Badly-timed deal misses target

5th December 1997 at 00:00
The New Deal for Schools is a welcome injection of money. One billion is a lot and slips easily off the tongues of politicians keen to demonstrate support for "education, education, education". At the risk of being labelled a whingeing cynic, however, I would hope that the next tranche of money to be released in 199899 (Pounds 250 million) will be more judiciously spent than the Pounds 83m available for 97-98 which has to be spent by April 1998.

Because the consultation over the Pounds 83m was so short and cut across the summer holidays, education authorities were unable to consult schools. Bids were therefore based on the authority plans for minor capital works already in hand for when funds became available.

My school finished up with about Pounds 15,000 of commitment for replacement windows and new playground asphalt.

While this will no doubt "smarten up" the school, neither "improvement" is vital and neither would have featured in a wish list from the governors and staff. Our priority is for extra space.

If the driving imperative of the funds is "to achieve the greatest possible impact on educational standards" (Department for Education and Employment letter of November 7, New Deal for Schools 1998-2001) then the initiative is wide of the mark.

STEVE HANNATH

Headteacher St Bartholomew's CE School The Rosary Wootton Bassett Wiltshire

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