Record £2.4bn sitting unspent in school bank accounts

It has emerged that schools are hoarding a record £2.4 billion of taxpayers’ money despite complaints over cuts to the education budget. It is thought some of the money comes from “pupil premium”. This is from the Telegraph…

New figures show the amount of money held in school bank accounts has soared by a third in just two years and head teachers are sitting on up to £2m each.

It is claimed that some of the money comes from the Coalition’s flagship “pupil premium” – a multi-million fund handed to schools to boost standards among poor children.

Heads insisted that the more money was being held by schools because of the “turbulence” surrounding education funding.

But the disclosure sparked claims the level of surpluses was excessive particularly at a time when schools were being forced to close libraries and cut back on sports provision during the financial crisis.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “It’s a massive amount of money to be sitting on and this money should be spent on pupils’ education. While it’s perfectly legitimate to build up reserves, this level of hoarding should mean schools are held accountable.“If they don’t show how the money is being spent, then they should be forced to give it back.”

Data from the Department for Education shows that £1.8bn in surpluses was held by state schools in England in 2009/10.

But the figure increased to £2bn a year later and £2.4bn in 2011/12 – equivalent to building costs for around 170 new schools.

By law, local councils are supposed to claw back cash equivalent to five per cent of budgets in secondary schools and eight per cent in primaries. But the latest figures suggest this is not being done – or that more schools are sitting on surpluses up the maximum level allowed.

Sir John Cass’s Foundation and Red Coat School in east London had a surplus of more than £2m, it emerged. Many others had excess balances of £1m.

Prof John Howson, research fellow at Oxford University, who analysed the data for the Times Educational Supplement, said the increase in surpluses in poor areas was linked to the pupil premium.

The money is awarded to schools to raise standards among those eligible for free school meals – the Government’s standard measure of deprivation.

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