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Have you noticed?

Do you know the difference between a ghost and an AWPU (average weighted pupil unit)? Several hundred pounds apparently - our local education authority has yet to do the sums, but obviously ghosts use fewer resources and therefore attract a lower level of funding.

From this April, we will no longer have to bid for money to keep infant class sizes at 30 or less. It will be incorporated into the schools' budget and our LEA proposes to distribute it through a formula based on "ghost pupils".

A school with 57 key stage 1 pupils will need funding for three ghosts to allow for the employment of two class teachers: a school with only 31 real AWPU children will need 29 ghosts to make up the numbers. There may be some lively discussions in the staffroom about who gets to teach the AWPUs and who takes the ghosts.

The first meeting of our LEA schools forum on funding approved this ingenious solution to keep infant class sizes below 30 but advised against delegating support funds for newly qualified teachers and re-opened the debate about delegating special needs statement money. NQTs and children with statements are not evenly distributed among schools, so formula distribution of their support funds renders them both economically unattractive. Ghosts, on the other hand, may prove very popular.

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