Autumn Budget 2018: a mixed bag for the education sector

Justyn Randall

Friday, 2 November 2018

Like the fabled curate’s egg, there was both good and bad in Philip Hammond’s final budget before Brexit in March next year.

The good news was a renewed focus on mental health, with a minimum extra £2 billion a year for mental health services, including new mental health crisis centres that will provide support in every accident and emergency unit in the country, more mental health ambulances and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline.

As professionals working in one of the sectors most badly affected by mental health issues in the workplace, educators will surely welcome this investment.

However, many will argue that the cuts to education services that have left many schools struggling for resources, and Head Teachers concerned about staff turnover, are at least partly responsible for teachers’ poor mental health in the first place.

The £10,000 per primary school and £50,000 per senior school awarded for ‘little extras’ within the budget has also been criticised as short-sighted at best and patronising at worst.

Some commentators have also called out the proportion of the new £2 billion that will be dedicated to ensuring that every school has access to an individual with mental health training, overseen by NHS clinicians.

They have concerns that having to take responsibility for mental health will add to an already stretched workload for teachers; and that by raising issues like stress and anxiety with young children will only serve to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, with so many young people now waiting for help with mental health problems, it’s clear that there is already a real problem that needs to be addressed.

Mental health training is about more than treating people as if they are fragile and incapable and labelling them as weak: it should be about helping young people learn self-esteem and how to be resilient in the face of adversity.

Part of this approach should include physical fitness and mindfulness: young people today are besieged with so many pressures at every level of society, whether that’s austerity within our poorest families or pressure from parents to secure the highest exam grades in preparation for an uncertain job market.

And peer pressure and bullying via social media is an unprecedented and rapidly escalating challenge for children to deal with. A recent survey published by the Children’s Society and Young Minds found that children and young people who were currently experiencing a mental health problem were over three times more likely to have been bullied online in the previous year.

We are living in different times and the mental fitness of the youngest members of our society is an issue for which we should all take collective responsibility. That starts by helping teachers achieve a good level of mental health themselves, so they are in the best position possible to help their pupils.

Opogo provides help and support to teachers in three main ways: 

  • Our online community, app and website that enables access to free tools, advice, e-learning, CPD training and support.

  • Our new Ambassador Programme, which rewards Opogo members financially when they recommend friends or colleagues and they join our network. Teachers can boost their income without money coming out of their school’s budget.

  • The Opogo #TeachFit programme shows teachers how to focus on child wellness and mental health, whether that’s running yoga sessions in the classroom or teaching mindfulness that can benefit children at home as well as in school.

  • As part of #TeachFit our resident Wellness Warrior Kirsty Raynor has run many yoga sessions in association with teachers, helping children in primary and secondary schools learn how to breathe, relax and balance. You can read about her hugely positive experiences on the Opogo blog. 

So there are reasons to be cheerful, not least that employers have now been given more freedom by government to offer public sector workers, including teachers, bigger pay rises the next time pay levels are set. The Government has also recognised that the mental health epidemic facing our country needs to be addressed.

And as the UK’s fastest growing network for teachers, Opogo is dedicated to providing a growing portfolio of services that will help education professionals continue to do the work that they love.



About the CEO


Justyn Randall

CEO  |  Founder

With extensive experience and strategic skill in building leading global marketing businesses across multiple sectors, Justyn is the CEO and founder of Opogo.

From his deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, Justyn launched Opogo with the prime motivation of transforming the experience of educators within the industry.

Opogo is a community platform designed to help schools attract and retain the talent that’s right for them. Our social hub is packed with rich content from our community experts. And through our ever-evolving Smart Match technology, teachers can be booked for work simply and quickly.

Sign up for FREE