Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Education
Front Page 
UK Politics 
How the Education Systems Work 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Tuesday, 8 February, 2000, 15:40 GMT
Call for fairer funding for schools

kent canteen Many school buildings are old and badly maintained

A fifth of England's secondary schools are struggling to cope with inadequate buildings, according to the chief inspector of schools, Chris Woodhead.

He says that a fairer method of getting government money through to schools needs to be found.

In his annual report for 1999, published on Tuesday, Mr Woodhead says that about one in 20 primary schools and one in five secondaries have "inadequate books, materials and equipment for effective teaching of the curriculum."

In secondary schools, inspectors have reported on problems such as leaking roofs, broken windows and poor-quality classrooms with inadequate ventilation and lighting.

Mr Woodhead says the extra 19bn the government has promised to invest over the course of this parliament ought to solve many of the problems.

'Clear principle'

But he says many headteachers worry that this is being used to fund local and national initiatives that do not always meet their particular priorities.

"The general principle ought, however, to be crystal clear: extra funding should be used to attract and remunerate successful teachers, buy more books and mend leaking roofs," he says.

"Each and every penny spent outside the school needs to be scrutinised and each new administrative post challenged," he adds, in a swipe at local education authorities.

Mr Woodhead highlights the differences in funding available to schools, depending on where they are geographically.

He says the amount per pupil varies from about 1,300 to 2,500 in primary schools and from about 1,900 to more than 3,000 in secondary schools.

"I do not believe that in every case these variations can be justified," he said.

National system

He comes close to advocating a national funding system, as many headteachers are demanding.

"We have a national curriculum and national expectations of how standards should rise," he says.

"We do not, as yet, have a transparent and educationally defensible mechanism for the equitable devolution of resources from central government to LEAs and from LEAs to schools. We should."

Asked about this at a news conference to launch his report, Mr Woodhead said he was not technically qualified to say how that should be done.

The Secondary Heads Association is campaigning for a national funding formula for schools to remove the "absurdities" of the present system.

Growing support

It wants to see schools getting an allocation related to the needs of their pupils, taking into account differing local levels of deprivation.

Its arm was strengthened last week in the report from the School Teachers' Review Body, which recommends pay levels for teachers in England and Wales.

Among its proposals for this year, the STRB acknowledged that ministers were conducting a review with the aim of finding a fairer method of funding local authorities in England and in Wales.

"We urge that this long awaited opportunity is taken to introduce a simpler and more transparent funding system for schools, based on a national formula which would determine what gets through to school budgets," it said.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

See also:
17 Nov 99 |  Education
Local authorities call for Woodhead's sacking
02 Feb 00 |  Education
School says its canteen is health risk
28 Jan 00 |  Education
Heads say cuts are costing teachers' jobs
25 Sep 99 |  Education
Blair urged to tackle school funding 'problem'
08 Feb 00 |  Education
School strategies 'paying off'

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Education stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories