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Wednesday, 7 April, 1999, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Class size drive 'a stunt'
classroom
NUT delegates claim classes are getting bigger
By Sean Coughlan in Brighton

Teachers have criticised the government's drive to cut class sizes as a publicity stunt.

Delegates at the National Union of Teachers' annual conference in Brighton claimed the government had failed to invest enough money in education and that the problem of over-crowding was getting worse, rather than better.

Any claims that the government had no more money to give were disproved by the spending on cruise missiles being used against Serbia, Ron Haycock from Waltham Forest, east London, told the conference.

delegates
Conference had no time to vote on the issue
A motion put to the conference claimed that while the government had gained much publicity by achieving smaller class sizes for infants, the overall figure showed that the number of pupils in overcrowded classes was increasing.

Stuart Bellaby from Merton, south-west London, claimed that there are now 1.4 million pupils in over-sized classes, compared to 1.3 million last year. Attacking the government's "inadequate" expenditure on education, he called for a maximum upper limit of 30 pupils for all classes.

Unions 99
The government's campaign on infant class sizes had been "a high-profile, high-publicity" tactic that had done little to resolve the underlying problems of the underfunding of schools, said Ron Haycock.

If the government was serious about cutting class sizes, it would need to invest in a "massive programme of spending on new school buildings" and the recruitment of new teachers, Mr Haycock told delegates.

The attack on the government over class sizes did not go to a vote, as a lack of time curtailed the debate.

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