By Sheila Mckenzie-
Investing money in schools that won’t use it properly is pointless, according to the academies minister Lord Agnew.
The British businessman and Conservative Life Peer who founded the inspiration Trust ephasised the importance of efficiency in a speech at the Wellington College Festival of Education today, Agnew was defended charges that insufficient funding was being put into many schools and some universities.
Agnes took the opportunity of his appearance to defend The Department Of Education and criticise schools that had mismanaged funds in the past. A few headteachers have had to stand down after being caught mismanaging school funds, and schools that have been funded only to to use them wrongly and fail to deliver a school of pupils of adequate of good standard of education, fail inspections when Ofsted arrive to examine their schools.
The Department Of Education has been clear in the past of its high reluctance to financially support schools that shoe little to no signs of improvement or have a past that shows poor management of funds.Although Agnew suggested a “strong case to explore reform of teacher pay, to ensure the money schools spend on pay is targeted where it will have the biggest impact on recruitment and retention,” he was unsympathetic to schools that have not shown signs they can be trusted to use funds sensibly.
Lord Agnew pointed out a few areas where he though funding was most needed. He highlighted four areas where he felt extra funding ids needed. They are: high needs, post 16, rural primary schools, and covering the pensions contributions.
He added that he can only “win the argument” with the Treasury by showing schools are using the money they’ve got effectively.
“I think that for us to credibly win the argument for those areas which I believe are important we need to be showing that we are doing everything we can with the money we receive.”
When pushed if schools are operating efficiently, he said: “Not all of them, no.” He said :
“I’m not suggesting there aren’t pressures, of course there are pressures… and I want to see more money going into the system. But there’s no point putting extra money in if the existing money isn’t being used properly.” He said he wants to see “money going to the places that will improve education the most”, highlighting systems of centrally-employed teachers at trusts like Harris Federation and the Outwood Grange Academies Trust.
“Because they run tight ships at the centre they are able to invest in that way… I want to see the money going to the place that will improve education the most.”
“Every school I have worked with since I became minister we have found a way through their budgetary issues. That is the reality of it.”
He added: “I’m in this job because I care about education. I’m not paid to do it. I’m only here because that’s what I want to see. I know there’s an urge to write about me as some kind of Dickensian character but it is about improving education.”
The department will also be announcing a new growth fund for academies shortly. It will support smaller school trusts merge and provide “high potential academy trusts with funding to meet the challenges they face as they grow… We’ve learned from earlier growth funds what works, and we intend to build on this.”
Agnew also suggested there is a “strong case to explore reform of teacher pay, to ensure the money schools spend on pay is targeted where it will have the biggest impact on recruitment and retention.”