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More flak for Clarke

Schools in Charles Clarke's constituency will have to make teachers redundant next year despite the Education Secretary's promise to increase funding, the Tory conference heard.

Marion Rix, an adviser to Conservative-controlled Norfolk council, said that Mr Clarke had been "hammered" by heads angry about this year's funding settlement and could expect the same treatment next year.

She told a fringe meeting organised by the National Union of Teachers that school balances had been cut from pound;17 million to pound;4m and that all 460 schools in the county had been affected.

The Government's guarantee that every school would receive an increase in funding per pupil will not be enough to avoid further cuts in schools across the county which includes Mr Clarke's constituency of Norwich South, she added. "Charles Clarke is a worried man. He does not want the same flak that he got this year, but it looks as though he will get it. Next year in Norfolk we will be making more staff redundant."

Phil Collins, director of the Social Market Foundation think-tank, called on the Tories to promise more money for schools to help them recruit and retain high-quality teachers. "Unless we are prepared to accept that more money is needed then we will not tackle teacher vacancies," he said.

John Bangs, NUT head of education, said that the Government's funding proposals would penalise schools with falling rolls. "This is an example of robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said.

Mr Bangs called on the Conservatives to forget vouchers and concentrate on attacking Labour's centralisation of education. "Getting rid of the command management system is an idea that resonates with teachers," he said.

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