Goodwill threat from heads

19th February 1999 at 00:00
HEADTEACHERS in Staffordshire are considering a campaign of non co-operation with Government education initiatives in protest at the way their schools are funded.

They are investigating ways of withdrawing their goodwill without disrupting pupils' education.

"We are looking at various options and have deliberately left it open," said Chris McDonnell, county secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers.

"It might mean that the Department for Education and Employment doesn't get some forms answered. We want to signal to ministers that as headteachers we have had enough."

Staffordshire ranks second to bottom of the league table of spending for the shire counties.

It gets nearly pound;270 less for every secondary child than Hertfordshire does, and nearly pound;220 less for every primary school child - a difference of pound;70,000 for a 350-child primary. Only Leicestershire fares worse.

The complaints of the 420 county heads rest not with the authority, which is spending pound;4.2 million above what ministers believe is necessary, but with the Government.

They claim they are penalised by the way the standard spending assessment is calculated and by a pay rise for teachers that was higher than budgeted for. And they are now demanding that Estelle Morris, the standards minister, meets them in the county.

Heads are furious that the Government can pump extra money into booster numeracy and literacy lessons.

"Money is being found to meet political pledges such as the national test results and heads are very angry. There is a feeling that we have been let down," said Mr McDonnell.

Formal notices warning of up to 75 job losses in Staffordshire schools have already been issued.

And in a letter to Education Secretary David Blunkett, John Brooks, county education chairman, said: "I have never seen our headteachers so bitter and angry, even throughout the darkest days of the previous government.

"They and I feel that we have been betrayed by a government whose educational aims we have largely supported and applauded.

"You should know better than anyone what the pressures on our schools are and it will now prove more difficult to motivate staff to meet government targets."

Governors, 26

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