Headlines: February 18th, 2005

Proposals on school funding published by Schools Minister Stephen Twigg offer greater freedom and independence for schools to run their own affairs. There would be clear lines of accountability, three year budgets and greater discretion over how they can spend their standards-related funding. The proposals would allow schools to plan ahead to make the most effective use of their resources and get better value for money. Key features are financial security for schools, the ability for Heads to better plan long-term finances, and greater clarity on funding streams and responsibilities between local and central government.Funding for schools and other pupil provision, like special education needs, would in future be provided to each local authority through the new Dedicated Schools Grant from the Department for Education and Skills, rather than through general local government funding and Council Tax as now. Local education authorities would retain responsibility for distributing this Grant funding to schools according to local needs and priorities. However, as the grant will be ring-fenced, it cannot be used for any purpose other than school funding which will mean that the existing “passporting” regime will no longer be required.

In the proposals, a new Single Standards Grant would bring together current standards-related funding streams designed to support improvement activities and national priorities and to promote innovation. Schools would be free to spend the grant on their own improvement priorities and there would be fewer conditions and reporting requirements so that they can focus on delivering improvements for pupils.