Latest Public Sector News

23.04.13

MPs ‘sceptical’ of Government oversight of academies

The academies scheme has been criticised by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for wasting millions of pounds on over-complex and inefficient funding systems.

The number of academies increased from 200 in April 2010 to 2,886 in March 2012, with extra costs often met out of existing budgets, including £95m from a fund previously earmarked for underperforming schools.

The committee said it was difficult to see how much funding the academies are receiving, and oversight systems had not kept pace with the numbers of new academies. The DfE needs to address value-for-money, MPs said, and warned there is too little public information about finances at an individual academy level.

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: “Of the £8.3bn spent on academies from April 2010 to March 2012, some £1bn was an additional cost which had to be met by diverting money from other departmental budgets.

“Some of this money had previously been earmarked to support schools struggling with difficult challenges and circumstances. £350m of the extra £1bn represented extra expenditure that was never recovered from local authorities.”

The report states: “We are sceptical that the department has sufficient resources to properly oversee the expanding programme, especially as schools now joining are less high-performing and may require greater oversight and scrutiny.”

A DfE spokesman said: “The academies programme has been a huge success. There are now almost 3,000 academy schools – more than 14 times as many as in May 2010 – with more than two million children now enjoying the benefits that academy status brings. The programme is proven to drive up standards. Sponsored academies are improving far faster than maintained schools.

“We make no apology for the fact that so many schools have opted to convert, and no apology for spending money on a programme that is proven to drive up standards and make long-term school improvements.

“The Department for Education has made significant savings in the last two-and-a-half years and has also set aside significant contingencies, which have been set against the growth in academies.”

Martin Johnson, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “It’s hard to know which is worse, the lack of financial transparency in academies or the Government's failure to check for and identify instances of misuse of funds.

“We are appalled by the gung-ho attitude of ministers to ensuring value for money for children, parents, schools and tax-payers: they don't know whether the academies programme is value-for-money and have no plans to find out.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

14/11/2019Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

Public Sector Executive’s Matt Roberts explains how living in a modern, interconnected world, as we do, means public sector organisations cannot afford to ignore the rol... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >