School cash `is spent on bureaucrats'

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The Independent Online
TEACHERS AT hundreds of schools face redundancy despite the Government's big boost for education spending.

Grant-maintained school leaders said yesterday that local authorities were spending extra funds on administrative staff instead of passing it on to schools. A new "fair funding" system designed to make councils delegate more money to schools and to end the benefits enjoyed by those which opted out of local council control under the Conservatives was not working, they said.

Schools are coping with budget cuts of up to pounds 250,000 each. Opted-out schools say that both they and local authority schools will face cuts and will have to make teachers redundant.

Jerry Oddie, principal of 2,100-pupil Collingwood technology college in Camberley, Surrey, said: "This is not a problem just for us but for all schools." His budget has been cut by pounds 175,000 this year and pounds 340,000 next year. This year he plans to make eight teachers redundant.

Grant-maintained schools yesterday launched a new body to promote their interests.

Pauline Latham, the new group's chairwoman and a parent governor at Ecclesbourne Schools in Duffield, Derbyshire, said her school was using its reserves to pay teachers' salaries this year. Derby city council had taken on 50 extra administrative staff, she said, enough to provide half a teacher for every city school.

From next year most of the 1,208 schools which opted out will lose their special funding status and will be funded in the same way as council schools. Most will lose staff despite a promise from Stephen Byers, the former schools minister, that they would not be disadvantaged by the new arrangements. They say they face cuts of between 6 and 7 per cent this year.

David Curtis, Derby's assistant director of management and planning, said the council was spending a smaller proportion on administration than most comparable authorities. Most of the increase in staffing was clearly linked to the Government's agenda for school improvement.

Senior Government sources said the new system required councils to delegate more than in the past. "We have made clear that they do not need lots of extra staff to do what we are expecting of them."