Based on responses and feedback from headteachers and other BESA members, the research looked at quarterly spending figures for January to March 2009. It suggests that in early years there is still £5 million of a possible £31 million left to be spent, while the primary school "market" (worth some £618 million annually) has an underspend of around £129 million. The figure for secondary is put at £88 million of the available £554 million. Research by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) has revealed that recessionary caution is stalking the education resources market. Schools are becoming masters of thrift, sitting on £222 million of unspent resources budget.
This is a total 18 per cent underspend in a market normally thought to be worth at least £1.2bn to suppliers annually. And while this prudence may be an understandable response to last December’s Commons Select Committee suggestion that investment in schools could become a victim of the current recession, say’s Dominic Savage, BESA’s director general, he cautions schools against holding money in reserve (which they risk losing - it could be clawed back by local authorities), and urges them to “continue to make wise spending decisions for the continued benefit of learners and teachers”.
He says: “We support Jim Knight, minister for schools and learners, when he said on February 25: ‘...we expect revenue spending to be used... on learning resources to support the education of pupils in school now, working towards raising attainment’.
“Schools will always continue to receive funding, and three-year budgets give them the opportunity to plan and look forward. In hard times it is ever important to look for quality and reliable resources to achieve educational aims and improve learning outcomes. BESA members provide educators with a Code of Practice, ensuring safety, reliability and value for money.”
With the global economy in meltdown you might think caution would be cause for celebration. However, in reality it could create a distortion of the educational suppliers market and further squeezing of credit-crunched companies.