THOUSANDS OF teachers could receive redundancy letters this month as schools face the kind of cash squeeze last seen in the dying days of the Tory government.
The conference of the head teachers' NAHT union identified at the weekend a £2.5 billion funding black hole. Education secretary Charles Clarke has tried to pass the buck by claiming local education authorities are sitting on over £500 million extra cash the government has given them to pass on to schools.
In fact only 19 out of 150 English local education authorities are spending less than the government suggests. The government admits that rising costs meant that every school needed 10 percent more just to stand still this year.
Yet an NAHT survey of 700 schools showed that 17 percent have had a cash decrease and only 22 percent have had an increase of 10 percent or more. Former NAHT president Sue Sayles, head teacher of Riccall Primary School near Selby, North Yorkshire, says,'We have never known education be in such a crisis as we are in at the moment.'
The normally ultra-polite delegates at the NAHT conference jeered Stephen Twigg when he said the government wanted to avoid 'unnecessary redundancies'.
Parents join resistance
ANGER AMONG teachers and parents has already led to many local protests over threatened cuts. Even Fiona Miller, partner of Blair's spin doctor Alastair Campbell, has spoken out against the funding shortfall at the primary school in north London where she is a governor.
The schools funding crisis is deepening just as the cost of the war and occupation of Iraq is set to easily surpass the £3 billion chancellor Gordon Brown has set aside for it.
And it is fuelling widespread opposition to the government's whole education policy at the same time as the threat of foundation hospitals provokes fury over attacks on the NHS.
'SATs are annual torture'
THE HEAD teachers' conference last weekend also demanded an end to compulsory national testing, which one delegate described as an 'annual torture' amounting to 'a crime against children'.
Head teacher Larry Malkin said he was 'hurt, frustrated and deeply angry - volcanic' about the damage the SATs tests do to children. The largest teachers' union, the NUT, is building towards a ballot to boycott the tests next year.
The Times Educational Supplement last week launched a campaign to boycott the targets the tests are viewed against. The SATs are the keystone of the government's whole market-driven education policy.
There are signs that parents are beginning to join with teachers to take on the tests. Some school governors are discussing local meetings against SATs. A national conference to organise to stop the SATs has been called by the Hertfordshire association of the NUT, which has been at the forefront of the campaign.
Stop the SATs
Saturday 28 June, 11.30am to 3.30pm. South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London WC1 (King's Cross/Euston tube/station).