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Major is attacked for County Hall jibe

The president of the Secondary Heads Association has joined David Blunkett, Labour's education spokesman, in accusing the Prime Minister of making misleading claims that town halls employ more than two administrators for every three teachers.

Peter Downes, head of Hinchingbrooke comprehensive in John Major's Huntingdon constituency said the Prime Minister was being disingenuous during MPs' question time when he intimated that savings could be made by over-bureaucratic local authorities. "The Prime Minister's statement may be mathematically correct if you compare teaching and non-teaching staff, but it is grossly misleading to imply that there are thousands of pen-pushers at County Hall. "

In a written answer on the subject the Prime Minister said that according to figures collected by the Local Government Management Board, in June 1994 local education authorities employed 376,665 full-time equivalent teachers and lecturers and 316,244 full-time equivalent other manual and non manual staff in education, making a ratio of around 2.5 non-teaching staff to every three teachers.

But figures produced by the Association of Metropolitan Association show the full story. They show that teachers make up 55 per cent of the education workforce, followed by manual workers (21 per cent), school-based white-collar workers, for example librarians, laboratory technicians, bursars and classroom assistants (15 per cent), and local authority white-collar workers 9 per cent of whom only 4.5 per are town-hall administrators.

Alan Parker, education officer of the AMA, said: "These administrators spend most of their time dealing the mountains of paperwork sent by the Department for Education, fulfilling statutory duties, bidding for GEST money and helping to implement local management."

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