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Protesters to target vulnerable MPs

MPs in marginal seats are to be the targets of a mass campaign organised by parents, teachers and governors angry at cuts of at least Pounds 258 million in education this year.

The campaigners belong to the pressure group FACE (Fight Against Cuts in Education) which holds its first annual conference this weekend. They intend to focus on lobbying MPs, particularly those whose parliamentary majorities are vulnerable, and on organising public demonstrations.

Bob Jelley, the secretary of FACE, said: "We have as much work to do to convince the Labour party as the Conservatives that a clear commitment needs to be made. We want to show there is national consensus on education funding. "

In March, 10,000 parents, governors, teachers and children took part in a demonstration in London organised by FACE. A similar event is planned for September.

Mr Jelley, headteacher of St Giles middle school in Exhall, near Coventry, said unrest over this year's "disastrous" education cuts had turned into a determination to ensure that they did not happen again.

Last week the Association of Teachers and Lecturers claimed that there would be 3,000 redundancies in schools in England and Wales this summer.

The association said schools have issued redundancy notices to 4,600 teachers, but claimed 1,500 jobs had been saved through negotiations with the unions.

The figures, the first to give a clear indication of the impact of the cuts, fall short of the 7,000-10,000 predicted by Gillian Shephard, the Education Secretary, in a memo leaked to The TES.

Her Cabinet colleagues may now claim that the lower than predicted losses are an indication that further efficiency savings can be made.

Mrs Shephard already faces a difficult battle with the Treasury, which is understood to be resisting her bid for an extra Pounds 1 billion next April. She is also thought to want an extra Pounds 300 million to expand nursery education (see page 9).

The National Governors Council (NGC) is currently involved in a nationwide survey of schools which it hopes will give Mrs Shephard hard evidence of the damaging effects of the current cuts.

Simon Goodenough, chairman of the NGC, said: "If the Government doesn't produce something better than this year for education there will be a lot of very strong ill-feeling."

* The FACE conference is being held at Coventry's Methodist Central Hall this Saturday, June 10.

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