The funding crisis in our primary schools

This is a letter I have sent to Justine Greening, MP, Secretary of State for Education, and several other local MPs.

Dear Ms. Greening,

I am writing to urge you to address the funding crisis in our Primary schools, including the Primary school in Birmingham which my child attends.

The crisis has been created by Government policy to freeze Primary School funding, which no longer rises with inflation; by the reduction in funding for Primary Schools located in cities; by increased liabilities for staff pensions; by the new responsibility to pay the Apprenticeship Levy; and by the reduction in funding for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

As a result, class sizes are increasing, and the number of teachers and teaching assistants is falling, as is the availability of extra-curricular activities. This dramatically reduces the ability of Primary Schools to address the specific learning needs of individual children, whatever those needs may be.

Most worryingly, these cuts are taking place at arguably the most important time to invest in Primary education for more than a Century:

  • The unprecedented decision for the UK to leave the European Union demands that our future economy is driven by a more productive, more creative, more highly-skilled workforce to compensate for the likely increase in tariffs and barriers to trade and investment in one of our largest export markets. The Government has recognised this challenge in part in its recent announcement of new “Institutes of Technology” and other measures to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills in the UK workforce. But how effective will those Institutes be if the Primary Schools that prepare our children to attend them cannot afford to buy computers to teach the digital skills that will be vital to future productivity? And how can we enable Primary Schools to better equip our children with the creative, social, artistic, business and entrepreneurial skills that are equally important?
  • Regardless of the UK’s relationship with the European Union, our economy faces the same competitive pressure around the world to provide a highly-skilled workforce, as emerging economies offer increasingly skilled, cost-effective resources to the global marketplace.
  • The increase in inflation caused by the devaluation of Sterling following the vote to leave the European Union will further stretch frozen school budgets which are already shrinking in real terms.
  • Many economists believe that the global economy is undergoing a decades-long “Information Revolution”, driven by advances in digital technology, that will cause a transformation of our society and economy at least as significant as the Industrial Revolution. Recent work by the Universities of Oxford and New York, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and by the management consultancy McKinsey, amongst others, has predicted that up to half of the activities that make up the jobs that people are currently employed to do could be taken over by computing technology within the next three decades. For example, many thousands of professional drivers in the UK will lose their jobs to autonomous vehicles.In this context, the task of our Primary Schools is to prepare our children to possess skills and to seek jobs in 20 years’ time that we cannot currently imagine. The magnitude of that challenge surely demands that we prioritise significant increases to their funding and resources.

Our Primary Schools are simply not being given the resources to address this once-in-a-Century challenge that we – or more accurately our very young children – face.

I cannot imagine anything more important than investing in our children’s ability to make a success of their future. Our government is failing us in the most important way possible – undermining the future livelihood of our children – by continuing its current policy of reducing that investment.

I urge you to do everything you can to persuade Theresa May and the Conservative Government to address this grave mistake, and to convince them instead to dramatically improve the funding of Primary Schools throughout the country.

Links are provided below to evidence supporting my statements in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Rick Robinson FBCS CITP FRSA

“School Budgets Near Breaking Point, Say Head Teachers”, BBC News:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38698477

“Theresa May Gives Details of Action Plan for British Industry”, BBC News:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38713327

“Brexit: Inflation Set to Rise as UK Economy Faces Slowdown”, The Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-inflation-prices-cost-of-living-uk-economy-slowdowm-sterling-a7365066.html

“Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works”, McKinsey:

http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/digital-disruption/harnessing-automation-for-a-future-that-works

“The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?”, University of Oxford:

http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

“Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy”, New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2014-06-04/new-world-order

 

 

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