Headteacher warns of redundancies
AN IPSWICH headteacher has warned hundreds of teachers and classroom assistants could face redundancy unless the Government tackles an acute lack of funding in schools.
AN IPSWICH headteacher has warned that hundreds of teachers and classroom assistants could face redundancy unless the Government tackles an acute lack of funding in schools.
Martin Liddle, Suffolk spokesman for the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said schools were suffering huge financial problems, with many being forced to spend more than 80 per cent of their budget on staffing costs.
A survey by the NAHT of 628 schools in England found only 30pc operated a budget that could cover rising costs.
As a result, 45pc of those schools now look set to make staff cuts this year – about 323 teachers and 313 support staff between them.
Speaking at the annual conference of the NAHT in Torquay yesterday, Mr Liddle said: "We are struggling on the financial side to stand still and effectively this will lead to teacher redundancies.
"We will not be able to take on extra teachers when we really want to.
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"It's crazy to be making teachers redundant at a time when we are looking for all the teachers we can get. We should be making the profession more attractive."
The Government has increased school budgets by an average of 5.7pc. But Mr Liddle, headteacher of Stoke High School in Ipswich, said this money was being swallowed up on teacher salaries.
"A lot of the pay schemes assume schools can make 40pc contributions but we have not got the money to put in. We just haven't got the money to spare," he said.
"We want Government money to be fed directly into schools to fund teachers, books and equipment."
Mr Liddle said East Anglia was not isolated from the growing national problem and added that as well as the threat of teacher redundancies, the region could also see cuts in resources including music tuition and foreign languages.
NAHT county secretary, Alan Draper, said schools in areas such as Lowestoft were struggling to fill teacher vacancies for September. There are currently 61 vacancies for teachers in Suffolk.
"I find it ironic that we have a huge shortage at a time when there is not enough funding to keep on teachers," he said.
"I am hoping the NAHT can put pressure on the Government to do something about the funding," he added.
According to NAHT general secretary, David Hart, Chancellor Gordon Brown needs to put at least £10billion into schools in next month's spending review.
But what schools really needed was guaranteed, NHS-style increases in the amounts of money invested in education, he said. Eventually, the Government should commit itself to spending 6pc as a proportion of national wealth, the average of England's main competitors, added Mr Hart.