“The effects of cultural starvation are not dramatic and swift. They’re not so easily visible”… It’s now time to get angry and take action!
At Bigfoot we have spent the past few months undertaking some painful reading as it becomes clear that the cuts promised to schools throughout the UK are indeed coming to fruition. Head-teachers, business managers and finance teams are all pouring over the figures to try and see how their school can weather the storm in order to try and retain as many members of staff and resources as possible come September. But, without a radical change of direction and fresh new thinking about how to sustain and support our current education system, 2017/18 will be resigned to history as a bleak year for our schools…
Head teachers all over the country have ratcheted up their campaigning for more school funding, with heads in one London borough writing an open letter to party leaders warning the cuts will literally “destroy” a generation of improvement:
Diverting funding from our schools and communities will destroy what has taken a generation to build,” it states, and that schools are having to turn to “reducing staffing levels, restricting curriculum provision, and increasing class sizes.
Meanwhile, almost all of Brighton & Hove’s schools have taken the unprecedented step of hanging “Save Our School” banners to highlight the scale of the £14m cuts being made to schools in that area alone; £193,425 per school/ £487 per pupil.
A six-year-old from the city, Otis Carter, has also written to the prime minister to plead for school funding so his freelance singing teacher, Al start, can remain in post. Otis wrote his letter to Theresa May after learning that Al would not be returning to work at Elm Grove Primary School post half term:
She can’t teach us anymore because our school can’t afford to pay her. She has taught at our school one day a week for the last nine years. If we lose Al who are we going to lose next! Please do not take away money from our school!
On the same note, we can confirm that, here at Bigfoot, well over 50% of our schools have written to us to say that, despite desperately fighting to retain some level of arts provision in their school, they will be unable to commit to having any form of drama, dance, music or visual art sessions next year. This will mean that not only 25+ schools will cease to have regular access to arts and cultural provision in the classroom, but that many of our freelancers will no longer be in work. One off visit bookings will inevitably fall too as of Autumn 2017.
Not only is this tragic news for companies such as ours that are already facing a huge lack of cultural arts funding in light of Brexit, but the absence of creative stimulation and experiences in schools, such as those with whom we work, will not fail to have an impact on children’s’ futures.
English author, Philip Pullman CBE, wisely once wrote “The effects of cultural starvation are not dramatic and swift. They’re not so easily visible.” We all have the foresight to know what can happen when an entire community fails to invest in the education, social and emotional wellbeing of its people; it’s effects are bleak and long lasting.
Companies like ours are drastically attempting to work with teachers to see what we can do to try and plug the holes that are inevitably now forming throughout schools, such as reduced full time teaching staff, lack of cover and support staff, reduction in enrichment opportunities and after school clubs for children. However, it still remains to be seen whether a) schools will be able to claw back or indeed, use avoidance tactics to try and maintain the excellent provision thus far provided. Or whether b) they, like us, will gradually be reduced to the bare bones of a creative institution, with our children receiving a mere skeletal version of what is necessary to enrich and expand the learning of our next generation.
It’s not pretty reading, but then again it’s not a pretty situation we are now all facing. Whether you have school aged children or pre-schoolers, are in the teaching profession or, like us, work very closely with schools throughout the country providing enrichment opportunities, we must ALL make a stand.
We are always forever hopeful things can and will change in future; it’s what has got us this far. We have faced tough cuts before, and we can do so again (we sincerely hope we can anyway) BUT, let’s not experiment with our children’s futures to see what kind of impact such severe budget restraints can have on a person’s ability to achieve in life…
So it’s a simple choice: we can either continue believing the platitudes of the government or we can start believing the voices of thousands of teachers. This government is failing a generation of children. It’s time to get angry and take action.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
Sign the petition against cuts.
Write to your MP about the cuts.