William The Maths Bear's Paws For Thought Autumn 2017

15th October 2017

Hello Tiny Humans! How has everyone been enjoying their first weeks back at school? We’re very busy at ConquerMaths HQ as you can imagine but we love the buzz of a brand new term!

However, we can’t help but notice some worrying trends which are continuing, concerning teacher morale, teacher shortages and funding issues to name but a few. There are no easy answers of course, but one problem in particular which seems to be worsening is that of teachers feeling the need to spend significant amounts of their own money on school supplies and resources for their classrooms.

We are of course aware that this is in no way a new thing, teachers have been reaching into their own pockets for many years, just as they reach into their own free time and energy to go that extra mile for their students. One of the many reasons that teachers are incredible.

But there can come a point where it becomes utterly unreasonable – and unsustainable. With the current shortfall in funding, despite the assurances of Justine Greening it seems there is simply not enough cash per school or per pupil and it is falling to teachers to pick up the slack.

The TES reports that from a survey conducted with NUT of approximately 1,800 teachers from around the UK, almost three-quarters – 73 per cent – of those teachers said that they bought stationery items like pens, pencils and board markers on a regular basis. 58% reported paying for books while 43% had paid out for art materials.

Andrew Morris, assistant general secretary of the NEU, says: “Even teachers in their first year of teaching are becoming used to the idea that they have to pay for necessary resources. It’s being regarded as a regular feature of the job.”

“It’ll give the government cover from having to increase funding to the extent that it should do. There’s a big step-change between ‘We haven’t got the cash to let you buy things’ and ‘We haven’t got cash – give us some of your money'.” This is where it gets rather shocking.

Because of this mentality, one in six teachers are reporting that they are being asked to make regular direct donations to their school, running to hundreds of pounds, sometimes up to £1000 in one year with some even creating direct debits. Considering the average teacher’s salary that seems extremely unfair. Yet even parents are being asked to pay for more and more, as some schools seem to be getting desperate.

What do you think? Have you been asked to pay out of your own pocket so support your school? Tell us in the comments!

On a lighter note...

... although still very important issues – the scandal of the Cadbury’s Freddo’s price hike and the debate on Freddo’s versus Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons!

Recently the entertaining website Buzzfeed got wind of a fictional Tweet promising that if Ed Miliband had won the general election in 2015 then we have enjoyed a price cap on Freddo’s, thus ending the madness that has seen those cute little chocolate frogs shoot up in price from a very reasonable 10p to a staggering 30p in just 12 years.

They did cost 10p as recently as 2005 but have risen in price rapidly ever since, and this has made quite a lot of people irrationally enraged… there was even a fake news story that Jeremy Corbyn was promising to do the same which shows how people feel about it!

Cadbury’s has argued that the changes are due to rising prices of chocolate and inflation but the good people at Buzzfeed put together a graph comparing the rise in inflation with the rise in Freddo’s bars and it’s obvious there is a dramatic difference.


Buzzfeed crunched some numbers and found that going by the UK’s official measure of inflation then Freddo’s should now cost between only 14p – 15p They have increased in price by 4.55% per year since 2000 and these unofficial Freddo charts from the fine people of Vouchercloud show that Freddo’s prices are expected to continue to spiral, far higher than the general inflation rate. We feel ripped off…

So perhaps Chocolate Buttons are the way to go after all?

Ed Miliband responded to the fictional Tweet by admitting he actually prefers Chocolate Buttons – a controversial statement in the Twitter universe!

At 90p for a 40g bag that gives you 0.44g per 1 pence for Chocolate Buttons whereas Freddos at 30p per 18g bar are still the more economical option giving you 0.6g of sweet, sweet goodness for each overpriced penny you fork out. We still feel a bit ripped off.


Sigh. What is the world coming to?

Have you been angered by any blatantly extortionate price hikes in retail lately? Let us know in the comments.