A £1 billion overspend on the academies programme has resulted in funding for under-performing schools being slashed. Teachers’ leaders described the overspend as ‘appalling’.
A new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) reveals that the Coalition spent £8.3 billion on the academies programme between 2010 and 2012, and £1 billion of this was over budget, The Independent reports.
As a result, £350 million has been cut from other education services including:
- £95 million from the school improvement programme
- £100 million from under-performing schools.
- £100 million from 16-19 year-olds to stay on at school
The Public Accounts Committee describes a system riddled with overspends and errors, but subject to little oversight. Part of the overspend was due to the increase in the number of academies – from about 200 in 2010 to more than 2,886 two years later – and the number of central staff overseeing their finance doubling.
NAO head Amyas Morse said: “A tenfold increase in the number of academies since May 2010 is a significant achievement. However, the department wasn’t sufficiently prepared for the financial implications of such a rapid expansion or for the challenge of overseeing and monitoring such a large number of academies.”
Martin Johnson, ATL’s deputy general secretary, commented: “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.”
A DfE spokesman defended the overspend: “We make no apology for the fact that more schools than even we had imagined have opted to convert [to academies], and no apology for spending money on a programme that is proven to drive up standards and make long-term school improvements.”
Does the success of the academies programme justify the overspend? Has your school suffered because of cuts to other education services?