By Alan Garnett, headteacher at North Primary School in Colchester

I am the headteacher of a town centre primary school and nursery.

It is the best job I have ever had.

I am proud to be its third longest serving head in its 124 year history. I have managed to surround myself with people, highly dedicated professionals, who do amazing things every day, giving more than they have to, to make a difference for every child in the school.

Not just teachers, learning support assistants, midday assistants, office staff and premises staff.

And not just the professionals either. An army of volunteers give willingly and freely of their own time to make a contribution to the school - governors, parents, office workers who help in class every week.

And do they make a difference! Now that another academic year has drawn to a close I can take stock of our achievements and measure them against our challenges.

The children have had another amazing year, but the staff have never had to work harder.

There are a number of factors at play here:

  • the impact of year-on-year funding shortfalls reducing the size of learning support team and subjects on offer in secondary schools and colleges
  • the impact of year-on-year funding shortfalls in children’s services meaning children and families do not get the early intervention support and guidance that will help children be able to cope with school - this at a time when more and more families are struggling to keep their heads above water
  • the expectation on schools to continually raise standards, when these standards, themselves at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 have been raised, whilst being accountable not just for these educational standards but also the safety, welfare and mental health of the children beyond the school day.

I can picture now the comments that may be posted, as they often are about education articles: whingeing teachers, 13 weeks holiday a year, large pensions, ‘In my day a class of 40 and no assistants’, wasting money on carpets in classrooms.

This article is not a whinge-fest. I just ask you all, dear readers, to consider what education service you want.

Hopefully you all want the same as me - an education system that will give our children the knowledge, skills and character to be better than us.

You cannot deliver that quality of education without assistants, who are being made redundant; teachers, who are leaving the profession in record numbers (whilst fewer people are wanting to train to become teachers), and headteachers, who schools find it ever harder to recruit and retain.

How will these worrying trends be arrested and reversed if education funding is not prioritised?

School staff are exhausted.

They are not moaning about that. It is what they do – work flat out until the end of every term. They deserve their holiday. Hopefully they will come back in September. And hopefully they will come back refreshed and ready to overcome the many challenges they will face every day to make a difference for every child.

Just don’t bank on it.

Funding for Schools campaign

The Gazette is backing the fight for a commitment of at least 15 per cent more funding per school from the Government when its spending review takes place this autumn.

That is the equivalent of £218,00 per school, with some needing as much as £500,000.

In the past four years £134 million has been cut from Essex schools alone in real terms, taking in account inflation, pension commitments and rising staffing costs. To sign the online petition to lobby Education Secretary GAvin Williamson, go to