Thursday, 7 January 2010

The right balance?

I see that the schools minister Vernon Coaker is berating schools once again for keeping too much money in reserve, what a DCSF press release calls 'excess balances'. His predecessor Jim Knight had to retreat from a wholly unfair tax on school balances. Yet schools must cut these balances now, declares the minister. Why? Many schools save some money from one year to the next so that they can fund a particular project or guard against cuts in future years - something that can hardly be ruled out.

The fact that thousands of schools manage to budget a modest surplus - the government regards a 5% surplus in a secondary school as 'excessive' - should be a cause for celebration rather than deprecation, given the tighter finances that will start to hit schools soon. Surely, Mr Coaker would be better directing his ire at those 1,848 schools that are in deficit rather than those that find themselves able to budget efficiently and save for a (surely imminent) rainy day?

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