School governors threaten to resign over budget cutsSchool governors th reaten to resign over budget cuts

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Conservative MPs and councillors will support a national campaign against education spending cuts this week as schools warn that teachers' job losses could force them to send pupils home.

Throughout the shire counties protests are growing against the cuts, which campaigners say will amount to almost £200 for every secondary pupil and £50 for each primary pupil.

In Shropshire, 36 schools' governing bodies have threatened to either resign or refuse to set budgets rather than impose staff cuts.

One of the first to pass a resolution not to impose the cuts was the 150-pupil Much Wenlock primary school. Its chairman of governors, Perce Muscutt, said class sizes would grow if the cuts went ahead.

"My obligation and that of the other governors is to the people of Much Wenlock and the children . . . We have seen class sizes as a mark of civilisation and to see them going up to 39 or 40 is a backward step," he said.

One headteacher has warned that he may have to send children home if his budget is cut, and others are believed to be considering similar action.

Campaigns are gathering force all over the country, and next Saturday representatives will meet in Coventry to launch a national protest group.

As Tory MPs face huge mailbags from angry parents, some are expected to turn their fire on the Government in Wednesday's debate in Parliament on local authority spending.

Pressure from local authorities is also mounting and Association of Metropolitan Authorities officials will raise the issue with Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, when they meet her today.

Ministers say this year education spending will rise by 1.1 per cent and local authorities must cut their own staffs if they want to give schools more money. But councils say 2.5 per cent inflation means they face the worst cuts for 30 years. In Northumberland, Sheffield, Sutton and Sunderland secondary schools' budgets will be cut by more than 8 per cent.