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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Heads warn on school staff cuts
Teachers face job cuts
Many primary schools spend 90% of their income on staffing

Schools in England need a funding injection similar to that promised to the health service if teaching posts are not to be lost, head teachers warned.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said hundreds of teachers and support staff could be made redundant, as schools struggled with budget shortages.

This dispelled the "myth" of big budget increases for schools, said the union's general secretary, David Hart.

In a survey of 14,000 primary, secondary and special schools, the NAHT found 45% of schools would be forced to make staffing cuts in the coming year.


By the end of 2006, we must see rises comparable to the health service

David Hart, NAHT

The union says that vast majority of school budgets are taken by staffing costs, leaving them little flexibility for other spending.

According to the survey, 42% of primary schools spend over 90% of their budget on staffing.

Altogether, 628 schools said they would be forced to make people redundant - in all, 323 teachers and 313 support staff were expected to lose their jobs.

The survey reveals seven out of 10 schools surveyed fear budgets will not cover rising costs in the year ahead.

And only 7% had budgets that provided real terms growth.

NAHT general secretary David Hart said the government should inject an extra 15bn into education over the next five years, from 58bn to 73bn.

"By the end of 2006, we must see rises comparable to the health service," said Mr Hart.

'Nightmare'

One of the head teachers surveyed by the NAHT said: "We're sailing very close to the wind."

"Next year will be a big problem if our budget is low and there is no more surplus," another head warned.

"Only the use of reserves is sustaining us," said another.

Spending review

The poll, which covered the financial year April 2002 to March 2003, was published to launch the start of the NAHT annual conference in Torquay.

But Mr Hart said it was also timed to make a point to the government ahead of the Chancellor's comprehensive spending review next month.

David Hart, leader of National Association of Head Teachers
David Hart says schools budget are heavily squeezed
Mr Hart said: "Our school budget survey dispels several myths. There has not been a big increase in funding at school level."

"Rising costs are barely covered, or not covered at all. Real terms growth is a rare exception. Staffing costs are way beyond safe levels," said Mr Hart.

"What I want our conference to do is to send a clear message to the government that we have a limited time span within which to get this sorted," he said.

Mr Hart said the union would be sending a copy of the survey to the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, and to the Chancellor, Gordon Brown.

'Committed'

But the Department for Education said the government's commitment to funding education was "self-evident".

"Funding per pupil has risen by an average of 550 (20%) in real terms to 3,310 since 1997 and will rise by a further 130 in real terms in 2002-03," a department spokeswoman said.

"By 2003-04 it will have increased by over 760 in real terms since 1997-98."

The number of teachers in post had also risen, with 20,400 more teachers in school since January 1997, she added.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mike Baker
"Headteachers insist school costs are rising even further"
David Hart, NAHT
"It sends a very strong message indeed to the chancellor"
See also:

17 Apr 02 | UK Education
30 May 02 | UK Education
05 Jun 02 | UK Education
02 May 02 | UK Education
05 Jun 02 | UK Education
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