Skip to main content

Number of schools in deficit at 9-year high

Almost a third of secondaries are now in the red, according to official statistics

FE needs long term funding writes Sean Vernell

Almost a third of secondaries are now in the red, according to official statistics

The number of schools in deficit has hit its highest point in almost a decade, according to new statistics which reveal the growing budgetary pressures on England's education system.

In 2017-18, 1,532 local authority-maintained schools in England were in deficit, equivalent to 10.2 percent of the total, while a further 182 had zero revenue.

That is up from 1,461 schools last year and the highest total in real terms since 2009-10. By percentage, and the total deficit of £233 million, it represents the highest comparable figure listed in the official statistics.

The picture was worst among secondaries, where a third of schools (313 out of 1037) are now in the red. Among them the average deficit ballooned from -£416,000 in 2016-17 to -£484,000.

In primaries, the 8 per cent of schools which were in deficit increased their average overspending by £6,000 over the same period to £50,000.

That comes despite a drop in schools’ net spending per pupil, which on average fell by £25 per head to £5,392 compared to the previous year.

In nursery schools, spending dropped by £624 per pupil, compared to an average of £16 in primaries, £84 in secondaries and £185 in special schools.

The decrease was largest in pupil referral units, however, where the average spend per student slumped by £1,499 to £32,386.

Overall, the gross local authority spending on schools, education and children’s and young people’s services also fell by £700 million last year to £39.6 billion.

Not adjusting for inflation, spending has decreased by 29 per cent since 2010-11, while the number of maintained schools fell by 30 per cent over the same period.

A YouGov survey last month found that 71 per cent of teachers are in schools with falling budgets, with 55 per cent saying class sizes in their schools had increased.

A recent study has also warned that academies, which are not included in today’s official statistics, may also be “on the verge of insolvency”.

 

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you