Essex Small Schools

Essex Schools Funding Formula Review

Schools Forum: October 2016

This morning, I attended the October meeting of Schools Forum in Chelmsford. Readers of this blog may be interested in the following highlights:

  • The Government has announced changes allowing LAs to retain funding from maintained schools in order to meet their statutory requirements currently funded by the slashed Education Services Grant. This will cost maintained schools in Essex about £3m from September 2017. Of course this means that services funded through this retained funding should only be used to support maintained schools, though I expect this will be hard to unpick in practice.
  • From April 2017, all maintained schools and any academies in MATs with a staffing bill of more than £3m will have their staffing costs increased by a further 0.5% due to the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy. Schools can spend this on apprenticeships, and – at the moment – training for staff, if done through an accredited scheme.
  • IDACI bands have been changed by the DfE. I suggested that we re-balance the weighting used, to follow the principled approach I proposed last time, which is now used in the Essex funding formula. This could be improved, as now we have a national distribution of pupils in each band to work from.
  • There was some concern expressed over the continued transfer of funding from the schools block to support overspending Early Years provision.
  • The change I proposed in May to the funding handbook detailing the Falling Roll fund has been implemented, but not yet published. The LA intends to publish this soon.
  • I learnt that the rules for a maintained school with a budget deficit converting to an academy differ depending on whether it is an academy converter or a sponsored academy. In the former case, the deficit stays with the academy whereas in the latter case the deficit stays with the LA. This seems very unfair.
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