MORE than a dozen schools in Cumberland were in a financial deficit in the last academic year, new figures show.

It comes as the number of schools losing money across England soared last year.

The Association of School and College leaders said government investment has "failed to keep pace with rising costs", warning deficits will harm pupils' education.

Department for Education figures show 19 local authority-maintained schools in Cumberland were in a financial deficit in 2022-23.

A school is in a financial deficit when it spends more than it earned when factoring in the previous year's balance.

It meant 15% of the 127 schools who provided financial information ran at a deficit last year.

The same schools may not have submitted sufficient information each year.

A Cumberland Council spokesperson said: "Of the 127 local authority maintained primary, secondary, special schools and pupil referral units in Cumberland, 19 reported a deficit position as at March 31 2023.

"Five of the schools in deficit are secondary schools (which have the largest deficits), and the remainder are primary schools and one nursery school. 

"Local authority maintained schools are required to submit three year budget plans, allowing the council to monitor and also support schools who are in financially challenging situations.

"The council provides help to those schools who require assistance in the form of access to specialist advisors who can work with school leaders to identify efficiencies and savings."

Nationally, there was a significant rise in the number of schools running a negative budget.

Some 13.1 per cent of local authority-run schools in England had a deficit in 2022-23 – an almost 50 per cent rise on the year before.

Financial difficulties were especially problematic for nurseries, with almost a third in a deficit across England in 2022-23.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "School funding is rising to more than £59.6billion next year – the highest ever level in real terms per pupil.

"While the vast majority of schools are operating with a surplus, we are providing up to £40 million in 2023-24 to support schools which find themselves in financial difficulties."