Release date: 11/09/2020
Governors and trustees have shared their experiences of overseeing their school or trust’s financial performance and the decisions they have taken to ensure public money is well spent in the National Governance Association’s annual state of the nation report.
Half of governors/trustees reported that their school or trust is currently balancing income and expenditure while over a quarter are in an in-year deficit and drawing on reserves (28%). Looking at the school or trust's next financial year, 63% of respondents reported that their board expects to balance the budget, a 13% increase from 2019. The current financial position of respondents’ schools and trusts affected whether they expect their organisation to balance the budget in their school or trust’s next financial year. Nine in 10 respondents building reserves report that they expect to balance the budget next year (90%), which fell to 85% for those whose schools/trusts are balancing income and expenditure and down to 42% for those in an ‘in-year deficit’. Only 18% of those currently using a licensed loan report expecting to balance the budget in 2020/21.
Despite this more positive picture, many boards are continuing to take difficult decisions in response to financial constraints. 67% of governors/trustees said that their board had reduced the number of support staff and a third reporting that they had reduced their number of teaching staff (32%). Spending on buildings and maintenance had also decreased for schools and trusts according to half of governors/trustees surveyed (50%). Secondary schools hit by financial pressures are reducing the subjects on offer for students (40%) and the number of teaching staff (45%), with nearly a third increasing class sizes as a result.
One in five governors/trustees in schools or trusts currently building reserves reported that their school still asks for parental contributions as a result of financial constraints, indicating that this has become a normal expectation on parents instead a response to extreme pressure.
Other key findings include:
- 48% of governors and trustees said that it was likely that the additional £14 billion funding announced for the school sector in August 2019 will enable their school or trust budget to meet the needs of all their pupils, ranging from 62% in the north east to 39% in London.
- More than one in ten governors/trustees surveyed (13%) report that their organisation’s business professional does not provide the governing board with advice on financial performance efficiency, or that they were unaware if they did.
The annual school governance survey collected 6,864 responses in 2020 and is the only consistent large-scale survey on the demographics, views and experiences of the volunteers governing state-funded schools in England.
Read the School Governance in 2020 funding and finance report.