National funding formula: Transition Arrangements

31 Dec

National funding formula: Transition Arrangements

The National Funding Formula (NFF) kicks in on 1 April 2017 following two stages of consultation.  The government published the formula and the transition arrangements to be implemented from 2018-19. For the full exemplification of what is to come see here.

I           Summary

The National Funding Formula will comprise the following.

(i)         Per pupil costs, i.e. basic per pupil funding together with growth and mobility

(ii)        Additional needs, based on

  • Deprivation
  • looked-after children
  • English as an additional language
  • low prior attainment

(iii)       premises, which offers a lump sum for each school/academy, split sites, sparsity, the private finance initiative and exceptional circumstances

(iv)       area costs to take account of the cost of living in London and other conurbations

Basic per-pupil funding is the largest factor in the formula will account for almost 73% of the total schools’ block.

A school’s/academy’s per-pupil funding for 2018-19 will have minimum sums of £3,300 for every primary pupil and £4,600 for every secondary pupil. In 2019-20, this will rise to £3,500 for a primary pupil and £4,800 for a secondary one.

II          What’s next?

To help schools move over to the formula, there will be a ‘soft’ version used in 2018-19 and 2019-20, where funding will still be channelled through LAs. During the two transition years the DfE will use the NFF to calculate notional budgets for each school/academy, which will be aggregated to give the total schools/academies block budget for each LA

However, local authorities (LAs) will continue to set a local formula to distribute their schools block funding, as they do now, in consultation with local schools and the schools’ forums following which they will distribute their block allocation to schools (academies receiving their funding directly from the Education Funding Agency); and the schools’ block will be ring-fenced so the majority of the block will be passed directly to schools. LAs will have limited flexibility to transfer funding to other areas (such as high needs) depending on local needs. Such transfers are limited to 0.5% of LAs’ total schools block, and can only be made with the agreement of the schools’ forums.

No school schools will receive more than 3% extra per pupil in 2018-19 and a further 3% per pupil in 2019-20, or 20% of their remaining formula cash gains.  However, schools will be given a minimum funding.  (See the last paragraph in the summary above.)  Additionally, every school will be given a 0.5% per-pupil cash increase in 2018-19 compared to their baseline, and an increase of 1% in 2019-20. The baseline for most schools/academies will be their 2017-18 funding level, and for new and growing schools/academies it will be their per-pupil funding if they are up to capacity.

There will also be an increase to Pupil Premium plus funding for looked-after children. The Pupil Premium rate for these pupils will rise to £2,300 in 2018-19, up from £1,900 in 2017-18.

III        Impact

According to the Department for Education (DfE) schools/academies that will receive the greatest gains are

1)   the historically lowest-funded ones (a 6% gain on average);

2)   those with a high number of pupils with low prior attainment (3.8% on average, or 4.4% on average outside areas of high deprivation);

3)   those with pupils who live in areas with above-average levels of deprivation but who have not been heavily targeted through historic funding decisions (3.2% on average for schools/academies outside London); and

4)   rural schools/academies (3.9% on average, or 5% on average for those meeting the sparsity factor criteria).

Schools/academies that will receive the smallest gains are those in Inner London and some other urban areas where the fall in underlying levels of deprivation has not previously been reflected by the funding system (no percentage estimate is provided).

However, the document notes that “… these schools will still attract the highest funding levels of all schools, and will continue to receive the greatest share of Pupil Premium funding of any region relative to their size.”

Inner London schools/academies will attract £6,126 per-pupil funding on average, in contrast to the national average of £4,662.

Manchester, Knowsley, Nottingham, Liverpool and Birmingham will be the highest-funded LA areas outside of London.

IV        Chancellor and Minister provide some extra help

Meanwhile, in November 2017, when he delivered his autumn budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond found pockets of extra funding to boost mathematics and computer science.  Sadly, there was no extra core funding for the mainstream, high needs and the post-16 education budgets.

His measures included the following.

(i)         From 2019, a £600 ‘maths premium’ will be given to every school/academy and FE college for each pupil taking Maths A-Level above current numbers.

(ii)        Altogether, £42m will be allocated over three years to provide extra training to “improve the quality of teaching in Maths” in a pilot project in some under-performing schools/academies in England.

(iii)       Another £84m will be made available over four years to train 12,000 more staff to develop the knowledge and skills to teach computer science with the support of a new National Centre for Computing.

(iv)       For underperforming schools/academies, there will be a fund of £40m to train teachers. This is worth £1,000 per teacher.

(v)        Further education colleges will receive £20m to prepare for T (Technical)-level qualifications but the Chancellor did not let the nation know about the timeframe for this cache.

In a separate development, Robert Goodwill, the Minister for Children and Families, announced that the government will provide additional help for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The package of funding announced includes:


  1. £29 million to support councils and their local partners with implementation of the reforms to the SEND system;
  2. £9.7 million to establish local supported internship forums; the specific purpose of this is to create work placements for young people with SEND, with funding also on offer  to train job coaches; and
  3. £4.6 million for Parent Carer Forums, to bring parents/carers together with local decision makers.

