Education matters took up a big part of Wednesday.
I spent most of the afternoon in a meeting with senior councillors and chief officers from Education and Finance to look at some of the budget issues we’ll need to face over the next three years.
Education is by far the biggest service we provide. About 55,000 pupils attend our schools and the total cost to the Council is about £325 million per year. We get good results for our money – for example, attainment levels have set new records every year for the last four years – but we know we need to keep improving.
It’s likely that next year we’ll continue our policy of making smaller savings, percentage wise, in Education than in many other services. Small percentages maybe, but a big number of pounds and pennies. In real terms we need to find about £37 million in savings over the next three years from the Education budget. There’s no easy way to achieve this and there’s probably no popular way either. But I think we can find ways to make these savings while still improving our performance where it really matters – in giving our young people the best possible education in preparation for the world outside of school.
Later the same day I had the chance to look at Education on a much more local scale when I went along to the parent council at Glenwood High School. They’ve just had the Inspectors in, following up a report from 2009 that highlighted a need for improvement in many of the school’s activities. The follow up report won’t be published till January but the latest exam results suggest that things are improving.