Bleak Somerset

5th April 1996 at 01:00
As you reported, Somerset is not able to fund the teachers' pay award in 199697 (TES, March 22). This reflects a budget cut in real terms of 3 per cent. The context for this is that we spend - even after the cuts - Pounds 13 million more on education than the Government standard spending assessment (SSA) figure.

All other county council services have been cut - not just this year but for the past three years - including social services, which spends below the SSA level. In education, we are funding demographic growth, adjustments to the formula for small schools, repayments on supply insurance, safety legislation for school transport and increases in special educational needs support.

The picture is bleak, and many schools are using reserves to minimise redundancies, but the devil is in the detail. The key detail here is that, if we were funded at SSA level, our schools would have a multi-million pound shortfall.

NICK HENWOOD Chief education officer Somerset County Council

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