Tables gave false idea of spending

4th December 1998 at 00:00
You make a fair point in that the numerous bidding regimes that education authorities are having to work with to get government grants are not open and transparent (TES, November 13).

The reasons why some authorities fare better than others needs to be explained by the Department for Education and Employment. These explanations are never given in writing and it is time the DFEE was seen to be accountable.

However, the impression given by the article is that the London borough of Enfield is not preparing its bids properly in comparison with other boroughs. This is not the case.

Enfield has been very successful in bidding for a range of resources, for example, capital approval through the annual capital guidelines process, receiving the second highest level of approvals two years in a row in London, and notional credit approval of Pounds 16 million for a Private Finance Initiative scheme for a new secondary school. We successfully bid for Single Regeneration Budget funding for a large seven-year programme. Our Section 11 bid has also been successful, bringing in more than Pounds 2m to Enfield, one of the highest levels in outer London.

Your article is misleading in that it implies an authority's league-table positions are fixed. However, these positions will alter if a different mix of grants is used.

There is no particular logic in adding together New Deal for schools, key stage 1 class sizes, the literacy strategy, education action zones and the National Grid for Learning. A completely different picture would be arrived at it you added a different mix of grants received through bidding regimes.

In addition, no account is taken of the fact that some authorities are not eligible to bid, or chose not to bid, in some of the bidding regimes, for example, for education action zones and capital funding to remove outside toilets.

The information is also statistically flawed. You have simply taken the number on roll in maintained LEA schools to divide the total of the above five grants to get a per-pupil amount and then presented this in league-table format.

As this number excludes pupils on the roll of grant-maintained schools, it presents a distorted picture.

Authorities with a higher proportion of pupils in grant-maintained schools, for example, Barnet, will automatically show more favourable per-pupil costs using this method when compared with Enfield.

Liz Graham

Director of education London borough of Enfield

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