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TORIES CLAIM£296m SHORTFALL IN SCHOOL BUDGETS

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Shadow secretary of state for education and employment, Stephen Dorrell, yesterday published new figures which show...
Shadow secretary of state for education and employment, Stephen Dorrell, yesterday published new figures which show a£296m shortfall in school budgets for next year.

'In his Budget speech last July, Gordon Brown said:

I propose to allocate from the reserve for next year, and specifically for use in schools, an additional£1 billion for education. (Hansard 2 July 1997, col 315)

Of this,£835m was allocated to England.

'A survey of local education authorities, conducted by the Conservative Party's education team, reveals that the increase in schools budgets next year will not be£835m but around£539m, a shortfall of around£296m. This is despite the fact that Mr Brown emphasised that the extra local education authority expenditure was being authorised specifically for use in schools.

'This government was elected on a promise to make a difference in schools. These figures show that, despite all the rhetoric, school budgets remain very tight.

'Mr Blunkett is fond of claiming that schools spending will rise next year by 5.75%. That claim is simply untrue. The average rise in schools budgets will be 4.3%.

'Like all MPs, I have been receiving letters for weeks from parents and teachers worried about schools having to cut their budgets and make teachers redundant. They have been unable to reconcile cuts in the classroom with Mr Blunketts promises of extra money. These figures explain why.

'Despite the prime ministers rhetoric about the priority he attaches to education, local authorities face a variety of pressures. Most notably, the rising elderly population continues to place a growing burden on social services departments, and the Governments own education legislation is leading to substantial increases in LEA bureaucracy.

'The difference between us and the Government is two-fold: firstly, while we have argued for cut-backs in LEA bureaucracy in order to free money for schools, the government is committed to extra spending by LEAs. The result is, inevitably, less money for schools. Secondly, Conservatives recognise that all public spending decisions involve choices about priorities. For 18 years, Labour spokesmen claimed that under Labour it would be different. Mr Blunkett must now recognise that this claim is, as it always has been, a sham.'

Figures for Aggregated Schools Budgets by local education authority for 1997/98 and 1998/99 and , together with notes which explain the statistical basis.

