Teachers have threatened to fight any moves to cut classroom jobs after ministers announced that schools face a funding squeeze. Jim Knight, schools minister, said total revenue funding for schools would rise by 2 per cent per year in real terms between 2008 and 2011.
But headteachers and teachers' unions warned that the increases were less generous than in the past and below increases in inflation, making cutbacks likely.
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The proportion of children being taught in independent schools has risen, leading to reports of an exodus from state schools. But the change has been slight. On average 7.1 per cent of 11- to 15-year-olds were taught in secondary independent schools in 2004. The figure is now 7.3 per cent. There was also a rise in the numbers of primary school-age children in private education over the three-year period, from 5.5 to 5.6 per cent.
Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, told the BBC that schools must remove sub-standard teachers who were damaging the prospects of hundreds of thousands of pupils.
The government adviser said there were still around 17,000 poor teachers in England and Wales, despite recent "fantastic" progress. Their inability to control classes was unacceptable and headteachers had to be strong about ejecting the weakest. He later denied saying the 17,000 should be sacked.
Ed Balls, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, ordered an urgent review of academies after the semi-independent schools were criticised for not providing a better education for the most disadvantaged pupils. Last month, the House of Commons public accounts committee warned that ministers had failed to keep costs under control at the schools, while standards of education were too low.
Large, complex urban schools should be broken up into small learning communities so they can provide children with more exclusive feeling education. A study published by Teach First, the scheme which places high-flying graduates into challenging schools for two years after a crash course in teaching. The report, based on the experiences of 1,000 teachers, explored ways to tackle educational disadvantage and also recommended greater collaboration between schools.
Inspectors praised a primary school in Nottinghamshire for its Harry Potter-themed lessons. Pupils at Robert Mellors Primary in Arnold vote for a new cross-curricular topic each term and chose the boy wizard. It led to children writing their own adapted Harry Potter screenplay in English and studying herbology in science. Inspectors rated a maths lesson as outstanding after seeing pupils in wizards' hats exclaiming "numerus subracticus" before solving problems.