Survey surprise for finance chief

13th November 1998 at 00:00
David Blunkett promised an extra Pounds 20 billion for education. A TES survey shows who has profited so far. ENFIELD

Where: London's northern-most borough

Population: 260,000

Type: Middle-class suburbs and areas of social deprivation

Politics: Labour

Ethnic mix: mainly white, with African-Caribbean and Asian communities Schools: 65 maintained primaries, 11 secondaries and six special schools, employing 2,299 full and part-time teachers

ENFIELD'S particularly poor showing in the TES survey caused one headteacher to call for greater transparency in the funding process.

And Tony Minchella, head of finance and resources in the education department, said he was surprised by the figures. "It would indicate we would have to review our bidding procedures if Enfield really did come third from bottom. "

He said DFEE guidance was not clear when Enfield first bid for money to reduce class sizes. The bid was deemed "not to be cost-effective". The education authority had asked for money for extra part-time teachers for classes with more than 30 pupils but the Government wanted children to be grouped into "additional teaching units".

Enfield has now lodged a second bid which Mr Minchella hopes will meet with approval.

As for the capital grant, Mr Minchella said: "It would appear our schools are in better condition than other authorities, although there is an awful lot to do."

Giles Bird, head of Kingsmead comprehensive, admitted there was general bewilderment about the bidding process. "I think there is a bit of cynicism about this new release money. There is a sort of mystique about it.

"The Government's presentation is that it is putting a lot of money into education. But it is extremely difficult to see what is going on. The whole of school funding needs to be far more transparent."

Helen Whitecross, head of Fleecefield primary school in Edmonton, said: "It does not surprise me Enfield has come third from bottom.

"I have no complaints about National Literacy Strategy (funding) or the national grid (funding) but the capital funding has been appalling," she said.

Her school, which has doubled in size since 1991 from 222 to 430 pupils, has no music room, science room nor library. Pupils are taught music in the playground while books are kept in the cloakroom.

Robert Mendick

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