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To think that state schools should not be run like businesses?

(61 Posts)
Feawen Thu 19-May-16 21:25:42

My friend teaches at the school we both used to attend. It's a big state secondary with a very diverse intake. Not exceptional academically, but when we were teens it was good at pastoral support, looking after the less academic kids, providing loads of options and activities, etc. Money was mysteriously found for those who couldn't afford important trips or essential kit. Not perfect by a long way, but not bad.

Now, the school office charges admin fees to the subject departments for any work they do. I've just had my friend ranting tearfully down the phone because her budget for the year won't cover the textbooks needed for the GCSE classes. I mean, the cost of the books would be more than her whole budget, iyswim. When she asked her line manager - new, hired by the new head - he laughed and said the pupils would have to buy their own. They're £30 a book, and these won't be the only ones.

I know this is only one story and I'm finding it hard to see things objectively...but what the hell is going on? Can the UK actually not afford to run its education system? I can't help but think that someone, somewhere, is doing well out of this and it certainly isn't the pupils.

OddBoots Thu 19-May-16 21:35:56

Budgets in schools are really really tight - maybe it shouldn't need to be run like a business but they can't magic money out of the air.

Laughing wasn't appropriate but it was possibly a wry laugh, if the business manager is new they have probably just started unpicking the practices of the previous business manager, for better or for worse.

Phineyj Thu 19-May-16 21:38:01

Budgets are very tight, partly because National Insurance and employers' pension contributions have gone up and staff are schools' largest expense. Therefore there is less money for books.

Also, did you notice the major recession?

I don't know when you were at school but when I was, in the 80s, we had to buy most of our own books or they were issued between two and we mostly weren't allowed to take them home. This was in an affluent area.

Phineyj Thu 19-May-16 21:40:28

Mind you, £30 per book for a GCSE course is ridiculous and the school needs to find a better supplier. The people actually making the profits are, I suspect, the academic publishers!

JenniferYellowHat1980 Thu 19-May-16 21:44:57

It's not just budgets. Targets are set as if students are goods on a production line, with no accounting for their circumstances or motivation. Many schools are therefore teaching entirely to the exam - replicated response after response to variations on the same question.

PacificDogwod Thu 19-May-16 21:45:50


Nor should the NHS angry

sillyoldfool Thu 19-May-16 21:47:14

Does each child get given their own textbook then, to keep?
That's surely very wasteful?
We used to get a year's loan of a textbook in year 11, we had to pay a deposit (a couple of quid) and sign it out and return it after our exams, then they were given to the next year group.

OddBoots Thu 19-May-16 21:49:45

I don't think the textbooks would be to keep - I suspect this is because the exam specifications have all changed so the old books are no use.

katemiddletonsnudeheels Thu 19-May-16 21:52:43

There is a LOT of waste in schools.

The heating is on boiling for large parts of the year just mysteriously turned off in December lights are switched on permanently. Graffiti and vandalism account for some stuff being damaged, then sometimes things are broken by accident. Staff laptops, DBS checks for staff, advertising for staff, supply budgets, examination entries, all these cost money, a lot of money!

sillyoldfool Thu 19-May-16 21:54:01

I see, well then it's surely a capital investment and so shouldn't have to come from a running budget?

Schools shouldn't be run like businesses no, neither should hospitals or transport or utilities imo...

topcat2014 Thu 19-May-16 21:57:14

What is the opposite of 'running as a business'

How do you run an organisation in a 'non business like' fashion.

Somehow or other, the school has to find a way to manage within the funding it gets - like any other organisation, I would think.

A large secondary school will have a budget of millions - that takes some serious 'managing', surely.

PacificDogwod Thu 19-May-16 22:06:08

"Running' like a business means to me 'profit maximisation', 'produce more to make more', 'meet targets'.
Trying to put children through school as 'efficiently' as possible does not for happy teaching or children developing to the best of their abilities make IMO.

Spending large budgets effectively, yes.
Copying everything that has worked for private sector companies, no.

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 19-May-16 22:10:30

Budgets are very tight, partly because National Insurance and employers' pension contributions have gone up and staff are schools' largest expense.

but lets not mention the reduction (in real terms) of funding to state schools by the government.

