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Talking point

Steven Valentine, head of the Community science college @ Thornhill, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire: "Headteachers know how to balance their budgets - we should be giving Charles Clarke help instead.

"We've been looking at a budget deficit of pound;96,000 this year because of the changes to the funding mechanism. Instead of paying KPMG, the Government should give us the accountants' salaries."

Mike Lawler, head of Ponteland county first school, Northumberland: "They will only tell us what we know already. At the last annual parents evening there were parents complaining about the number of staff. So I showed them a spreadsheet of the school's budget and said: 'Look, the on-costs of employing another teacher would be pound;35,000 a year which would push us into deficit, and my local authority won't allow us to go into deficit.'"

Brenda Bigland, head of Lent Rise primary, Slough: "It's a jolly good idea.

I know heads don't like saying it, but we are business people now.

"Headteachers come from teaching backgrounds, so they know about teaching, learning and team-building, but they don't necessarily know a lot about financial management.

"I thought the NCSL's course on strategic leadership in ICT was revolutionary - if the funding training is like that I will certainly dip into it."

Nigel Astley (top right), head of Henbury school, Bristol: "We've had a really good business manager and that's been very helpful for us, so that kind of support can be useful.

"Balancing the books is more difficult for primary heads who've got to do it on their own.

"The advice from KPMG will be most useful if it recognises that LEAs have different systems and different problems, so what works in one won't necessarily work in another."

Belinda William joint acting headteacher of Stoughton infants, Guildford, Surrey:

"I'm working as a joint headteacher with another teacher, Dawn Mayson, and we have only been in post for half a term, so we don't think we know it all when it comes to funding.

"But we don't think this new initiative is going to be of much help, because Surrey has got a very good support system already. Council officials came in as soon as we became heads to help us with our budgets and they are there for us whenever we need to ask questions."

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