Teaching assistant jobs must be cut to curb spending, report warns

About 40,000 teaching assistant jobs must be cut to prevent schools wasting taxpayers’ money, according to a government report.

A review of how money is spent in the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), conducted by former WH Smith chief executive Richard Handover, has said that civil servants and head teachers do not know how to obtain true value for money in public spending, and called for tens of thousands of teaching assistant jobs to go.

A DCSF spokesman said Handover was asked last September to conduct a “value for money review” of the department’s spending. He concluded his work and handed his report to secretary of state Ed Balls in April.

In his report, seen by the BBC’s Politics Show, Handover said: “Financial efficiency… is not seen as a core responsibility of management at any level.”

He described how £50,000 was spent installing three toilets at a primary school – 10 times the required sum, while another spent £35,000 on a £1,000 photocopier.

Last week Balls admitted that £2bn could be trimmed from the budget as a result of cost-cutting moves. However, the spokesman made clear that Balls did not agree with Handover’s suggestion to cut teaching jobs, only the number of bureaucrats and back-office staff.

Handover also said £500m could be saved by comprehensives merging to form federations with a management pool working across several schools.

Teachers’ unions would not accept the need for any job cuts, but conceded that a review of spending is necessary.

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