New figures from the DfEE reveal that 2,470 schools - more than 10% of the schools in England and wales - were in deficit last year. Senior education sources estimate the total debt ould be as much as£200 million.
Education secretary David Blunkett will this week announce measures to reduce paperwork faced by schools. In a speech to the national Association of Head Teachers on Thursday he will say directives and initiatives delivered to schools by his department must be reduced by half. He will also praise teachers for the good work they are doing to raise standards in teaching maths and English.
Critics say the debt figures reveal how far Mr Blunkett has to go to ensure that schools are delivering better standards. The debt figures blow a hole in government attempts to resolve school problems with one-off windfall payments, agreed in the Budget, of between£9,000 and£40,000.
One school on Tyneside has debts of£128,000, up from£44,000 the year before, while another has debts of£112,000, up from£32,000.
Judith Elderkin, head teacher of Marlborough Road Primary School in Salford, Greater Manchester, said she was considering laying off two senior members of staff because money was so tight. He school faces a deficit of£100,000 this year. 'As staff costs make up 90% of my budget that is the area you have to look at,' she said.