Consultation on interim funding plans
With the introduction of a new national funding formula for schools in England delayed until at least 2015, the government is consulting on interim changes that will affect the way schools are funded from 2013.
During the consultation period, the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) will continue to form the basis of school funding. The starting point for local authorities’ allocation in 2013-14 will be the grant they received in 2012-13, but this will be adjusted in a number of ways.
The first will see the DSG split into three blocks – for schools, early years and high needs. The schools block allocation will be based on pupil numbers in the October census, not the January census as it is now, so that schools can have their budgets confirmed earlier. This means that pupil numbers in October 2012 will determine schools’ budgets for 2013-14.
For the time being the pupil premium will continue to be allocated as a separate grant outside the DSG. How it will be paid in the future is being further complicated by the government’s attempts to find a fair way to assess eligibility for free school meals (which itself determines who is entitled to the pupil premium) when its new universal credit system is introduced.
Further adjustment will be brought about by changing regulations to allow local authorities to distribute funds based on only 10 specified factors, rather than the 37 currently permitted.
The consultation also proposes alterations to the composition and operation of schools forums. Although their powers will not be changed, they are expected to be more open to scrutiny and challenge and will be required to hold public meetings.
By David Gordon