Eight out of ten Academy Schools are now in deficit say accountants Kreston UK, unlike council-run schools which are being managed better.
Since staff make up 72% of the costs of schools in deficit, these will have to cut teacher numbers to reduce their financial losses. Many Academy schools are also delaying repairs and putting off replacing obsolete technology, though such policies are likely to be more expensive in the long run.
There has also been found to be a significant increase in the number of primary schools now falling into deficit. The government disputes this but offers no evidence to support their position. It is still trying to convince staff and parents that there is no problem but this approach is now being challenged in many areas of the country.
Two more years like this and the entire sector could face insolvency claims the Kreston UK report, which shows over 25% of secondary schools now in deficit. Schools are doing everything they can to save money but they are unable to avoid overspending. The number of secondary schools falling into deficit has trebled to 26% in the last four years.
The Academy programme has not been the success that is claimed and in the end it will be replaced by having an element of democracy returning to the school system. The Labour Party managed to end grant maintained schools set up by the Conservatives and brought them back to local Government.
Unfortunately, it was the Labour Party who then introduced Academy schools. This was another attempt to remove accountability of schools in their local area. The question that any government has to answer is who should manage schools and who decides what happens when a school has problems it cannot easily solve itself.
What would be helpful would be to bring into the equation how FE Colleges and Universities could be more involved with the school system in their area. They would be a useful allies on seeing how the curriculum should be developed instead of just continuing GCSE and A levels. These need to be replaced with a more relevant approach to public examinations. Assessment at the age of fourteen of numeracy and literacy should be part of that approach.
The Labour Party has an opportunity to develop a strategy that will increase standards in all schools and end the privatisation of the school system. Schools need qualified teachers together with teacher assistants developing an updated curriculum in all schools. Children with disabilities should receive the necessary support from trained staff in mainstream schools and the aim should be that all students should perform well.
Local government should play a key role in helping to raise standards and many authorities were successful in helping to raise standards at local level when we had a Labour Government. The present system is not working and serious problems will emerge if we continue with an educational system that fails to develop the talents of all students in all areas of the country.
Graham Lane former Chair of the Local Government’s Education Association