Schools plan for frugal times ahead


Data on school balances shows that schools are reducing their spending as education funding cuts start to affect budgets.

Schools across the country are planning for more financially stringent times ahead, according to the school balance data document released by the Department for Education.
The figures published by the DfE demonstrated trends indicating that school leaders are preparing for a reduction in their budgets by reducing spending in schools, though also revealed an overall reduction of the number of schools in financial deficit.
The document also revealed evidence of funding inequality between schools in different authorities and different places across the country, adding to calls to alter the current school funding formulae.

The report shows that in 2010-11 the total revenue balance across all LA maintained schools was £1.96 billion, an increase of £290.2 million (17.4%) over the 2009-10 revenue balance figure of £1.67 billion. This equates to an average surplus in each school of almost £91,000.

There were 1,511 schools with a revenue balance deficit. The total deficit across all LA maintained schools that had a deficit was £143.5 million, a decrease of £17.9 million (12.5%) over the 2009-10 total revenue balance deficit figure of £161.4 million. This equates to an average deficit in each school with a deficit of almost £95,000.

The total revenue balance across all secondary schools was £650.9 million, an average of over £208,000 per secondary school. There were 2,608 secondary schools with a surplus revenue balance totalling £756.2 million, an average surplus of £290,000 per secondary school with a surplus. In addition there were 457 secondary schools with a revenue balance deficit of £105.3 million, an average deficit of just over £230,000 per secondary school with a deficit.

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Brian Lightman said: “It is good to see that the number of secondary schools in deficit has fallen,” he said. “However it is a concern that there is significant variation between schools in different LAs and between schools in different phases.”
“This underscores the need to move to a funding formula that delivers a fair level of funding to schools, no matter where they are in the country. It also makes the point that this formula must be activity referenced and clearly modelled so that it does not create a whole new set of inequities,” he added.
“It makes the most sense to start by determining the actual cost of delivering the activities needed to provide high-quality education for all young people. The government’s drive for a simple formula, rather than the best solution will simply re-distribute the inequities instead of delivering fairer funding for all.
“As the statistical release itself points out, the growing number of schools converting to academy status makes year-on- year-comparisons in school expenditure difficult, as academies are not represented in the data.”