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Leadership & Management
Items related to leadership and management in education.

Council "siphons" off education funding.

A bankrupt county council siphoned off £9 million meant for school improvements in a desperate bid to prop up its depleted reserves, it has been revealed.

Northamptonshire county council hit the headlines in February after its bank balance plummeted so low that it was forced to bring in what’s called a Section 114 notice, banning all new spending.

But the revelation that it had diverted funding meant for schools towards other costs has prompted warnings that other authorities could do the same.

The council’s grip on its finances has since been the subject of several investigations, and the Huffington Post reported this week that it moved the £9 million into its general revenue account last year.

An external audit report by KPMG into the council’s finances in 2016-17 revealed in August last year that it had delved into its reserves in an attempt to keep afloat, including funds raised through “Section 106” payments from housing developers, which are meant to fund community projects and local services.

The size of the cuts councils are having to make is simply too big to be plugged by reserves

The report said “mitigations” made by the council included “£9 million of S106 developer contributions set aside to fund future educational improvements within the county”.

S106 agreements are legal obligations with developers which aim to balance out pressures created by new developments with improvements to the local area, and include a variety of infrastructure including schools.

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Failing schools not becoming academies on time.

Not a single failing school became an academy less than nine months after an inspection in at least 26 local authorities over the past three years, Schools Week can exclusively reveal.

Schools have been unable to secure takeovers due to a lack of sponsors, complicated PFI contracts, and even because regional schools commissioners sent academy orders through late – sometimes as much as a year after Ofsted first inspected them.

Freedom of Information requests to over 70 councils show that 35 schools took longer than two years to convert, even though the government aims to make turnarounds in nine months or under.

Only 11 councils managed to convert all their failing schools within this timeframe.

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Commonwealth University scholarships.

More young people will have the chance to benefit from life-changing scholarships allowing them to study at universities across the Commonwealth, thanks to a £5 million boost from the Department for Education.

The Education Secretary has announced the additional investment ahead of an event aimed at helping improve the quality of girls’ education across the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Foreign Secretaries will attend the launch of the Girls’ Education Campaign to encourage a step-change in the quality of girls’ education globally, as part of this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and Windsor. It is the largest summit of its kind in UK history and a truly global event with young people at its centre.

This investment follows the Education Secretary’s appearance at the Youth Forum earlier this week where HRH Prince Harry, in his first speech as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, announced the £13.4 million fund was being renamed the “Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships” in honour of HM The Queen.

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Will top universities go private?

As universities wait to see if the government will cut tuition fees – and therefore their income – one of the most controversial questions of all is being discussed. Could Oxford and Cambridge universities opt to break free from state control and go private?

The government launched its review of post-18 education in February. With the Tories keen to woo young voters, following Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to end tuition fees, a reduction of the £9,250 fees cap is widely expected. But vice-chancellors say quality could be threatened if the government does not plug any gap with new funding.

Unlike other universities, Oxford and Cambridge say fees, even at £9,250, do not cover the costs of the tutorial-led teaching for which they are famous. A spokesperson for Cambridge would not comment about going private, but said each student costs an average of £18,500 a year to teach.

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Are Academy freedoms working?

Half of academy leaders in England believe the freedoms associated with their school status have had either no effect or a negative impact in the classroom, according to a poll. The findings are a damning indictment of the Government’s decision to dramatically expand the academies programme as a central part of its school improvement policy. Academies have greater control over their curriculum, school budgets,

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