Real spending belies official figures

7th April 2000 at 01:00
SPENDING on education - currently running at pound;37.7 billion on schools in England and Wales - is booming, with an underlying increase of pound;2bn due this year, according to official documents published today.

But other figures in the same report back up schools' claims that they are yet to benefit from the new money. Overall, schools' spending in 1998-99 was also below 1994-5 levels in real terms.

The Department for Education and Employment's report on its spending plans for the next two years covers everything from early years to lifelong learning.

It shows that the Government is putting its money where its mouth is on particular policy priorities, such as Sure Start - the early-years support programme for deprived families.

The Standards Fund - which provides grants for specific purposes, often requiring matching funding from education authorities - continues to grow.

Spending from the fund is expected to top pound;1bn in 2000-01, compared to pound;30 million in 1998-99, with school improvement and the National Grid for Learning having the largest budgets.

Standards Fund spending on literacy and numeracy booster classes for Year 6 pupils (pound;48m) is almost equivalent to the entire national literacy budget (pound;49.8m).

Ministers also promise continuing increases in capital spending on buildings and repairs, with central government grants alone expected to top pound;1bn in 2000-01, up from pound;193m in 1997-98.

But figures taking inflation into account show that spending per pupil on teaching staff, repairs and maintenance was at a standstill in the two years to 1998-99, and failed to regain 1994-95 levels.

However, at the same time, real increases in schools' per-pupil spending on support staff and equipment occurred. The report also says that pound;3m was spent on redundancies, after the Funding Agency for Schools' closure.

For a copy of the DFEE departmental report, telephone 0870 600 5522.

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