A new toolkit published by the Government to help schools reduce their overheads has been derided by one teaching union.
Education Minister Damian Hinds says the toolkit offers practical advice and support to help save on the £10 billion spent every year on non-staffing costs.
The School Resource Management Strategy offers advice in a bid to reduce the money that was spent last year and, the government says, schools could save several billion pounds through better buying and procurement strategies.
The toolkit offers advice on how to work with other schools to help drive down costs for things like water and energy bills as well as stationery.
The aim is also to support a school with staff retention and recruitment.
Schools saved £106 million on normal school spending
The government points to the fact that schools saved £106 million on their normal school spending between 2014 and 2017 and now the network of advisers will work with schools to help headteachers spend every pound effectively.
The government says it wants to build on that financial success.
Mr Hynes said: “I want schools to use their resources effectively and the strategy will equip school business professionals and headteachers with practical resources, advice and the support they need to focus on what they do well, which is to deliver high quality education for pupils.
“There are no great schools without great teachers to motivate and inspire children, so it is right we help schools maximise the money they have by working together and ensuring we get the best deals and do not get overcharged for services.”
Earlier this year, the DfE revealed its plans for clamping down on recruitment agencies charging excessive fees for recruiting staff members.
Platform to advertise vacancies for schools
Instead, the Department provides a free platform to advertise vacancies for schools, which costs £75 million a year to run.
There’s also a national network of buying hubs to help offer buying support and a register of best value deals and online utility bill comparison tools are available.
Among the register of recommended deals has led savings of £21 million since April and one school in Durham is £30,000 better off by switching to a better photocopying and printing deal.
The chief executive of the Institute of School Business Leadership, Stephen Morales, said: “We welcome guidance on school resource management and believe an effective review of resources by the leadership team will help ensure that schools reach appropriate recommendations to use their resources.”
He added that school leaders should use the guidance to help focus and steer discussions with staff when considering how they can reduce costs and boost the value of available resources.
Toolkit will make headteachers ‘justifiably furious’
However, the National Education Union says the toolkit will make headteachers ‘justifiably furious’.
The union’s assistant general secretary, Nansi Ellis, said: “Headteachers will be justifiably furious with Damian Hinds’ suggestion that the school funding crisis can be solved through better budgeting.
“Most have already pared their costs and outgoings down to the bone, and even with other economies of scale and purchasing they cannot match the scale of the problems that are facing schools.”
She added that a school have reduced staff and increased class sizes as well as dropped subjects from their curriculum – all of which have been done out of necessity, she said.
The budget restrictions had also included postponing building repairs and reducing school trips.