THE FIRST schools built under the government's flagship Private Finance Initiative (PFI) were 'significantly worse' than other new schools in England, says a public spending watchdog. PFI allows private companies to build schools and lease them back to local education authorities for a profit.
The Audit Commission says the PFI schools had smaller classroom sizes and layout, and worse heating, lighting and acoustics. It says PFI 'cannot guarantee better quality buildings and services or lower costs'.
The survey looked at 17 of the 25 PFI schools opened by September 2001. New Labour plans to refurbish more than 500 schools using PFI by 2006.
Government freezing out teachers
EDUCATION secretary Charles Clarke wants to see teachers' pay frozen for the next three years. He has told the school teachers' pay review body he wants inflation-only pay rises until 2006.
The body is due to make its recommendations at the end of this month and Clarke will decide whether to implement them. He wants the freeze in order to pay for the deal the government has struck with some teacher unions on cutting workloads.
As if this 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' was not bad enough, the workload deal involves piling more work onto low paid classroom assistants and reducing the access children will have to qualified teachers.
The largest teachers' union, the NUT, has refused to go along with the con. The National Association of Head Teachers is already warning that there is not even enough money to fund the deal.
Pay gap is down to the fat cats
THE PAY gap between men and women has widened because Britain's highest paid men have grabbed a bigger slice of the pay packet. New research from Incomes Data Services shows that the top 5 percent of male earners saw their incomes rise more than the average.
'The highest paid people across a wide range of occupations saw particularly high gains in their earnings last year,' says Sally Brett of Incomes Data Services. 'They were more likely to be men than women.'
Next week's Socialist Worker will carry full eyewitness accounts from the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil