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Awards mean nothing to staff as schools cut jobs

STAFF receiving cash bonuses for their schools' success say they would rather see the money used to alleviate the funding crisis.

The Government is spending just under pound;60 million on school achievement awards to be paid out as rewards to staff in nearly 7,000 schools which achieved high or improved test results last year.

But many recipients are embroiled in the schools' funding crisis and believe the money would be better spent on avoiding job cuts.

Chris Brook, head at Northside primary, in the London borough of Barnet, is facing a pound;97,000 budget shortfall and two probable staff redundancies.

"When I told staff about the achievement awards they said, 'Oh good, there is more money. Will this mean we can avoid some of the cuts?'," she said.

"They are not interested in money for themselves, they are interested in the future of the school."

Holsworthy community college in Devon is another winner, but Tony Gray, the head, expects to lose the equivalent of one-and-a-half full-time teachers because of funding problems.

"It could be incredibly de-motivating for staff in schools to receive these bonuses when their colleagues are being made redundant," he said.

Staff at Driffield school, East Yorkshire, are expected to receive pound;400 each through the award scheme, but the school has a pound;260,000 budget shortfall and will only avoid 12 job cuts by using its reserves.

Michael Chapman, head, said: "We would sacrifice the school achievement award if we could get secure three-year funding. My staff feel the same. In the end it is the education of the children that matters."

David Miliband, schools minister, said: "It is right to reward the staff whose work helps pupils to learn, and today's awards celebrate their achievements."

But David Hart, National Association of Head Teachers' general secretary, said: "It is extraordinary that, at a time when virtually every school in England is strapped for cash, the Government should be dishing out millions of pounds to 30 per cent of schools."

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said the awards were a "slap in the face" for schools.

The Government, which is expected to drop the scheme, said it was still under review.

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