‘I cook, clean and fix’: how cuts are forcing headteachers to take on extra roles

According to The Guardian, before the NAHT annual conference, three school leaders speak out about the realities of austerity.

Eight consecutive years of real-term funding cuts in England have placed headteachers on the frontline of the battle against austerity. Traditionally conservative and apolitical figures have become radical and outspoken campaigners who are prepared to risk repercussions in order to hold the government to account and shine a light on the impact that austerity has had on their schools.

We asked three how austerity had changed their roles and what triggered them to speak out publicly against the cuts.

Emily Proffitt, Tittensor First School, Stoke-on-Trent

“To cut costs, I’ve taken on the roles of catering manager, premises manager, safeguarding lead and deputy, as well as head. I’ve put rubber gloves on and cleaned toilets at the school. I’ve [tended] the school garden. I’ve managed catering logistics. I’ve spent part of my Easter holidays in school, taking stock of deliveries, with my young children.

“I knew there were funding issues locally. But at the NAHT conference last May, after hearing from headteachers across the UK, I realised it was a national issue. And I thought: why should we sit quietly, nodding and smiling? Actually, we have a responsibility to the children we teach to speak out. These children deserve better.”

Clem Coady, Stoneraise School, Cumbria

“More headteachers are speaking out, because we no longer feel we are being listened to. There used to be a great respect for my profession from politicians, but that seems to have diminished now.

“I’ve started doing every role I can possibly do at my school to avoid making teachers and support staff redundant. For example, I’ve ended our maintenance contract and picked up that work. I’ve fixed cupboard doors, leaky taps and door handles. I’ve painted the school twice, inside and out. I’ve cut hedges, pruned shrubs and done tree surgery work. I’ve cleaned up sick and unblocked toilets – every member of staff has.

“I find it all exhausting. I do it because it needs to be done, for the kids, and we can’t afford it otherwise.”

Read more ‘I cook, clean and fix’: how cuts are forcing headteachers to take on extra roles

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~Emma

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