On those vile cuts to the education budget

Our Man:

In other words, to achieve this goal is equivalent to increasing the school starting age to 11. That’s ludicrous.

But even more absurd is he idea that the teachers and teaching assistants who lose their jobs will have to then sit on the dole watching the children of this country go uneducated when there is nothing at all – I stress no reason whatsoever – why hey should not enjoy the education they deserve.

He\’s taken his data from this FT piece:

Under Labour, education became one of the fastest rising budgets in Whitehall. The budget has almost quadrupled since 2004, paying for a big expansion of teachers and the creation of teaching assistants.

A 25% cut in the current planned expenditure would mean that the budget would only be 3 times, rather than four times, what it was in 2004.

Now I\’m not a great fan of the current education system, this is true, nor of the one we had those 6 years ago to be honest.

But I am fairly sure that in 2004 kiddies still went to school around their fifth birthday, not their eleventh. So I\’m pretty sure that with three times the budget they\’d still be able to make plasticine snakes at 5 rather than 11.

Now there is an important point here, over and above the raggin\’onRitchie.

Whine about \”the cuts\” all you like: I\’ll start taking such whining seriously when y\’all start comparing the post cuts levels of spending to to the pre-spluge levels. Not only compare them to the levels left by the drunken sailor from Fife.

Actually, perhaps there\’s someone with greater data retrieval and charting skills than myself (shouldn\’t be tough).

Can we have a graph which shows spending levels from 97 to 2000 say, simply upgraded for inflation, through to 1012/3 or so? And on that same chart, see spending levels as they actually were and are planned to be after the cuts?

I don\’t actually know but I strongly suspect that….we\’ll find that planned expenditures for a couple of years ahead are pretty much on that straight line and actual expenditures will show a huge ballooning over it and then he cuts bringing it back down to the straight line.

In fact, here\’s a little start.

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Note that this is real terms, adjusted for inflation to 2005-2006 levels.

The current proposals are that we chop something like £100 billion off that. Ignoring inflation from 2006 to today that means we\’re trying to get spending back down to about, umm, 2005 levels.

We\’re not, in fact, trying to have a bonfire of public services. We\’re just trying to reverse the past five years of drunken sailoring.

8 thoughts on “On those vile cuts to the education budget”

  1. “But even more absurd is he idea that the teachers and teaching assistants ”

    What I find hard to understand is why are our standards of education lower now than when there were no teaching assistants?

  2. In my experience the majority of people make use of the reading, writing and arithmetic learned at school, and forget the rest. Lorry drivers, shop assistants, waitresses, cleaners, delivery men, etc. need nothing else- at least nothing taught in school. Many of these acquire other skills after school, once the need becomes apparent to them. Even those with “degree level” jobs employ very little of the knowledge formally taught, they merely use their degree as a credential (currently being devalued as it becomes more common) to gain access to a higher position, and progressively lose all the knowledge that they don’t use.
    It is commonly asserted that education teaches people how to think. This can be true in the best institutions- but far too often this means teaching people to agree with the teacher- and failing those who don’t.
    I therefor have serious doubts that education as presently practiced provides anything like value for money. We waste people’s time forcing them to attend classes in which they have no form of interest, and from which they retain nothing, and thereby force them to delay independent life for years- at the expense of the general population as well as them.
    Further, degrees are demanded for jobs not requiring the knowledge- for example, however wonderful it may be to be able to analyse Shakespeare I fail to see how this helps in teaching a five year old to count, yet an English degree gets you a job as a primary school teacher.
    It is at the same time an obvious example of producer capture- caused by the fact that everyone making decisions on education has been briefed by the education profession, and ignorance of the fact that whilst you can lead a horse to water you cannot make it drink. It is a massive bubble waiting to burst.
    The solution seems to be two part. Firstly introduce a full voucher scheme so that parents chose the school they like- yes some will get it wrong, but does anyone claim that every school today is perfect? Secondly substitute a school leaving exam for the school leaving age- the exam to be in English and maths only and arranged so that 90% of (say) fifteen year olds pass every year (though it can be taken at any age). The unused vouchers can then be exchanged for cash. This will result in improved English and Maths for the majority, as everyone has an incentive to achieve, those who want further education and those who want to get out and those who are simply poor. There will be far fewer unwilling pupils in schools, which will improve standards elsewhere. And we’ll find out how much education is really useful and how much not.
    Those who don’t/can’t make use of education will neither pay so much for it, nor forgo wages, nor cost the rest a fortune.

  3. To me it is not just reading and writing, but critical reasoning and the ability to express logical argument.

    Once you can do that, once you can see through lies, well, we can see that certain ideologies really don’t like “the masses” having such skills.

    With those skills one can learn an awful lot and discard alot more.

  4. As a parent of five children and step-children, I can only say that, IMHO, the standard of education I received is superior to theirs, especially in secondary, a sad case of affairs.

    A few months back we had to see our youngest’s teachers, yes, that’s plural, two teachers for 30 children, not part time either. Most primary classes have one or more “special needs”, that’s gets them an “assistant” (read: teacher). My older son’s previous school had two and a half teachers at one point, because of some poor lass in a wheelchair.

    Amazing, that you can’t even improve education beyond 1970s levels with double the teachers and three-quarters the class size. Somehow I don’t think improvement is anything to do with money.

  5. The Last Ginslinger

    I’m afraid that if the bulk of Teaching Assistants were abducted by aliens it would be a while before anybody noticed. Essentially, TA’s are used as cheap cover for absent teachers in addition to their , frankly, limited utility in the classroom. The very best are truly excellent in assiting but others (and I include several teachers of my aquaintance in this group) are, frankly, a waste of space. It does not help that with some pupils we provide a day care service until they finally get a custodial sentence (I have the scars to back that one up too!) Teaching today is not what it was, there are good teachers but up to half a lesson can be taken up getting the pupils to sit down/get back into the room/amputate their [email protected]%dy mobile phone etc. There are also the teachers who could not plan or deliver a lesson if their lives depended upon it as well but getting these to move on and make way for people willing to teach and know their subject will be a long job.

  6. Have you heard of a guy called Chris Christie? He is the gov. of New Jersey and had to implement lots of cuts, one being the teacher’s union’s gravy train season tickets.

    Enjoy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw0aBkt8CPA&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdEIhJ5jkOw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICIa-KJeUtM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Evtt-R7Rmdw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0iAS2PFE3I&feature=related

    He also has his own channel on Youtube.

  7. My experience of teaching assistants is limited to the one I meet every week at the pub quiz I go to. She has a evening job at the pub and reads out the questions. I say reads the questions, but that would be stretching the meaning of the word ‘reads’. She has to ask someone to help her with the pronunciation of any slightly complex words/names. Often she missreads one word for another completely different one.

    I pity her pupils.

  8. Ian wrote: “As a parent of five children and step-children, I can only say that, IMHO, the standard of education I received is superior to theirs, especially in secondary, a sad case of affairs.”

    That is sad. It could be true in Britain, though it is not so where I live (Finland). I have three children, now teenagers, and based on what I see, I am convinced that the education they get at school is vastly better in many ways, compared to what I had 30 years earlier:

    – the language lessons have less emphasis on grammar and teach more practical language
    – the working methods are about teaching pupils to find information, and process and analyse it, instead of just learning things by heart
    – the discipline is based more on psychological understanding than Prussian military tradition
    – bullying is recognized more easily and not tolerated at all

    But overall, I think the problems in Britain are not really problems of the school as such; it is more about dysfunctional families, inherited welfare dependency and chav culture, etc. These things are not originated in school, and schools cannot do very much to fix them.

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