Figures released last week reveal a marked drop in the number of teachers in secondary education, with Richmond losing 45 staff in the past year.

The loss has led to a hefty increase in the number of pupils being supervised by each teacher and has sparked fears of growing class sizes in secondary schools.

Conservative Councillor Geoffrey Samuel, a former headmaster of Heathland Secondary School in Hounslow, is deeply concerned about the loss of vital teaching staff.

He called for the council to make the staffing figures public at last week's full council meeting.

He said: "The figures were far worse than I thought. Secondary schools are a priority in this borough. For the pupil/teacher ratio to rise by 10 per cent is in fact quite deplorable. It will mean larger class sizes in secondary schools."

He blamed the reduction in the number of secondary teachers in the borough on early retirements and the non-renewal of temporary contracts.

He also expressed concern at the figures for class sizes in primary schools. The Government has ploughed extra money into the primary sector to cut class sizes.

In Richmond class sizes have fallen but the LEA figures show some discrepancies at Trafalgar Infants and Archdeacon Cambridge's Schools in Twickenham.

Councillor Brian Miller, chairman of the council's education committee, said that class sizes were not increasing.

He said: "We are seeing class sizes even out. Our secondary schools are doing a brilliant job.

"We have schools that are improving year on year and we have a dedicated band of loyal staff and governors to make sure that happens."