Not a spree

28th November 1997 at 00:00
Your article headed "Opt-out sector in spending spree" (TES, November 14) is misleading in two respects.

First, it states that grant-maintained schools have slashed their reserves by almost Pounds 28 million in three years. This figure is taken from a table showing in-year surpluses. The National Audit Office report actually says that GM schools' cumulative surpluses increased from Pounds 75 million in 1993-94 to Pounds 94m at the end of 199596, an increase of Pounds 19m.

Second, you say that the number of GM schools "in the red" had risen from 149 to 482 between 199394 and 199596. This is not correct since, again, the source used is a table showing in-year deficits. The NAO report says that there were 52 GM schools in cumulative deficit at the end of 199394 and 81 at the end of 199596. This represents 7 per cent of GM schools and is materially different from the figure of 482 (44 per cent) in the article.

You might also have observed from the report that the net cumulative surplus per pupil in the GM sector changed from Pounds 135 in 199394 to Pounds 137 in 199596, a very small change by any measure.

Furthermore, although the NAO review was carried out in 199697, the figures reviewed related to 1995-96. The report covers a period up to two years before the general election, far from representing a "spending spree", the report shows a prudent and effective use of resources by schools.

MICHAEL COLLIER

Chief executive Funding Agency for Schools 25 Skeldergate York

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