Education and social care clash over school budgets

Education and social care leaders have clashed this week over government proposals to relax the rules around the spending of schools’ budgets.New Asset

The plans, contained in a new consultation, would enable the money to be used to fund more services supporting the Every Child Matters agenda.

The move comes after councils told education secretary Alan Johnson about problems with using the dedicated schools grant for services such as school nurses at last year’s National Children and Adult Services Conference.

Councils are meant to be able to use the grant for children’s services that provide an “educational benefit” but the government said that few were doing so under the current rules

Malcolm Trobe, president of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents secondary heads, said that he was against the plans arguing that funding for services providing the Every Child Matters outcomes should not come out of the grant.

“Schools are committed to making the Every Child Matters agenda a success, in addition to fulfilling their primary role of providing a quality education for every pupil. However, if the government is serious about supporting local authorities and schools in developing the ECM outcomes, it should provide appropriate, additional funding. Encouraging local authorities to divert funds away from schools’ dedicated grant, which is needed for books, teachers and other resources, is not the answer. The dedicated schools grant should remain just that. ASCL has repeatedly said to government that initiatives must be properly funded, and this includes the Every Child Matters agenda.”

But John Coughlan, (pictured) co-president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said that he supported the move.
“ADCS welcomes this consultation as it highlights the need for increasing cooperation between schools and the rest of the sector to secure best outcomes for children. We know a number of authorities and schools forums are already utilising existing rules to jointly invest in preventive services. If these proposed amendments encourage and facilitate such initiatives then we think they can only benefit both Every Child Matters and school standards.”

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