It’s a contentious one in the teaching trade. Whether to spend your own money or not, today I saw someone compare teachers spending money on resources for their classrooms to doctors spending their own money providing medicine to patients. I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison, however I understand the sentiment.
Where has this approach to teaching come from? Has it always been a part of the teaching community? In some form or another it has always been a part of the the teaching community, for the last 20 years or so it has increased exponentially. According to a TES survey from 2017, 94% of the 1800 teachers surveyed had spent money on school supplies. What was even more shocking was that some teachers were signed up to direct debits to give their school extra funding. You may be willing to do this to allow for the best available supplied – when achieving that ‘WOW’ factor that you hear teachers go on about. However, you are allowing the lack of appropriate funding from the government to not be as noticeable. I know that sits in a bad way morally, it does for me. The attitude of, the government won’t fund education properly so why should I bother, is hardly the growth mindset approach.
The amount of companies that now exist with the purpose of providing us teachers with the cutting edge ideas, the beautiful displays, the latest sticker obsession is in abundance. Some of these sites include ‘school subscriptions’, removing the need for a teacher to use their own salary on such resources. However, how many teachers are really brave enough to constantly ask their school for extra funds to purchase a variety of goodies in shops and especially online? Not many. In a climate of reducing budgets for education across the country, the likelihood of a yes is ever decreasing.
How much do you think you spend on resources annually?
According to a few reports from the past few years, the amount varies.
You hear of the extreme cases, where a teacher may spend £1000s a year on resources to be used in their work place: this is especially the case for supply teachers. Are there many other public services where you would be expected to supply your own equipment at your own cost? The counter argument would be, you must make do with what the school provide and that’s that.
However, we all know the problem here isn’t a simple ‘Yes you should’ or ‘no you shouldn’t’, when it comes to buying resources from your own pockets. Us teachers are under constant pressure to provide the best possible ‘service’ to our communities, and with the goalposts constantly changing from institutions such as OFSTED, we are left with no choice to follow the trends so that we are not caught short.
Another big issue is that every single teacher wants the best for the children in their care, and don’t want them to feel like they are not having as good an education as from another school or even another teacher in the same school.
There is no definite answer, and although online forums would suggest there is a big divide between don’t do it (or do it) when it comes to purchasing resources from your own pocket, the best is always a defined balance. However you shouldn’t feel guilty when not buying your own resources, even if you know a particular resource may better your lesson. You also shouldn’t feel guilty spending some of your money, and have to deal with another fellow professional tell you how you should ‘just make your own’. Some teachers are unable to make their own to the same standard – I certainly wouldn’t be able to!