School revenue balances in England

This report from the UK think tank Education Policy Institute examines the financial health of schools.

School funding remains a major issue in 2019. This report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) employs the latest data to build a detailed picture of the current state of school finances. To understand how schools are faring financially, the research considers: School revenue balances: examining schools’ balances, and whether they are in surplus or deficit (using data for local authority schools). School in-year balances: examining the income and expenditure for a given year only, and whether schools are spending more money than they have coming in for that year (using data for both local authority schools and academies).

Key findings include: Almost a third of local authority maintained secondary schools now in deficit. 1 in 10 maintained secondary schools now have large deficits, representing over 10% of their income. The deficit problem far more acute for secondary schools than primary schools. Proportion of special schools in deficit has almost doubled since 2014. Half of secondary academies are spending more than they have coming in – though this proportion is less than local authority schools. Academies in larger multi-academy trusts are less likely to spend more than they have coming in. In spite of these financial pressures, the majority of local authority schools have surpluses – overall the value of surpluses exceeds that of deficits. The Department for Education deems over half a billion (£580m) of local authority school surpluses “excessive”. Of this, around £250m is unallocated by schools.

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