The news this week that Budmouth and All Saints School have both been ranked as inadequate, is deeply worrying for pupils and their parents who attend or plan to attend these schools, and dispiriting for the teachers and our wider community.
There is not now a secondary school ranked as good anywhere in Weymouth and Portland. But changes to the way schools are judged, funded and supported has meant that this news is no surprise.
Pupils’ progress in Weymouth and Portland, with some of the most deprived wards in the country, is compared with pupils from affluent regions where more parents will be able to pay for private tutors and to make larger financial contributions to schools.
Financial pressures on schools compound this. In 2016, to reduce central government spending, the cost of national insurance contributions was transferred onto school budgets, increasing the cost of each teacher by an estimated 5%. And massive cuts to local authority children’s services means that children from troubled families are bringing more of their problems to school, leading to an increase in seriously disruptive behaviour that teachers now have to deal with.
Cuts in Government spending are having far reaching consequences in education and children in our schools now seem to be paying the price of these policies. All our children deserve to attend good schools but these don’t come by piling more work onto teachers; work traditionally done by local authorities and social services. And funding for our schools needs to reflect the challenges of the local economy.
If anything is failing it’s not the work of committed teachers and support staff in our schools but government education policy.