By the numbers - School spending

13th April 2012 at 01:00

New analysis shows huge variations in how schools in the same circumstances spend their money.

The report, written for the Department for Education by academics from the University of London's Institute of Education, University College London and the University of Bristol, found that teaching expenditure varies by around #163;1,000 per pupil. While 70 per cent of this variation can be explained by the characteristics of the school, such as the demographics of the intake, 30 per cent cannot.

The report points out that although schools face many limitations in their freedom to make independent financial decisions, in the areas where these freedoms exist, equivalent schools made very different decisions. Some chose to have a greater number of senior positions, while others opted for more support staff.

The report, which analyses changes between 2008-09 and 2009-10, concludes that perhaps the most likely explanation for these variations in spending decisions is the lack of incentive to get them "right". Leadership teams, the authors argue, are focused on pupil achievement - and there is only a weak link between schools' expenditure and pupils' attainment.

The authors add that while financial mismanagement is a serious issue, spending three times as much as a comparative school on support staff is not. They write: "The simplest answer to the question, 'How can we improve schools' financial decisions?' is: 'Make them matter'."

Annual expenditure by schools in england in 2009-10 - #163;30bn.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today