Teachers Question Councils over Where Education Cash Has Gone

Article excerpt

Byline: By Abbie Wightwick Western Mail

Teachers' leaders last night called on councils to explain where money taken from their education budgets had gone.

Figures from the National Association of Headteachers Cymru show 14 of the 22 councils have not spent all the money they expected on education.

In England education funding cannot be spent elsewhere by councils.

But in Wales they are free to use the money in other areas, such as social services.

Last night the Welsh Assembly Government insisted it cannot stop councils diverting cash and has no plans to change the rules.

NAHT Cymru school funding consultant Iwan Guy said there was a "funding fog" enabling cash meant for schools to vanish unaccounted for.

He said the WAG should consider ring-fencing education funding to ensure adequate funding of schools, many of which are running at a deficit. One, Garth Primary in Maesteg, has a pounds 10,000 deficit, he said.

NAHT Cymru's figures are based on Indicator-Based Assessment (IBA) funding related to education. Under the system the WAG suggests, targets for spending are based on what councils say they will spend.

Just 75.6% of education funding goes straight to schools and there has been a 10.9% increase in funding held back, according to NAHT Cymru.

Unallocated money in one area amounts to as much as pounds 2,000 per school.

"We have no idea where the money is going," Mr Guy said.

"It's a funding fog. There should be a clear audit trail for all this money. All 22 local education authorities have different formulas for allocating money. If there's a national curriculum, there should be a debate about whether there should also be a national funding formula.

"If the same curriculum is to be delivered in all 22 authorities then there should be a level playing field. At the moment some schools have to manage on less.

"The present system is not working. The alternative is that the money is ring-fenced.

"I would like the WAG to be proactive in asking why councils are not spending the money. …