South Bucks schools have underspent their budgets by tens of thousands of pounds in recent years, raising questions as to why the money is not being spent on children’s education

A total of 15 schools in the county ended the financial year with more than 15 per cent of their revenue budget leftover – sparking calls for calls for closer monitoring of schools’ spending.

Bucks County Council (BCC) figures show Speen CE School in Princes Risborough had £66,937 of excess cash at the end of 2017/18, while Chalfont St Peter Infant School had £161,566 of its budget remaining.

At a meeting of BCC’s Schools Forum on Tuesday, June 13, head teacher at Cheddington Combined School in Leighton Buzzard, Kathryn Tamlyn, asked why excess cash is not being ploughed into the education of pupils, as other schools struggle with large budget overspends.

She said: “Just as I know the council is challenging schools that are going into deficit, particularly if there is a trend, what is done about schools will very large surpluses?

“I am looking at some of these schools and the amount of money they have not spent this year on the education of children in their school, personally, I find quite shocking.

“What is the position for challenging, just as you would step in very quickly to say a school is in deficit, what’s the flip side of that for schools with surpluses?”

A county council report stated that the authority reserves the right to claw back any excessive surplus balances that are 15 per cent or more of the school’s income for the last five years and at least £10,000 per year.

However members of the forum claimed schools’ excess cash has never been raked in by BCC.

A further 25 Bucks schools have overspent their budgets by 16 per cent or less from 2016 to 2018, including Chalfont St Giles Junior School and Millbrook Combined School in High Wycombe.

Interim financial director for education at BCC, John Hickson, said: “We do have a team working around the school process, and if a school needs help we will be looking at context of why they are in deficit.

“There could be some very good reasons for it, like they just built a great big extension and spent a lot of money on that.”

He also added the council will be looking into how it assesses schools with excess surpluses, and will report an update at the next schools forum meeting.

Director of education at BCC, Sarah Callaghan, called for schools to combine some of their resources in order to reduce budget pressures.

She said: “If we are launching a strategy that is built on a principle of having a shared vision and wanted to achieve shared outcomes for children and young people, it would be a great starting point if we were able to look at how we can sustain the ambitions of the strategy, by having some pooled resource. Because, as we all know, resources are tight.”

For the full council report visit