Berkshire schools operate at a loss – as numbers rise amid rising Covid costs and government underfunding


Dozens of Berkshire schools spend more money than they receive.

Across the country, a growing number of schools were already struggling to stretch their budgets ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, with teachers’ unions warning that the additional costs offset much of this year’s funding increase.

They warned that the additional money pledged is not enough to address long-term underfunding, and recent funding announcements are not enough.

A total of 36 locally run schools in Berkshire reported a revenue shortfall in 2019/20.

This was up from 35 in 2018/19, but down from a peak of 40 in 2016/17, although numbers rose from 14 in 2012/13, when comparable numbers started .

The equivalent of one in six (16%) LA-run schools in Berkshire now spends more than their income.

In 2019/20, the number includes seven schools in Bracknell Forest, six in Reading, three in Slough, eight in West Berkshire and three in Wokingham.

In Windsor and Maidenhead, a record number of schools, nine, were reporting an income shortfall in 2019/20.

The figures include primary and secondary schools, as well as special schools, nurseries and pupil guidance units. However, they do not include academies.

Overall, the 36 Berkshire schools reported a combined deficit of £ 4.1million in 2019/20, according to figures from the Department of Education. The average deficit per school in 2019/20 was £ 114,150.

Berkshire schools in deficit in 2019/20:

School name // Local authority // Phase // Income balance
Churchmead School of the Church of England (VA) // Secondary // Windsor and Maidenhead // -731,051 £
Sainte-Anne Catholic Elementary School // Primary // Reading // -540,010 £
Sandhurst School // Secondary // Bracknell Forest // -530,932 £
Bulmershe School // Secondary // Wokingham // -327,292 £
Ascot Heath Primary School // Primary // Bracknell Forest // -220,642 £
Emmbrook School // Secondary // Wokingham // -187,300 £
School of Pines // Primary // Bracknell Forest // -166,660 £
St Martin Catholic Primary School // Primary // Reading // -120,856 £
First Alexander School // Primary // Windsor and Maidenhead // -117,269 £
Beechwood Elementary School // Primary // Wokingham // -84,943 £
Harmans Water Primary School // Primary // Bracknell Forest // -82,638 £
Homer First School and Nursery // Primary // Windsor and Maidenhead // -73,758 £
Wessex Primary School // Primary // Windsor and Maidenhead // -73,471 £
Ridgeway Elementary School // Primary // Reading // -72,492 £
Easthampstead Park Community School // Secondary // Bracknell Forest // -59,168 £
Eton Wick CofE First School // Primary // Windsor and Maidenhead // -50,385 £
St Finian Catholic Primary School // Primary // West Berkshire // -40,922 £
Warfield Church of England Primary School // Primary // Bracknell Forest // – £ 36,669
All Saints CofE Junior School // Primary // Windsor and Maidenhead // -34,773 £
Beenham Elementary School // Primary // West Berkshire // – £ 34,077
Théale CE Primary School // Primary // West Berkshire // -29,139 £
Compton CE Primary School // Primary // West Berkshire // – £ 26,608
Mrs Bland’s nursery school // Primary // West Berkshire // – £ 24,258
Bucklebury CE Primary School // Primary // West Berkshire // -15,455 £
Winkfield St Mary’s CofE Elementary School // Primary // Bracknell Forest // – £ 6,197
Enborne CE Primary School // Primary // West Berkshire // -1,179 £
Oakfield First School // Primary // Windsor and Maidenhead // -979 £
Hampstead Norreys CE Primary School // Primary // West Berkshire // – £ 417



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Across England there were 1,575 schools maintained by local authorities in deficit in 2019/20.

This was the highest number in a decade, up from 1,376 in 2018/19.

With the decline in the number of schools maintained by LA, as more and more converted to academies, the proportion in deficit fell to one in eight (12%).

The size of the total school deficit is also increasing.

It stood at £ 233.3million in 2018/19, but rose to £ 266.4million in 2019/20.

This is the highest level since the records began in 2002/03.

Dr Mary Bousted, Co-Secretary-General, NEU, said: “Budget pressures were already huge before Covid, and Boris Johnson’s regulation for schools was well below what is needed. The costs of Covid-19 will have offset much of the increase in schools funding in 2020-2021.

“Schools and colleges are tired of playing snakes and ladders with this government over funding. To ensure every young person gets the education they deserve, we need a serious commitment to reviewing fall spending, well above the paltry and stingy amounts offered in recent years. month.”

Across England, planned spending per pupil in 2019/20 was £ 4,556, compared to £ 4,521 in 2018/19.

However, after adjusting for inflation, schools were on average worse off per student.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the rising deficit figures were another sign of the enormous strain on school finances due to insufficient levels of government funding.

He said: “The Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that per pupil school funding in England fell 9% in real terms between 2009/10 and 2019/20 – the biggest drop in over 40 years.

“The government has sought to improve matters with a three-year funding increase to 2022/2023, but we don’t think that’s enough to reverse the damage caused by years of underfunding.

“Schools also incurred considerable additional costs during the pandemic in order to implement and maintain a multitude of safety measures without adequate reimbursement from the government.

“It is therefore likely that the situation will continue to be precarious for the foreseeable future. The government needs to tackle this problem and make sure schools have the funding they need. “

The DfE said the most recent 2019/20 data on financial reserves did not show the impact of the funding increase. It also provided additional funding of £ 139million through the Covid one-off cost fund.

A DfE spokesperson said: “This government is providing the biggest financial boost to schools in a decade. By 2023, we will have increased funding for schools by over £ 14bn compared to 2019-2020, including additional funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

“On top of that, we are providing £ 1.5bn per year to fund additional teachers’ retirement costs. Overall, this will bring the schools budget to £ 52.2 billion by 2022-2023. “

The IFS analysis found that this budget increase would almost reverse previous cuts, taking inflation into account.

However, with the expected increases in teacher remuneration, the increase in expenditure per pupil would be smaller and, in any case, school expenditure per pupil in 2022/23 would not be higher in real terms than in 2009 / 10.

While a growing number of schools are in deficit, many more have a surplus – 11,493 in 2019/20, with an overall revenue budget of £ 1.7 billion.

While this money may already be allocated to projects, previous research from the Education Policy Institute has found that if boards redistributed entirely the “surplus” surpluses from schools in their area to those schools with red funding shortfalls would be wiped out in four-fifths of Las.

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of NASUWT, said the union wants increased investment in schools, but is also advocating for this redistribution to take place.

He said: “Unfortunately, since 2010 the government has abandoned important financial controls in its drive to grant excessive freedoms and flexibilities to schools.

“The result has in too many cases been the storage of public funds, often at the expense of providing children and young people and teachers and other staff who have faced a year-over-year deterioration in their wages. and their terms of service. .

“We urge the government to review the freedoms and flexibilities that lead to this situation and allow local authorities to ensure that funding for all schools in their region is used fairly and efficiently.”

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