Tory “efficiency savings” would cancel their school reforms


1:25 pm - April 8th 2010

by Don Paskini    


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Here’s Tory adviser Peter Gershon, explaining how they are going to save £12 billion:

“Firstly, a new Government should stop any major new spending on IT projects and cancel existing projects which are not worth completing.”

Stop any major new spending on IT projects. Hmm. Anyone spotted the problem yet? Any flagship Tory policies which require major new spending on IT projects?

Ah yes. Michael Gove’s schools policy, which involves letting parents set up new schools will, like every other school vouchers programme round the world, need a big new IT database if it is going to work.

This was, indeed, predicted a couple of years ago
:

“Now we come to the money side of things. Each child is going to carry with him or her a voucher. This voucher is effectively a small business grant, which will be issued in denominations of about £5,000. Small grant schemes like this are known to be a fraudster’s paradise, so there will need to be some pretty heavy checking and verification of all the education vouchers. Added to that, the system will need to be pretty versatile and flexible because children have an annoying habit of changing schools in the middle of the school year, meaning (presumably) that their education vouchers will need to be pro-rated. At this point, we presumably find out that different education authorities have different numbers of days in the school year, which is the sort of annoying little detail that causes wildly disproportionate trouble when you find out about it late in the day.”

So either the Tory proposals to make efficiency savings don’t add up, or they are going to have to cancel their entire schools policy. Something tells me they haven’t quite thought this one through.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Economy ,Education

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Reader comments


I hold no torch for the Tories, and believe that they won’t tell us about the worst cuts until it’s too late, but didn’t they say they’ll scrap the ID card/database project, and wouldn’t that save £12 billion (I heard Shaun Bailey (Con. PPC for Hammersmith) say ID cards would cost £20 billion so maybe more)?

I’ve heard Bailey talk an awful lot of shite, so I doubt it would be near that much, which is high speed rail/nuclear missile sort of money.

The ‘cancel IT projects’ bit is strictly for the voters, of course, they’re not seriously proposing trying to run Whitehall on a card index system. The big IT consultants, if they’re on the ball, will be schmoozing away nicely pitching for things like school vouchers, databases of kids on Cameron’s ‘volunteer’ scheme, etc. etc.

£20 billion over several years. I think the annual deficit reducing figure is less, as always little detail, much hype.

Stop any major new spending on IT projects

From their Draft Manifesto on Technology:

“We will publish online every item of central government and Quango spending over
£25,000”

“We will publish online the names and salaries of all central government and Quango
managers earning over £150,000 per year, and in addition we will put online the salaries of the 35,000 most senior civil servants.”

“We will throw open the doors of Parliament by introducing a technology enabled Public Reading Stage”

“monthly online publication of local crime data on a street-by-street basis, education and health performance data”

“we will publish online the energy consumption of all buildings in Whitehall”

“All local councils will be required to publish online every item of spending over £500.”

“we will require councils to publish the names and the full remuneration package of all senior local authority staff earning over £60,000”

There’s a huge amount of IT work there, and I have not covered their policies for the NHS where every patient will have to fill out a form critiquing their treatment and the information will be published online (also hospitals will be expected to take out newspaper adverts to advertise their results).

I wonder if Peter Gershon has yet to get round to telling Jeremy Hunt that his manifesto is bollocks?

“There’s a huge amount of IT work there”

Yes because uploading documents like excel spreadsheet to remote web servers is *really* difficult and requires masses of infrastructure spending just to do it! :rolleyes:

Yes because uploading documents like excel spreadsheet to remote web servers is *really* difficult and requires masses of infrastructure spending just to do it! :rolleyes:

I dont think its that simple, as we need to know where the money has been paid ideally you would need a join to whatever system accepted the payment.

Your idea of excel spreadsheets basically amounts to them writing there figures on the back of a fag packet.

How would you ever report on figures from hundreds of thousands or unrelated spreadhseets?

I think this article would be more pursuasive if you used an example of a database that could not (if you were really short of cash) be run on one of those netbooks you get free with a mobile internet connection.

Of course, the policy is complicated. But the IT behind it isn’t (or doesn’t have to be). It is handing cash out to schools, not predicting climate change!

“Of course, the policy is complicated. But the IT behind it isn’t (or doesn’t have to be). It is handing cash out to schools, not predicting climate change!”

I could knock one up in a week, and then sit back as the system is frauded out of millions.

As opposed to spending billions on a systemw hich is then defrauded out of millions?

plus ca change!

You are going to have to explain how an expensive and complicated it system is meant to make fraud harder. Unless your system is going to hook into cameras measuring directly how many children turn up to class, there is no it system that can prevent fraud. It can reduce it by having simple forms with a minimum of possible loopholes.

Mr S. Pill,

didn’t they say they’ll scrap the ID card/database project, and wouldn’t that save £12 billion (I heard Shaun Bailey (Con. PPC for Hammersmith) say ID cards would cost £20 billion so maybe more)?

The official estimate is of some £5bn* to setup and run the scheme over ten years. This does not include the money needed for organisations to actually make use of it, including money required for infrastructure and training and any bits they decide to add on as time goes by. The NHS IT programme is instructive – the very first estimate (yes, it was practically written on the back of a fag packet) was £2.4bn over three years. If I recall correctly the most recent official estimate is now £12bn over ten years (because they hadn’t included such things as infrastructure and training) and some believe the cost will be closer to £20bn.

* Even if you accept the bullshit that “70% of this would have to be spent anyway” in order to upgrade our passports to international standards that leaves £1.5bn of officially unnecessary money to play with.

Dave,

Your idea of excel spreadsheets basically amounts to them writing there figures on the back of a fag packet.

How would you ever report on figures from hundreds of thousands or unrelated spreadhseets?

Um… have you ever looked at, say, the results of FOIA enquiries? This is how the government often operates – on the back of a load of fag packets spreadsheets.

Dave, sorry but you’re making a classic mistake in assuming these are real-time publishing system. Take for example the promise to “publish online every item of central government and Quango spending over £25,000? – that could be ionce every six month or maybe even once every year.

Publishing the “names and salaries of all central government and Quango
managers earning over £150,000 per year” is flat html on a web server. Whoopy doo!

I agree the public reading stage idea is new but what they’re talking about is nearly there already, it’s a moderated wiki for god sake. Open source software on a web server. Piece of piss.

The “monthly online publication of local crime data on a street-by-street basis, education and health performance data” is already available just nto published, and guess what, it’s spreadsheets.

As for the publishing the “energy consumption of all buildings in Whitehall” this is a pdf file with the official consumption certificates. Again, its an ftp of a file to a web server and creating a link to it.

All councils have web sites, and as with central government it does not say that the frequency for this data is to be done in real time. I would imagine monthly publications of spreadsheet from financial officers. As as for publishing salaries, well that’s a web page too.

Bottom line. No expensive IT at all. Most of the physical kit is already there and so are the CMS systems. Basically, you’re wrong.

I should note that their special adviser claims that they can use the existing academy database, so, um, good luck with that. I predict a phone call to one of their nice consultant friends once they realise that it is all a bit harder in practice then the theories of their team of very clever people with zero project management experience.

I also note the plans to publish online allocations of funding for every school, and I’m sure they’ve sorted how to do that through existing databases as well.

@2, @3 and @11

Cheers for the info – typical Tory spin, business as usual then.

15. Golden Gordon

This voucher scheme is a non sense. Schools already tout for students, they get 2,500 for each child. Parents already have the choice to go to any school in their area based where they live and schools put in a vast amount of money trying to get students to go their school. As for parents running schools , they already do via the governing body. It is they who appoint staff, decide on the curriculum and carry out the performance management of the head. As for the LEA, all they do is provide ad visors, which can be taken or not taken. the system in Sweden, which the Tories want to copy still has the problem that all these systems suffer from what happens when the good school is full up, your voucher then is useless tool.

16. Charlie 2

If Darling is going to cut deeper than Thatcher, where is it going to occur?

@9,10,11 & 12

Ok ok, maybe I jumped the gun on this one. Shutting up now…

18. Matt Munro

“Ah yes. Michael Gove’s schools policy, which involves letting parents set up new schools will, like every other school vouchers programme round the world, need a big new IT database if it is going to work”.

