Teacher Talk

Elizabeth Pierce is head teacher of Mulbarton First school, a primary in Mulbarton, Norwich, which has 170 pupils aged four to eight. Norfolk is one of the counties worst hit by the school funding crisis
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What was the effect of this year's budget on the school?

What was the effect of this year's budget on the school?

To hold staffing at current levels we have made huge cuts in other budgets such as those for school equipment and staff training. We used £10,000 of capital building money allocated this year to keep staffing as it was. If we hadn't done this, there would have been staff redundancies across the school or greater workload and pressure for me. We have made cuts in all other areas such as books, supplies and building decoration. This is the worst year I have ever had as head teacher and I have done the job for 23 years now.

Whom do you think is to blame for the funding crisis?

The government - completely. The new level of funding last April took away money from areas such as Norfolk. Schools such as ours were hit badly whereas some schools in the north got greater funding. They didn't take into account that schools needed at least a 10 per cent increase in budget this last year to cover teachers' pensions and national insurance contributions. I'm not terribly hopeful the situation will improve next year. It will be difficult again. When the general election comes about in 2005 I expect there will be some proper spending.

What do you think of the Government's national primary school strategy which asks teachers to put more emphasis on teacher assessments rather than tests at age seven?

I'm pleased teacher assessments are being piloted this year in place of testing. Testing children of primary school age is a complete waste of time and doesn't give parents or teachers information that they haven't got already.

What do you think of school league tables?

League tables do not, of course, paint a true picture of schools. Results should be compiled in school documents and put on websites rather than in tables so they can be viewed by those requesting them. Otherwise they won't take into account the value, time and effort added by schools.

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