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23rd May 2003 at 01:00
I am puzzled by Charles Clarke's criticism of local education authorities for not passing on more money to schools.

His department's guidance on schools' forums (local bodies that advise LEAs on education budgets) says that "delegation targets will no longer be set".

It continues: "With the splitting of the local schools budget into the LEA budget and the schools budget, such targets are no longer necessary. That will permit a decision on delegation ... to be taken in the light of local circumstances and needs. But part of the process should be careful consideration of the views of schools as articulated by the schools forums."

In plain English, schools can choose for money to be held centrally. For example, it was suggested in my county that the funds for supporting newly-qualified teachers should be delegated. The forum disagreed. We have many small primary schools with tiny budgets. They do not want an average amount of NQT money a year - they want all of it when they have an NQT. We fought, and continue to fight, a similar battle over central funding for statements of special needs. Schools don't benefit from extra funds if they come with extra spending commitments.

Let's be clear, Charlie, delegation is not the real issue - we just want more money.

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