1 in 4 schools went over their budget - report.
Byline: JONATHAN WALKER email@example.com
ONE in four West Midlands secondary schools went over budget last year.
The study, published by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), means they spent more than they received in funding.
And campaigners said schools will be forced to cut staff as they struggle to balance the books.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Staffing cuts are not just likely in the future, as the EPI report suggests, but have already taken place in many schools.
A study of school balance sheets shows that 24.6 per cent of West Midlands secondary schools, very nearly a quarter, ran up deficits in the 2016-17 financial year.
This was up from 11.9 per cent in the previous year. It also found that 7.1 per cent of West Midlands primary schools, one in 14, went over budget.
That figure was up from 3.9 per cent the previous year. The National Audit Office, an independent spending watchdog, last year warned that schools across the country needed to make savings of PS3 billion to balance the books.
The Department for Education insists that schools have more money than ever before.
However, headteachers say that their costs have increased by even more.
David Laws, EPI executive chairman and former Lib Dem schools minister, said: "This analysis highlights the nature and scale of cost pressures facing England's schools.
"After 15 years in which school funding has either been growing healthily or has at least been protected from inflationary pressures, school budgets are clearly now being squeezed."
A Department for Education spokesman said: "We do not recognise these findings. The fact is, thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, standards are rising in our schools.
"By 2020, core school funding will rise to a record PS43.5 billion - the IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) has confirmed that by then per pupil funding will have increased more than 70 per cent since 1990."