Frances Ryan and numbers again

In an era of nationwide school funding cuts, the story of Frederick Bremer is perhaps the ultimate snapshot of the cuts agenda’s unthinking destruction. Watch a few minutes of this comprehensive onscreen, and it’s clear that it is the type of school any politician would praise: 900 enthusiastic kids, staff going the extra mile, even a dedicated special needs hub. But regardless, it is pushed to the brink. A cocktail of cuts, pension changes and inflation rises means by 2020 the school is facing a budget reduction of around £800,000 in real terms. That’s the equivalent of more than 20 teachers.

This would be damaging enough if the school was flush with spare change. But in the words of its headteacher, Jenny Smith, it is already running on “bare bones”. The 44-year-old has run the school for five years, but for the last two she has watched her budget get squeezed.

OK. Now for the other bit:

Primary and secondary school spending per pupil have almost doubled in real terms between 1997–98 and 2015–16.

Winding back a bit of G. Brown’s lashing the cash is austerity, you see?

18 thoughts on “Frances Ryan and numbers again”

  1. The school had 74 teachers, but had to cut numbers to 60. For 900 pupils. Perhaps Guardian readers aren’t good at mental arithmetic, but that makes for 15 pupils per teacher. An enviable ratio in any circumstances, surely?

  2. A cocktail of cuts, pension changes and inflation rises means by 2020 the school is facing a budget reduction of around £800,000 in real terms.

    Ah yes, the old cuts in “real terms”. That’s like me moaning to people that my company cut my pay for no reason, even though I’m paid the same salary, because my ‘leccy bill went up.

  3. But in the words of its headteacher, Jenny Smith, it is already running on “bare bones”.

    Give me a week and I’ll show you that it’s not.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset


    They don’t have full contact time, its not much but the are supposed to get a minimum of 10% preparation time from what I can find.

  5. BiND,
    Sure, teachers aren’t teaching constantly. In a secondary school with 6x60min periods each day, the average teacher will teach four of those periods (20 hours per week). But even applying that 4/6ths factor to the numbers in the article, we still get a generous pupil/teacher ratio of 22.5.

    I suspect JuliaM is closer to the mark: they’ve conflated full and part-time. Also, heads of department teach fewer hours than rank-and-file teachers. Special needs teachers with lower pupil ratios will tilt the average too.

  6. This is why I say the Western State is doomed to crash and burn, mathematically. If a doubling of spending inside 20 years is not considered not capable of funding the services required, then its not sustainable. You can’t repeat that across the entire State sector, time and time again, it would require a doubling in real terms of the tax take as well. And then doubled again, and again. Add in a recession or two that reduces tax revenues and increases spending significantly on transfer payments, and you’ve a recipe for guaranteed disaster.

    At some point the whole edifice is going to come crashing down, and its not going to be pretty. We dodged the bullet in 2008, I think the next one has our name on it.

  7. Does “special needs” mean only what used to be called “mental defectives” or does it include children with physical disabilities such as the deaf or the blind?

    (I can be confident, can’t I, that no “special needs” will be recognised for the unusually bright?)

  8. @Dearieme

    If you have a child, you can ask that it be assessed for special needs by the school.

    The school gets more money for kids who come out of said assessment with a statement saying they have special needs.

    The number of statemented kids has risen lots under this regime.

    I only knew one special needs kid when I was at school in the late 80’s. He was normal for Norfolk, but way below average intelligence on the Isle of Wight (where I was). Make up your own punchline.

    Special needs provision in schools caters to both ends of the spectrum of abilities, but funds have only been attached to the lower end.

    Source- mum was a Special needs teacher, and I went through the ‘good end’ of the provision when I was at school.

  9. Looking at the DfE website, the school has 62.3 full time equivalent teachers. It’s main issue is it’s pupil teacher ratio of 13.7:1 compared to 15.3:1 as a national average. As it is a 11-16 school this does not include smaller sixth form classes so it is clearly overstaffed. The 11-18 school I work at has a ratio of 19:1 to give a comparison

  10. ScienceGuy, are you that rarity, a teacher with (old fashioned meaning) liberal or conservative values?

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    John Square: where were you on the IOW in the 80’s? Island schools didn’t have the greatest reputation back then although Sandown (ex grammar) was pretty good. I escaped the clutches of the LEA and was at boarding school on the mainland.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset


    Most special needs children and the badly behaved brats of middle class parents who want them classed as being “on the spectrum” as a way of hiding their poor parenting. They take resources away from those who genuinely have special needs.

    Well, that was Mrs BiND’s view when she taught reception and first year and had to deal with the problem.

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