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Looking at the figures

Governors need more comparative information on the way other schools spend their budgets to help them raise questions about the best use of money in their own school, says the Government's chief watchdog on public spending.

The Audit Commission has just published updated figures on the way 76 schools divided their spending, in the third in a series of booklets called Adding Up The Sums 3.

This shows that on average, locally managed primary schools spent 69 per cent of their budget on teachers' salaries in 1994-95 though the percentage in individual schools varied between 59 and 82 per cent.

The average for secondary schools was 73 per cent in 1994-95 with schools varying between 64 per cent and 82 per cent.

The figures also show comparative figures on pupil-teacher ratios, teacher contact time, administrators' hours, end-of-year balances, voluntary funds, numbers of deputy heads and the proportion of time spent teaching, and income per pupil for the schools which include a range of different sizes.

They show that administration costs vary in the sample schools between more than Pounds 200 per pupil down to as little as Pounds 20 per pupil in primary.

In secondary schools, the range is between Pounds 120 and Pounds 35 per pupil.

The controller of the Audit Commission, Jon Vaughan Jones, says the figures are not meant to be benchmarks for schools to aim at. But governors should ask six questions based on them: * Did we know where we would be in comparison with other similar schools on each of these measures?

* Are we happy to be there?

* If so, why?

* If not, why is that?

* Where would we like to be?

* How will we get there?

Adding up the Sums 3 comparative information for schools 1994, is available from HMSO, POBox 276, London SW8 5DT. Pounds 9.

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