Heads warn of class size rise

HEADTEACHERS in Suffolk have expressed fears over the future of education in the county after a survey found the current funding crisis is increasing class-size in some schools.

HEADTEACHERS in Suffolk have expressed fears over the future of education in the county after a survey found the current funding crisis is increasing class-size in some schools.

Unless the Government redresses the situation, teachers' representatives warn schools could soon face serious staff shortages.

The EADT raised the issue of budgets in March as headteachers warned this year's education budget just covered wages bills.

David Lloyd, headteacher at Thomas Mills School in Framlingham, who represents all secondary heads in North Suffolk, said budget cuts had already seen staffing levels drop as vacant posts are not replaced.


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He added: “The net result is that class sizes are starting to get bigger - from the mid 20s to the high 20s in some cases. The survey, of all secondary headteachers in the county, shows people are getting desperate.

“Most of my colleagues are doing everything they can to protect their schools from the budget cuts for the summer term they are extremely worried about what will happen come September.

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“Headteachers don't normally complain in Suffolk. Things are in a very bad way. We would almost be looking at collapsing parts of the curriculum and we couldn't discount having to close for one day a week.

“If we haven't got enough staff we can't maintain our obligations. We have to make the Government realise the consequences of penalising counties like Suffolk.”

Martin Liddle, headteachers' representative in South Suffolk, said staple subjects like music and foreign language classes could suffer. He was determined to seek meetings with government representatives to ensure Suffolk got a fairer slice of the funding cake.

Possible measures to stave-off a crisis could include increasing class sizes by 20%, asking parents to pay for music tuition, cutting teacher training budgets by 50% and cutting spending on new equipment by a fifth, or reducing foreign language teaching.

Government officials last year trumpeted record rises of investment in schools. But changes in funding meant schools have been hit by pension payments and national insurance contributions.

Mr Liddle gave the example of a school in Felixstowe that had been given a rise of £163,000, but faced a growth in pension contributions of £272,000 - a deficit of more than £110,000.

He said: “Suffolk County Council have done all they could - the rise in council tax of 18pc was all they could bear.”

He described Education Minister Charles Clarke's suggestion that schools could make up deficits by raiding budgets for building projects as “just an invention.”

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