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CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, and the Local Authority Directors of Finance Section, are urging the Scottish Government to ensure that education funding is clearly aligned with outcomes. Local flexibility should be built into the use of resources to allow consideration of a wider whole system approach, in order to closing the attainment gap.
After reviewing available evidence, CIPFA and the Directors of Finance Section conclude that there is no causal link between the current formula based methods of education funding and student performance. If additional resources are made available that are targeted at areas of specific need and disadvantage, there will need to be improvement and focus on supporting measures of performance. This is particularly evident in early years education.
The Scottish Government has proposed allocating more resources directly to schools and head teachers and through new regional collaborative arrangements.
As finance professionals we are drawing the attention of government to the potential for unintended consequences. The status of any new regional arrangements must be clarified to ensure they do not fall foul of VAT rules, which result in additional costs through non recovery of VAT on non-business activities.
Commenting on the submission, Head of CIPFA Scotland Don Peebles said:
“The current devolved management schemes in local authorities allow for resources to be managed by head teachers. What we need to recognise is the wide range of service inputs that all contribute towards better outcomes for children.
“In that context, the method of funding is less important than the ability of head teachers to have meaningful budgets that they have control over and the flexibility to place those resources where they will have the maximum impact. This should include, where appropriate, the ability to use resources to collaborate more widely with a range of service providers to benefit children’s long-term educational prospects.”
The Chair of the Local Government Directors of Finance Section, Robert Emmott, said:
“Closing the educational attainment gap is not something that can be achieved in the short term. Local authorities and schools need to plan resources over the medium to longer term. More clarity over multi-year funding settlements will provide more certainty to the authorities’ and schools’ plans.
“We would ask the Scottish Government to take note of the recent Budget Review Groups recognition of the need for multi-year budgets.”