The eighth Kreston Academies Benchmark report has been published. This year’s survey received responses from over 350 trusts, representing over 1,000 schools. The report warns that “further spending reductions will be hard to achieve, and that future funding uncertainty could begin to hit the way in which education is provided”. 80% of academies surveyed identified their greatest risks as changes in government funding, and unfunded changes to staff pay and conditions.
On an optimistic note, the report emphasises that many trusts have worked hard to improve financial efficiencies, using mechanisms such as integrated curriculum financial planning and exploring additional income generation. However it found trusts are continuing to struggle, with 50% of academies still showing an in-year deficit.
The report findings support what governing boards have been saying for some time: schools have already made significant cuts due to financial constraints, including to staff – and secondary schools have felt the biggest impact so far. Without further investment on the core revenue budget, funding pressures will not be managed without negative impact on the quality of education.