BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Education  
News Front Page
N Ireland
Hot Topics
UK Systems
League Tables
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Q & A: Heads' warning on funding

Head teachers say that many schools are facing the prospect of cutting staff numbers because of budget shortages. But the government says that more money is going into schools than ever before.

What are head teachers warning about?

A survey for the National Association of Head Teachers says that 45% of schools forecast that they would be making cuts in staffing this year, with primary schools the hardest hit.

According to heads, this "dispels several myths. There has not been a big increase in funding at school level. Rising costs are barely covered, or not covered at all. Real terms growth is a rare exception. Staffing costs are way beyond safe levels."

Who do they hope is listening?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. The comprehensive spending review next month will allocate funding for public services and head teachers want to make sure that schools are seen as a priority.

The teachers' unions and universities have already banged the drum with warnings that major investment is needed.

And the education sector will be anxious that it will not be overlooked in favour of health and public transport.

But what about all the extra money for schools?

Heads say that almost all their budget is taken up with staffing costs - and that there is almost no flexibility for other spending.

Many primary schools also say that they have had to increase the numbers of staff, with classroom assistants needed for the literacy hour.

According to the survey 42% of primary schools are spending over 90% of their total budget on staff costs.

And difficulty in paying existing staff does not mean that it is any easier for many other schools which are struggling to recruit teachers.

What about extra funding for education initiatives?

Head teachers will say that more money is available to schools. But this is not an increase in the general budget, but is dependent on applying for specific grants and awards.

The government says that targeted funding is a more effective way of ensuring that extra money leads to better results.

But head teachers argue that bidding for funding is time consuming and involves too much paperwork. Opposition parties have also claimed that this type of funding leads to an over-centralised education service.

What are the official figures on school funding?

"Funding per pupil has risen by an average of 550 (20%) in real terms to 3,310 since 1997 and will rise by a further 130 in real terms in 2002-03," says the Department for Education.

"By 2003-04 it will have increased by over 760 in real terms since 1997-98."

The number of teachers in post had also risen, with 20,400 more teachers in school since January 1997.

Should schools be optimistic about extra funding?

Yes, the Chancellor indicated in a speech earlier this year that education would be a funding priority.

"Having raised the share of education in our national income during the last parliament, we are pledged to increase significantly the share of national income devoted to education over the course of this parliament."

See also:

23 May 02 | Education
05 Jun 02 | Education
30 May 02 | Education
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |