It's disturbing to learn in the TES today
that the government is slashing the "capital spending" budgets for schools by 80%, but it must be particularly troubling for Academies or those considering Academy status. Cuts to the Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) grant will see the average 1,000-pupil school have its £130,000 annual payment slashed to just £26,000. Meanwhile, the government is delegating the remaining funds to Local Authorities to sort out the building needs for schools in their areas. This actually makes sense because the LAs will be best placed to decide which schools are in direst need of funds. It's interesting to note that the government is now conceding the importance of LAs, considering its previous detestation of everything they stand for. Maybe the Education Secretary is finally working out that LAs are vital if we are to have a fair and smoothly running system. A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The Government has decided the bulk of the funding available should be allocated to local authorities rather than directly to schools, so that it can be targeted at needs and prioritised locally. This means that maintenance capital funding will be available for unexpected urgent needs, and that proactive programmes of investment can be planned and efficiently procured.”
The delegation of the DCF to LAs begs some vital questions. What's happening with Academies? Are they facing the same cuts? If so, will they be last on the list for LAs to dish the money out to? As ever, it feels like a last-minute decision which contradicts previous policy about making schools independent from LA control. I think those schools considering Academy status must wondering whether leaving LA control is a good idea in the long run. The Department for Education is effectively their LA and not best placed to be responsive to their local needs.