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School Efficiency Advisers

Volume 654: debated on Monday 4 February 2019

12. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of school efficiency advisers in helping schools manage resources. (908963)

Through a pilot project in 72 schools and trusts, our new team of school resource management advisers have so far identified more than £35 million of potential savings and revenue generation opportunities. We are continuing to work with these schools to help them realise these savings.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. Do any of these pilot areas include rural parts of the country, such as south Shropshire, where my constituency is? We are suffering from declining school rolls as a result of the birth rate, and the school efficiency advisers could be very helpful in aiding schools to cope with that problem.

Of course we recognise the importance of rural schools, the role they play in their communities and the challenges they face. That is why the national funding formula includes £25 million specifically to provide support to small schools in sparse areas. Early evidence from the pilot projects shows that school resource management advisers can help schools to review their longer-term budget and curriculum planning approach to help them adjust their costs over the long term if income falls due to declining pupil numbers.

Schools in my constituency say there are simply no more efficiencies to be made—there are no more savings to be made, and there are no more teachers they can sack or make redundant without affecting children’s education and care. So what does the Minister have to say to schools in my constituency about the efficiencies they are supposed to make to keep functioning?

Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school. We are spending record amounts of money on our school system—the figure will be £43.5 billion next year, which is a record for those schools—but we do understand the cost pressures that schools are under, which is why we have this cadre of school resource management advisers, who can help those schools. We also have a series of national buying schemes, whereby we can buy things such as insurance, energy and computers far more efficiently to make savings in the non-staff expenditure that schools have to incur.