TABLE A SUMMARY OF FIGURES

m

ASB* 1997/98 (A) 12,438.3

Increase in central government expenditure (B) 835.0

Target total ASB 1998/99 (A+B) 13,273.3

Target increase 5.75%

Actual ASB expenditure 12,977.4

Difference 295.9

Actual increase 4.3%

TABLE B - AGGREGATED SCHOOLS BUDGETS

1997/98 AND 1998/99, BY LEA

Local Education ASB 1997/8 ASB 1998/9 % change

Authority m m

Corporation of London 0.6 0.7 2.7%

Camden 51.1 51.4 0.5%

Greenwich 83.3 85.9 3.1%

Hackney 61.5 62.5 1.5%

Hammersmith & Fulham 37.3 38.0 1.9%

Islington 56.1 59.0 5.1%

Kensington & Chelsea 24.7 25.3 2.4%

Lambeth 49.9 49.3 -1.2%

Lewisham 78.0 82.0 5.1%

Southwark 63.2 65.7 4.0%

Tower Hamlets 82.1 86.7 5.6%

Wandsworth 46.8 47.4 1.3%

Westminster 42.5 43.9 3.4%

Barking & Dagenham 56.6 59.1 4.4%

Barnet 69.0 73.2 6.1%

Bexley 58.9 63.8 8.3%

Brent 46.9 49.0 4.4%

Bromley 38.7 41.1 6.2%

Croydon 71.1 74.0 4.1%

Ealing 66.3 69.04.1%

Enfield 77.3 82.0 6.1%

Haringey 68.1 70.6 3.7%

Harrow 58.8 59.0 0.3%

Havering62.2 66.9 7.5%

Hillingdon 40.6 41.6 2.4%

Hounslow 68.6 71.2 3.8%

Kingston Upon Thames 27.8 29.4 5.9%

Merton 44.7 46.3 3.5%

Newham 82.9 89.1 7.5%

Redbridge 74.5 79.1 6.1%

Richmond 39.8 41.0 3.1%

Sutton 36.7 39.3 7.0%

Waltham Forest 67.9 70.8 4.3%

Birmingham 327.1 338.4 3.5%

Coventry 98.6 101.9 3.3%

Dudley79.9 82.9 3.8%

Sandwell93.4 100.3 7.4%

Solihull 64.9 68.1 4.9%

Walsall 70.3 71.9 2.3%

Wolverhampton 72.0 72.5 0.8%

Knowsley 53.6 54.8 2.1%

Liverpool 140.0 149.1 6.5%

St Helens 54.0 56.64.8%

Sefton 87.3 90.6 3.8%

Wirral 91.0 97.5 7.1%

Bolton 73.1 77.2 5.6%

Bury 49.0 49.9 1.8%

Manchester 133.0 138.5 4.1%

Oldham 77.2 80.8 4.7%

Rochdale 55.2 57.0 3.3%

Salford 65.3 67.7 3.7%

Stockport 73.1 76.9 5.2%

Tameside 56.5 60.8 7.6%

Trafford 47.1 46.8 -0.7%

Wigan 96.1 98.2 2.2%

Barnsley 55.7 57.3 2.8%

Doncaster 91.2 95.04.2%

Rotherham 78.7 83.2 5.7%

Sheffield 120.9 126.3 4.4%

Bradford 135.7 139.5 2.8%

Calderdale 37.4 38.1 2.0%

Kirklees 105.2 110.2 4.7%

Leeds 212.4 222.3 4.7%

Wakefield 85.1 88.5 4.0%

Gateshead 54.8 55.6 1.4%

Newcastle 75.0 77.0 2.6%

North Tyneside 54.9 57.5 4.7%

South Tyneside 43.4 46.1 6.1%

Sunderland 90.5 93.5 3.3%

Isles of Scilly 0.8 0.9 6.9%

Bath & North East Somerset 44.9 50.8 13.1%

Bristol 101.0 103.7 2.7%

North Somerset50.8 52.3 3.0%

South Gloucestershire 71.2 73.5 3.2%

Hartlepool 27.4 29.1 6.3%

Middlesborough 44.4 46.2 4.0%

Redcar & Cleveland 44.8 47.4 5.8%

Stockton-on-Tees 56.8 59.9 5.4%

Kingston Upon Hull 76.1 78.7 3.4%

East Riding 88.5 90.7 2.5%

North East Lincolnshire 51.1 52.3 2.3%

North Lincolnshire 44.9 46.5 3.6%

North Yorkshire 157.0 166.6 6.1%

York 43.0 45.7 6.4%

Luton 46.0 47.7 3.8%

Milton Keynes 47.0 48.5 3.2%

Derby City 47.0 48.6 3.4%

Poole 23.4 24.0 2.5%

Bournemouth 25.2 27.8 10.5%

Darlington 25.4 27.2 7.2%

Brighton & Hove 54.7 57.9 5.8%

Portsmouth 45.3 47.9 5.7%

Southampton 56.9 59.7 4.9%

Leicester City 87.5 91.7 4.8%

Rutland 4.4 4.2 -3.5%

Stoke-on-Trent 64.1 66.3 3.5%

Swindon 37.9 40.1 5.7%

Bedfordshire 99.8 102.32.5%

Berkshire 187.7 na na

Buckinghamshire 115.4 115.6 0.1%

Cambridgeshire 139.2 105.6 na

Cheshire 288.2 199.6 na

Cornwall 122.6 126.7 3.3%

Cumbria 106.5 112.5 5.6%

Derbyshire 156.0 161.5 3.5%

Devon 256.9 161.2 na

Dorset 84.6 89.15.3%

Durham 138.4 144.4 4.4%

East Sussex 121.5 122.7 1.0%

Essex 254.7 209.1 na

Gloucestershire88.1 92.7 5.2%

Hampshire 291.9 299.7 2.7%

Hereford & Worcester 168.4na na

Hertfordshire 259.2 270.4 4.3%

Isle of Wight 35.0 37.2 6.3%

Kent 310.4 270.2 na

Lancashire 382.5 317.3 na

Leicestershire 159.1 166.1 4.4%

Lincolnshire 120.3 122.3 1.6%

Norfolk 177.9 183.9 3.4%

Northamptonshire 153.9 159.5 3.6%

Northumberland 88.2 92.0 4.3%

Nottinghamshire 273.5 225.2 na

Oxfordshire 147.8 152.8 3.4%

Shropshire 104.3 70.3 na

Somerset 121.6 125.4 3.1%

Staffordshire 212.7 225.2 5.9%

Suffolk 185.7 192.3 3.6%

Surrey 201.5 208.3 3.4%

Warwickshire 118.4 123.9 4.6%

West Sussex 191.4 201.5 5.3%

Wiltshire 74.3 74.8 0.7%

Blackburn with Darwen na 43.2 na

Blackpool na 35.7 na

Bracknell Forest na 29.3 na

Halton na 42.7

Slough na 23.7 na

Southend-on-Sea na 26.3 na

Telford & Wrekin na 38.0 na

Thurrock na 28.7 na

Torbay na 31.9 na

Warrington na 59.0 na

West Berkshire na 36.9 na

Windsor & Maidenhead na 35.1 na

Wokingham na 45.2 na

Worcestershire na 134.8 na

Grant Maintained Schools Alteration** 14.0

Totals 12,438.3 12,977.4 4.3%

Notes:

