The number of state secondary schools in England falling into deficit has nearly trebled in the last four years, new research has shown.
Independent think tank the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has found that the number of state secondaries in deficit rose to 26.1% in 2016-17 – up from 8.8% in 2013-14.
The EPI’s analysis of official figures also identified a significant rise the amount of primary schools that are currently running at a deficit.
The report focused on schools under local authority, as the data for them is publicly available, so the analysis doesn’t include academies which now account for about 60% of secondary schools and 20% of primary schools in England.
The research adds to the growing evidence that a significant amount of schools in the country are facing significant financial struggles, as it found that two-thirds of council-run schools spend more than their income in 2016-17.
The report said:
For a significant proportion of schools in England, being able to meet the cost of annual staff pay increases from a combination of government funding and their own reserves looks highly unlikely, even in the short term.
EPI’s director for school system and performance, Jon Andrews, said:
We are seeing an increasing number of schools spending more money than they have coming in and our analysis shows that increasing costs on staff are going to add to that pressure, even with the additional funding being delivered by the National Funding Formula.
Responding to the EPI’s analysis, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
With most schools overspending their income, it is clear that schools’ needs are not being met by the government.
This includes the need to invest in teachers and support staff. As recent research by the School Cuts coalition of unions has shown, class sizes have been increasing as a result of government underfunding.