School revenue balance: The financial balance at the end of the year, once income, expenditure, committed expenditure and previous year's revenue balance has been taken into account.
Deficit: When a school's expenditure is higher than this year's income, once the previous year's balance has been taken into account. A negative revenue balance.
Surplus: When a school's expenditure is lower than this year's income, once the previous year's balance has been taken into account. A positive revenue balance.
In 2020-21, of the 12,655 schools that submitted CFR returns:
- 1,059 (8%) schools were in deficit
- 11,531 (91%) were in surplus
- 65 (<1%) had a revenue reserve of 0.
In 2020-21 the percentage of schools in deficit decreased to 8%, from 12% in 2019-20. This is the largest year-on-year decrease since records began in 2003. The percentage of schools in deficit is now at its lowest level since 2016-17.
Income and expenditure figures for 2019-20, and 2020-21 show that income of LA maintained schools was similar in both years but expenditure declined, contributing to the decrease of schools in deficit.
The percentage of schools in deficit declined for all school types, with the exception of nursery schools. The percentage of nursery schools in deficit increased to 25% from 21% in 2019-20. The percentage of secondary schools in deficit declined the most of any school phase; to 20% from 27%.
This revenue reserves data is the first which covers a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic. As outlined under the section on expenditure above, during this time, schools reduced their spend on areas such as supply staff and supplies, and they may also have held back planned expenditure on maintenance. Although they have also lost self generated income such as that from lettings and catering, this is generally lower than the amount saved, therefore increasing their revenue reserve.
The number and percentage of schools in surplus/deficit, plus total amounts of revenue reserves is available in Table 3.
In 2020-21, the average revenue balance per school increased to £160,490 from £110,690 in 2019-20.
The average revenue balance increased for all school phases, with the exception of nursery schools. For nursery schools, average revenue balance decreased to £68,740 from £71,629 in 2019-20.
Alongside the decrease in the percentage of schools in deficit, the revenue balance of schools in deficit has decreased for most school types. For schools in surplus, the revenue balance has increased.
For instance, total balance of secondary schools in deficit reduced from £150 million in 2019-20 to £128 million in 2020-21. Total balance of secondary schools in surplus increased from £275 million to £379 million.
There is substantial variation in the percentage of schools in deficit around the country. Some LAs have no schools in deficit and others have a third of schools in deficit (for primary) or all schools in deficit (for secondary).
The percentage of schools in deficit by LA is provided in the map and table below. Selecting an LA in the map will display its percentages of schools in deficit.