27 November 2009 | Carly Chynoweth
Schools are to benefit from "smart" measuring tools to help them cut back on the amount of energy they use, children's secretary Ed Balls announced yesterday.
The £12 million investment will enable UK schools to get real-time information about their electricity use. Coupled with efforts by staff and pupils to turn off lights and computers for example, fuel bills could be slashed by 10 to 15 per cent.
This means the average primary school could save up to £700 a year while the average secondary school could achieve savings of £3,000 a year.
Speaking at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust annual conference, Balls also encouraged schools, governing bodies and local authorities to work more closely together to achieve better value for money.
Balls said: "Now, more than ever, we need to ensure we are getting real value for money from our investment. "We will only achieve efficiency savings while at the same time continuing to improve school standards… by working together."
The conference coincided with the publication of a Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) discussion paper, Securing our Future - Using Our Resources Well
, which outlined reducing spend by 10 per cent could save schools £800 million per year.
It highlighted improving and collaborating on procurement and greater efficiency through partnering and shared services as ways of securing better value. "Almost all procurement is currently done at individual school level and in some instances by individuals with limited procurement experience," the document says. "Collective buying offers great scope for better value for money."
Using the OPEN online procurement platform, which the DCSF developed to help support schools in their procurement activities, will also help secure better deals by allowing schools and local authorities to share information.
Writing in the foreword to the publication, Balls said that head teachers and school leaders were best-placed to decide how to use resources in the best interests of children and students.