Education changes 'waste pounds 250m a year'

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The Independent Online
POLITICALLY motivated education initiatives are wasting more than pounds 250m a year as the Government tries to increase the number of schools opting out of local authority control, the TUC said yesterday, writes Martin Whitfield.

The cash could be better spent in reducing class sizes and in maintaining buildings, it believes. Figures compiled from government accounts and the reports of HM Inspectors are said to show that the Department for Education spent pounds 163m in the last financial year on national political activities. The sum is made up of pounds 76m on sending children to private schools though the Assisted Places Scheme, pounds 56m on 15 City Technology Colleges and pounds 24m on net contributions to schools that have opted out. An extra pounds 7m is accounted for in advertising and publicity over the changes which does not include pounds 1.5m on publishing exam results.

Norman Willis, TUC general secretary, said pounds 90m was the best estimate of the cost of local authorities being prevented from saving money by merging schools. The Government was squandering more than pounds 250m, money that should be spent improving buildings and cutting class sizes.