I’ll be honest, I try to stay away from political posts: they get me down. The situation unfortunately, quite often looks bleak. Having seen that so many Early Years and schools are having to beg for additional funding, campaign for basic resources, I felt compelled to write.
Even if you don’t have children or grandchildren, this still affects you. Research has shown that for every £1 spent on a child pre-school (early years), at 18, that child is less likely to end up on benefits. I wonder how different things would be if he government did put more funding into the education system.
I think the first thing to realise, which governments fail to comprehend is that education cannot, and is not a business project. There are not typical overhead and profit margins like other businesses. Instead, education needs to be seen as a 25 year investment. Let’s assume that governments are still trying to argue how education can be run like a business, despite project after project failing when it does. In business terms, rather than share holders, the government needs to rethink its position into being creditors.
For a person to typically be fully trained, motivated and secure in their career, we need to be realistic. From the minute a baby is 4 weeks old, they really need to be exposed to peers of a similar age. Sure, most of those babies spend the majority of their time lay on their backs or being cuddled by their family and parents’ friends, however, they are absorbing in information all of the time. Their senses are being challenged, they’re being exposed to new experiences, and of course vocabulary. They might not be able to communicate their feelings properly because they can only cry to show a need, but they’re taking it in all of the time.
Year upon year, in schools, we are receiving children, who at four, have a narrow vocabulary and sometimes their basic education needs, aren’t met. This is for a number of reasons, but most prevalent is that parent’s either don’t know about baby and infant classes or they can’t afford it.
In my council, classes and sessions are poorly communicated. I found out about one class, and through attending that and talking to other parents, I found out about other classes. To think, that in a world of social media, people are still hearing about the majority of things through word of mouth is outdated.
The next thing is the cost. Classes range from free – rhyme time at the library, to £7 a week for a sensory class, run by a private company. We attended a class where the teacher was forced to become self employed because the newly appointed head teacher could no longer afford to place funds into pre-school learning. That will be a whole class of 60 children, who will be joining school at a disadvantage. Sure, in more affluent areas, the children arrive at school at advanced levels, but in more affluent areas they’re not reliant on a comprehensive school system in the same way.
To put this crudely, a child might arrive at school unable to count to 10. If 1-5 children, arrive in reception at this stage, they can receive support, this is manageable – almost. If a child hasn’t socialised with peers of a similar age, regardless of underlying needs, it becomes sensory overload. Maybe when this happens they have a tantrum, maybe they become aggressive or maybe they become upset. To make yourself individually available to 5 children, all in need of one to one time, at the same time, with one adult, becomes impossible. However, with the way the situation is going, it won’t just be 1-5 children, it might be 25 children that are in need of that one to one time.
Fast forward to when in schools, we begin to recognise that children have additional needs, that need supporting to be able to grasp what is being taught. It’s not always the child who has ADHD or Dyslexia etc that need additional support. It could be the child who witnesses domestic violence at home, or the child who has an ill family member or whose pet died at the weekend. They can’t take any more information because their emotions are too raw and they’re trying to comprehend the world around them. That lack of funding to employ an additional adult, means that the child’s needs might become ignored, and their motivation for learning, gone.
Fast forward to sitting exams, GCSEs to be more exact. If a child has gone through life with their needs being continually ignored, why bother? When they were six and learning the phoneme ‘ir’ to be able to read, and came into school upset, what happens to their emotions overtime when they’re sat reading Shakespeare’s sonnet 130? Why should they care? It means nothing to them. They learned overtime to suppress their needs, so when they don’t understand that sonnet for their exam or coursework, they become frustrated. They won’t ask for help because when they were more open about asking for their needs, the teacher had to say, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have time at the moment.’
Then, what message is given out again, to people who think about going to university when the tuition fees are in the ten thousands? Well done, you passed all of your GCSEs and A-Levels, but now in order to get a qualification needed to become a nurse, a doctor or a teacher you’re going to have to pay ten thousand points at least. Is there any surprise that people are falling at the hurdles? What motivation have they got to contribute towards a society, whose government for the past ten years has reduced or closed down support? Who wants to contribute to that?
Instead, if we gave young people a 25 year investment, how much better would things be? To say to that child, I can see that you’re upset, would you like to talk to me about it? They understood the phoneme, they had a better chance at understanding Shakespeare’s sonnet 130, enough so that they started asking questions as they really thought about it. They see a point in their education. They want to contribute towards society, and put back into a society that gave them something. If there was more funding to support university learning, that wasn’t just a loan, maybe people would see the value in their education, or at least think – well it was all worth it.
The investment will start to pay off by the time a person reaches 25, year on year in fact, as they will receive more increments and promotions. They will encourage future generations too, and hopefully we’ll see full classes of pupils at an advantage to their learning.