Issue - meetings

School Reserve Balances Year ending 31 March 2018

Meeting: 12/09/2018 - Audit Committee (Item 23)

23 School Reserve Balances Year Ending 31 March 2018 pdf icon PDF 104 KB

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That the school reserves balances as at 31 March 2018 be noted.


The Chief Officer (Education & Youth) and Finance Manager (People & Resources) presented a report on the reserves held by Flintshire schools as at 31 March 2018.  In comparison with March 2017, a total decrease of 11% was reported.


The summary position showed that a 47% increase in the net deficit of reserves held by secondary schools was offset by a 15% increase in primary reserves.  Although the school maintenance grant allocated by Welsh Government (WG) had improved the outturn position of school reserve balances, the level held by secondary schools with positive balances was less than 2% of budget.  The impact of continuing austerity measures was amongst a number of contributing factors which resulted in schools having to absorb the cost of inflationary increases.  Future changes in demographics would result in a redistribution of funding between primary and secondary sectors.


The Chief Officer spoke about the complexities in managing school budgets during the continuing period of austerity and the position was being monitored.  Ongoing support from colleagues in Human Resources and Finance to help Head Teachers to develop robust strategies had been welcomed by schools.  Clarification was given on the approach to dealing with deficit balances and work was being undertaken to identify schools at risk of moving into this position so that support could be targeted.  Secondary schools had access to the national schools benchmarking tool developed by WG, which was now being adapted for the primary sector.


The Chief Executive said that the level of school reserves was a concern and reflected a similar position in schools across the UK in the context of significant budget constraints.  All schools were required to adopt effective business planning, however this was only sustainable with an increase in national funding on which representations had been made.  He said that a deteriorating deficit overall position on school balances in Flintshire was a corporate risk to the Council and asked that this be recorded as a live ongoing risk in the Medium Term Financial Strategy.


Councillor Dolphin sought clarification on the efficiency metric as part of the benchmarking tool.  The Finance Manager explained that a range of school data was assessed, which enabled comparison of costs between schools of a similar profile to help identify improved ways of working.


In response to a question from Councillor Johnson, the Chief Officer explained work with the Admissions team to model current statistics within the system to generate broad assumptions on future admission levels.  The same approach was used for faith-based and Welsh medium schools.


The Chair gave a reminder that applications for school places could be made through the Admissions department.




That the school reserves balances as at 31 March 2018 be noted.