Ofsted to research how schools spend their money

But Amanda Spielman repeats controversial claim that there’s no evidence of a link between reduced budgets and standards

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman says there is no evidence of a link between squeezed school budgets and a drop in standards

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman says her inspectors will carry out research into how schools spend their money.

The pledge came in response to a recommendation from the Commons Public Accounts Committee that she give her views on the causes of poor school performance, including the impact of funding pressures.

Speaking before the committee this week, Ms Spielman told MPs: “We’ve got a piece of work lined up this year which will be partly done based on school visits and partly using questionnaires to get a good widespread look at the decisions schools are taking and how they’re taking them.”

However, she repeated her view that she did not believe there was evidence that falling budgets were having an impact on educational standards, a claim that attracted condemnation from teachers and teaching unions last year.

Are school budget cuts affecting standards?

In a letter to the committee, she said: “In recent years, as funding growth has slowed, school leaders have had to work harder to balance their budgets, and we see this necessitating some difficult choices.

"Currently, however, my inspectors are not seeing an impact on education standards. Eighty-six cent of schools are 'good' or 'outstanding' and there is no recent evidence of falling levels of attainment at key stages 2 or 4.”

She told the committee that she would "continue to monitor the situation" and that the research would take place "in light of the committee's clear interest in this area."

But the chief inspector added that much wider research was needed to establish a correlation between funding and standards.

“Only by fully reviewing the whole allocation of resources and spending could you attribute the inadequacy in any kind of education standard to budget shortfalls," she said.

"So it’s not something you could just do at the margin. You would have to take into inspection a very big area which does not exist at the moment.

"Some inspectorates do that but, as far as I can see, at this point it’s a recommendation for the DfE to reconsider the scope of inspection rather than something I can, at the margin, squeeze into an existing framework.”

Ms Spielman added: “We went through a very long period of substantial increases in school spending during which it’s not clear that results went up to anything like the same extent as the money went up.

"If we look at international comparisons like the one published by Pisa [the Programme for International Student Assessment] in 2012, we see that above a certain level of spending, there is no correlation between how much a national system spends on education and the outcomes, and for many years we have been far above that level so it’s simply not axiomatic that a reduction in school spending will have an effect on educational outcomes.”

Ms Spielman also told the committee of her concerns about "off-rolling" and said she would like powers to be able to inspect multi-academy trusts as a whole rather than just individual schools within the trusts.



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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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