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" Schools Waste Millions "

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8276991.stm

Schools waste millions - report

Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money is being wasted in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, an internal government report suggests.

The report, by former WH Smith chief executive Richard Handover, has been seen by BBC One's Politics Show.

It claims civil servants and head teachers appear to have no idea what value for money means, and calls for 40,000 teaching assistant jobs to go.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls has said £2bn could be cut from his department. However, last week, he appeared to rule out the sort of job losses proposed by Mr Handover. In his frank report, Mr Handover states: "Financial efficiency... is not seen as a core responsibility of management at any level."

£35,000 photocopier

He described how £50,000 was spent installing three toilets at a primary school - 10 times the required sum, while another spent £35,000 on a £1,000 photocopier. A DCSF spokesman said Mr Handover was asked last September to conduct a "value for money review" of the department's spending. He concluded his work and handed his report to the Secretary of State in April.

The spokesman said the report was "useful blue-sky thinking", which had already helped the department identify savings that could be made. But he said Mr Balls had made clear that in some areas he did not agree with Mr Handover's thinking. He said: "For example, Ed Balls was clear that he did not agree with Mr Handover's view on deprivation funding and will not pre-empt the School Funding Review and that he did not want to see fewer teachers or teaching assistants but rather wanted to keep the extra 40,000 teachers and the extra 120,000 extra teaching assistants." Mr Balls became the first minister to suggest possible cost-cutting moves last week when he suggested £2bn could be trimmed from the budget.

The number of bureaucrats and senior staff could be reduced without losing front-line staff or affecting the quality of teaching, he suggested. He also claimed £500m could be saved by comprehensives merging to form federations with a management pool working across several schools. In response, the National Association of Head Teachers said its members had been forced to deal with increasing amounts of government bureaucracy. Teachers' unions accepted some reorganisation could be carried out at senior levels but rejected suggestions of job cuts.

Am I the only person who is thinking that there must be places in UK government to wield the axe before education? Are we supposed to think that all schools are awash with £35k photocopiers?

Edited by redalert

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8276991.stm

Am I the only person who is thinking that there must be places in UK government to wield the axe before education? Are we supposed to think that all schools are awash with £35k photocopiers?

No but every part of goverment local and central is full of massive waste. The govt should say every department budget is cut by 10% and council tax is cut 10% and that no frontline redundancies are made. no nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers, firemen, police etc to be made redundant. They only redundancies allowed should be in the mangement or the support services for the frontline services.

They would soon stop paying 35K for photocopiers and start to question would I pay 50K for three toilets in my own home?

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No but every part of goverment local and central is full of massive waste. The govt should say every department budget is cut by 10% and council tax is cut 10% and that no frontline redundancies are made. no nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers, firemen, police etc to be made redundant. They only redundancies allowed should be in the mangement or the support services for the frontline services.

They would soon stop paying 35K for photocopiers and start to question would I pay 50K for three toilets in my own home?

council tax funds only a small proportion of the spend of the councils [and no it's not enough just to cover frontline services]. The rest is made up from govt. grants and, i think, revenue councils are able to generate themselves via things like land sales. happy to be corrected on this.

the other problem with saying cut jobs from the support services functions, is that it's these support services which are supposed to allow teachers to focus on teaching for instance. Same with the nhs.

the problem the schools sector has is that there's no rhyme or reason to some of the budget allocations. Plus you have this situation where often schools and other learning establishments find themselves in a position where they have a limited period of time to spend a great deal of money, otherwise they lose that money. Sometimes this arises because of incompetence. I'm not saying the 50k on toilets is one of those situations......that is probably just down to incompetence on the part of those approving the deal, but i've seen situations where managers have got 100k to spend, and end up spending it on stuff like a refurb or new kit that isn't strictly speaking necessary. Or the ripping out of perfectly suitable fixtures and fittings only to replace with newer, shinier stuff because they have this money to spend before a certain date......and the worst thing is, they are often precluded from spending this money on staff salaries.

A lot of what is spent during the year isn't necessary either in some areas, and then you get the ludicrous situation where in other areas they are seriously starved of funds needed for necessary items.

It's a farce basically. Symptomatic of an era of spend without thought. and allocation and ringfencing of budgets without thought......what they should do is actually protect all jobs, provide proper wage increases - rather than lining the pockets of the private sector with lucrative deals and employ people on the roster who know how to get best value. What i mean by that is, it's not jane bloggs in the office earning 16k a year who benefits from the school splurgin thousands on toilets. Nor is it to the benfit joe bloggs in IT on 18k a year......no, it's to the benefit of those providing the toilets and the services to install. ie the private sector. Education spending is money for old rope for them.

