Have you noticed?

"Headteachers have won the right to greater control of their own finances. " So went the story in The TES on the proposed 100 per cent delegation of schools' budgets. Doesn't feel like a victory from where I am standing. It is more as if, having sunk the great education department ships with all hands, the DFEE is now intent on confiscating the few remaining lifebelts.

Local authorities are to retain central funds only for statements, transport and "school improvement"; the latter presumably because of their new responsibilities for imposing targets. They will also, of course, have increased administrative costs in delegating money out and retrieving it by way of "subscriptions" for payroll services, buildings maintenance and all the other functions schools have no desire or ability to fulfil.

Most local authority services are already run on a subscription basis or "pay as you use". For small schools such as mine, there is a third option. We muddle through and keep our fingers crossed; but we live in fear of rough seas and looming icebergs.

Total delegation has been offered before. They called it grant-maintained status, and it was a failure. We want the security of professional, user-friendly local authorities. Consultation on these proposals is promised. Just say no.

Joan Dalton

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