Clear up cash 'complexity'

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Schools should be more able to afford pay increases and staffing improvements than in recent years, according to the School Teachers' Review Body. Education funding for local authorities has increased and additional money has been provided through direct grants to schools, writes Jon Slater.

However, the review body repeats its concerns, made in previous years, over the complexity and lack of transparency of the funding system. In particular, it is worried that increases in educational standard spending assessment - the amount of money central government allocates for each local education authority - are not always passed on to schools.

The review body highlights the increase in the number of English LEAs spending less than expected (below SSA) on education from 15 in 19956 to 53 in 20001 (see table right). "Increases announced cenrally do not always reach schools, and (there are) variations in funding per pupil from one part of the country to another, for some of which no obvious rationale is seen," the report says.

The STRB welcomes ministers' plans to reform the funding system but urges them to act "quickly" to remove the worst disparities.

The impact of the discrepancies is lessened by direct grants introduced to support the recent pay reforms in England. However, the review body reports concern in Wales where this money is included in the general allocation to local authorities.

"While there will always be limits on school funding, it is crucial that schools feel able to allocate the money needed for staffing and pay purposes if the pay and career structure reforms are to play their part in raising educational standards," the report says.

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