Schools and headlines (making big numbers small)


1017311_664284926917985_479111536_nThe first point to note is that there are approximately 8.2 million pupils attending 24,372 schools in England.  That includes all state schools in England.

When seemingly large pots of money are bounded around by politicians it is worth referring yourself to the above figures.  Recently, Nicky Morgan announced £4.5 million to help schools and local services to offer support for students with mental health issues.  Although welcome, it means that the government is funding 54p per pupil or £184 per school. This wouldn’t fund a counsellor for one day.   Another example is a £5 million innovation fund to help schools deliver activities that instil character and resilience in children, such as debating clubs and sports coaching.  Of course this is again welcome, but it equates to £205 per school.  I can tell you that this doesn’t pay for much coaching.

Then when you have shocking headlines, such as “Hundreds of pupils caught with drugs at school, police figures reveal” (TES 23/04/2015).  It is always worth stopping to consider what that means.  Well the article goes on to say that “illegal substances seized in more than 2,000 incidents and offences over the past four years.”  It also mentions children as young as 8 have been found with drugs at school.   Referring back to the figures at the top of this comment, that means there has been less than one incident in each school in the last 4 years.  No quite the alarming issue that the headline spoke of.  Not even one a year.

However, one headline from the last week of campaigning did make school leaders look up. “Clegg’s £5bn school pledge: Lib Dems promises highest education spending”.  That could mean around £200,000 extra funding for each school…only trouble is that will only pay for half of the increases in staffing costs I spoke about a few weeks ago.  Big numbers at times, sadly, only have a small impact.


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