SCHOOLS are having to cut back their educational offer in order to cope with financial pressures, official accounts have confirmed.

One Oxfordshire secondary school will consider axing subjects with low take-up, while others reported having to streamline the 'breadth' of pupils' learning opportunities.

The admissions were made in annual financial reports, which trusts in charge of academy schools are required to file via Companies House.

Many were published at the end of December, and paint a concerning picture about the pressures on school funding.

Merchant Taylors' Oxfordshire Academy Trust, which runs Wallingford School and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell CE Primary School, said it will have to 'review' its subject offer.

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Its accounts, which related to the year ending August 2019, stated: "The current, well-publicised funding situation for schools is creating challenges to the trust's commitment to providing the widest possible comprehensive curriculum in its schools.

"Coverage of subjects with low take-up and below-average results in Sixth Form and at GCSE is under review; where Wallingford School is able to sustain good results in subjects, the trustees will make every effort to continue to offer them.

"The trust remains committed to providing a wide range of extra-curricular activities that will ensure a breadth of experiences continues to be offered to students, even if formal examination courses cannot be maintained."

Despite the financial difficulties, the report enthused about how 1,250-pupil Wallingford School had achieved 'truly exceptional' exam results in recent years and become 'consistently one of the highest-performing schools in Oxfordshire'.

Savings made last year included a change to its telephone contract, which saved £6,000 per year.

The trust, which published its report on December 27, is not alone in having to tighten its belt.

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GLF Schools, which runs 32 schools including six in Oxfordshire, also spoke of the 'constraints of school funding' in its 2019 accounts.

Trustees wrote in the new report: "[We] acknowledge that current funding levels are already beginning to impact the breadth of the education offer that can be provided.

"Pressure on government funding streams has continued to drive the agenda, as has the increase in costs relating to employees, resulting from both salary and pension increases and competition in the market for high-quality teachers.

"The main challenge across the organisation and sector as a whole is ensuring the provision of a high-quality, inclusive education offering, using a finite and reducing set of resources, coupled with the impact of ever-changing curriculum and administrative demands."

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Headteacher funding march in 2018 in London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

The trust runs Aureus School, Aureus Primary School and The Manor School, all in Didcot, as well as William Morris Primary School, Longford Park Primary School and Hardwick Primary School, all in Banbury.

Its accounts added: "[We] have ambitions for the trust to become a centre of innovation within the sector and wish to invest in employees to fulfil this.

"Such investment is made all the more challenging in the current financial climate for education."

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However, trustees stressed that they had 'robust' systems in place to ensure the long-term financial security of the schools.

Vale Academy Trust, which runs schools in and around Wantage including King Alfred's Academy, said it anticipated using some of its reserves in the coming years 'to minimise turbulence during a period of funding uncertainty'.

Didcot-based Ridgeway Education Trust, which runs Didcot Girls' School, St Birinus School and Sutton Courtenay CE Primary School, also highlighted funding as a concern.

Its accounts stated: "The trust has been operating in a period of considerable financial uncertainty with regard to public funding.

"Financial planning is focused on delivering the highest educational standards and outcomes, in the context of the need to generate ongoing efficiency savings.

"The trust has a continuing, rigorous focus on the financial position of its schools, and has implemented some significant saving plans during recent years to address its financial challenges."

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It said this included 'efficiency' savings relating to staffing, savings in catering, reprographics and cleaning contracts, and centralised finance, governance and IT support services.

Last year the Government pledged a £14bn cash injection over three years for England’s schools, partly in response to funding concerns.

Last week, it announced an £80m investment during 2020-21 to create music hubs, to teach children to read and play music.

This came after reports of many state schools dropping music lessons.

The Government will introduce minimum funding of £5,000 per pupil for secondary schools this year, and £3,750 for primaries.

Speaking just before Christmas, school standards minister Nick Gibb said: "We are delivering on our promise to level up funding to make sure every school receives more money for every child in the classroom."