New fears over school funding

FRESH concerns were voiced last night on the state of school funding in East Anglia after it emerged a teaching union had rejected Government proposals to reduce workload.

FRESH concerns were voiced last night on the state of school funding in East Anglia after it emerged a teaching union had rejected Government proposals to reduce workload.

The National Association of Head Teachers said the severe budget shortfalls facing many schools this year meant they did not have enough cash to employ extra staff to ease the work of teachers.

Under the Government's Raising Standards and Tackling Workload agreement, school leaders are encouraged to free teachers to teach and relieve the burden of paperwork.

But in a letter to Secretary of State Charles Clarke, the NAHT refused to sign the agreement in protest at the inadequate funding that schools had been given this year.


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Chris Harrison, county secretary of the NAHT, said: "It's become clear that a significant number of schools, particularly in the shire counties like Suffolk, have had a budget settlement this year which doesn't enable them to make progress in implementing the national agreement.

"School leaders are having to consider a number of undesirable options such as job cuts, large class sizes and increases in teacher and headteacher contact time.

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"The workload agreement sets out that by September 2005, teachers in primary schools should have adequate time for planning, preparation and assessment.

"I have very serious concern about being able to meet that with this year's budget."

In his letter to Mr Clarke, David Hart, general secretary of the NAHT, said school leaders across the county were overwhelmingly angry about the budgetary position.

"It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is an unmanageable crisis in funding in a number of LEA areas. Members are talking about this as the worst funding position they have faced for many years," he said.

"In view of the widespread anger and concern of NAHT members, which includes decisions to make both teaching and support staff redundant, National Council has decided that NAHT cannot agree to any of the STPCD changes, the regulations or guidance."

Mr Harrison said in some schools in Suffolk, personnel costs had risen considerably this year and said they had been left in a serious situation.

Although the NAHT agreed with the issues raised in the workload initiative, he said it would be impossible to fund at present.

"The concern is in order to achieve that improvement it going to cost a significant amount of money and we have not seen the money in this year's budget," he said.

"Many things involved in the workload agreement would be welcomed by heads if we had sufficient funding."

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