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More schools going into the red in Bucks

In 2018/19, they overspent by £1.9m, with calls for more government funding.

Published by Dan Gooding at 5:43am 7th January 2020. (Updated at 12:56pm 8th January 2020) 4-minute read.

More schools going into the red in Bucks

An increasing proportion of state-run schools in Buckinghamshire are spending more than they receive in funding, new figures reveal.

The National Education Union has warned that insufficient funding means schools across the country are struggling to make ends meet.

Department for Education data shows 26 of the 173 local authority-run schools in Buckinghamshire (15%) finished the last financial year in deficit.

This means their budget was not enough to cover all their costs during 2018-19.

In 2013-14, 20 out of the 198 schools (10%) that were then controlled by the local authority finished the year with a deficit.

Across England, the proportion of schools in deficit has risen from just 6% in 2013-14 to 10% last year.

More than 28% of secondary schools are now spending more than their budget, up from 11% five years ago.

The figures exclude academies, which are government-funded but are not overseen by the local authority.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said it was "disturbing" so many schools are in deteriorating financial positions, given many had already made deep cuts.

He said:

"Throughout the election we warned that, under Conservative plans, schools will have £2 billion less spending power in 2020-21 than they did in 2015-16.

"The stark reality of this is that even with additional money coming in from April 2020, the vast majority of schools will still be struggling to live within their means.

"Government funding has simply not kept pace with inflation, nor the increase in pupil numbers, so what they now offer is completely insufficient to lift all schools out of financial jeopardy."

School exam / 11+ test

Local authority-maintained schools in deficit in Buckinghamshire overspent by a combined £1,962,708 during the year – an average of £75,489 each.

That's up from £66,317.74074 each on average in 2017-18.

The average deficit across England increased from £152,250 to £169,520 over the same period.

Natalie Perera, executive director and head of research at the think tank Education Policy Institute, said school balances were a key indicator of financial health – and that the figures were "not particularly positive".

She added:

"The Government's new funding boost for schools may improve the picture in the long-term – but it's important to note that this additional investment merely returns school funding to levels seen in 2009-10.

"In the more immediate term, many schools in England will continue to feel a squeeze on resources."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said:

"This Government has announced the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade, giving every school more money for every child.

"This means that every school in the country can see per pupil funding rise in line with inflation next year, with all secondary schools receiving a minimum of £5,000 per pupil.”

A Buckinghamshire County Council spokesman said:

“High quality education for children and young people is a very high priority for the Council; with over 90% of all Buckinghamshire pupils attending schools that are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. 

“We work closely with our schools to help ensure they get the support they need to run efficiently. However, we do recognise that some of our schools, in line with others across the country, are finding this a difficult time to balance their books.

"If a school is at risk of, or moves into, a deficit position we provide a range of support which aims to assist the school to return to a balanced budget.

“We will continue to work closely with central Government to ensure the best deal possible for Buckinghamshire’s young people.”

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