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Providing value for money

I really must challenge the sensational treatment of end-of-year figures for grant-maintained schools, and particularly that for my school (TES, February 3).

St Bede's was part of Lambeth education authority and, as a school in the last phase of local management, we did not even have a delegated budget before we became grant-maintained on January 1, 1994.

This meant that it was well into the new financial year before our budget for January to March 1994 was settled. At the end of March 1994, we had Pounds 38,978 in the bank, Pounds 24,327 was the employer payroll costs due to be paid in April and accounts still to be settled.

When we finally received our true budget for January to March 1994 (this was not until April 1994), our end-of-year accounts - relating to a "year" of only three months - were adjusted by our auditors to include Pounds 70,890 due to the school for the year, but not actually paid until the next year, and then only in monthly instalments. At no stage did we have Pounds 102,000 "in the bank".

After years with little discretion over our budget, the governing body commissioned a detailed report on the building which formed part of our comprehensive school development plan. This was commended by the National Audit Office which came out with very positive comments on our value for money.

ANN HENSHAW

Headteacher

St Bede's RC grant-maintained infant school

London SW12

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