Brown cash should free primary staff

16th July 2004 at 01:00
Schools can no longer deny hard-pressed teachers marking time during the day. Jon Slater reports

Primary schools will receive bigger funding increases next year than their secondary neighbours, the Government said this week.

Unions welcomed ministers' decision to guarantee primaries at least 5 per cent per pupil, compared with 4 per cent for secondaries. The extra money left heads "no excuse" for failing to implement the workforce agreement, they said.

An average primary will receive a minimum of pound;28,000 extra in 20056 compared to pound;140,000 for a typical secondary, although ministers expect most schools to receive more than the minimum.

Funding plans for English schools were announced the day after Chancellor Gordon Brown confirmed an pound;8.5 billion UK-wide increase in education spending between 2006-8. This represents a slowdown in the rate of growth from an average of 6 per cent since 2002 to 4.4 per cent.

Spending will be partly financed by the loss of 2,500 civil service jobs, a move which brought the threat of industrial action from the Public and Commercial Services Union.

The Department for Education and Skills will shed 1,460 jobs, at least 520 staff will be axed from the Office for Standards in Education and a further 500 jobs will go at other Government agencies.

As well as backing school reforms announced in last week's five-year plan, Mr Brown said the money will provide 100,000 new childcare places by 2008 and extend free part-time nursery education to 12,000 two-year-olds in deprived areas.

The Government will also extend the Bookstart scheme to provide free books for every child at age nine months, 18 months and two years.

Other measures in the spending review include an extension of free museum access to include those run by universities and a National Sports Foundation to boost private investment in facilities.

Extra money for primaries is designed to help them free up 10 per cent of teachers' school day for marking and lesson preparation - crucial to the success of the workforce agreement. Primaries will find this harder to do than secondaries where many staff already get such "planning, preparation and assessment" (PPA) time.

Ministers estimate schools' costs will rise by between 3.8 and 4 per cent for secondaries and between 4.6 and 5 per cent for primaries next year.

A joint statement by the workforce agreement monitoring group, which includes all teaching and support staff unions except the National Union of Teachers, said that nationally, average per-pupil funding will be 7 per cent higher next year.

John Dunford, Secondary Heads Association general secretary, said:

"Secondary heads recognise that the highest single cost of the workforce agreement is PPA time in primary schools."

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "We will not tolerate any further prevarication or delay by schools seeking to deny teachers improved working conditions. The patience of our members is exhausted. Schools must understand that continued resistance to these changes will be met with appropriate action."

David Miliband, schools minister, said the 20056 settlement - which includes pound;61 million in transitional support to 51 authorities - would provide a "stable bridge" to the introduction of three-year budgets in 20067.


* Education spending in England will increase from pound;52 billion this year to pound;64bn in 20078.

* Primary schools guaranteed a 5 per cent increase next year. Secondary schools will get a minimum 4 per cent.

* Transitional protection for hard-up schools will continue.

* 60 per cent of school-leavers to gain five Cs or better at GCSE by 2008.

* Extra cash to attract science teachers * 12,000 nursery places for two-year-olds.

* 1,460 jobs to go at DfES * 2,500 children's centres to be opened by 2008. Previous target was 1,700.

* 100,000 new childcare places by 2008.

Analysis 14

leader 18

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