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Headteacher’s Blog – 21/10/22

By 28th November 2022Headteacher's Blog

For Year 7 this half term finished with the Romeo Days then Mass in the Hall celebrated with Father Gerard from Leigh Park. This was a welcome distraction from issues in the news.

There is never a good time for an economic crisis, but this one feels almost cruelly ill-timed, coming as it does when the nation continues to feel the economic, social, and political impacts of COVID-19. Families in school are finding it difficult, their children exist in our classrooms. This week we received a small grant from the LA which we will distribute to FSM families.

The scale and immediacy of the current income squeeze, combined with the distribution of pain it brings and the historical context of a decade of low productivity, help to explain why it will be so deeply felt and I suspect it also means the pain will last. What this means for public services will play out over the next few weeks. Sadly, I think over the next six months there will be some very difficult and challenging decisions for those running public services. If the settlement for schools remains cash neutral, we will have got-off-lightly. The mantra of efficiency savings is ringing around Whitehall, it is just a polite way of sugar-coating cuts to services. The scale of the potential pain to come is hard to overstate.

We all have short memories; inflation was already surging towards its highest level in three decades before the issues in Ukraine. The inflation statistics this week made grim reading, with food in the firing line for the recent rise. Again, this pushes up the essential costs of living. Rising prices, tax increases, energy price hikes, social security cuts, stagnating wages, together, it makes for an incredibly difficult environment, especially for families already struggling to get by. The term ‘living standards’ can often be used glibly, the impact is not even. For some of our youngsters, the current economic turmoil will hardly be felt, for others there might be a curtailing of holiday plans or saying goodbye to a streaming service or two. For others, the impact will be severe as families make choices between heating and eating.

Most commentators believe that the standard of living for many people will continue to fall for some time to come. At the sharp end, the result is that absolute child poverty, something we always used to take for granted would be falling, will be on the rise. In fact, according to one forecast, over one million people could fall below the absolute poverty in the coming financial year.
The current ‘fix’ to the national crisis can be dressed up with all sorts of political and economic rhetoric, however it boils down to this: how do you spend a shrinking amount of money on a growing list of problems?

The challenge for politicians of all persuasions is not just to answer this simple question but also to turn around the UK’s relative economic decline. If we want spending in education to increase significantly, then the problem has to be fixed.

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