Leading article: A grim lesson for ministers

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The Independent Online

Our survey showed that the vast majority of heads believe that they do not have adequate funds to implement the agreement. The Department for Education and Skills should examine that claim. It insists that there is enough money, but it must ensure that it is released by education authorities to schools for the purpose it is intended.

The head teachers are also worried about allowing classroom assistants to take over the lessons of teachers who are making use of their planning and preparation time. We have no qualms about assistants being used for such a purpose, provided they have received enough training for their new role. There is evidence that they have not. At least one school in the survey was in a dilemma. The head teacher said that, if she employed a high-level classroom assistant to take lessons, she would have to sack two ordinary classroom assistants. Should local education authorities set up emergency funding pools so that heads facing this dilemma can be bailed out?

There is also the matter of whether primary schools are adequately funded in the first place, given that the lion's share of resources goes to the secondary sector where schools already give preparation time to their teaching staff. There is overwhelming evidence that this year's budgets should have given priority to the primary sector, which had the biggest distance to travel in implementing the reforms. The Government is to be congratulated for reaching agreement on reducing workloads with the majority of the teachers' unions. It would be a pity if the introduction of the reform were marred by inadequate preparation and finance.

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