“School In Theresa May’s Constituency Asks Parents To Donate Toilet Paper And Stationery”

“A school in Theresa May’s constituency has asked parents for donations of essential items such as toilet roll, stationery and blue tac.

St Edmund Campion Catholic Primary School in Maidenhead, Berkshire, sent parents an email including a link to an Amazon wish list on Monday detailing items they could buy to help its 420 pupils.

Catherine del Campo, whose 10-year-old daughter attends the school, told HuffPost UK she was “extremely concerned” to receive the email. “I felt that if this is happening to our school it must be happening elsewhere,” she said.

The mum has already donated toilet paper and plasters to the school and says other parents have also been “incredibly supportive”. “I haven’t heard a single parent blaming the school, although I’m aware others have questioned the school’s role in this,” she said.

Young people stuck in low-paid, insecure jobs

And that’s why “great employment figures” are not to be trusted.

“… The number of 21- to 30-year-olds working in precarious, often low-paid work has exploded, according to the report. In that 20-year period, numbers of young people working in private social care has increased by 104%, while in hotels and restaurants the figure is 80%. The generational pay gap has increased in real terms from £3,140 in 1998 to £5,884 in 2017 for someone working a 40-hour week. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/04/growing-gulf-between-pay-of-younger-and-older-people-says-tuc

OFSTED too poor to inspect failing schools adequately

“The schools watchdog has failed to hit targets while suffering “constants cuts” to its budget for more than a decade, the National Audit Office has said.

The full spend on inspecting the schools sector in 2017-18 has fallen in real terms by 52% compared to 1999-2000 – from £125m to £60m, the public spending watchdog highlighted in a report released yesterday.

Ofsted had failed to meet its statutory target to re-inspect schools graded ‘inadequate’ in 6% (78) of cases between 2012-13 and 2016-17.

It also did not meet its statutory target to re-inspect schools within five years in 43 cases between 2012-13 and 2016-17, mainly due to it categorising 32 schools as new when they were expanded or amalgamated, the NAO publication showed.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The fact that Ofsted has been subject to constant cuts over more than a decade, and regular shifts in focus, speaks volumes.

“The department [for education] needs to be mindful that cheaper inspection is not necessarily better inspection. ”

He added: “To demonstrate its commitment, the department needs a clear vision for school inspection and to resource it accordingly.”

Cuts have occurred while Ofsted has been handed new responsibilities, including evaluating children’s social care, early years and childcare, the public spending watchdog noted.

The NAO highlighted a high level of turnover- 19% in 2017/18 – of HM Inspectors, who cited workload pressures as a key reason for leaving.

A lack of inspectors has meant that Ofsted has “found it difficult to meet inspection targets,” according to the NAO report.

Under current legislation, schools graded as ‘outstanding’ are exempt from routine re-inspection, meaning that at August 2017 1,620 schools had not been inspected for six years or more.

Of these, 296 schools had not been inspected for ten years or more.

The NAO estimated the cost of inspection per school in 2017-18 was £7,200.

Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s chief inspector, said: “Like much of the public sector, we are operating in a difficult financial climate.

“We have had to make tough decisions about how we prioritise resources. I am confident that Ofsted gets the balance right.”

She added: “The NAO’s conclusion that we cannot prove the value for money we represent is explicitly not the same as demonstrating that we do not provide value.”

In 2017-18, Ofsted spent £44m on inspecting state-funded schools. ”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/05/schools-watchdog-under-funding-pressure-struggles-hit-targets

“Food, clothes, a mattress and three funerals. What teachers buy for children”

“.. . In 2014 Gemma Morton, the headteacher of a large secondary school, told Education Guardian her school had helped to pay for the funeral of a student whose family couldn’t afford it, even after they had sold their car. Three years on, she has helped to pay for two more funerals. “When a child dies, nobody’s saved for it,” says Morton. “There is literally nowhere for families to go apart from the people they already know, and most of them are poverty-struck too.” 

