Schools fear new round of job cuts

17th March 2000 at 00:00
Teacher redundancies look increasingly likely as cash-strapped councils meet to fix their annual budgets. TES staff report

SCHOOLS in the South-west are bracing themselves for job cuts as local education authorities fix their annual budgets.

Extensive job losses are predicted for the region, with warnings of heavy cuts in North Somerset where one secondary may have to get rid of nine teachers.

There appear to be particularly severe problems in the new-ish unitary authorities that used to be part of the now defunct county of Avon.

Ron Owen, regional official of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "They're all in some difficulty simply because Avon, for all its faults, protected its education service."

"Whether or not job cuts in the South-west are compulsory is another issue. But there will certainly be job losses."

There are serious concerns too about schools in Wrexham, North Wales, where union officials expect teacher redundancies to hit double figures.

Geraint Davies, one of the

NASUWT's Welsh officials for Wales, said: "Despite there being promises from the Assembly of extra money, it appears it's not being channelled through to education."

Redundancies are predicted for Telford, the Wrekin, Sefton and Knowsley, not through budget cuts but because of falling olls.

And 20 out of Kent's 530 schools are looking at cutting jobs - with secondaries facing losses of around four or five staff and primaries, one.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "We have some evidence, though it isn't firm, that councils are reducing the amount of local money they are putting into schools.

"Whether this will lead to job cuts we don't know, but we are certainly anxious about the situation."

Mr Dunford said that while the Government claimed to have invested an extra pound;19 billion in education, schools were beginning to doubt whether the money was real.

"The pound;19 billion - whether fictitious or not - is not getting through to the core secondary school budgets."

Malcolm Anderson, the National Union of Teachers regional secretary for Yorkshire and the Midlands, was concerned too about money not getting through to schools.

"If there is any reduction in spending on schools by a local authority it inevitably affects jobs," he said.

Kay Driver, general secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers, said it had a few worries about job losses but had received no indication that large numbers of teachers were to go.

"We are more worried at the moment about how schools are going to find the money to fund teachers' pay rises," she said.

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