Private Eye mocks DfE money-saving ‘toolkit'

Janet Downs's picture

Economy measures dismissed as ‘Hinds Slight’

The Department for Education (DfE) has developed a cunning plan for schools to save money.  It’s issued a ‘toolkit’ which the recent edition of Private Eye* dubs ‘Hinds Slight’.  This refers, no doubt, to the insulting way in which education secretary Damian Hinds patronises school leaders by giving money-saving advice to those who are being kept short of cash.

In an attempt to persuade readers that schools have never had it so good, the School Resource Management Strategy devotes many pages explaining how school spending has increased since 2000.  It even names an IFS document  in a footnote as ‘evidence’.    The DfE obviously hopes no-one will bother to click on the link.  

The document cited does indeed show school spending rising since 2000, the date the DfE chose as its baseline.    But, as the IFS made clear:

This growth came to an end in 2011–12, with average school spending per pupil largely frozen in real terms between 2011–12 and 2015–16.’

It appears the DfE is attempting to take credit for rises in education spending which took place under Labour and using this increase to justify giving advice to schools abut how they can force the last pennies out of a pot which has been depleting since 2011.

As schools struggle, DfE will pay £2.3m on ‘school resource management advisers’

Schools are struggling.  They’ve already cut spending to the bone.  But the DfE will appoint ‘school resource management advisers’ to show schools how to slice into the bone and scoop out the marrow.  Private Eye reveals the DfE will spend £2.3m on what Schools Week has called ‘cost cutting consultants’.  

But the time has come when schools can cut no longer without damaging education quality more than it’s already been damaged by ill-thought-out, hastily enacted ‘reforms’ and accountability measures which put excessive emphasis on exam results.

 EXTRA:  Watch video (scroll down) from Yvonne Burton, SENDCO, saying funding is the worst in 30 years.  Her school is not only asking parents to fund raise but is applying for charitable help.  

*Number 1478, not available online


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John Mountford's picture
Sat, 08/09/2018 - 10:32

Of course the idea of spending even more money on management advice to 'help' schools get more bang for their bucks is another farcical move on behalf of the DfE (newly titled Department for Extravagance). What else are we to expect from a minority government vainly struggling to create some sort of legacy for itself which involves lining the pockets of its core supporters and cutting back relentlessly on public spending?

In relation to education, the system is failing to measure up to the real-time needs of our young people but the culprits are not merely to be found lurking in the murky corridors of Westminster. Our schools, too, are failing for the same reason as our political overlords - dwindling moral leadership.

It's correct to criticise the plan to fund more consultants at the expense of direct spending on pupil/teacher resources. It is not appropriate not to identify equally bankrupt policy decisions being made in schools. As the Schools Week response to the proposal points out, choices have to be made and these have to be based on priority needs.
"Matthew Clements-Wheeler, chair of the ISBL, told Schools Week: “The SRMA pilot demonstrated there is a demand for experienced help and support for managing school finance.

This means looking at the tough decision and making unpopular choices. Whilst I would always advise for more money for schools, we have to understand that schools and trusts are ultimately limited by what the government is prepared to fund.”

Are we really saying that pupils benefit from the high salaries paid to newly designated Executive Heads? Are we seriously suggesting that money spent on logos and branding benefit children's education outcomes? Is it acceptable for schools to devote disproportionate amounts of money and staffing to support testing regimes very few believe in or can justify on professional grounds?

You have exposed countless stories of government squandering public funds on pet solutions, Janet, but the profession has to look to its own actions also.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 08/09/2018 - 12:03

See EXTRA above for link to video from SENDCO Yvonne Burton re funding for school.

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