Will it ? I doubt if there will be physical vouchers, I would envisage it operating more like a tax credit, you give the school your childs NI number and the govt credit the school the funding, there’s no need for anyone to get their hands on a tradeable asset. The child trust fund vouchers system, which does pretty much the same thing, managed to launch without a huge new IT infrastructure and I haven’t heard of it being defrauded.
One of new labours biggest flaws, and the cause of much wasted public money, was this idea that you must constantly re-invent the wheel…………….

19. Matt Munro

@ 15 “Parents already have the choice to go to any school in their area based where they live”

You are kidding, what if lots of other parents have also “chosen” it ? There was a guy on the news last night asking gordo exactly this question (and not getting an answer, natch).

20. Matt Munro

@ 15 “As for parents running schools , they already do via the governing body. It is they who appoint staff, decide on the curriculum and carry out the performance management of the head.”

What have you been reading ? The cirriculum, what gets taught, whet gets tested and when is all decided by the govt. I have a friend who is a governor and yes they get to choose the head and decide how some of the money is spent, but that’s about it. The national cirriculum is the most important thing, and he had to ask an FOI question just to see the unabridged version.

21. Golden Gordon

You are kidding, what if lots of other parents have also “chosen” it ? There was a guy on the news last night asking gordo exactly this question (and not getting an answer, natch).
You miss the point, they do have the choice but the problem is that good schools are filled up quickly. How is the voucher system going to stop that. There are going to be parents with vouchers saying I want that school with my voucher but it is already filled up
As for the governing body, they should be involved in the curriculum because it is their responsibility. For instance primary schools when implementing the new primary curriculum can pick the subjects they wish to have and also which curriculum many governing bodies are picking Shell UK’s IPC. Also governors should be involved in all appointments.
Also the Tories are not getting rid of KS2 SATs so they will still be tested. Also for secondary schools teach in KS4 what the examination board requires of them not the government, this true of state and independent schools.
As for your mate she/he sounds a pretty sht governor.

“I would envisage it operating more like a tax credit, you give the school your childs NI number and the govt credit the school the funding, there’s no need for anyone to get their hands on a tradeable asset.”

So a group of parents get together to open a school, submit some NI numbers and then claim £5k for each, including some children who have recently arrived in the country. Or a pupil leaves a school half way through the year, and moves to a different school. Good luck monitoring all of that, plus hundreds of other interesting challenges involved in school administration, with your child trust fund database.

23. Matt Munro

@21 “You miss the point, they do have the choice but the problem is that good schools are filled up quickly.”

Whats the point of “a choice” of you cannot exercise. And the national cirriculum is just that, it cannot be changed, that’s the whole point of it. And and don’t patromise me you obviously aren’t a parent and I suspect you work for Nu Labour the way you trot out their meaningless platitudes verbatim

24. Matt Munro

@ 22 Thats exactly what happeens now, how do you think school funding is calculated, are you seriously suggesting the current system isn’t bureacratic ?

The only difference would be that LEAs wouldn’t be involved (hooray) and Whitehall’s involvement would be reduced to handing out the money (double hooray)

25. Matt Munro

@22 ” including some children who have recently arrived in the country.”

The hidden agenda finally reveals itself – you beleive this would discriminate against children of migrants. I can’t see how it would as genuine, legal migrants have NI numbers and Local Authorities have a legal duty to educate them, so they would most likely end up in the same school as they do under the current system. And if they’re not legal migrants, they aren’t entitled to an education under any system.

I’m suggesting that if you remove LEAs from the system, you will need a new database to allocate funding. I see that you have given up on your original idea of using the Child Trust Fund database for this.

Ironically, I wasn’t particularly concerned about discrimination against migrants, but more about the extremely well documented and widespread fraudulent activity of faking NI numbers, which your system has precisely zero controls against.

