JUST two of Monmouthshire’s schools were in deficit at the end of the 2020/21 financial year, compared with 17 the year before.

Only Llandogo Primary School and Chepstow School remain in deficit at the end of the financial year.

At the end of 2019/2020 all schools in Monmouthshire had a combined deficit of £435,000, now this has been converted into a £3.4 million surplus.

Much of this can be accounted for by coronavirus savings. With schools largely closed during parts of the 2020/21 financial year because of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, spending on areas such as staff cover, premises, supplies and examination fees were significantly reduced.

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A council report says the individual schools budget saved around £2 million as a result.

Schools in Monmouthshire also received a combined £1.77 million in Welsh Government grants to support themselves and the pupils through the pandemic during an “unprecedented” year.

The Welsh Government grants allowed schools to compensate for coronavirus costs including personal protective equipment, staff cover due to self-isolation and enhanced cleaning.

Income totalling £1.24 million lost from the pandemic was also recuperated from the Welsh Government.

School reserves, which is money retained for future use, also increased by £3.85 million during the last financial year.

Monmouthshire council requires all schools carrying a significant surplus to provide investment plans setting out how the money will be spent – for primary schools this is £50,000 and for secondary schools it is £100,000.

In total 22 primary schools have a surplus of more than £50,000, while three secondary schools have a surplus of more than £100,000.

All schools which were in a deficit at the start of the 2020/21 financial year would have had budget recovery plans.

A report on the impact of this says: “In particular and in specific relation to Chepstow Comprehensive, when the windfall Welsh Government grants are disregarded, it masks a significant in-year budget deficit that has been brought about significantly due to the curtailing of any staff redundancies during the pandemic and that were pivotal to their recovery plans.

“This leaves the school in a comparably weaker position than they would have been in if they had executed their recovery plans as intended, and where they do not now have the level of surplus balances that the other three comprehensive schools now have to strategically invest over the medium term.

“It is also clear that the inherent structural budget deficits that have led to a situation of 17 schools being in deficit at the start of the year remain and require resolution irrespective of additional funding received.”

Schools still in deficit:

Chepstow School – £86,801

Llandogo Primary School – £86,830

Schools with a surplus:

Caldicot School – £229,564

King Henry VIII Comprehensive – £197,496

Monmouth Comprehensive – £214,192

Cross Ash Primary School – £82,470

Durand Primary School – £77,884

Gilwern Primary School – £166,851

Goytre Fawr Primary School – £91,539

Llantilio Pertholey CiW Primary School – £67,215

Llanvihangel Crucorney Primary School – £104,670

Magor CiW Primary School – £117,202

Overmonnow Primary School – £41,104

Raglan CiW Primary School – £108,877

Rogiet Primary School – £78,095

Shirenewton Primary School – £176,246

St Mary’s RC Primary School – £20,860

The Dell Primary School – £48,410

Thornwell Primary School – £64,887

Trellech Primary School – £115,691

Undy Primary School – £6,370

Usk CiW Primary School – £143,055

Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni – £34,367

Archbishop Rowan Williams CiW Primary School – £206,396

Ysgol Gymraeg Y Ffin – £15,638

Deri View Primary School – £148,109

Cantref Primary School – £199,797

Osbaston CiW Primary School – £40,609

Dewstow Primary School – £237,811

Our Lady & St Michael’s RC Primary School – £54,393

Pembroke Primary School – £125,507

Kymin View Primary School – £135,305

Llanfoist Fawr Primary School – £93,433

Castle Park Primary School – £121,853

Pupil Referral Unit – £26,012