Davidson, Alan, Miskelly, John and Kelly, Anthony
Value for money in schools. Belfast & London, UK, FGS McClure Watters, 62pp.
In January 2008, the Audit Commission appointed FGS, in association with the University of Southampton, to carry out a review in relation to Value for Money (VfM) in schools.
Examining VfM in schools requires a detailed consideration of both the inputs and the outputs relating to the education system; in other words, the costs and benefits associated with schools.
In this context, inputs are relatively straightforward to express: staffing typically represents around 70% of school costs, with the remainder comprising of operating and maintenance expenditure. However, defining the outputs from schools (pupil outcomes) is an altogether more complex task.
The most tangible measure of pupil outcomes is the results they achieve in examinations. Even so, both in the UK and overseas, it is widely recognised that pupils’ levels of achievement are influenced by a range of factors other than the quality of schooling they receive (for example, their family background or their track record of achievement at earlier stages of their education). Put simply, pupils’ current levels of attainment are likely to be enhanced if they have a high level of prior educational attainment, and therefore schools may make a less significant contribution to student outcomes.
In assessing the value for money which schools deliver through their day-to-day activities, it is therefore necessary to take account of the progress pupils make in their time at school (or ‘value added’ by the school), rather than just their levels of attainment, which are influenced by a host of factors other than schooling.
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