27. Golden Gordon

Whats the point of “a choice” of you cannot exercise. And the national cirriculum is just that, it cannot be changed, that’s the whole point of it. And and don’t patromise me you obviously aren’t a parent and I suspect you work for Nu Labour the way you trot out their meaningless platitudes verbatim
Look matt moron I don’t work for new lab or anyone else.
1. The national curriculum was brought in by the Tories not Labour.
2. It is a framework, for school to work with with ony the core subjects are English , Maths and Science that is compulsory. Is that going to change under the Tories or in Independent schools. Are these new schools not going to each those 3 subjects. The other subjects can be taught either as a creative curriculum or in an international curriculum or not taught.
3. For the late KS3 and 4 the curriculum is dependent on what examining board the school, eg the governing body, decides to take.
The only difference would be that LEAs wouldn’t be involved (hooray) and Whitehall’s involvement would be reduced to handing out the money (double hooray)
So the Tories are getting rid of SATs. Also the LEAs have very little control in schools . Schools can buy into advisors but most schools depend more on school improvement partners, ie heads from succesful schools buddying up with heads in struggling schools .
Also sometimes LEAS can be useful. Imagine the scenario, that one of your teachers has been accused of child abuse. A school will not have the legal knowledge to deal with it they sometimes need an expert in educatiional law from the loical autthority.
Also you haven’t answered the question how will you explain to the 300 parents with vouchers who have applied to a school with only an intake of 200.

28. Matt Munro

Why will you need a new database ??? There already are several databases that can do the job. If the sole argument against it is that people will fake NI numbers (which seems a little far fetched given that you wouldn’t benefit from it financially) it seems like a fairly weak reason to deny parents some genuine power in the school system. This is the real reason the left don’t like it, it will prevent the education system being (ab)used as a tool of social enginnering, as it has been for the past decade, and force it to actually serve the people that fund it.

29. Matt Munro

@ 27 Gordon – Fuck off I’m not responding to someone who personally abuses me.

The irony of someone called Gordon calling anyone a moron………………

30. Golden Gordon

This is the real reason the left don’t like it, it will prevent the education system being (ab)used as a tool of social enginnering, as it has been for the past decade, and force it to actually serve the people that fund it.
The Tories brought in the National curriculum not the left.
You have been reading too many Daily Mail articles. Most teachers are conservatives with a small c who haven’t the moral courage to debate real issues. Also they legally cannot express a political opinion.
Also if there had been so much left wing brainwashing, why is there going to be a Tory government elected and most of the press are so right wing they make the Der sturmer look the Guardian
This is my last post and noting Matt, that you are so psychologically damaged and require to have the last word in a thread I will leave you to it.
Also like most Tory bullies you can hand out the insults but find it difficult in taking them

31. Golden Gordon

I have a confession Matt, Golden Gordon isn’t my real name.
I assume Matt M is not your real name.

Whats the point of “a choice” of you cannot exercise.

But giving someone a voucher won’t change that – the good schools will still be oversubscribed.

“But giving someone a voucher won’t change that – the good schools will still be oversubscribed.”

Absolutely – and what will be done to resolve that?

Selection based on parental interviews or entrance exams or by drawing lots?

34. Matt Munro

Surely the point of vouchers is this. At the moment a lot of “middle class” (ie concerned that their children get a good education but not cash rich) parents who can’t afford private education will be able to use the vouchers, plus a modest cash top-up to get their kids into something other than the local comp. I would predict the growth of middling private schools, to meet increased demand from this section of the population.

Q Howls of outrage that the state will be subsidising eductaion for the privelidged etc etc

35. Matt Munro

Gordon – I couln’t care less about having the last word, or what your real name is and you have the cheek call me”a bully” despite the fact that I never personally insulted you.

36. Golden Gordon

So how that will help the poor or low income families who cannot afford top up fees.
Also what evidence do you have that private schools will be better than state. In fact to teach in a private school you need no teaching qualification. A little like going to a local GP and he says I am qualified medical practioner I got the certificate from the B and Q.
OFSTED inspections show independent schools score lower than private schools.
As for insults what about the new labour crack, earlier in the post. You can’t take it Matt

37. Golden Gordon

Sorry I meant to say state school instead of private.
Also do really think Eton or any other private school will have 30% of their students from disadavantaged backgounds. It will be selected on parent interviews and donations. that isn’t open to corruption is it.

Yes Gordon – we all know state schools are better.

I don’t what OFSTED are measuring (do you have a link?), but it isn’t results.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6822700.ece

39. Matt Munro

“So how that will help the poor or low income families who cannot afford top up fees”.

