We really need to move the argument on government expenditure forward. Take education - specifically secondary education.
Using Dept for Children Schools and Families own statistics, £21,441m was spent on secondary education in 2007/8. This represents total expenditure of around £5360 per pupil. What we need to be asking is how much per pupil is actually spent in schools - at the sharp end of the business – on the resources that really matt
er: teacher salaries, books, stationary, computers, projectors, smartboards etc. This is the expenditure that really delivers education to the pupil. This is the important stuff. The expenditure we need to be protecting and ring-fencing, with an ambition to increase in real terms such expenditure over time.
I don’t know what exactly this figure comes to. If anyone knows where this kind of information can be seen, I would love to know. But I have a big hunch that the figure will come out at around £3500 per pupil – more than a third lower than the educational spending that is raised through taxation and allocated to secondary education. And it is the difference between these figures representing organisational running costs, publicity, centrally controlled initiatives and top down bureaucracy - whatever you want to call it - that needs to be examined in the cost cutting agenda.
If you want the electorate’s support, by all means guarantee this lower figure being spent on actually educating their children in schools. Pay such money in three tranches – at the beginning of each term – directly to the school. Make head teachers responsible for spending this money in running their schools efficiently and effectively. Judge them on outcomes and results. Not targets and processes.