… At Gill Williams’s primary school in the north-west of England, local supermarkets deliver bread and fresh vegetables three times a week, which are placed in the playground for parents to help themselves. There is rarely a crumb left. …

… Georgia Easton, a secondary teacher, always carries a few pounds in her pocket for children who have “forgotten” their dinner money. “It’s heartbreaking,” she says. “Kids saying ‘I had one slice of toast for tea.’” She estimates she spends about £10 a week of her own money on food and other shopping for needy pupils. That’s £380 per year. Gemma Kay, a food science teacher, spends much the same. “You hear kids talking about how in the holidays their parents are going to the food bank because they relied on free school meals in the week. It’s just very sad,” she says. “With changes to benefits, you’d know parents were on less money.” …

… Williams asked her leadership team to compile a list of the school’s recent expenditure on personal items for students and their families. It included school shoes, bus passes, uniform when the pupil welfare department said a child didn’t meet their criteria; a pregnancy test for a mother who arrived at school in turmoil; an entire food shop after a home visit when it was apparent there was nothing to eat in the house; a mattress for a child sleeping on a sofa; and a bedroom carpet when social services said bare floorboards were acceptable.

… Her school has put aside a sliver of budget, known as the social inclusion fund, for crisis situations, which has to be repaid. The fund has helped to guarantee a child’s physical safety during a criminal trial, when the family felt in danger: Williams paid for a week’s rental on a caravan out of the area.

… She also used the fund to install a safety gate in a family’s house after first trying and failing to fit it herself. “The children were unsafe without one and I couldn’t leave them another night in the space.”

… She observes pointedly that the local authority was unable to help. Thresholds of need for support by social services departments have increased and emergency grant and loan funds have been cut.

“There was mum with two teenage boys who’d been made homeless and put into one room,” says Easton. “I took them to Asda and got new shirts, trousers and shoes. It came out of staff pockets because much as school wanted to pay, it couldn’t.”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/may/01/teachers-buy-children-food-clothes-mattress-funerals-child-poverty

“Free” schools – anything but free!

“The government’s free schools policy has come under renewed fire after it emerged that another of its studio schools, set up using millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, is to close this summer after a brief, troubled existence.

Plymouth studio school will be the 19th of its kind to shut its doors to pupils since the policy was introduced in 2010, at

an estimated collective cost of £48.3m

according to the National Education Union (NEU).

This week it also emerged that Isle of Wight studio school, which opened four years ago, will close in the summer of 2019 due to lack of demand.

The NEU says the latest closures bring the total to 66 new schools launched under the government’s flagship free schools policy that have either closed, partially closed or failed to open at all, at an estimated cost of almost

£150m

in startup costs and capital funding. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/25/free-schools-policy-under-fire-as-yet-another-closure-announced-plymouth

“Funding for poorest children used to plug school budgets, say teachers”

“Schools are cutting back on staff, IT, equipment and day trips while funding for the UK’s poorest children is being used to plug budgets, teachers have claimed.

More than a fifth of teachers and school leaders believe pupil premium cash – the money aimed at the most deprived youngsters – is instead being used to make ends meet, a poll by the National Foundation for Educational Research found.

Almost half told the study that academisation – removing schools from local authority control – had a negative impact on the classroom, or no no impact at all.

The findings come amid widespread concerns from teachers, unions and parents about a squeeze on school budgets in England, though ministers have insisted more money is going to schools.

The survey of 1,246 primary and secondary teachers and senior leaders, working in English state schools, found that 22% said money from the pupil premium – extra funding to support the most disadvantaged youngsters – is being used to plug gaps elsewhere in their school’s budget.

Just over a third (36%) said this was not happening and the rest did not know.

Among the senior leaders polled, 34% said pupil premium funding was being used elsewhere, with 57% saying no.

Those surveyed by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) were asked whether their school was cutting back on certain areas for financial reasons.

Some 63% said their school was cutting back on teaching assistants, making it the most popular answer, with 50% saying there had been cuts to support staff, and 39% saying teaching staff.

In addition, 44% said trips and outings had been cut back and 41% said there had been cuts to IT equipment.

