Financial benchmarking: how-to guide

See how you can identify schools similar to yours and make comparisons using the financial benchmarking service from the DfE. Understand the benefits and limitations of benchmarking, and see examples of how other schools use it.

Last reviewed on 17 November 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 3315
  1. How to use the DfE's benchmarking service
  2. If it's difficult to find similar schools
  3. Cover benchmarking in your financial management handbook

How to use the DfE's benchmarking service

The DfE's schools financial benchmarking service allows you to find schools like yours and compare your spending, income and staffing structures.

Find your school's page and select 'Start a comparison', then select 'Benchmark comparison', and then choose from these options:

  • Quick comparison using pre-selected characteristics
  • Detailed comparison using characteristics you choose
  • Manual comparison using schools you can search for by name or location 

You'll be able to compare across 4 main areas:

  • Expenditure
  • Income
  • Balance
  • Workforce

Within these areas there are charts covering more specific aspects. For example, you can see charts focusing on expenditure in areas such as:

  • Staff
  • Premises
  • Supplies and services

The data currently on the financial benchmarking service is based on the 2022-23 financial year for maintained schools and the 2021/22 academic year for academies.

Get the most out of the benchmarking exercise 

There are 4 main cost areas for school