Exclusive: State school debt on course to double

State school debt is on course to more than double in just two years, exclusive new research suggests.

TES asked local authorities in England and Wales how much money maintained schools had asked to borrow from them to cover their budget deficits in each of the past three years.

Results came in from more than three-quarters of the councils – 137 of the 174 – and the numbers paint a worrying picture. The total amount they gave schools permission to borrow rose from £35.8 million to £51.7 million between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years.

In November, the total for 2015-16 already stood at £56.7 million, with nearly half the financial year to go.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also reveal that the average permitted deficit per school is now £122,828, approaching double the £66,580 figure from 2013-14.

“The cost pressures on schools are really biting,” said Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders union.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is up to individual schools to ensure that they manage their budgets to prevent going into debt. We have always been clear that local authorities need to work with schools to prevent any deficits and surpluses becoming significant.”

This is an edited version of an article in the 4 December edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full version of this story here. You can subscribe to TES online here or read the full coverage in this week’s TES magazine, available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here.

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