It won’t. But they still have Mr Blairs wonderfull academies to attend, unless you are suggesting there is something wrong with state education ?.

40. Matt Munro

“Also what evidence do you have that private schools will be better than state. In fact to teach in a private school you need no teaching qualification”.

Belive it or not, the quality of teachers is not the biggest determinant of academic outcomes, nor is class size, nor the age of the buildings, nor the amount spent on equipment. The aspiration of the parents is. Private schools are better because, almost by defintion, the parents want more for their kids.

41. Golden Gordon

Yes Gordon – we all know state schools are better.

I don’t what OFSTED are measuring (do you have a link?), but it isn’t results.

Grammar schools constantly out measure private schools on CVA the measure of progress. Even some of the better comprehensives do.

Most people who end their kids to private schools is because of exclusivity, mainly to get away from individuals like your self.

Private schools are better because, almost by definition, the parents want more for their kids
How ridiculous and patronising every parent wants the best for their kids. Many upper middle class parents send their kids to boarding school just to get them out of the way.

42. Matt Munro

@ 41 “How ridiculous and patronising every parent wants the best for their kids.”

What – including the ones who can’t even be bothered to make them attend ? The ones who assault teachers, the ones whose kids are up until midnight every night of the week, the ones whose kids can’t even use a knife and fork, and can barely string a sentence together at the age of 5, the ones whose kids will fuck up everyone elses education ?

43. Charlieman

@12 dizzy: “Take for example the promise to “publish online every item of central government and Quango spending over £25,000? – that could be ionce every six month or maybe even once every year.”

Let’s imagine a fairly simple purchase of a stonking big server that costs £26,000. The server will be shared by six departments, administered by a team in a seventh department and installed by specialists in an eighth department. Don’t you think that it might be a bit more tricky to assign costs than simply uploading a spreadsheet?

The public body for which I work have to tender for purchases greater than £25,000. These purchases are thus a matter of public record anyway. For purchases greater than £50,000, open tenders are required; the intent to spend large sums of money is available to anyone who examines the OJEC web site. You don’t need to wait six months.

44. Golden Gordon

What – including the ones who can’t even be bothered to make them attend ? The ones who assault teachers, the ones whose kids are up until midnight every night of the week, the ones whose kids can’t even use a knife and fork, and can barely string a sentence together at the age of 5, the ones whose kids will fuck up everyone elses education ?

Those are the minority and their kids probably need more support than middle class kids. Or a vicious circle will occur
How dare an Eastern European whose history is morass of barbarity and racism condemn the British working class in such a whole sale manner


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Don Paskini

    New post – how tory plans to save money involve cancelling their schools policy http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  2. Richard Johnson

    RT @houseoftwits: RT @libcon Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  3. Sophie Donovan

    RT @libcon: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  4. Claire French

    RT @pickledpolitics: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq – they haven't thought this through.

  5. Andy Buckley

    RT @pickledpolitics: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq – they haven't thought this through.

  6. Sam Jones

    RT @pickledpolitics: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq – they haven't thought this through.

  7. Will Straw

    Cameron always said it was a "trick" RT @libcon: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  8. Johanna Thomas-Corr

    RT @wdjstraw: Cameron always said it was a "trick" RT @libcon: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  9. Wendy

    RT @libcon: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  10. Liberal Conspiracy

    Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  11. Chris Strafford

    RT @libcon: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  12. House Of Twits

    RT @libcon Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  13. sunny hundal

    Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq – they haven't thought this through.

  14. topsy_top20k_en

    Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  15. Matthew

    RT @HouseOfTwitsLab: RT @libcon Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq

  16. Lee Griffin

    RT @pickledpolitics: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq – they haven't thought this through.

  17. Chris Paul

    RT @pickledpolitics: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq – they haven't thought this through.

  18. paulstpancras

    RT @pickledpolitics: Tory "efficiency savings" wld cncl their school reforms http://bit.ly/d4rTTq – haven't thought this through. @mickgove

  19. frugalista

    Liberal Conspiracy » Tory “efficiency savings” would cancel their …: So either the Tory proposals to make effici… http://bit.ly/d225qd

  20. James Doran

    RT @libcon: Tory "efficiency savings" would cancel their school reforms http://bit.ly/aVpz1x





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