Edited by spivtastic

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The important thing to understand is how the money gets distributed. I've heard a lot of stuff about how funds get allocated in these places.

If a department or school doesn't spend all of their allocation each year, it is assumed that they don't need it ever, and it's removed.

So, in the case of that £35k photocopier, the school may have been left with no choice... if it didn't spend £35k this year, it'd lose £35k next year... and next year it might really need the cash.

So, we end up with ridiculous headlines like this. Most of state overspend is down to a draconian funding policy rather than any specific intent by individual schools to waste as much as they can.

Red tape.

Of course, the article doesn't mention this because your average "Billy McDumbfook" journalist isn't going to to bother trying to find out the reasons why overspends occur, he just needs to create a sensationalist headline, scrawl a few lines to support it then clock out.

Edited by DementedTuna

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Traffic lights...clearly and area ripe for cutbacks.

we have a lot of junctions here in Colchester that seem A: unnecessary as there are now delays with the lights where there were none before, and B: 15 sets of lights to cover a simple crossroads, and of course the World record of lights near the station, where 2 roundabouts would have done, and indeed served before.

then theres the lights on roundabouts on 24/7 when there is only a problem in the morning rush hour.

In France and Spain they have minimul lights, and instead of a second set ahead of the driver ( on both sides of the road) they have a single repeater at eye level. that saves two more sets!!!

simples.

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Schools need the support staff to be able to carry out the lessons.

A science teacher cant give a lesson on science unless the science technician has prepared the class experiments.

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Plus you have this situation where often schools and other learning establishments find themselves in a position where they have a limited period of time to spend a great deal of money, otherwise they lose that money...... but i've seen situations where managers have got 100k to spend, and end up spending it on stuff like a refurb or new kit that isn't strictly speaking necessary. Or the ripping out of perfectly suitable fixtures and fittings only to replace with newer, shinier stuff because they have this money to spend before a certain date......and the worst thing is, they are often precluded from spending this money on staff salaries.

I have often thought if departments were allowed to keep budget surpluses, or even gained an increase if they didn't spend all the money, within a short time billions would be available to spend on additional facilities.

At the coalface, it is obvious what is lacking and where the waste is. Financial decisions should be taken at the lowest level possible.

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Traffic lights...clearly and area ripe for cutbacks.

we have a lot of junctions here in Colchester that seem A: unnecessary as there are now delays with the lights where there were none before,

Damn right. In Bournemouth they mess with the roads for a pastime, creating problems whre none existed.

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I understand about this having limited funds to be spent within a limited time scale but would it be so hard to say no thanks we don't need it have it back....... it that really such a radical idea :blink:

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Schools need the support staff to be able to carry out the lessons.

A science teacher cant give a lesson on science unless the science technician has prepared the class experiments.

and health and safety staff have provided the round headed scissors, the safety suits, gas masks and a risk assessment.

and the pencils have been checked for sharp edges.

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Guest absolutezero
Schools need the support staff to be able to carry out the lessons.

A science teacher cant give a lesson on science unless the science technician has prepared the class experiments.

Very true.

But do we need ALL the papershufflers in the offices generating paperwork just for the sake of it?

I'm a teacher and have been at it 10 years. We managed perfectly well 10 years ago with about 30 support staff. We now have over 70.

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Very true.

But do we need ALL the papershufflers in the offices generating paperwork just for the sake of it?

I'm a teacher and have been at it 10 years. We managed perfectly well 10 years ago with about 30 support staff. We now have over 70.

What size school?

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Guest absolutezero
What size school?

A normal secondary. At last count I think we had about 1030 pupils on roll.

Out of interest, the number of support staff in our school has more than doubled but the number of teachers has only increased by about 5.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8276991.stm

Am I the only person who is thinking that there must be places in UK government to wield the axe before education? Are we supposed to think that all schools are awash with £35k photocopiers?

No, there are other places to cut also

There IS some money wasted in education, sometimes due to 'pots of money' that HAVE to be spent. Conversley, sometimes the money is useful to get things done that would never happen otherwise.

Sometimes you are not allowed to roll over a budget (highly annoying as I'm prudent with my budget and want to keep some aside).

Then there's the waste that goes on at LEA level (not just in education). The VI's in industry eg IT projects convince laypeople in strategic positions to spend vast sums on IT projects.

