Funding Review Group: June 2015
The funding review group met for the last time this school year on the 24th June to discuss Looked After Children, Additional Funding for Reception Pupils, and the format of the forthcoming consultation with schools. There was a further item on a banding structure for “high needs” SEN, but this item was postponed pending further work by the LA. Before these items were discussed, I followed up on my previous question about KS1 class size funding. The LA was able to confirm that there is currently a bar on schools with fewer than 120 pupils accessing the pot of contingency money reserved for when there is a significant change in the number of KS1 pupils at a school. Currently schools with more than 120 pupils receive an amount of funding proportional to the difference between the number of KS1 pupils on roll in September divided by 30 rounded up to the next whole number and the number of KS1 pupils on roll at census date divided by 25 rounded up to the next whole number. The LA confirmed that there is a good number of schools who would benefit from this funding if extended to schools below 120 pupils on roll. Nobody seemed particularly clear why this bar was in place, and I proposed that it be removed. In order to determine the impact on primary AWPU, the LA is intending to circulate a revised proposal with / without the bar and with / without the divisors in the two figures both set at 30 (nobody was clear why it should be 25 in one case and 30 in the other.) The review group, after much discussion, agreed to the LA’s suggestion of introducing a factor from the funding formula for Looked After Children (distinct to the pupil premium) of £500 per child. Much of the discussion over the differences between LAC funding from the pupil premium and other LAC funding seemed to revolve around the way Essex centrally controls the pupil premium funding for LAC, and I think this may be an area for further investigation in the future. The LA was able to confirm that EYFS and KS1 children must now be funded at the same rate, and there are no local exceptions to this rule mandated by the DfE. This is likely to result in a minor shift of funding away from infant schools towards junior schools, with all-through primaries unaffected. The group decided to propose a simplified form of consultation with schools, listing all factors in the funding formula, but only detailing any changes proposed for 16/17, so that schools have clarity over changes to the funding profile. This consultation will go to Schools Forum on the 15th of July, and if approved there will be rolled out to schools before the end of term with a closure date towards the end of September 2015.