Schools worn out by extended hours

24th March 2000 at 00:00
Increasing community use can have an unexpected impact on resource budgets. Diane Spencer reports.

THE open-all-hours culture in schools, with the community welcomed in for anything from weddings and conferences to computer courses and line dancing, is taking its toll on the furnishings, fittings and equipment.

The British Educational Suppliers' Association's latest report shows that nearly all secondary schools are now open after 5pm. The percentage of schools doing so has increased substantially since last year, with 64 per cent of primaries extending their hours compared with 39 per cent previously, and 90 per cent of secondaries compared with 76 per cent.

The proportion of those remaining open until 10pm remained about the same, at 44 per cent for secondaries and 15 per cent for primaries. Around 40 per cent of secondaries and a quarter of primaries opened between 7pm and 8pm, the same as last year.

Speaking at the Education Show in Birmingham yesterday, Dominic Savage, BESA's chief executive, said: "Clearly the impact of extended use of facilities, environment, furniture and resources cannot be overlooked."

His concerns were echoed by John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, who said schools should do a careful cos analysis before extending their opening hours. "Schools are going out of their way to generate income, but some are better placed than others to do this."

BESA's latest UK schools survey also showed that resource budgets are failing to keep pace with whole-school budgets.

It found that primary school budgets had increased by 4.7 per cent since last year, and pupil funding was up 4.9 per cent; but resource budgets had only increased by 2.7 and 2.9 respectively. In the secondary sector, the percentages were 5.3 for schools and 3.8 per pupil, against resource increases of 3.7 and 2.2.

The survey showed a 9 per cent rise in spending on furniture compared to 15 per cent last year.

Spending on information and communications technology increased by 13.5 per cent in primary schools and by 13 per cent in secondaries; stationery bills rose by 2.2 per cent, in line with inflation. Spending on books and other teaching materials rose by 8.5 per cent in primaries, but by only 2.8 per cent in secondaries, the survey showed.

Research Focus, 24

"2000 BESA UK schools survey on budget and resource provision", free to schools from BESA, 20 Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, London E14 9XL.



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