Spending league plan for schools: Tables 'would show efficiency'

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT should publish league tables of how much money is spent per pupil in every school in the country, a House of Commons report published last night says.

Parents and taxpayers should be able to see whether their local schools are spending their money efficiently, according to the Education Select Committee's report on the Department for Education's spending plans for 1993- 94 and 1994-95.

They would then be able to see what percentage of each school's funds was being spent on administration and whether it was spending beyond its means.

The Department for Education already publishes school- by-school results for GCSE and A-levels, and this year it will also publish secondary school truancy levels. In future it will add the results of national curriculum tests for 11- year-olds. The committee believes that the spending levels would provide one more useful piece of information by which schools could be judged.

However, the suggestion is not likely to prove popular with teachers' unions, which are, in the main, opposed to all league tables. Individual school's budgets are determined by their local authorities and even if they opt out of local control the amount of money they receive is still linked to schools in their areas.

Arthur de Caux, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said there were many reasons why some schools spent more than others, and he could not see any benefit in publishing league tables. 'I think that attempting to link spending to results is a totally flawed proposition, and I can't see any sense in it,' he said.

The report highlights the fact that while spending on school books has remained at the same level since 1987, the Department for Education has increased its salary bill by 43 per cent. The number of staff employed by the department has increased by 236 since 1989-90 to 2,794, and its pay bill increased from pounds 52m to pounds 74m.

The report criticises the Government for its recent change of heart over the expansion of Britain's universities, which now take one school leaver in four compared with one in five 10 years ago.

Last autumn, the Department for Education announced plans to rein back on the expansion. The 'size and abruptness' of this change would make it difficult for universities to manage resources properly, the report said.

Vice-chancellors had already complained that they had set long-term budgets on the basis of a steady expansion and that they could not reverse those plans simply because the Government had cut their budgets.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said that it would be considering the report.

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