Army veteran turned reading teacher is devastated after losing his job due to government funding cuts to schools

Sean Beech is a reading recovery teacher at Wickham Pirmary School and is facing redundancy due to changes in government funding Picture: Sarah Standing (170454-5161)
Sean Beech is a reading recovery teacher at Wickham Pirmary School and is facing redundancy due to changes in government funding Picture: Sarah Standing (170454-5161)

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HE HAS helped children learn to read and improve their literacy skills for the last five years.

But changes to the way schools are funded could see armed forces veteran Sean Beech lose his job – and pupils lose a helping hand.

NUT Portsmouth branch secretary Amanda Martin at a protest last year

NUT Portsmouth branch secretary Amanda Martin at a protest last year

The 47-year-old is currently employed by Wickham Church of England School as a specialist reading teacher but has been told come September, the school will not be able to fund his role.

The cut comes following proposals from the government for a new funding formula which will see some schools lose thousands of pounds in funding.

Mr Beech, from Waltham Chase, said he is devastated by the news and angry at the way the government is dealing with funding.

‘After fighting for my country and dedicating my life to helping young people learn to read – I am now to be thrown on the scrapheap,’ he said.

‘For five years I have helped children improve their reading and get to the same level as their peers.

‘In eight to 10 weeks of one-on-one help, they can catch up on two years’ worth of literacy skills.

‘That is what the job is about and why I got involved.

‘I know for the children who I have helped it has changed their lives.

‘Knowing how to read and write cannot be underestimated. It gives them confidence and boosts their self-esteem.

‘But due to government cuts, I have been warned my role is going to go.

‘The school has funded it as long as they can but they aren’t getting enough money.’

Mr Beech decided to become a teacher after his time in the army showed him how many adults cannot read or write.

After serving for 14 years, he left and did his teacher training. But his passion was to help children read and he got the job in Wickham.

Since then, he has helped more than 50 children develop their reading and writing.

But he now fears he will struggle to get another job after spending five years away from the full-time classroom environment.

Mr Beech added: ‘My position was actually one the government wanted to fund back in the 2011.

‘They wanted to give children extra help. But that money has gone down over the last few years and the school cannot afford it.

‘I am not angry at them; they gave me the job and they know how beneficial the role is to the pupils.’

As reported, the new funding formula proposed by the government will see the funding process taken out of local authorities’ hands.

But it has been met with a lot of criticism because while some schools will benefit from extra money, others are losing out.

Mr Beech said: ‘My position is only part-time and costs £19,000 but because of this formula, it is unsustainable for the school to keep me on.’

Unions hit out at government for changes to school funding

Teachers around the country are meeting from today at the National Union of Teachers conference in Cardiff with school funding at the top of the agenda.

Teaching unions have been vocal in their fears over the funding changes that are being brought in – and have united to highlight the amount of money that parts of the education system will miss out on if the changes are introduced as the proposals currently stand.

Amanda Martin, NUT branch secretary for Portsmouth said: ‘These are very scary times for schools at the minute as they are being forced into making economic decisions to stay in the black.

‘This formula is already having an impact as you see schools making cuts before it has even been introduced in order to deal with it.

‘Some schools could have no teaching assistants in the future and these cuts will affect the most vulnerable the hardest.

‘This formula could mean fewer teaching assistants, fewer school trips and fewer subjects. It is not right that schools should be making economic decisions.’

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: ‘It is incredibly difficult to produce a formula that funds all schools in England fairly, but unless the government puts more money into the overall budget all schools will struggle to make ends meet.’