Noodledoodledoo Thu 19-May-16 22:21:40

We are a fairly large secondary school and our budgets are seriously tight.

We started the new GCSE course last September - no money for new textbooks at all - we bought one per teacher to supplement the old ones (which are only 5 years old). Our text books for KS3 are £17 each even with a discount - lots of push to go no textbooks completely but then we get moaned at for either photocopying bill or the students can't see the work on the board, or half whizz through it and need more and half need to stay on the fist screen!

I have run a GCSE course this year for a whole year group which should get me some extra money, but hasn't as there is no money left in the pot! We aren't even paying our teachers what they should be getting.

To be honest at my place a lot is down to budget cuts, a lot is down to our Business Manager spending on things which aren't necessities but make us look good - he is obsessed with image!

Believeitornot Thu 19-May-16 22:23:37

This isn't being run like a business.

If a business had its budgets cut like schools have, it would go into administration and be shut down.

Let's just remember, banks were deemed too important to fail. I damn well think schools are very important and should not be having their budgets cut. And they are being cut despite what the tories may claim the lying bastards

PrincessHairyMclary Thu 19-May-16 22:23:56

I would welcome students having to buy their own equipment and books or purchased using pupil premium for those on it. Students have no respect for equipment, they break rulers, loose pen lids, graffiti books they wouldn't do any of this if they had to provide their own as the would have to answer to their parents.

Students at my school ask me for a pen and when I say "no" ( because I've lent them out and not been returned) they just turn around and say "how am I supposed to do my work then"

Lots of secondary schools are going to struggle to buy the books for the new curriculum and departments are often given budgets for photocopying, printing etc.

Believeitornot Thu 19-May-16 22:26:08

I would welcome students having to buy their own equipment

Ha that's ok for those who can afford it.

EvilTwins Thu 19-May-16 22:27:33

I am a Head of Dept in a secondary school. My annual dept budget is £1200.

PrincessHairyMclary Thu 19-May-16 22:28:24

Most other European country's manage it, families prioritise education above other things and as I said Pupil premium used for those who are on it.

urbanfox1337 Thu 19-May-16 22:33:33

If parents had to buy their own childrens text books they maybe they would treat them better and actually open them occasionally to further their own childrens lives. Which is what a lot of countries do.

Alternatively maybe they should vote for politicians that promise to put their taxes UP to pay for all these things everyone wants.

NicknameUsed Thu 19-May-16 22:34:49

"lights are switched on permanently"

In older buildings maybe, but modern schools have light sensors and the lights go out if there is no-one in the room.

Most of the secondary school in our LA have a budget deficit. The education cuts are really beginning to bite and most large secondary schools have a business manager because they are very necessary.

echt Thu 19-May-16 22:35:50

I was a bit shock when I moved to Australia, where parents are expected to provide all stationery, books, laptops, the lot. There's provision for hardship, though.

It is unutterably fabulous not to have to deal with the day-to-day crap of pupils not having the basic stuff, so I can get on with the teaching.

PacificDogwod Thu 19-May-16 22:37:58

AFAIK providing books/stationary/etc is standard practice in most of mainland Europe - certainly is in Germany where I grew up.

blankpieceofpaper Thu 19-May-16 22:55:04

Schools are a business. Their business is numbers and data. Your child's attendance and progress is the profit.It is measured, tracked and subject to predictions and interventions - only it better be linear and consistent.

Numbers means funding - schools have to compete for numbers to secure enough students with some low birth rates. They have to have a vision statement, a development plan. Service user, ethos, target market, moving forward are all words I have heard used frequently.

Private companies are now hugely invested in schools thanks to academies.

There just isn't the money. It's that simple - schools have managed mostly at the moment by being creative. It will get worse - just look at the mess of FE.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Thu 19-May-16 23:32:25

Not helped by successive governments changing the curriculum every five minutes, so that books and resources in use are immediately redundant and need to be changed.

Primary and secondary schools will go the way of FE. That's if schools last long enough because the haemorrhaging of staff is reaching a critical point. Unqualified staff are clearly cheaper than qualified, but what happens when salaries are eroded so much in order to save money, that no ine is willing to do the job.

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