The billion pound drop

‘An extra £1 billion was spent by the Government in the last two years on turning schools into academies, the spending watchdog has said.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department for Education (DfE) was “unprepared” for the financial impact of rapidly expanding the programme.

In a new report, the NAO said the department had initially failed to anticipate the scale of interest from schools who would want to take on academy status.

Michael Gove at the Conservative Party conferenceSoon after the 2010 general election, Education Secretary Michael Gove [left] announced he was opening up the programme to allow all schools in England to apply for academy status.

[A] new NAO report concluded that while this expansion was a “significant achievement”, the DfE was not ready for it.

It found that between April 2010 and March 2012, the DfE had to find an estimated £1 billion of additional costs.

To stay within its overall spending limits, and still allow the expansion to continue at the same pace, the DfE found this money from its main schools settlement and other budgets.

“The department was unprepared for the financial implications of rapid expansion,” the report said.’

It adds that the DfE was unable to recover around £350 million of the £1 billion from local councils to offset against academy funding.

The above is a slightly edited version of something that appeared in the Huffington Post.

It also emerged that the budget set aside for the introduction of academies in this two-year period was 7 billion pounds. How many of us realised that, in a time of ‘austerity’ when savings had to be made hither and thither, such a massive sum was put aside for this ideological development? And to put it into perspective, Labour’s ‘Building Schools for the Future’ scheme, which Gove cancelled on taking office, was running at between 3 and 4 billion a year. Click on Mr Gove (go on, you know you want to!) to read the full article.

Picture of Michael Gove by PA.

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