Subjects at risk from cuts

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Schools could be forced to axe subjects from their timetables to cope with budget cuts in a move which could hit the brightest pupils most, according to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

The ASCL is reportedly advising schools to look at scrapping courses that are taken by small numbers of students, if they are not cost effective.

The problems for schools wanting to offer a broad curriculum are likely to be considerably worse in rural areas where it is harder to pool resources and offer subjects such as foreign languages, music or design and technology at A-Level. Subjects like languages already suffer from a sharp decline in candidates.

ASCL general secretary, Brian Lightman, said that schools will have to consider ditching expensive optional subjects, and it could be the most able students that suffer.

He said: "These kinds of management decisions that leaders have to make all the time will come more sharply into focus.

"Languages in some schools will be vulnerable. We are already worried about them and this could speed up the decline."

Such a narrowing of the curriculum would lead to fears that private schools will dominate in subjects like languages and less popular subjects.

John Bangs, from the NUT, said the cutting of optional subjects would lead entire schools to be impoverished and condemn children to an arbitrary curriculum.

“It will also leach children and talented teachers away to private schools, who have the money to spend on these subjects,” he said.

Figures for modern foreign language entries show the numbers entering for French down 3.4 per cent and German down 3.8 per cent.

The Government is due to set out spending cuts next month. Although there has been a promise to protect frontline education services, schools are braced for reductions on other parts of the schools budget.

Primary schools are still suffering from a lack of male teachers, official figures showed today.

The General Teaching Council for England revealed there were 25,896 men working in primary schools on March 31 this year, compared with 181,696 women.

The ASCL has revealed that two out of its three courses on 'managing staff reduction' are already full for this year and sessions on 'strategic financial planning and staff deployment' have also generated significant interest.

Meanwhile, universities have already expressed concern about the drop in those taking languages, whilst the Government has said it is planning a review of the situation.

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