Schools staffing guidance scrapped

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The Independent Online

The Government has scrapped guidance to schools on staffing levels needed to teach the most vulnerable pupils. Britain's biggest teachers' union fears it will lead to bigger classes.

The guidance, in force since 1990, spells out how many adults schools need to cope with children with a wide range of disabilities. It says, for instance, that there should be a maximum of three special support assistants to deal with a class of 10 pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties. The class should have two teachers as well.

John Bangs of the National Union of Teachers said: "Too often in mainstream primary schools our members are asked to cope with children with special needs in classes of more than 30. They can't."

Rona Tutt, a past president of the National Association of Head Teachers and head of a special school in Hertfordshire, added: "We weren't happy with the way it was suddenly withdrawn."

The Department for Education said Lord Adonis, the Schools minister, consulted teachers' leaders and most raised no objection to withdrawing the guidance, which was considered out of date.The decision was revealed at a meeting of the Commons Select Committee on Education yesterday.