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Restructuring ends class size dispute

Penny Houghton's parents were scornful when they heard the dispute which disrupted their eight-year-old daughter's education had been resolved.

"It wouldn't be over if we hadn't made such a fuss," said Hazel Houghton. "It's been going on for 18 months, and it took our threat of legal action to concentrate their minds on the problem."

Mrs Houghton was speaking after the end of a dispute over class sizes at Ferney Lee infant and junior school in Todmorden, where her daughter Penny and at least 30 other pupils had missed two days' school because of staff working to rule.

The Houghtons said they were ready to take legal action against Calderdale council for failing to provide a proper education for their daughter. "We are still going to our solicitors," said Mrs Houghton.

The settlement reached between National Union of Teachers' negotiators and the education authority involves a restructuring plan to reduce class sizes and redeploying support staff to larger classes.

The changes mean the largest class will have 32 pupils. About 60 per cent of the 252 pupils will be in classes of fewer than 30 for the whole week.

Restructuring will begin after the Easter break, but teachers have agreed to halt their action immediately. The education authority, governors and headteacher Sue Ellis said they greatly appreciated the speedy return to normal work.

The agreement reached, says a joint statement from Calderdale and the NUT, shows give and take on all sides: "We very much regret that children and parents have been affected, but we have all worked extremely hard to resolve the situation as quickly as possible."

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