The survey was commissioned by the Sutton Trust ahead of its education summit in New York. …”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/funding-for-poorest-children-used-to-plug-schools-budget-say-teachers_uk_5ad7c36be4b03c426dab01f8

“Academy trust has failed Devon’s most vulnerable pupils”

Owl says: Academies: they were supposed to be BETTER than local authority schools because they were free from the financial constraints and poorer management of local authorities they would raise standards (while making pots of money for the private companies running them!!! Right!

Transpose to the NHS and hospitals and you can see where this is leading …

“A multi-academy trust in Devon which was commissioned to support children who are unable to attend mainstream school is being replaced due to serious failings.

Devon’s alternative education provision (AP) has been running as a sponsored academy by SchoolsCompany who this week have apologised to parents for its financial mismanagement and not providing a high quality of education.

The SchoolsCompany currently run three AP academies in Devon – Central Devon Academy in Exeter, North Devon Academy in Barnstaple, and South and West Devon Academy in Dartington.

AP includes pupil referral units and education for children with medical needs or who are in care.

As a result of its failings, it has closed Tavistock Youth Café, a community-based model of education provision for children who are out of school.

The decision was based on concerns over the quality of education being provided, and health and safety.

At the beginning of the year North Devon Academy pupil referral unit was placed into special measures after a damning Ofsted report deemed it to be “inadequate” across the board.

In October 2017, a monitoring Ofsted inspection report following a visit to Central Devon Academy concluded safeguarding is not effective.

The academy was formed in March 2015, replacing the Devon County Council Pupil Referral Unit.

South and West Devon Academy in Dartington was last inspected in July 2014 and was rated good. At that time it was seeking to become a sponsored academy.

SchoolsCompany has already come under scrutiny this year following revelations of financial mismanagement of its other academy in Kent.

In February it apologised to its pupils and parents after admitting “unacceptable failures of financial management”.

The educational consultancy, school management and training company describes itself as being dedicated to improving services for children, but has now had to issue another apology this week.

A spokesperson for SchoolsCompany said: “The academies in Devon have fallen short of the high standards that young people should expect and there have been shortcomings in the trust’s overall financial management.

“We would like to apologise to our students and their parents. Young people deserve the very best education.”

At the beginning of the year the trust’s chief executive Elias Achilleos was suspended and replaced by an interim, Angela Barry.

In Devon, a short-term service level agreement has been made for Plymouth-based ACE Schools Multi Academy Trust to step in and have identified actions to address the current shortcomings.

It has not been confirmed who will take over as new sponsors of Devon’s AP.

A spokesperson for SchoolsCompany continued: “We agree with the respective Regional Schools Commissioners that new academy trusts should be identified as prospective sponsors to take over the trust’s four schools in Devon and Kent.

“These strong trusts will provide the expertise and stability needed to run the academies successfully. No decisions have been taken as to who these new sponsors will be.”

Concerns have raised by the impact the trust’s failings are having on Devon’s most vulnerable pupils.

An education worker, who asked not to be named said: “Huge amounts of Devon County Council funding have gone into the contract, along with central government funding via the Education and Schools Funding Agency.

“In the meantime all sorts of injustices are being meted out to the most vulnerable young people in the county and closure of provision in some localities.

“SchoolsCompany were already a failed company before Devon took them on. Their reputation in Kent, for example, is associated with the failure of a number of schools in an academy group.

“The very sad thing is Devon was one of the first counties to commission the education provision for its most vulnerable children in this sponsored academy way. That’s the greatest tragedy.

““The county took a massive risk but they were also under a lot of pressure from the Department for Education to make their local authority education provision over to sponsored academies.”

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “The three academies are overseen by the Regional Schools Commissioner on behalf of the Government and are not Devon County Council schools.

“However, these academies serve vulnerable Devon children and we have been having continuing discussions with the RSC and the provider about improving the quality of education and care for these pupils.

“The Plymouth-based ACE academy trust is now working with SchoolsCompany and we are regularly meeting with them to monitor the situation and to ensure the needs of these vulnerable pupils are met.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/academy-trust-failed-devons-most-1425284