By Tony Earnshaw and Claire Miller
ONE in nine Kirklees schools are spending more than they have coming in.
A total of 15 local authority-maintained schools (10.9 per cent) reported a revenue deficit in 2018/19, down from 16 in 2017/18.
The figures include primary and secondary schools, as well as special schools, nurseries and pupil referral units. Overall 15 schools in Kirklees reported a total deficit of £2.7million in 2018/19. The total was down from £2.8m in 2017/18, but up from £0.4m in 2012/13, according to figures from the Department for Education.
The average deficit per school in 2018/19 was £177,000. But the differential was vast: from £1.4m to just £24.
In North Kirklees, Fairfield School in Batley recorded a deficit of £443,815 and Shaw Cross Infant and Nursery School was down £8,370 in 2018/19.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “This government has announced the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade, giving every school more money for every child.
“This means that every school in the country can see per pupil funding rise in line with inflation next year, with all secondary schools receiving a minimum of £5,000 per pupil.”
Across England, the planned spend per pupil in 2019/20 is £4,556, nominally up from £4,521 in 2018/19. However, if the 2018/19 figure was adjusted for inflation, it would be £4,602 per pupil, meaning schools are £46 per pupil worse off.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Schools have suffered several years of real-terms cuts to the funding they receive from the government, which has plunged many into deficit.
“They will be implementing cost-reduction plans to balance their books but this is not a quick fix because it entails reducing staffing costs while trying to minimise the impact on the provision for children.
“Schools which have seen their deficit position worsen are likely to be those which face the greatest financial pressures.
“The government has allocated increased funding to schools over the next three years.
“However, we do not think this funding will be sufficient to reverse all the cuts that have taken place to school budgets and the likelihood is the financial position will continue to be challenging.”
A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said: “Schools are responsible for their own financial management.
“However as a local authority we work closely with individual schools and also with the Kirklees Schools Forum, which represents schools in relation to financial matters.
“Most of the maintained schools in Kirklees which showed as being in deficit at March 31 2019 have already dealt with their deficit through budget planning for 2019/20.
“Both locally and nationally, many schools are facing difficult decisions with their budgets due to very challenging financial circumstances.
“We have excellent relationships with the Kirklees family of schools and we support them strongly in helping children and young people to enjoy the best start in life.”