Four out of five education authorities will shed staff

Education Editor,Richard Garner
Monday 18 October 2010 00:00

Thousands of teaching posts will be cut despite the Government's attempts to protect school budgets.

Four out of every five councils are planning for redundancies in their central education services because of the squeeze on public services.

This will threaten the extra support staff drafted in to help with teaching numeracy and literacy, peripatetic staff such as music teachers, and improvement teams sent in to help out when schools have failed their inspections.

Some councils such as Birmingham, Bolton and Haringey in London have already given warning that staff jobs are at risk.

John Bangs, a former head of education at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and now a visiting professor at London University's Institute of Education, said the early-warning system for schools in trouble would disappear.

The widespread redundancy threat, which emerged in a survey carried out by the NUT, coincides with a poll of language teachers which reveals that their subjects face a "double whammy" as a result of the cuts.

The Government's decision to scrap Labour reforms which would have made languages compulsory for all children from the age of seven is already having an impact on provision, according to the Association for Language Learning (ALL).

"With the new Coalition Government's apparent reluctance to endorse this commitment, they [language teachers] feel threatened by a 'double whammy' and fear that languages may disappear altogether from maintained schools," said the association.

The second threat is from the Comprehensive Spending Review which, teachers say, has already put in peril the employment of language assistants in schools. "The diminishing number of foreign-language assistants due to a lack of funding has also meant fewer opportunities for students to engage with native speakers, something which was felt to be essential for good A-level work," said the report.

Education maintenance allowances of up to £30 a week payable to 16- to 19-year-olds to help them stay on at school or college are also in line to be cut. The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced a £7bn boost to provide extra nursery provision for disadvantaged two-year-olds and a "pupil premium" for schools to encourage them to take in poorer pupils. While this will mean school budgets are protected in the Comprehensive Spending Review, the rest of the education sector faces more severe cuts. Andy Burnham, Labour's new education spokesman, gave warning that "robbing Peter to pay Paul" would not improve the lot of disadvantaged pupils.

Higher education is also facing a £4.2bn cut, including an 80 per cent reduction in its teaching budget, with the shortfall being met by the rises in student fees proposed in Lord Browne's inquiry into student funding last week.

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