment,” Hobby said. “Thirty per cent of new teachers leave the profession after five years.

“NAHT’s own research shows school leaders have struggled or failed to recruit in eight out of 10 cases this year. Recruitment has never been more challenging.”

Schools are also dealing with exam changes this summer, including a new GCSE grading system. There are also concerns about a government expectation that 90% of pupils will study English Baccalaureate subjects – English, maths, science, history or geography and a language – narrowing the curriculum, the NAHT said, and uncertainty about how Brexit will affect the thousands of EU nationals who work in schools.

The NAHT’s motion on selective schools says the union should “campaign vigorously to reject the proposed expansion of selection” in the absence of “any compelling evidence that it promotes social mobility”.

Theresa May has said the policy will help to create a place at a good school for every child and argued that many children’s school choices are determined by where they live or their parents’ wealth.”


A new senior citizen care plan for the NHS?

Owl takes no credit for this – the post is one from the United States that has gone viral! Owl, of course, does not advocate some of the suggested actions which appeal far more to America where guns are sacred.

Social Care: Plan G

If you are an older senior citizen and can no longer take care of yourself and need Long-Term Care, but the government says there is no Nursing Home Care available for you, what do you do? You may opt for Medicare Part G:

The plan gives anyone 75 or older a gun (Part G) and one bullet. You may then shoot one worthless politician. [Owl does not support this, of course]

This means you will be sent to prison for the rest of your life where you will receive three meals a day, a roof over your head, central heating and air conditioning, cable TV, a library, and all the health care you need. Need new teeth? No problem. Need glasses? That’s great. Need a hearing aid, new hip, knees, kidney, lungs, sex change or heart? They are all covered.

As an added bonus your kids can come and visit you at least as often as they do now.

And who will be paying for all this? The same government that just told you they can’t afford for you to go into a nursing home.

And you will get rid of a useless politician while you are at it. And now, because you are a prisioner, you don’t have to pay any more income taxes.

Is this a great country or what?

Now that you have solved your Long-Term Care problem, enjoy the rest of your week.”

Election irony

Does anyone else find it ironic that Tory candidates are saying that they will “fight for” local hospitals, fairer funding for schools and our precious environment when it is THEIR party that brought the CCG’s that are already cutting beds by stealth, the unfair school funding and which wants to loosen environmental regulations as soon as possible to enable more building on green fields and who are trying to stop frightening air pollution figures being published?

The Tory battle cry seems to be:

“What do we want?”
“No bed cuts, fairer funding for schools and a healthy environment!”
“When do we want it?”
“Er, whenever Mrs May says we can have it, pretty please?”
“When will it be?
“Brexit means Brexit!”

Have fun with that one – and if you vote for the Tories in Devon just hope you, your children and grandchildren can afford a private education and health care and never need to go to an NHS A and E or GP – or breathe the air in our towns, cities and countryside – tall order!

We need a credible opposition at DCC to fight for us. Claire Wright has done a magnificent job fighting for our schools, our hospitals and our environment at DCC – but could do even more with an army of like-minded councillors alongside her whose battle cry would be:

“What do we want?”
“Our fair share in a clean, green Devon”
“When do we want it?”
“When our voters empower us to get it”
“When will it be”?
“When you vote Independent on 4 May!”