Schools to be given three-year budgets

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The Independent Online

Headteachers will be given more freedom to run their schools in legislation to be announced today. The measures will give them three-year budgets - beginning in 2006 - to allow them to plan ahead.

Headteachers will be given more freedom to run their schools in legislation to be announced today. The measures will give them three-year budgets - beginning in 2006 - to allow them to plan ahead.

The three-year budget idea was first floated by Tony Blair at the height of the crisis over school budgets last summer when more than 1,000 teachers faced the sack. Ministers believe that three-year rather than one-year budgets will allow heads to avoid sudden staffing cuts.

In addition, new regulations will be introduced over the next year to allow secondary schools to fast-track to a new foundation status, giving them ownership of their school buildings and making them the employers of their staff rather than the local education authority.

Foundation schools have been described as "the sons of grant-maintained schools", a status which was introduced under the Conservative government but abolished by Labour.

Under the new fast-track procedures, schools will be able to apply for foundation status through a vote of the governing body. Ministers say the new move can be introduced by regulations in Parliament during the next session without having to be included in legislation.

Today's planned legislation will also pave the way for Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, to give schools less notice of inspections.

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