Thousands of teachers face sack

Survey of local authorities reveals plans for big job cuts
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The Independent Online
Thousands of teachers are to lose their jobs as schools struggle to stay within budget, according to a survey by the Independent. The research reveals that the 10,000 redundancies predicted by Gillian Shephard, the Education Secretary, may well be reached.

Out of 97 authorities contacted in England and Wales yesterday, 62 expected job cuts. The19 prepared to give figures forecast job losses of 2,940.Those predicting the biggest cuts were Devon (200 - 300); Nottinghamshire (250); Warwickshire (240); Northamptonshire (200); Oxfordshire (200 to 300); and Rotherham (200). Buckinghamshire said it had agreed to lose 81 posts by natural wastage. There are a total of 116 local authorities in England and Wales.

The survey, on the eve of today's meeting to set up a national governors and parents campaign to fight the cuts, also revealed a wave of protest over cuts but showed the degree of militancy varies considerably.

However, 11 local authorities warned that there was a strong possibility that their governing bodies would set deficit budgets and six were expecting governors to resign.

In Shropshire, the local authority has already taken over Queenswood primary school, in Telford, after its govenors resigned and 36 other governing bodies are considering resignation. Governors are also thinking of resignation in Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and West Sussex. Warwickshire governors will meet on Wednesday. In two authorities - Hereford and Worcester, and Derbyshire - schools are talking of putting pupils on short-time because of staff cuts. In Gloucestershire, one of the most militant counties, governing bodies are voting whether to refuse to carry out duties.

Most rebellious governors are attracted by the idea of setting deficit budgets. In Oxfordshire, governors from 63 schools have voted to set two budgets, one within the authority's spending limits and one that would meet children's needs. It will be left to schools to decide which to submit.

Mrs Shephard's prediction of redundancies was revealed in a leaked letter to Cabinet colleagues last year in which she warned that class sizes would shoot up and and thousands of jobs would go unless the teachers pay rise was funded by the Treasury.

The Independent survey shows feeling in the counties, who believe they have suffered most in the funding allocation, is much stronger than in the cities. Most London boroughs and Birmingham, which has promised to protect education, say governors and parents are not involved in lobbying.

Several counties are proposing mass lobbies of Parliament. Margaret Tulloch of the Campaign for the Advancement of State Education said: "It would be good if we could get thousands of people on the streets as the French do over education." The National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers is already threatening industrial action over impending cuts. Nigel de Gruchy, the general secretary, said parents could co-operate in another form of action - accepting less than a full week's schooling for their children in the longer term interests of all.