Budgets for schools in spotlight

PARENTS in Hartlepool can see for the first time how much their child's school spends educating their children with the publication of new tables.

The Government has published school spending data for every primary and secondary school in the country to show parents and the public what their money was spent on over the last year.

Although the Department for Education says its budget for schools will be increased by 3.6bn by 2014-15, the Government is encouraging schools to look for areas where they can be more efficient.

In Hartlepool, Dyke House Sports and Technology College was the biggest spending secondary school at 6,361 per pupil against a national average of 5,212.

Headteacher Bill Jordon said the figure was due to Dyke House having a higher number of pupils from deprived areas than any other school in the town.

He said: "This reflects the fact that we have the highest deprivation which we get money to address."

The lowest in town was High Tunstall College of Science. But while it spent just 4,825 per pupil it recorded the best GCSE score of pupils getting at least five A* to C grades, including maths and English, at 57 per cent.

Head Mark Tilling said: "We see it as essential that we carefully plan and manage the budget we get and ensure we get value for money in everything we do."

Out of Hartlepool's 30 primary schools, Owton Manor was the biggest spender at 6,544 a pupil compared to Sacred Heart at the lowest end with 3,279.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: "As a council we have always pressed the Government to provide fair funding for schools because a solid education is so important to give children a good start in life.

"Education has also been a high priority for the council since we became a unitary council in 1996 and the improvements in attainment since then have been significant.

"The amount of funding for each school is set by the local schools forum and is based on need."

The Department for Education stresses there is no direct link between how much a school spends and how well children perform.

The majority of a school's budget goes on staff followed by learning resources, catering, back office and administration.

It is administration and energy where the Government

says schools can look to make savings.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "The aim of publishing the school by school spending data is not to point fingers, but to ensure we better understand how the best and most effective schools achieve what they achieve with the money and resources they have.

"We need to ensure that every pound is spent as effectively as possible and the best way of doing that is by shining a light on the best practice within the existing schools system, allowing headteachers, governors and parents to learn from the best."