Just a third of primary schools in Devon have met tough new standards for spending, education officials have found.
Financial Management Standards in Schools (FMSiS) were designed to improve efficiency after headteachers gained control of their budgets. Secondaries have had to use them for two years and the scheme is being introduced for primaries, and will become mandatory by March 2010.
New research by Devon County Council shows that 70 per cent of secondaries and special schools are meeting the standards, but only 37 per cent of primaries.
Only 90 of 311 are 85 per cent of the way towards compliace, and 76 have work that is less than 85 per cent complete.
The schools that have been successful are those where the headteacher has a close working relationship with administrators and governors. The ones struggling are those having problems with leadership and management or pupils' progress.
Anne Whiteley, Devon County Council's head of children and young people's services, said too many headteachers have left all FMSiS work to administrators.
"A key factor affecting a school's ability to achieve the standards seems to be attitudinal: whether either the headteacher andor the governing body consider FMSiS to be a bureaucratic exercise that has no benefit to the pupils' learning," she said. km.