What the teachers say

20th February 1998 at 00:00
Hilary Bracegirdle, deputy head at St Margaret's C of E infant and junior in Prestwich, Bury, says the reduction in class size will be an enormous benefit.

"We have 35 children in each class. With one extra infant teacher we will obviously have smaller classes. But we have the problem of having no more space, so there will be an overspill into what we call a resource area - a large corridor spacious enough to fit tables and chairs and 15 children. The new teacher will concentrate on maths and English. It is a system that is working very well in the junior's and now we will be able to copy it in the infants.

Peter Blunsdon, headteacher at St John's primary in Belper, is delighted that the extra money will allow the cash-strapped school two more teachers. Derbyshire received a boost of Pounds 1.16m, the highest of all the local authorities.

"I'm delighted because we can hire two extra teachers but then the problem that we'll face is a desperate shortage of space. In the past few years we have increased our numbers from 260 children to 380 but we still only have 11 teaching spaces with an average of 38 in each class.

"We will have to hold lessons in the library or even the hall, but that is no different from the conditions in most primaries in Derbyshire.

"The overall reduction in income will be shielded by the fact that we are very popular and have an increase in classes. For the past 18 years I would say we have lived hand-to-mouth and saved money by walking to the pool instead of getting the bus. You would be surprised how an extra Pounds 500 makes the difference between breaking even and going into debt."

Verna Lowe is head of Dorchester primary in Sutton, which has 317 children.

"While I'm very happy about this money, I just hope that it will be sustained so that we can offer the same benefits to children in the future. The grant for Sutton - which will benefit 10 primaries - will only cover extra teaching staff between September 1998 and March 1999. We have already tried to reduce our class sizes by spending 92 per cent of our budget on teachers. This was just to keep the children in their year groups. We had to cut back on certain improvements so when there were problems with the Tarmac we just made do. "

Julie Read

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