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Beacon school burnt by rising rolls and falling funding

THE Priory, a beacon school in Shrewsbury, has had to drop plans to recruit two teaching assistants and create a third information technology suite after a pound;20,000 cut this year.

Plans to buy books and a new computer for staff have had to be abandoned and daily cleaning of some parts of the school has been cut to twice weekly.

The shortfall has been caused by the council budgeting for a 3 per cent pay increase for teachers when wages are due to rise by 3.5 per cent. The situation is exacerbated by a growing pupil numbers.

The school has 751 pupils this year, a dozen more than last, and in September will have 775. But it will not receive extra money for additional pupils who arrive this September until the following March.

Candy Garbett, headteacher, said: "With so many more pupils we need an extra part-time teacher but will not have more money to pay for it.

"The council has suggested we use standards fund money to prop up the budget, meaning we can't now recruit teaching assistants to support our key stage 3 strategy."

The school has had to cope with a pound;250,000 shortfall over the last three years, Mrs Garbett said. "It makes me feel disillusioned. It is difficult to sustain improvement."

Shropshire councillor Jeremy Clarke said the authority had suffered because this year it had to spend pound;1 million on broadband internet access and pound;500,000 on pension changes.

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