School management: Report suggests schools should be given more power

14th August 2009 at 01:00
Echoing Cameron attack on education agencies, Centre for Policy Studies claims closures would reduce school bureaucracy

Original paper headline: More autonomy and fewer quangos: think-tank earmarks pound;633m savings

Schools should be given the power to set their own pay scales, train their own teachers and teach their own curriculum, according to a report published this week.

The increased autonomy would come about from the abolition of a number of school quangos and redirecting funds to the frontline in a bid to trim education spending by pound;633 million, it says.

The research - produced by right-of-centre think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies - examines 11 education quangos, which together receive pound;1.2 billion of funding from central government.

The paper echoed Tory leader David Cameron's speech last month, in which he claimed there are as many as 1,100 quangos and pledged a dramatic reduction of these agencies.

According to the CPS, the Training and Development Agency and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority have seen their budgets swell by as much as pound;547 million and pound;100 million, respectively, within a decade.

At least seven of the education quangos should be abolished, it says.

Report calls for DCSF and GTC changes

Central to the paper is the recommendation that the Department for Children, Schools and Families should be transformed into the Department of Education, while organisations such as the General Teaching Council should become voluntary bodies.

Sam Talbot Rice, research director and report co-author, said the changes would reduce school bureaucracy while making significant in-roads in reducing education expenditure.

"Many of the education quangos are getting in the way of frontline requirements," Mr Talbot Rice said. "Although radical, our recommendations would help to free up schools and provide a concrete, workable means to save money while reducing the burden on teachers."

Enhanced school freedoms would include the abolition of Ofsted inspections - except for schools deemed to be failing, or where parents call for an inspection.

Conservatives welcome research

The Conservatives said the report had "shined a light" on how taxpayers' money is being spent.

Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, said: "It is imperative that we secure value for money in education spending and that is why every effort has to be directed to identifying waste and unnecessary bureaucracy, so that we can concentrate resources where they are needed: in the classroom."

The Liberal Democrats said that at a time when class sizes are rising and schools need more money to support disadvantaged pupils, more money should be diverted to the frontline rather than "various bureaucracies".

David Laws, Lib Dem education spokesman, said: "The proliferation of education quangos has proved to be incredibly expensive and there's little evidence to suggest they have raised standards.

"At a time when public finances are being squeezed, there is clearly a need to consider whether all these quangos are necessary."

A DCSF spokesman said: "This report is based on fag-packet maths and the recommendations are a complete false economy as they shift workloads on to schools. Rather than helping teachers the report would increase workloads as schools would be managing all teacher training and pay negotiations."

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