Ed Balls: Conservatives may be be forced to sack teachers

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The Conservatives will be forced to sack teachers and increase class sizes if they win the election, union leaders will be told today.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls will tell the annual conference of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said pledges already made by the party on education would cost billions of pounds.

These included setting up a network of independent “free” schools run by parents and a pupil premium for every child a school enrols who is entitled to a free school meal. “It is utterly dishonest of them to make these promises but refuse to say how they will be paid,” he will tell the conference in Birmingham. In addition, the education budget would have to find its share of billions of pounds worth of cuts stemming from Shadow Chancellor George Osborne’s freeze on national insurance payment increases.

“Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove is like Santa Claus,” Mr Balls added. “He is going round the country promising any group of parents who want a new school even when there are already surplus places that they can have one whatever the cost. “He is not telling parents the only way he can pay for this is by cutting the budgets of all the other schools in the area.“We know you can’t find money like that overnight for our schools without sacking teachers or teaching assistants or seeing class sizes go up.”

Mr Balls will warn teachers there are “tougher times ahead” even if Labour wins the election with smaller real terms per pupil increases for schools. Mr Gove has said that the money for “free” schools and the pupil premium can come from efficiency savings in the education budget fron non-front line services.