Now that school life is getting back to some form of normality (whatever that is these days), we’re starting to see the serious effects of a year of restrictions on the children in school: emotional fragility, stability issues, and, of course, the social maladjustment as a result of the ‘bubble’ system. All of these are a potentially lethal cocktail for vulnerable children.
The government has told us that it will do everything it can to get kids back on track – mentally, physically, and academically. With large swathes of children coming back to school with seriously depleted writing/arithmetic skills, a noticeable decline in fitness, and lacking self-worth, it’s imperative that schools get the funding to do so.
An absoloute pittance
However, the money that’s been set aside is an absolute pittance. My school is due to get £30 per head – an amount which won’t even cover the costs of replacing all the books lost in children’s houses over lockdown.
The cost involved in making the school ‘COVID Secure’ has not been cheap, and our local council did nothing to help financially. Large amounts of hand sanitiser and cleaning equipment that the school burnt through alone have left a hole in our finances, never mind the new technology needed to enable us to do our jobs from home. Then there’s the huge amount spent in covering shielding teachers and support staff, including cleaners and caretakers. Furthermore, we haven’t been able to recommence after-school clubs nor rent the building out over the holidays, both of which are major revenue streams in keeping the school above water.
After years of financial stability through prudence and good housekeeping, the school is staring down the barrel of big debts and staff cuts. In short, we’re in the shit.
Once again, teachers are left to be miracle workers
Of course, schools are used to constant cuts on staff, books, trips, stationery, technology, and building maintenance. We’ve had to deal with these realities for a long time. However, there’s now a very real risk of something more sinister in our midst.
Very active gangs are sadly a reality in our school’s catchment, and many of our vulnerable children are a target for their grooming and coercion. We need an injection of funds to help us keep the children motivated and to avoid temptations. Hopelessness and worthlessness are at a high, and many of the children at school are easy targets.
The social and community services that were once a stalwart of our school have vanished or had their impact restricted due to the constrictions of the past year. Where is the government acknowledgement and aid to tackle this ticking time bomb?
Schools like mine will be left to fend for ourselves once more, with teachers expected to act as miracle workers in keeping our communities safe.