A NATIONAL expert on schools' finance says Buckinghamshire County Council should put more money into the county's upper schools.

Professor Rosalind Levacic was commissioned in the summer by all 21 upper schools in the county to investigate school funding. Her report was produced this week and intended to set councillors thinking as they start working on next year's budget. The council cooperated in the report's production.

Professor Levacic compared Buckinghamshire with ten similar LEAs and said more money was needed to bring the county up to a similar level.

The council does not spend as much as the Government says it should on education, and, of that sum, does not pass as much directly to schools. The Government target is 87 per cent, but in Buckinghamshire it is 85.4 per cent. Raising it would mean another £3.5 million in the schools budget, which is the amount spent on providing free school transport for grammar school children travelling to schools outside their catchment area.

Professor Levacic said upper school children had more needs and social disadvantages than grammar school children. Yet the council gave schools roughly the same amount per pupil.

Buckinghamshire has a contract with the Government to deliver GCSE results that are better than national targets. Professor Levacic said the county's grammar schools were doing almost as well as was possible, so if the county council was to hit targets the improvements had to come from the upper schools.

In fact upper school pupils in the county do better than those in upper schools in similar authorities, but she said things would get worse without more money.

Many upper schools are in the red, and she said this was telling evidence of the struggle schools had to provide good quality education within the cash available.

Julia Wassell, chairman of governors at Highcrest School in High Wycombe, said the council should cancel budget deficits.

And Holmer Green Upper School chairman Bob Bird said: "County councillors need to recognise that the only real scope for improvements in results in secondary schools is through upper schools and that will take money."

At County Hall Marion Clayton, cabinet member for schools said she would meet the Upper Schools Forum.

Head of Great Marlow School, Clive Ricks said he had been comparing exam results at upper schools over five years with their budgets.

"With those which have tried to reduce their deficit, results have gone down. Other schools which are massively overspending have improved their results." Deficits were the reasons the results were good, he said.

He employs six more staff than he is funded for, because he says class sizes need to be smaller in upper schools.

Mr Ricks has 200 plus children on the special needs register, and said they needed more money.