Latest Public Sector News

26.04.17

PAC: Government spending ‘over the odds’ on creating free schools

Concern has been raised that the government’s system of funding to build new schools and create places is “poor value for money,” the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has today stated.

In the ‘Capital funding for schools’ report, the committee said that the Department for Education (DfE) is paying well over the odds to build 500 free schools whilst the condition of many other existing schools across the country continues to deteriorate.

The cross-party committee of MPs also told the DfE it needed to use its funding “in a more coherent and cost-effective way,” or risk falling short of creating the 420,000 new school places that are required by 2021.

It also issued the latest warning to the government that maintaining the school estate posed a “significant challenge” over the next few years.

A number of measures were recommended by the committee, including the DfE working with local authorities on an individual basis to properly understand local demand for school places.

Another move that the PAC recommended was to use information from the property data survey to develop a robust approach to hold local authorities and academy trusts to account for maintaining their school buildings properly.

The report stated: “Having enough school places in safe, high-quality buildings in the areas where places are needed is a crucial part of an effective education system.

“Without this, parents may have less choice, pupils may have inconvenient journeys to school and the learning environment may be less effective, putting educational outcomes at risk.

“Many school buildings are old and in poor condition, and the condition of the estate is deteriorating. Poorly maintained buildings can affect the quality of children's education, and in extreme cases schools may have to close while buildings are made safe.”

Today’s news follows another warning from the Committee in March that education standards were rapidly declining in the UK – and that the government did not understand the severity of the problem facing the country’s young people.

Before that, the NAO claimed that the state of school buildings in the UK had fallen to a critical level, as it would now cost authorities a huge £6.7bn to improve the estate to being either “satisfactory” or “better condition”.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here 

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 >