Letter: Junior funding

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The Independent Online
NORMAN THOMAS's letter (12 September) deserves support and confirmation. There is absolutely no justification for the discrepancy between the funding of primary and secondary schools, a discrepancy that has frustrated us primary school governors for years. Before the last general election, Tony Blair's party trumpeted its commitment to reducing infant (Key Stage 1) classes well in excess of that magical number. If it is so important for a five-year-old to be educated in a "small" class, why is it not equally important for a seven- or ten-year-old?

In my own school, we now have infant classes of less than 30 children, as dictated by the government. But, as chairman of governors, I have presided over meetings during the past year in which we have had to discuss making Key Stage 2 teachers redundant because their classes happen to have fallen below that number and are consequently "financially unviable". This situation is grotesquely stupid; and it arises for the simple reason that the relative underfunding of junior pupils makes large classes necessary.

If this government were really serious about raising standards in education, it would forgo the Tory nonsense of league tables and so-called "parental choice" and get serious about school funding. It should lift the per- pupil funding of primary schools to the same level as that of secondary schools (something it could afford to do) so that people like me don't have decide how to move from item one on the agenda - how to raise standards - to item two - who shall we make redundant?

MAL PEET

Exmouth, Devon

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