Funding crisis in primary schools
TEACHING officials have branded a primary school funding crisis in Suffolk as the worst "since the Thatcher era". Headteachers across the county have warned a shortfall in this year's budget could lead to increased class sizes and cutbacks on books and equipment.
TEACHING officials have branded a primary school funding crisis in Suffolk as the worst "since the Thatcher era".
Headteachers across the county have warned a shortfall in this year's budget could lead to increased class sizes and cutbacks on books and equipment.
Some have even been forced to slash the number of classroom assistants or reduce support staff hours in an effort to pay the increasing cost of teachers' salaries.
Martin Goold, county secretary of the National Union of Teachers, warned Suffolk was facing a "crisis situation".
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He added: "I think it's the worst we have faced for some years. It's reminiscent of the days of the cuts under the Thatcher Government.
"If you are having fewer teachers, then you have got larger teaching groups. Obviously it's going to make it much more difficult and eventually that will have an effect on the delivery of the curriculum."
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Headteachers claim this year's education budget is barely enough to cover teachers' wages, despite being promised millions of pounds worth of extra funding from the Government.
A crisis meeting involving head teachers from across Suffolk is to be held at County Hall in Ipswich next week to discuss the problem.
Alison Beckett, headteacher at Dale Hall Primary School in Ipswich, said: "Basically, we are all strapped for cash, we really are.
"To try to balance the budgets and provide all the resources for the children and staff is getting more and more difficult.
"Resources for children are becoming more of a luxury now because we don't have the money."
She added: "I can't give my curriculum as much equipment, resource books as I have in the past. I also can't put as much money on the teaching supply budget.
"It's been broadcast that schools are getting so many million, but I do not know where it is."
A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said the Government had allocated a 3.5% increase per pupil funding to Suffolk.
"The local education authority have passed the vast majority of this increase on so schools should be able to meet their financial commitments. However, they have not passed on the entire increase," he added.
"We want to see all authorities making strenuous efforts to pass on increases in education funding in full in the future."
But Suffolk County Council insisted the full increase in the Government's provision to schools – £28.3m – had been passed directly to schools.