No new books for 10 years

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Headteacher Jack Cornall has become adept at sob stories.

His school St Mary's Bluecoat Church of England primary in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, has a deficit of pound;51,000. It lost four support staff posts last summer and has not bought any new books for 10 years.

One woman who sold educational books was so sorry for the pupils that she donated her dog-eared demonstration copies to the school. "We got 60 beautiful books - really good stuff," said Mr Cornall."I obviously made her feel sorry for us."

He is unimpressed by Charles Clarke's promise of a guaranteed 4 per cent for schools. "About 2.5 percent of that will go on salaries, so in effect it's only a 1.5 percent rise. We are supposed to be implementing the work load agreement which I can't afford to do - I need an 8 percent rise just to do what I'm supposed to be doing."

The school has 360 full-time and part-time pupils aged two to 11.

Funding problems are not new: Mr Cornall says the school is permanently in deficit. But the current crisis has pushed him to the end of his tether.

This year he dropped a part-time music teacher who had come in for the past 20 years and took over her duties himself. A new infant teacher is needed now but will not be employed until April to save money.

Although Mr Cornall supports the workload agreement, he is thwarted by his lack of cash. He had to cut three assistant posts and a nursery nurse this year (saving pound;25,000) even though they were needed to implement the agreement.

He said:"The school is very successful but it's at the expense of teachers working 60 hours a week. My teachers are burning out and I cannot protect them. I'm very frustrated."

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