- The Aggregated Schools Budget (ASB) is the sum of the total budgets for primary, secondary and special schools maintained by the local authority. It does not include funds for grant maintained schools.

** The estimated GM schools increase is inserted to take account of the fact that 39 schools have become grant maintained between 1997 and 1998. Of these, 15 were not previously maintained by the LEA. Of the remaining 24, 20 became grant maintained during 1997-98, and 4 became GM on 1 April 1998. Assuming an average budget of 1m per GM school, 4m is attributed to the 4 new GM schools, and 10m for the remaining 20, on the basis that they will each have received half a year of funding during 1997/98. This gives a total of 14m.

Changes which have occurred within LEAs, such as the closure or establishment of schools, schools becoming grant maintained, and changes in boundaries, such as in the cases of Unitary Authorities, mean that comparison of the individual LEA 1997/98 and 1998/99 figures must be treated with caution.

Rotherhams 1998/99 figure has not yet been ratified, so it has been assumed that it will increase with the Governments requirement of 5.75%.

TEXT OF SPEECH BY RT HON STEPHEN DORRELL MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment, NASUWT Annual Conference, Scarborough, Wednesday 15 April 1998

To those of us who have been following the reports of your deliberations, one important theme seems to have run through all this years teachers conferences. At each of the conferences it has become commonplace for speakers to observe that this years conference season provides a good opportunity to take stock of the Labour governments record as it completes its first year in office.

I propose to adopt the same approach. As the Opposition Spokesman on education you would not expect me to endorse everything the Government has done and nor shall I. Equally, however, it would be an abuse of your hospitality to invent specious differences where in reality there are none. We all know that there are some important education issues on which government and opposition are agreed and it is as important to articulate those areas of agreement as it is to set out the areas of disagreement.

One proposition is not remotely controversial. The Prime Minister likes to say that he has three priorities - education, education and education. In saying that he is of course repeating a commonplace of Prime Ministerial speeches. John Major, Margaret Thatcher, Jim Callaghan and Harold Wilson have all expressed identical sentiments. Indeed the consistency of Prime Ministerial interest in education goes back much further than that. All good Conservative speeches include a quotation from Disraeli - and that is easy for an education spokesman since he was an early advocate of the priority we should attach to education. Within a few months of becoming Prime Minister, he told the House of Commons that,

'upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends.'

That much is uncontroversial. But how is the Government getting on at turning its rhetoric into substance? Let us begin with the thorny question of resources.

RESOURCES FOR EDUCATION

Everyone at this conference will have heard a succession of Conservative ministers over 18 years arguing that resources are necessarily limited and that ministers face the inevitable need to prioritise. The speech has been made so often and the sentiments are so familiar that it would be as incredible as it would be dishonest for me to change the tune today.

The important question is not whether ministers are working within constraints: we all recognise that they are. The question is whether ministerial decisions accurately reflect national priorities and whether those decisions deliver the commitments which ministers gave to the electorate.

MORE CAPITAL FOR SCHOOLS

This government was elected on a promise to 'make a difference' in our schools. On the schools capital programme there has been a clear increase. In his budget last summer the Chancellor announced that 300 million from the Windfall Tax would be allocated next year to improving school buildings. This figure was increased by a further 90 million in his budget last month. This total increase of 390 million represents exactly 2% of total schools expenditure and is available only for capital works. It will, however, clearly be very welcome to the schools which benefit from it.

