Handy guide to these budget strapped times.

There’s a lot of whinging about the financial situation. Come on people!  We need to embrace the austerity agenda. It’s the perfect opportunity to root out waste; cut the fat. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers knew how to ‘make do and mend’, so stop snivelling and start cutting. Look what I’ve saved!

Early intervention

Before: provide additional speech and language therapy as part of our early intervention offer.

Cost £14,5000[1] for a speech and language therapist one day a week.

Now: the nursery teaching assistant will run a group once a week.  This will leave the teacher with the rest of the class, so this can only run if a couple of children are off sick. Otherwise our ratios are wrong.   But our attendance isn’t exactly our strong point, so that should be fine.  If a child wets themselves or falls over and needs first aid – the TA’s a resourceful person, I’m sure she’ll be able to weave that into the speech and language group somehow. After all, using real life situations is good practice isn’t it.

Interventions in phonics, maths and writing

Before: provide TA led maths interventions with 3x 1 hour sessions for small groups in year 2 and yrs 4,5 and 6

Cost: £2,000

Now: provide children with 15 minutes maths catch up from the teacher during assembly twice a week. The idea that assemblies are the whole school coming together as a community is rather old fashioned and a little bit hippy dippy, ‘let’s hug a tree’, in my view.  The vicar will be fine holding the fort and I’ll even timetable a couple of TA’s on hand to eyeball the restless. And to mop up any vomit or other human spillages. Children eh! Dreadful tendency to leak at inconvenient times.

Before: Provide additional 4 staff to run daily phonics groups in addition to core staff for an hour each day. Provide high quality training and coaching for all staff delivering the programme.  Provide TA led additional daily phonics sessions for children in year 1 who are not on track to pass their phonics check.

Cost £15,000

Now: I hear mixed methods aren’t all that bad. (Just don’t tell @oldandrewuk[2])

Before: teacher led writing intervention for ks2 pupils 1 hour, once a week

Cost: £5,000

Now: buy some fancy pencils. Children make much faster progress when they have fancy pencils. I might even splash out on some gel pens if I can save a bit by turning down the heating a few more degrees. Children don’t feel the cold anyway do they. If I hear any complaints from staff, I’ll tell them to wear another jumper.

Pastoral and family support

Before: employ school based social worker for half a day a week. Cost £6,900

Now: pass the cost of early intervention onto social care; it’s their responsibility anyway. I know they moan that we’re clogging up their system, by calling their duty line and expecting help to be brought in, instead of providing it in house where apparently it is it is perceived as ‘less threatening’ and is therefore more effective. But these needy families need to man up. Especially the ones with single mothers.

Before: Employ a home: school liaison officer for 3 days a week to provide pastoral and family support and work with families where attendance is poor. Cost £18,000

Now: see previous answer re social care.  Try shouting at parents whose kids have bad attendance. I’m sure that will work. For really challenging families, offer them a transfer form. I hear St Bingo’s have plenty of spaces. Then there is always permanent exclusion. Under used, in my book.

Building cultural capital

Before: free breakfast club for disadvantaged children

Cost: £8,000

Now: hasn’t anyone heard of the obesity crisis? Seriously, the last thing kids need these days is free food.

Before: after school clubs for disadvantaged pupils, providing additional learning opportunities to those who have narrow life experiences

Cost: £10,000

Now: should we really be trying to make up for parental deficiencies?  I mean, I’m sure if we stop trying to be surrogate parents, that will be just the helpful nudge some parents need to take up the reins of their responsibilities.

Provide extracurricular enhancement through trips and residential experiences

Before: ensure all children build their cultural capital through visits to museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and have the opportunity to attend a residential trip

Cost: £6,000

Now: Actual visits are very stressful and time consuming. You can see most things anyway via Google and YouTube.  As for the residential trip – do a sleepover at school. I’m sure the staff will be really excited at the prospect of sleeping on the floor of the hall, along with their class after a stimulating day at the chalk face. So character building! Our children find the countryside a bit scary anyway – they feel so much safer here in the inner city. And who says we don’t care for the whole child!

So there you have it. I saved nearly £80,000 with a little bit of pruning.  Easy when you know how.

[1]  Just in case you hadn’t realised, this is a parody. All of the costings are made up, so please don’t put comments saying ‘well that’s expensive for a TA, or whatever.’ It’s bad enough having to do the sums to set a budget without doing more sums for a work of fiction.  And if you happen to work at St Matthias, this is not my actual plan.

[2] I did mention that this is a parody, didn’t I.

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Handy guide to these budget strapped times.

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