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Tuesday, September 21, 1999 Published at 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK


Education

Schools take control of standards fund

Headteachers will be able to fund school improvement projects

The government has announced a further expansion of the fund to raise school standards - with more of the money being passed directly to schools in England and Wales.

The budget for the School Standards Fund has been set by the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, at £1.6bn for the year 2000-2001, a 60% increase on the £1bn available this year.

The fund, which includes contributions from local education authorities, can be used by schools to raise standards in specific areas - such as improving literacy or buying computer equipment to connect to the National Grid for Learning.


[ image: The Standards Fund can help schools connect to the National Grid for Learning]
The Standards Fund can help schools connect to the National Grid for Learning
Next year's funding will also be targeted more closely at schools, with at least 75% of money required to be passed by local authorities straight to schools, compared to 65% this year.

"This added delegation of funds under the Standards Fund reflects the front-line role schools have in raising standards and the fact that we know headteachers are best placed to identify their school's most pressing needs," said Mr Blunkett.

This will mean that even more of education spending will by-pass local education authorities, with greater responsibility being given to headteachers and boards of governors.

From next year, schools will also take a more direct responsibility for maintenance of their premises, with Mr Blunkett promising that "a significant portion of the overall capital budget will be devolved to schools from April 2000".

"Our push for greater delegation of funds to schools is about minimising spending on red tape and maximising what is spent in schools."

The bidding process for funds will also be less complex next year, the government has promised, with less red tape and a reduction in the number of types of grants that require competitive bidding.

There will also be greater flexibility for schools in how they use the additional money, with 20% allowed to be spent in areas other than originally specified in the application.

The areas which the Standards Fund is intended to support include school improvement, literacy and numeracy, social inclusion, special needs, drug prevention and school security.



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