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- Category: Current Campaigns
- Written by Mervyn Benford
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The Government has reviewed the early working of the new funding arrangements and a particular section discusses the needs of small schools. The document is a report on consultations on particular questions and summarises of the answers. The document is dated June 2013.
- We started a process in 2012 to reform the school funding system, so that it is fairer, more consistent and transparent and so that funding intended for education reaches schools and the pupils that need it most. Last year we set out the start of change ahead of introducing a national funding formula in the next spending review period.
- Local authorities, with their Schools Forums, developed new local formulae for 2013-14, using simplified and consistent formula factors. Schools across the country are now funded using clearly defined factors reflecting the circumstances under which we believe schools should attract funding, with a small number of exceptional factors.
- Many schools and local authorities have welcomed these changes, and the fairness and transparency they promise. Change will inevitably create some turbulence so we introduce these reforms gradually and with funding protections in place through the minimum funding guarantee.
- We undertook a short review in February to understand the extent we needed to make small changes in 2014-15 to move closer to a national funding formula. We also wanted to understand whether any unintended consequences had arisen as a result of the arrangements for 2013-14.
- We visited a number of areas across the country and talked to members of Schools Forums, governors, head teachers and local authority officers. We also published a short document which sought to understand the concerns and to consider how we might address those concerns. This document sets out the findings from our review.
- Most arrangements we put in place for 2013-14 will remain in place. We will however make changes to move us closer to a national funding formula addressing the unintended consequences which arose as a result of the 2013-14 reforms.
- Operational guidance describing these changes will be published alongside this document and made available on the Department's website. A copy of the Equalities Impact Assessment can also be found in the Commons and Lords libraries.
- We will make the necessary regulations to give effect to these changes in 2014-15. Draft finance regulations and Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) conditions will be issued for consultation shortly.
The statement's contents cover every aspect of funding but the key factors for small schools are :
Sparsity on Page 16
Lump Sum Funding 19
Schools with Falling Rolls 22
Minimum Funding Guarantee 30
Role of the EFA 32
It is clear officials did not find it easy to consider the small school context within their preferred funding procedures, still very strongly designed to age-weighted pro-rata per pupil funding as fairer than anything that happened before. The full document treats the questions raised very fully and the range of responses. Schools will be interested in the entire document.
We are dismayed that among those responding not happy with proposals to help small schools were some speaking for larger schools. The myth that somehow small schools are massively draining resources from larger school, and that the latter are invariably more needy, needs serious dismantling.