You need to spend to innovate for sure, but there are too many references to 'blue sky', by bureaucrats trying to show dynamisim or immagination 'out of the box' etc when MOST of what the average person needs to do is just 'get on with the job'.

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The important thing to understand is how the money gets distributed. I've heard a lot of stuff about how funds get allocated in these places.

If a department or school doesn't spend all of their allocation each year, it is assumed that they don't need it ever, and it's removed.

So, in the case of that £35k photocopier, the school may have been left with no choice... if it didn't spend £35k this year, it'd lose £35k next year... and next year it might really need the cash.

So, we end up with ridiculous headlines like this. Most of state overspend is down to a draconian funding policy rather than any specific intent by individual schools to waste as much as they can.

Red tape.

Of course, the article doesn't mention this because your average "Billy McDumbfook" journalist isn't going to to bother trying to find out the reasons why overspends occur, he just needs to create a sensationalist headline, scrawl a few lines to support it then clock out.

This is the crazy system developed by idiots which is why we have poor value for money, being thrifty is penalised but if you spend like there's no tomorrow clearly you don't have enough money and need some more.

There are huge numbers of people like this throughout govt even worse many have the mentality that the bigger the budget they control the more important they are.

We are run by idiots.

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"He described how £50,000 was spent installing three toilets at a primary school - 10 times the required sum"

What Mr Balls is failing to mention is why £50,000 had to be spent on installing the toilets.

The headmaster would have phoned around for quotes and he would have known he was paying vastly over the odds for the building work.

The only reason the headmaster paid £50,000 is because under the terms of contract they have with the PFI company, he had to pay them to do the work and no one else. This happens in almost every hospital and school financed through PFI.

The headmaster would have preferred to just not bother with the new toilets, but that would have meant disobeying OFSTED, an unwise thing to do for anyone running a school.

Well done Labour...

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Schools need the support staff to be able to carry out the lessons.

A science teacher cant give a lesson on science unless the science technician has prepared the class experiments.

So all science lessons are experimental in nature.

:rolleyes:

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Guest absolutezero
So all science lessons are experimental in nature.

:rolleyes:

No, but a lot are.

What's your point?

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Guest absolutezero
The point is that it doesn't require science technicians to teach science.

No, but it does require experiments.

Who will prepare the experimental stuff?

Hint, not teachers who are too busy teaching, marking, assessing, reporting, differentiating etc etc to be sorting out bottles of acid, risk assessments, weighing out 15g of iron filings, mending broken powerpacks, stock checking etc.

Edited by absolutezero

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No, but it does require experiments.

Who will prepare the experimental stuff?

Hint, not teachers who are too busy teaching, marking, assessing, reporting, differentiating etc etc to be sorting out bottles of acid, risk assessments, weighing out 15g of iron filings, mending broken powerpacks, stock checking etc.

A few suggestions;

1. Don't do the reporting so the teacher can do the dangerous stuff.

2. Use the kids to set up the experiments so they understand what they're doing better.

3. Get the kids to do all the stockchecking and repair work. They will learn useful stuff there.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8276991.stm

Am I the only person who is thinking that there must be places in UK government to wield the axe before education? Are we supposed to think that all schools are awash with £35k photocopiers?

Ho hum isn't this the oldest government trick in the book when cuts are beckoning. Hire someone from private industry (usually at some fee running to telephone numbers) to write a report calling for blood curdling job losses. Then come out with proposals which reduce all the figures by 50%. Everone is then supposed to be relieved that they are only having one leg amputated instead of two.

Of course, no one asks why has the government been allowing all this 'waste' to go on for so long.

Aren't ministers responsible for their departments budgets any more ?

Edited by whatamisery

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"He described how £50,000 was spent installing three toilets at a primary school - 10 times the required sum"

What Mr Balls is failing to mention is why £50,000 had to be spent on installing the toilets.

The headmaster would have phoned around for quotes and he would have known he was paying vastly over the odds for the building work.

The only reason the headmaster paid £50,000 is because under the terms of contract they have with the PFI company, he had to pay them to do the work and no one else. This happens in almost every hospital and school financed through PFI.

The headmaster would have preferred to just not bother with the new toilets, but that would have meant disobeying OFSTED, an unwise thing to do for anyone running a school.

Well done Labour...

And the contracts are all 'commercial in confidence' so the public is never told.

I believe Mapeleys going rate for fitting a simple key push security lock in a government building is about £500.

Some people have definitely recession proofed their business.

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