Schools 'struggling to live within their means'

PUBLISHED: 07:22 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 07:22 02 January 2020

The number of children with educational health and care plans (ECHP) in North Somerset has risen by 81 per cent in the past five years.

The number of children with educational health and care plans (ECHP) in North Somerset has risen by 81 per cent in the past five years.

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An increasing proportion of state-run schools in North Somerset are spending more than they receive in funding, new figures have revealed.

Department for Education (DfE) data shows two of the 24 council-run schools in North Somerset finished the last financial year in deficit.

The figures exclude academies, which are Government-funded but are not overseen by the local authority.

The National Education Union (NEU) has warned insufficient funding means schools across the country are struggling to make ends meet.

More: Schools in funding crisis with huge cuts and increasing costs.

Jonathan Reddiford, division secretary for North Somerset NEU, said it is 'disturbing' so many schools are in deteriorating financial positions, given many have already made deep cuts.

He said: "Throughout the election we warned that, under Conservative plans, schools will have £2billion less spending power in 2020-21 than they did in 2015-16.

"The stark reality of this is that even with additional money coming in from April 2020, the vast majority of schools will still be struggling to live within their means.

"Government funding has simply not kept pace with inflation, nor the increase in pupil numbers, so what they now offer is completely insufficient to lift all schools out of financial jeopardy."

Local authority-maintained schools in deficit in North Somerset overspent by a combined £838,117 during the year - an average of £419,059 each.

This is up from £341,796.50 each on average in 2017-18.

The Mercury reported last month how schools are struggling to afford basic resources such as toilet paper and glue sticks, according to education campaign group School Cuts.

More: Cash-strapped schools hit by further funding cuts.

Schools in the area have lost an average of £197 per pupil between 2015 and 2020.

The Government has promised £7.1bn for schools by 2022-23 but funding does not begin until next year.

Natalie Perera, executive director of the Education Policy Institute, added: "The Government's new funding boost for schools may improve the picture in the long-term - but it's important to note this additional investment merely returns school funding to levels seen in 2009-10.

"In the more immediate term, many schools in England will continue to feel a squeeze on resources."

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