Pupils pay price in Labour 'lottery'

13th November 1998 at 00:00
Schools in some parts of the country have lost more than #163;270 per pupil because of what has been called Labour's new funding lottery, a TES analysis has revealed.

Local authorities have had to compete against each other for a share of almost #163;1 billion put into education to raise standards and repair schools since the election.

The winners are the councils which have learnt how to bid successfully. The losers are the children whose authorities don't know how to play the game.

Authorities have had to bid for cash to cut classes to 30 for every five,six and seven-year-old, to get rid of outside toilets and even for school repairs. They have also been pitted against each other to get money for the literacy strategy, education action zones and National Grid for Learning.

Top of the table in pounds gained per pupil is Newcastle, where the authority has won the equivalent of an extra #163;309 for each of its 41,099 pupils. Bottom is Doncaster, which gained just #163;34.60 for each of its 52, 000 pupils.

The TES analysis is based on Department for Education and Employment statistics for cash allocations on capital, class size, literacy, action zones and the national grid since the election.

It is the first time that such figures have been collated and Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: "This shows that the Government has become a latter-day Hughie Green - where opportunity only knocks for some. "

The figures throw up huge differences among councils. Newham, in east London, gained #163;106.70 per pupil. Its neighbour, Waltham Forest, won just #163;69.10 for each of its children. South Tyneside gained #163;158.70 per pupil, North Tyneside #163;68.50.

Some authorities are victims of their own success, having already spent their own money on getting rid of outside toilets and reducing class sizes,making themselves ineligible for Government grant.

Some deprived areas also lost out. The East Midlands, for example, fared particularly badly.

Dave Wilcox, education chair of Derbyshire, said: "This is a real double whammy - the East Midlands is not getting National Lottery money either as it is a poor area and cannot match funding."

Across the regions, inner London scored highest, followed by the North-east and the South-west.

Newcastle said its education department was primed for bidding. A spokeswoman said: "It is worth investing time to get the extra funding that is there. If you don't bid you don't get it."

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