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Train to Gain: Developing the skills of the workforce

“Train to Gain is achieving growth in training that employers value, but taxpayers have a right to expect that much more than half of the public funding should result in training that would not otherwise have occurred. Inconsistent management contributed to a slow start to the programme, followed by rapid growth and now the risk of demand exceeding budgets. We also need to see evidence that money is directed more to areas of greatest need, with training providers who do the best job for their learners and on bringing the whole range of business benefits to employers.”

Published:
21 Jul 2009

Partnering for school improvement

“It is clear from teachers’ responses that partnering delivers motivational benefits and plays naturally to their style of collaborative working and problem-sharing. With a somewhat more demanding assessment of costs against the benefits achieved, these valuable relationships could deliver significantly more demonstrable benefits than they do now.”

 

Published:
9 Jul 2009

Supporting people with autism through adulthood

“Greater awareness of the numbers of people with autism, as well as better understanding of autism amongst those providing health, social care, benefits, education and employment services, would lead to improved quality of life for those on the autistic spectrum. Specialist support and joint working across all areas – clinical, social and employment – could improve the transition from childhood to adult services, make services more effective and improve value for money.”

 

Published:
5 Jun 2009

Improving school performance: A guide for school governors

In collaboration with the National Governors Association, the National Audit Office has updated its well-received guide for school governors. The guide was first published in May 2006 alongside our value for money report on Improving poorly performing schools. It is intended to help both new and experienced primary and secondary school governors, as well as school leaders, identify and tackle the issues important to their schools’ organisation and performance.

Published:
1 May 2009

Financial Management in the Department for Children, Schools and Families

“The Department has made progress in integrating financial management with its strategic and corporate planning. There is room for a better understanding of costs attributable to each of the Department’s strategic objectives. The Department could usefully consult further with delivery organisations such as local authorities to see what might be done here. It also needs to improve its management of financial risks, and to use the introduction of new finance systems to improve financial reporting and forecasting.”

In 2007-08 the Department’s expenditure totalled £48.9 billion and around £40 billion (82 per cent of the Department’s spending) was spent on schools or services to support schools.

The Department has built up a large capital underspend, which is around £2.4 billion at the end of March 2009. In 2007-08 the balance increased by £654 million to £1.9 billion and 2008-09 figures will show that this increased to around £2.4 billion by the end of March 2009.

Schools build up surpluses when they do not spend their full budgets and carry over the balances to future years. An excessive surplus is defined by the Department as being greater than five per cent of annual budget for secondary schools and greater than eight per cent for nursery, primary and special schools. At 31 March 2008 nearly 40 per cent of schools had excessive cumulative surpluses and 22 per cent had held an excessive cumulative surplus for at least the last three years.

Accruals accounting is an accounting convention under which transactions are recognised as the underlying economic events occur, irrespective of the timing of cash receipts and payments related to these transactions. Under accruals accounting, expenditure incurred or income earned, but not yet paid or received, are included in the accounts in the period when they were incurred or earned. This differs from cash accounting where income and expenditure are recognised when the cash is received or paid respectively.

Published:
30 Apr 2009

Innovation across central government

“Despite the large sums of money being invested in encouraging innovation, central government isn’t making the most of the opportunities to improve the delivery of public services. Innovation within service delivery is vital and government must be sure that it encourages staff to contribute, listens to the people who use its services and measures what it is getting for the investment made.”

Published:
26 Mar 2009

The National Offender Management Information System

“The initiative to introduce a single offender management database has been expensive and ultimately unsuccessful. These problems could have been avoided if the National Offender Management Service had established realistic budget, timescales and governance for the project at the start and followed basic project management principles in its implementation. In delivering the new reduced programme, NOMS need to focus on better financial controls and more effective management oversight.”

Published:
12 Mar 2009

The Building Schools for the Future Programme: Renewing the secondary school estate

“Building Schools for the Future is a highly ambitious £55 billion programme. Converting that ambition to reality requires robust planning, close cost control and making a success of complex long-term partnerships. Partnerships for Schools and the Department were too optimistic in their early plans though programme management has since improved. But it remains a real challenge, in difficult market conditions, to deliver the 250 schools a year that will be needed, to include all schools by 2020 as currently planned.”

Published:
12 Feb 2009