Bad publicity leads to more cuts

17th November 1995 at 00:00
Class 4G at Goring primary school has shrunk since the start of September when 46 children were taught by one teacher in an overcrowded classroom.

Seven children have left the Oxfordshire Church of England school, four of them from the class which attracted widespread coverage in the tabloid press for being half as large again as the national average.

And as class size has been reduced, so has the school's budget - by Pounds 12,000.

Michael Turner, the school's headteacher, is philosophical about the effects of the publicity - the parents of at least two of the children moved for reasons which may have been exacerbated by the class-size issue. He is concerned, however, about the impact on his budget of spending cuts in the coming year.

The school has already lost the equivalent of one-and-a-quarter teachers this year. It has also lost time in learning support and administrative support.

And in the coming year, Oxfordshire education authority has warned schools to expect budget cuts of up to 4.5 per cent as it struggles to stay within government spending limits. If the worst scenario becomes a reality, Mr Turner would face a further reduction in staffing levels.

Goring primary has a budget of around Pounds 300,000. Everything which could stave off the worst effects of education cuts has already been used up and it now has very little left for maintenance.

Mr Turner feels the real solution lies in adequate funding to allow for sufficient staff to teach classes which the National Union of Teachers believes should be no bigger than 26 pupils.

"We are not the only school in this situation," he said. "We have used up any carry forward we had this year.

"The parents who took away their children wrote very nice letters saying they did not want their children to leave but they felt it was not very sensible to leave their children in the class at that time."

And despite the bad publicity, demand for places remains undiminished. "We are still getting letters from parents who are thinking of moving to the area and want their children to come to us," he said.

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