CHANCELLOR INCREASED REVENUE BUDGETS

Beyond that relatively modest investment in improved buildings, however, the governments record on resources for the schools service is remarkable not for the changes which it has introduced, but for its consistency with what went before.

In last Julys budget, Gordon Brown used these words:

'I propose to allocate from the reserve for next year, and specifically for use in schools, an additional 1 billion for education.'

Hansard: 2nd July 1997: Col 315

Since then, ministers have repeatedly claimed that this extra money - which amounts to 835 million for England only - reflects the higher priority which the new government places on increasing the resources available to our schools.

In fact this argument has always been pretty threadbare. The words I quoted form the Chancellor himself make it clear that all he was doing was allocating part of the Treasurys reserve to education - in the way all Chancellors have done in recent years. Ken Clarke is on record as saying that he would have done exactly the same thing if he had still been Chancellor, a claim that he can substantiate since he did it every year that he was Chancellor.

The proposition that Mr Blunketts 835 million represented a decisive break with the past was therefore never truly credible. As everyone in this hall knows it has become even less credible as local authorities have made their budget decisions over the last few weeks.

SCHOOLS BUTGETS 300 MILLION SHORT

The local authority budget setting round is now complete and it is now possible to assess the true impact of the governments decisions on school revenue budgets. Earlier today I published the total school budget figures for each local authority area in England. The conclusion is clear. When this years school budgets are compared with last years, they show an increase not of 835 million, but of 539 million - a shortfall of around 296 million. This is despite the fact that the Chancellor emphasised that the extra local authority expenditure was being authorised specifically for use in schools.

We all know that parents and teachers have been worried for weeks about schools having to cut their budgets and make teachers redundant. They have been unable to reconcile cuts in the classroom with ministers assurances about extra resources. The figures I published today explain why.

Ministers claim that extra local authority expenditure should go overwhelmingly to schools, but in reality local authorities face other substantial pressures. Most notably, the rising elderly population continues to place a growing burden on social services departments and the governments own education legislation is leading to substantial increases in LEA bureaucracy.

The result is that nearly 300 million of the money which the Chancellor announced is being specifically for use in schools has not found its way into school budgets in the new financial year. In the cold light of dawn the government must recognise that it has allowed its rhetoric about resources for schools to run way ahead of its ability to deliver. I dont doubt their desire to see greater resources made available to schools. It is a desire that is widely shared. But a Labour election victory doesnt change the laws of arithmetic, and ministers have not yet shown that they can deliver extra resources into the classroom.

But I began by saying there were some important areas of education policy where government and opposition are agreed. Let me now turn to some of those.

TESTING AND LEAGUE TABLES

Ministers have made clear their determination to continue the system of national testing which we introduced. As we all know, this system was initially hugely controversial, but I continue to believe that the concept is right and I therefore welcome the governments commitment to its continued development. Conservative ministers always recognised that these tests will need to be refined: in particular it is clearly desirable, alongside measures of actual attainment, to have some assessment of the progress made both by an individual child and by a cohort of children within a particular school - a measure of so-called value added.

We shall continue to support the development of this testing system, in order to ensure that we have more accurate information about the quality of the service that we are delivering to our children.

Ministers have also made it clear that they remain committed to the principle of making the information gathered through the testing system available in the easily accessible form to parents and the wider community. Once again, this commitment to the publication of league tables was hugely controversial when it was introduced, but I am pleased to welcome the fact that the new government intends to continue with this approach.

I believe that the development of a system of national tests, together with a commitment to the publication of the results, was a key development in schools policy over the last decade, and I welcome the fact that it is now possible to discuss the next stage in more measured tones than was possible a few years ago.

BUREAUCRATIC BURDEN ON TEACHERS

That discussion with the government clearly now needs to ensure that the bureaucratic burden which falls on teachers as a result of these reforms is kept to a minimum. Some commitment to record-keeping is an inevitable part of professional accountability, but it is in the interests of no one for teachers to be tied into unnecessary cumbersome and bureaucratic reporting procedures. The government says it recognises the importance of this issue - so far all it has actually done is to set up a working group that has produced a report. Teachers are looking to the Secretary of State to turn words into action.

The importance of avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy is, however, a theme that runs far beyond the workings of the system for testing and league tables - it goes to the heart of the continuing debate about how schools should be run.

