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Schools face post-election funding squeeze, warns minister

Schools will have to "cut their cloth" to adapt to an increasingly tough financial climate after the next election, schools minister Lord Nash has warned.

And he said one option could be a move to standard lesson plans, labelling the energy that teachers put into preparing lessons “a complete waste of time”.

Lord Nash, who also chairs the Future Academies chain of schools, said schools had been largely shielded from some of the most severe cuts.

“Given the state of the public finances we have inherited, this government has done pretty well to protect the schools budget, but I’m afraid that whichever party wins the next election there will be further cuts in the public sector,” he told the Independent Academies Association’s autumn conference.

“Education in schools has operated in a relatively benign financial climate for a long time. But a new generation of school leaders is going to have to emerge to cut their cloth to drive efficiencies.

“This is one of the biggest challenges facing the school system: schools will increasingly have to do more with the same money.”

Savings could come through more effective purchasing, economies of scale, a more efficient use of teachers and teaching assistants and a better use of IT, he said.

He added that one of the routes taken by some academy chains was to standardise lesson plans and spend more time on delivering the lessons instead.

“We all know that teachers spend a lot of time preparing lesson plans rather than focusing on how well they deliver those lessons. This is a complete waste of time,” he said.

Meanwhile, IAA president and former schools minister Lord Adonis told the conference that the government should provide incentives to encourage schools to work more closely with business.

Every school should have a full-time director of enterprise and employment in its senior leadership team, whose role would be to engage with employers to make workplace experience and lessons in enterprise part of mainstream education, the Labour peer said.

Rather than making this post mandatory, government should offer matched funding to schools that created it and could demonstrate its impact, he added.

“A really significant and important agenda is mainstreaming that kind of approach within every secondary school and academy in the country,” Lord Adonis said. “This is a big missing link at the moment.”

Related stories: 

Schools raid maintenance budgets to pay for free lunches - 19 August 2014

London success threatened by cuts plan, councils warn - 26 June 2014



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