School cash failures let down pupils

It is deeply disappointing that a system put in place by Bradford Council to claw back unspent cash from the district’s schools seems to have failed so comprehensively.

Only £225,000 has been returned since the policy was introduced six years ago while last year alone 61 schools were in breach of the underspending thresholds, leaving almost £4 million unspent.

The fact that one school, Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, is sitting on nearly £900,000 and another, Iqra Community Primary, is hanging on to nearly a quarter of its budget shows that there is something seriously wrong with the management of school funding.

Some schools will point out that they are overspent and the fact that the majority of the rest fall within the thresholds suggests that, individually, the sums being squirrelled away are much smaller than those being sat on by the worst offenders.

But it is when they are all put together that the true impact of these failures becomes clear. In all more than £25 million of education spending – enough to fund something in the region of 750 extra teachers for a year – is being held up.

The harsh reality is that schools today have to be run as if they were businesses – and managers who missed their targets by those sorts of figures wouldn’t last long in the unprotected world of the private sector.

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