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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
'Schools not bombs' say teachers
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News Online at the NUT conference, Harrogate

Teachers say schools face financial problems
Teachers say schools face financial problems
Teachers say schools should not be facing budget problems while there was "unlimited" spending on the military in Iraq.

The National Union of Teachers' conference in Harrogate heard accusations that schools were once again set to face funding problems.

And delegates approved a motion attacking the spending on war in Iraq while public services lacked funding.

"We should spend more on schools not explosives," the conference was told.

The debate on funding heard claims that some schools will face financial problems again this year - and the teachers' union claims there is a funding shortfall of 1.5bn over the next two years.

When will the military be holding a car-boot sale to buy weapons?
NUT delegate, Nick Grant

But teachers at the conference voted in support of an amendment which specifically linked the spending on the conflict in Iraq with the "inadequate" funding in schools.

"When schools are counting paperclips and worrying about the cost of washing up liquid in the staff room, what kind of accounting is there for spending on Chinook helicopters?" asked Nick Grant of Ealing.

Funding promises

"When will the military be holding a car-boot sale to buy weapons?" he asked, contrasting what he said were lower public sector salaries with the money being spent on military hardware.

Philippa Harvey from Croydon also argued that there should not be funding for expensive weaponry when schools were struggling for cash.

In the debate on funding, the conference heard claims that the government has failed to keep its promises to provide enough money for schools.

The union has commissioned a report into the funding implications of a deal to cut teachers' workload, which will allow teachers to have some planning time outside of lessons.

The report says that many schools could face budget problems in implementing the deal - particularly those which do not get extra grants, such as those supporting schools in deprived inner-city areas.

Small schools and schools with falling numbers of pupils could face financial difficulties, says the report.

There could also be problems for schools which have a large proportion of teachers on higher pay scales.

But the report also has a more positive message - pointing out that local education authorities have been able to meet the government's target of a 4% increase in per pupil funding.

And it says that there are schools which have some "flexibility" in their budgets.

The BBC's Mike Baker
"The NUT accepts that funding problems are not as serious as last year's crisis"

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