Clarke is a failing Secretary of State

14th November 2003 at 00:00
Education Secretary Charles Clarke really has the most colossal audacity and gall when he says "... responsibility for balancing budgets now rests firmly on headteachers, schools and LEAs". (TES, October 31).

He is the man who, despite messages to the contrary from a sham exercise of so called consultation, presided over and imposed last year's disastrous revision of education funding.

He is the man who tried to lay the blame for the debacle on heads and education autorities and was forced to withdraw his unfounded accusations.

He is the man who, under pressure, acknowledged that he and his advisers got it wrong. He is the man who undoubtedly caused the present crisis.

We now have the spectacle of "macho man" trying, yet again, to bully and divert responsibility for his ineptitude on to those who rely on him for support, protection and advocacy.

He must take responsibility for:

* failing to fund "Curriculum 2000" (delivered by secondary schools despite the absence of additional money);

* failing to guarantee any new money to support the "workload agreement";

* introducing "performance related pay" with no nationally agreed criteria and a crude formula giving only 70 per cent funding for the upper pay spine and 60 per cent for the leadership spine;

* demanding extra tests and examinations and failing to fund the additional costs;

* failing to control inflation-busting rises in examination fees;

* failing to realise, and fund, the additional effect Chancellor Gordon Brown's massive increases in national insurance and pensions contributions would have on staffing costs.

The responsibility for "balancing budgets" rests firmly with Mr Clarke. His ingenuous attempts to divert the responsibility for this is nothing less than contemptible.

Paul Strong

Headteacher, William Farr CoE comprehensive school

Welton , Lincolnshire

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