Opinion Former Article

Call to end 'secret garden' of school finances

Action is needed to end the ‘secret garden’ of school and college funding, the Annual Conference of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, has heard today.

Representatives at the Conference in Belfast have called for substantial year-on-year increases to per pupil funding, but have also stressed the need for greater transparency around school and college accounts and spending decisions.

Concerns have been raised that despite the austerity measures which have been inflicted on education, reports of six figure salaries for senior leaders have proliferated, along with reports of vast sums being spent on consultants and the replication of services such as legal and HR provision once provided at a reasonable and realistic cost by local authorities.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Austerity has taken a heavy toll on investment in education.

“Examples of the impact of the cuts are littered across the education landscape with the casualties usually the children, young people and the workforce.

“As schools and colleges have been given increased autonomy over spending, spending decisions and priorities have become increasingly cloaked in mystery and secrecy.

“Lack of regulation, transparency and democratic accountability has provided opportunities for flawed, and in some cases, corrupt practices.

“There appears to be no interest from ministers in whether the funding allocated for the education of our children is being well or wisely spent or is instead lining the pockets of consultants and funding vanity projects at a time when year-on-year investment in education has been cut.

“It is nothing short of scandalous.”


ENDS

NASUWT Press Office contacts:
Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Sarah Cull 07920 711 069

Notes to editors
The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at the ICC in Belfast from 19-21 April.

The full text of the motion is below:

EDUCATION FUNDING AND AUSTERITY        
Conference deplores the wholly unnecessary UK Government austerity measures that have severely reduced public spending and profoundly exacerbated social divisions and equality.

Conference condemns the continued cuts to education funding but is further concerned by the fact that many schools and colleges still prioritise spending on non-essential consultants, software, service level agreements and excessive salaries for senior leaders, whilst job security, pay and classroom provision are cut.

Conference notes that school and college finances are complex and lack transparency which means that poor practice goes unnoticed.

Conference therefore calls upon the National Executive to:
(i)         introduce a new training course that is focused on understanding and challenging school, college, and academy finances and
(ii)         enable the sharing of information on school, college and academy finances across the Union’s networks.

Conference urges the National Executive to continue to campaign to:
(a)        secure substantial, additional year-on-year per pupil funding throughout the Comprehensive Spending Review period for schools and colleges, together with increased funding to offset additional pension costs;
(b)        increase per pupil funding through the operation of the Barnett formula and the Block Grants for devolved governments;
(c)        secure far greater transparency, including annual external audits in relation to the funding levels of all schools and colleges;
(d)        use all appropriate legislation including Freedom of Information requests, to challenge education providers over the misuse of public money;
(e)        ensure that education funding is used to support education, teaching and learning and is not siphoned off for other purposes and   
(f)         collate and publicise the impact of government cuts in the classroom.

(Executive, Birmingham, Cheshire West and Chester, Leeds, Salford)

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