I have made it clear many times that it is no part of my brief to defend every detail of the systems established over the last 18 years. Still less is it our intention to give a series of detailed commitments to reintroduce structures that are changed or removed by this government in the course of its term of office. We regard opposition as an opportunity to reassess our own ideas, to listen to other peoples ideas, and to consider alternative ways forward.

We are therefore open-minded. But we are not without ideas of our own.

SCHOOLS SHOULD BE LOCALLY MANAGED

It remains our view that the key to the development of good schools lies in the development of locally managed institutions. When the government asserts that intervention should be in inverse proportion to success, we agree with them.

It is because we agree with that emphasis on the importance of local autonomy that we have opposed many of the provisions of the School Standards and Framework Bill. In particular we oppose the abolition of Grant Maintained Schools - it is hard to understand the logic of abolishing these successful autonomous schools when Stephen Byers himself says that the Grant Maintained sector has established a benchmark of delegation which should be available to all schools. If they are the benchmark why begin by abolishing them?

Beyond the Grant Maintained sector, however, we have opposed the new planning structure because it seeks to integrate every school into a new national planning system for which the Secretary of State himself is ultimately responsible. The Bills proposals for an enhanced role for LEAs is already creating an extra overhead for the school service and diverting resources away from the classroom. At the same time, the effect of extra management from the LEA must be to undermine professional decision-making within the schools.

Schools must obviously prepare plans - that much is not in dispute. What is much less obvious is why it is desirable to require each school, however successful, to agree the detail of its plan with the LEA, which itself is then required to agree its own plan with the Secretary of State. If the school is to be an autonomous institution run by professionals, it should surely be responsible for making its own planning decisions according to its own priorities.

ENHANCED PROFESSIONAL STATUS FOR TEACHERS

A real commitment to strengthening the local management of schools is the key to enhancing the professional status of teachers. Almost all teachers feel that their professionalism is undervalued. This is hardly surprising when they work in a service where most of the key decisions have traditionally been taken by opaque bureaucracies within the LEA.

A commitment to build a schools service made up of autonomous institutions leads necessarily and inevitably to an enhanced role for the professional teacher. When decisions affecting the future of the school are taken within the school, the key service in most of these decisions will be the voice of the professional teacher responding to the needs and priorities of the community which the school is there to serve. Responsibility clearly ultimately rests with the headteacher, but no head can operate successfully without the support and engagement of the teaching staff of the school. Local management of schools is about the empowerment of professional teaching staff.

GENERAL TEACHING COUNCIL

It is because we believe that schools policy should progressively involve a larger voice for the teaching profession that we have supported the governments move to introduce a General Teaching Council. If the teaching profession is to command greater public support it needs a strong professional voice but, perhaps even more importantly, it also needs to show that it has the means to confront the difficult issues facing the profession.

The governments original proposal established a council, but gave it purely advisory powers. Conservative peers worked with Liberal Democrat and Crossbench colleagues to amend the Teaching and Higher Education Bill to ensure that the GTC had real power to deal with professional discipline issues. I am pleased that the government has now decided to accept the sense of these amendments - the result is a GTC that will have an important part to play in shaping the future of the profession.

CONCLUSION

So what conclusions can we draw about the governments schools policy after its first twelve months?

I regret its approach towards Grant Maintained Schools, just as I regret its approach towards Grammar schools and the Assisted Places Scheme. It isnt good enough to say that each of these sectors only serve a minority. They are small sectors, so the assertion is inevitably true. The problem with the governments approach to these issues is precisely that it cannot accept that different solutions suit different people.

But on other issues I believe the government has a better record.

I agree with its approach to testing and league tables and welcome the fact that it is continuing to develop the approach we adopted in government.

I welcome ministers words about the need to ensure that 'intervention is in inverse proportion to success'. It is still unclear how far this principle will be reflected in the development of LEAs planning function, but I remain very uneasy about the cost and policy implications of ministers plans for LEAs.

I welcome the governments moves to establish a General Teaching Council, particularly in view of ministers willingness to take on board the sense of the amendments carried in the House of Lords.

Most importantly, however, I remain wholly unpersuaded by ministers repeated protestations of their intention to deliver a major increase in the level of resources committed to education. The figures from LEAs make it plain beyond peradventure that no major increase has been delivered in the current year.

The objective of delivering what Professor Barber has described as a 'world class education service' is self evidently important. I do not doubt the sincerity of the governments purpose - as to whether they will deliver, the jury is still out.

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