EPI report shows schools have hit financial cliff edge

11 January 2019

Commenting on the Education Policy Institute (EPI) report ‘School revenue balances in England’, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“The startling figure of 30% of maintained secondaries in deficit in 2017/18, and the dramatic increase in this percentage since 2014, is evidence that many schools have hit the financial cliff edge that we have repeatedly warned is looming. This is a direct result of government underfunding and the current situation is simply unsustainable.

“Schools long ago exhausted all possible efficiency savings and have had to make impossible choices over where to cut next with many having to pare back curriculum options, enrichment activities and the individual support that they are able to provide to pupils.

“We note the EPI’s findings about schools with ‘excess surpluses’. It is important to understand that it is prudent financial management to carry forward a surplus when possible in order to provide a contingency to cover unforeseen expenditure, and the fact that so many schools cannot now do so is cause for grave concern.

“What is clear is that the current trend is one of increasing deficits and unless action is taken to improve the level of funding it is highly likely that educational standards will deteriorate.

“We note also the EPI’s findings on the financial performance of different types of schools between and within the maintained and academy sectors. We need to bear in mind that there are a large number of factors which affect school finances such as wide variations in geographical funding allocations, pupil numbers, and financial pressures such as commitments generated by the private finance initiative. This inevitably means schools are in different positions and we need to be careful when making comparisons and not leap to generalisations.”