Exclusive: 'Colossal' £500,000 wasted per school, claims minister

Academies minister Lord Agnew says DfE school-efficiency advisers have found £35m of savings at 70 schools

Martin George

Martin George

funding, advisers, trouble shooters, agnew, misdirected resources

Financial troubleshooters dispatched by the Department for Education have identified an average of £500,000 of wasted money at every school they have visited, the academies minister has said.

Lord Agnew told school business managers that the total of £35 million of “essentially misdirected resources” at the 70 schools was a “colossal sum of money”.

And the minister said the sums involved showed there was “a lot of potential” for schools to make savings.

Tes reported last year that the DfE was planning to deploy school resource-management advisers to provide urgent “financial therapy”.

In a speech to last week’s national conference of the Institute of School Business Leadership, Lord Agnew outlined the results of the financial troubleshooter scheme so far.

“We have now done about 70 visits to schools and they have identified over £35m of essentially misdirected resources,” he said, “so that is a colossal sum of money, particularly when you take into account that some of those are primary schools."

He added “now, of course, implementing those highlighted savings is difficult in its own right”, but did not explain why.

However, Lord Agnew has also suggested that national commercial deals negotiated by the DfE to save schools money may be "pants".

When questioned about school funding in the past, education secretary Damian Hinds has stressed the need for greater efforts to save money in schools rather than increase their funding, and in August he outlined some results from the resource-management advisers’ visits.

Speaking last week, Lord Agnew added: “The very fact that these schools had these sums of money, which, on an independent analysis by peers of yours in this room, does show you that there is a lot of potential.”

In the same speech, he told the conference that it was a “challenge” to get schools to sign up for the money-saving commercial deals set up by the DfE.

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