A Crosspool headteacher has spoken out on her frustration over the lack of funding available to improve the mental health of their students.
Ms Kat Rhodes, Headteacher of Tapton School spoke exclusively to The Fulwood Post about how funding cuts has affected pastoral care of pupils.
Tapton will have a shortfall of £321,868 by 2020, resulting in a -£254 per pupil loss in funding.
Ms Rhodes said: “I really wish we had more money for supporting the mental health of our students. In an ideal world, I’d like to put more hours of counselling in place and more breakout spaces for struggling students – especially during exams.
“It’s really hard during that period when students are stressed about exams and staff are not available because they are teaching.”
Tapton school has seen it’s class sizes rise from 18.9 in 2015 to 21.7 in 2018.
Reflecting on the issue, Ms Rhodes said: “I think the students feel the impact of having bigger classes. When you have a class of 34 students that can barely fit in the room, keeping on top of behaviour is really hard.”
The cut in funding has led to two redundancies in the last year.
Ms Rhodes said: “Our biggest cost is staffing. This has a knock-on effect on a lot of things. It makes us very efficient, but it makes teachers more reluctant to take on extracurricular activities.
“The teachers really are feeling the pinch in terms of their workload. We simply don’t have the amount of time to do the amount of marking they did previously.”
The Crosspool school gained widespread media attention in March of this year when it could no longer run its GCSE music department due to lack of interest. A crowd raising campaign later reversed this decision. However, this has now extended to its sixth form.
Kat said: “If you look at some of our A-Level classes, we might have 25 in a class. Some subjects haven’t run, like textiles – which only had three students. Previously, we would have taken the financial hit, but now we have to make those really difficult decisions.”
Ms Rhodes was quick to praise her teaching staff who have continued to maintain the standards of exam results despite the lack of funding.
She said: “I am immensely proud of our wonderful group of staff. The amount of extra effort they put in, they don’t do it for the money – they do it because they care about the students they teach. It marks them out from staff at other schools.”
Councillor Anne Murphy, (Labour and Co-operative), of Crookes and Crosspool, gave her support to Ms Rhodes.
Cllr Murphy said: “I completely agree that there needs to be more funding to help children with the mental health issues that they are dealing with in schools.
“It is so important to have the right funding for schools as what happens and what children experience at that age will have such a huge impact on later life when they are adults.
“At the moment there are no paid staff dedicated to helping children other than those of pastoral responsibility.”
Councillor Murphy also mentioned about the amount of pressure that is put on children at an early age.
She said: “We are testing children at four or five years old; way too early on in their lives. Even seven years old is too early in my opinion. We are putting too much stress on children at such a young age.
“We need to get ahead of these mental health issues and prevent them from occurring in the first place
“We are constantly trying to get the extra funding that schools desperately need, we’re always lobbying the education minister for more money.”