Coun Owen's column on changes to schools funding
Changes to national schools funding kick in this year. Nottinghamshire County Council’s committee chairman for children and young people’s services, Councillor Philip Owen explains what this will mean for our schools
2018-19 is significant because of the introduction of the National Funding Formula (NFF) for schools, high needs and central school services.
Each year we have to agree the formula we adopt for funding all mainstream primary and secondary maintained schools, academies, free schools and early years providers.
Following consultation with all schools, the Schools Forum – which has a consultative role on behalf of Notts schools and early years providers for changes to the local funding formula - recommended that the county’s arrangements should, as far as possible, mirror the Government’s newly-introduced NFF.
Nottinghamshire will receive £469m overall which is £16.4m more for the current financial year than last year - good news because, historically, we are a low-funded authority.
Around half of this rise is down to increased pupil numbers, but the rest is made up of some additional government funding as a result of the NFF which we have passed onto our schools.
And whilst some of them have rising pupil numbers and can expect to see a slight increase in their overall funding, for others - where pupil numbers may be falling slightly or where children’s needs are changing - there may be no change or a decline in funding.
Out of our 325 schools with their 106,000 plus pupils, 232 have gained up to 2.75% more funding on the previous year. Some 93 will see a reduction in their budgets.
What individual schools actually receive is based on a number of factors including deprivation, attainment levels and whether schools manage children with additional and special needs.
Local authorities also receive funding to meet the needs of children and young people aged 0 to 25 who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). But, like many other councils, we’re faced with increased pressure to support these children resulting in the grant funding for them being insufficient.
To alleviate this pressure, we also transferred £2.3m from the total monies we receive from government to the pot ring-fenced for SEND youngsters and introduced other measures outside of the new funding formula.
In real terms, schools nationally continue to operate under severe financial pressures, struggling to service an increasing wage bill, other inflationary increases together with a shortage of teachers and we recognise this.
We are committed to our children and young people getting the education they rightly deserve, but it’s a delicate juggling act: adopting a spirit of fairness whilst always having an eye on where needs and pressures are greatest.
Councillor Philip Owen is the Committee Chairman for Children and Young People’s Services, at Nottinghamshire County Council