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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Funding and management
Local education authorities (LEAs) in England are responsible for most of the public expenditure on schools.

A large amount is indirectly funded by the government through the Revenue Support Grant made to local authorities.

The government has put enormous political pressure on LEAs to delegate an increasing amount of the money it intends should be spent on education to schools, to spend as they wish.

In an effort to make the system clearer, funding is now split into two designated "blocks" - for schools, and for the authority's own functions, including such things as providing home-to-school transport.

There are also central government grants for which schools can bid. These focus mainly on training to improve schools' performance in literacy and numeracy, and on support for information technology. Extra resources also go to inner city schools facing particularly severe problems.

The government has set up "education action zones" in England.

These are local clusters of schools, usually a mix of primary, secondary and special schools in areas of relative deprivation, which work in a new partnership with the local education authority, parents, businesses and others.

There are 73 zones, each of which receives 500,000 per year for three years.

State school funding

There used to be four kinds of state school wholly or mainly supported from public funds:

  • County schools, owned and wholly funded by local education authorities and providing primary and secondary non-denominational education.
  • Voluntary schools, mostly established by religious denominations but financially maintained by the local education authority. Those which assumed greater financial independence and more control over admissions policies were known as ''voluntary aided'', as opposed to ''voluntary controlled'' schools, where the local education authority bore all costs.
  • Special agreement schools, where the local education authority might pay between one-half and three-quarters of the cost of building a new voluntary school or extending an existing one, almost always a secondary school.
  • Self-governing grant-maintained (GM) schools, which had opted out of local authority control.
Under the former Conservative government, all secondary and primary schools were eligible to apply for grant-maintained status, subject to a ballot of parents.

These GM schools enjoyed a greater degree of independence over their admission policies. They were not financed by local education authorities but by a central funding agency.


Under the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998, the government established three new categories of schools:

  • community, very broadly based on county schools
  • voluntary, formerly voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools
  • foundation, intended to replace GM schools, putting them back under local authority control to an extent.
Local education authorities continue to retain responsibility for various services, including transport, school meals, and co-ordinating services for pupils with special needs.

Governing bodies

All publicly-maintained schools have a governing body, which is usually made up of a number of parent representatives, the head teacher and serving teachers, governors appointed by the local education authority or church authorities, as appropriate, and others to represent the local community.

Governors are responsible for the main policy decisions within schools, including academic matters. They also shoulder responsibility for school discipline, and the appointment and dismissal of staff - although in practice much of this responsiblity is delegated to the head teacher.

Governing bodies are responsible for implementing the recommendations of inspection reports, and are required to make those reports and their resulting action plans available to parents.

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