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Cash-starved 'in majority'

The majority of schools in England and Wales have lost out financially because of changes to the funding system, a new survey has found.

The study, commissioned by the National Union of Teachers, also reports the loss of 8,800 teaching posts. It has prompted the union to accuse the Government of deliberately starving schools of cash to reduce teacher numbers.

Ministers have argued that the redistribution of funding that led, in part, to this year's funding crisis had created winners as well as the losers who had been shouting the loudest.

But the survey - based on a representative sample of 908 primary schools and 368 secondaries - and carried out by Liverpool university's centre for education and employment research, found the winners were a minority, with only 9.1 per cent of primaries and 10.3 per cent of secondaries reporting that their 200304 budgets were bigger than the previous year's.

By contrast, 56.4 per cent of primaries and 63.3 per cent of secondaries said their budgets were smaller. The east of England had the highest proportion of primary losers, while outer London fared worst in the secondary sector.

Of the teaching posts lost, 3,115 - including 760 redundancies - were in secondary schools. These figures mirror the findings of the TESSecondary Heads Association poll carried out at the start of term, which reported 3,459 secondary teaching posts cut, including 730 redundancies.

The new study reports that 5,702 primary teaching posts were cut, of which 1,240 were redundancies, with the rest lost through the end of fixed-term contracts or through natural wastage. It found that 12,308 support staff posts had been cut.

Other schools had created new teaching posts, resulting in a net gain in the secondary sector of 20 and a net loss in primaries of 4,537.

Alan Smithers, who conducted the study with Pamela Robinson, said that secondaries needed an extra 2,500 teachers just to keep pace with rising pupil numbers.

Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said that primaries would need extra teachers to provide the 10 per cent planning and preparation time that teachers will be guaranteed under the workload agreement by September 2005.

He claimed ministers had deliberately engineered the f`unding crisis in order to cut teacher numbers. This meant unqualified staff would have to take lessons to allow schools to deliver the workload agreement.

"One of the purposes of government is to create the financial situation that there will be a ready acceptance on the part of parents and perhaps even on the part of some teachers to have unqualified persons working as teachers," he said. "I think it is deliberate."

The survey partially countered another government argument - that many job cuts were caused by falling pupil numbers. Falling numbers had affected less than a third of primaries and 11.7 per cent of secondaries. And only 48 per cent of primaries and 25.2 per cent of secondaries losing teachers had cited it as a contributory factor.

The Local Government Association said redundancies this year were no higher than last year, while the Department for Education and Skills claimed the NUT had "lost touch with reality".

The DfES spokeswoman said the figures did not tally with assessments from other unions such as the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

In June, the NASUWT estimated a total of 696 teacher redundancies of which only 34 per cent were due to budget shortfalls.

But John Dunford, SHA general secretary, said his union's survey carried out jointly with The TES, which the Government rejected in August, had had its accuracy confirmed.

What schoolsin the NUTsurvey said

"The position is difficult and made worse by the promise of plenty after several years of blight. We have no reserves. We no longer believe next year will be better."

School with language college status in the east Midlands

"Whatever national comments are made about recruitment, schools finance etc, the situation on the ground is the most serious ever at present.

Standards are threatened." Comprehensive in the east of England

"The knock-on effect of increasing class sizes will have a devastating effect on the health and welfare of the staff."

School with language college status in the South east

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