Emma Knights, chief executive of National Governance Association, was critical about how education had been treated.  “The failure to increase the overall funding for schools is a failure to invest in the future of our children and young people. We will continue to campaign on behalf of governors, trustees – and their pupils – for proper funding for the future,” she said.

V         Reflections: doing more with less

Since the financial crash of 2008, schools and academies have had to tighten their belts.  The 11 years of plenty that followed the election of Tony Blair in 1997 when he famously proclaimed that “Education, Education, Education!” was going to be at the top of his priority list had come to an end.  These 11 years have not exactly been followed by nine years of famine.  However, institutions have been compelled to do more with less, given that there is a limit to the kind of national debt, currently standing at £1.8 trillion, we will be leaving our children and the generations that follow.  With Brexit, matters are likely to get even worse, despite what Foreign Minister Boris Johnson says about the country having an extra £350 million for the National Health Service.

So what can schools/academies do to find a quart of out of a pint-pot of educational milk?   Henry Ford said: “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.” Can schools/academies do precisely that?

(1)        Staffing consumes 80% of the budget.   Is there a way of managing with fewer staff members, not necessarily by making anyone redundant, but rather losing through natural wastage?  It’s amazing how schools/academies that once thought the quality of education would collapse with one or two teachers lost have managed perfectly well when that happened.

(2)        I have known organisations where, because of financial constraints, the staff members decided to take reductions in their salaries rather than see their colleagues being made redundant.   Perhaps, if we start reducing the salaries of the Chief Executive Officers of Multi-Academy Trusts and the Headteachers of schools/academies who receive inflated salaries that remind one of the game of Monopoly, it would be a good example to the rest staff members of the MATs, schools and academies.

Many trustees and governors are approving annual pay rises for CEOs of up to 141%, according to a Times Educational Supplement Analysis, despite budgetary pressures. Justification for such large pay packets is the number of academies run by an individual.  However, how can one argue the toss when the Prime Minister of Great Britain receives under £150,000 annually. There is also little correlation to the salaries of academy leaders and the sizes of the MATs they lead.    Jonathan Owen, who carried out the analysis for the TES, stated (in the issue of 17 November 2017) that many leaders earning more than the Prime Minister run single academies/schools.

“About one in four (24%) of the 150 best-paid academy CEOs and Headteachers enjoyed double-digit pay rises in 2015-16, and almost half of those enjoying inflation-busting increases ran trusts comprised of single academies……

“The 150 academy leaders in our analysis earned £179,000 a year on average in 2015-16 – 19% more than the prime minister’s salary. The figure has risen sharply since 2014-15, when it was £161,000.”

Sir Daniel Moynihan, Chief Executive of the Harris Federation, topped the list in terms of his actual salary, which was £420,000 in 2015-16, when he was awarded £20,000 on top of his £400,000.

The ex-Ofsted Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said: “The DfE has clearly lost control. Public money is not being spent well and the excesses that we’re seeing in relation to salaries will bring down the whole programme unless the DfE gets a grip.”

There is no merit in such leaders marching to Downing Street to demand more for their schools and academies when their snouts are so deeply lost in the financial trough.

(3)        Schools/academies can collaborate on purchases.  The more one buys the cheaper the goods purchased.   Consortiums receive commissions from approved suppliers. Where the procurement process of a school/academy requires trustees/governors/headteachers to obtain several quotations, they can ensure that one of those is from the consortium’s supplier.

(4)        Iidentify projects within the school/academy that could benefit from a financial injection and invite ideas from staff.  For example, if the school/academy has a cookery club, a local restaurant or hotel might wish to sponsor it for the publicity on offer.  Developing personal relationship are the key.  Senior staff members can arrange for the proprietor to attend school/academy events for face-to-face meeting.

(5)        Where a project requires much funding, the school/academy’s Parent-Staff Association can run various fundraising events.

(6)        Squaring the financial circle and/or doing more with less is not only about raising money but also making appropriate savings.

There are other simple ways to save money by reducing, reusing and recycling much of the waste produced in schools/academies

  • Set printers up to print double-sided on the default setting.
  • Encourage staff to print emails only when necessary.
  • Avoid disposable, single-use products, such as cleaning wipes.
  • Update mailing lists to avoid unnecessary mailings.
  • Offer mugs to staff members instead of disposable cups.
  • Buy and use supplies purchased in bulk.
  • Repair broken equipment instead of purchasing more.
  • Reuse incoming packaging for outgoing shipments.
  • Reuse office supplies, such as folders and binders.
  • Use cloth-towel machines or air dryers rather than paper towels.
  • Make use of donated furnishing and equipment.
  • Where material printed on one side is no more required, print new material on the reverse side.
  • Reuse plastic containers such as yoghurt pots and margarine tubs for art activities.
  • Recycle older computers and raise money through the sale of old mobiles.
  • Raise money by recycling old clothes, mobile phones and ink cartridges.

It is better to light little financial candles rather than grumble at the funding darkness.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: