5.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented the report on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2021/22.
5.2 The Forum was informed that the DSG for 2020/21 announced on 17 December 2020 totalled £524.114M, it represented an increase in funding of £22.898M (4.8%) from the current 2020/21 DSG. A further £20.648M (4.3%) had also been included for the movement of the teachers’ pay and pension funding from separate grants into the DSG, bringing the total change up to £43.546M (9.1%). This allowed for the national funding formula factor rates for schools to be applied in full at their 100% level. The Forum noted the DSG total for each of the four allocation blocks (Schools, Central School Services, High Needs, and Early Years) as set out in the report.
5.3 The Forum was informed of the key changes between 2020/21 and 2021/22. It was reported that whilst sparsity funding continued to be based on the same distance thresholds of 2020/21, funding had increased significantly for 2021/22 with an increase of 73% in the maximum primary sparsity factor from £26,000 to £45,000 and an increase of 11% in the maximum secondary factor from £67,600 to £75,000. This had resulted in an overall increase in the sparsity funding allocated of £0.419M (53%). A total of 33 schools (28 primary and 5 secondary) qualified for the funding.
5.4 It was reported that the Minimum Per Pupil Funding (MPPF) rates had increased by £250 in primary and £150 in secondary. The MPPF rates including the teachers’ pay and pension grants was now:£4,180 for primary schools and £5,415 for secondary schools. A total of 78 schools (64 primary and 14 secondary) would be funded on the MPPF. The Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) rate had increased from £1.84% in 2020/21 to 2% in 2021/22. A total of 78 schools (74 primary and 4 secondary) would receive the MFG uplift.
5.5 The Forum noted the information outlined in the report on how the 2021/22 figures compared to those in 2020/21 and how schools in each sector were now being funded. The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that the local authority had been able to deliver the National Funding Formula in full leaving a Schools block surplus of £0.643M in 2021/22.
5.6 It was reported that for Early Years, the funding announcements on 17 December 2020 included an increase in the hourly funding rates by 6 pence for three and four year olds and 8 pence for two year olds resulting in an increase in the Early Years block of £476,895. In addition to that increase there was a reduction of £7,995 to the disability access fund, giving an overall increase to the Early Years block of £468,900 for 2021/22. The Forum noted that there would be further updates in the summer 2021 and summer 2022 for the January pupil counts.
5.7 The Forum considered the urgent report on Early Years funding, which had been published on the Council’s website and circulated to Forum members on 13 January 2021. The decision had been taken to circulate the urgent report the day before the Forum meeting, due to urgent funding issues emerging within the Early Years sector. The emerging issues were being driven by low attendance numbers in settings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the change in DfE guidance to only fund places based on attendance from 1 January 2021. The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that the local authority was concerned that the funding approach outlined by the DfE did not go far enough to ensure the sustainability of providers - in many cases attendance would not have been high enough to reflect a normal year, resulting in a significant reduction in funding. He emphasised that this message was being made very clearly to the local authority by the Early Years sector.
5.8 The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that in order to take steps to mitigate the impact on providers and to ensure sufficiency of Early Years provision in the county, the local authority had been looking to seek approval from the Forum to fund Early Years providers, for the spring term, on the basis of eligible places and hours rather than attendance, taking account of the DfE measures to offset the financial shortfall set out in the report. He added that the local authority was also proposing that the current surplus of £1.3M be used to offset the costs of continuing to fully fund eligible places. He explained however, that just before the Forum meeting commenced, the DfE had announced that local authorities could complete the census based on what would be the normal expected pupil attendance instead of actual pupil attendance from 1 January 2021. Consequently, the Head of Education Strategy and Development was able to confirm at the Forum meeting that this would ensure the normal level of income into the Early Years block to support places, and therefore the issues raised in the urgent report had been resolved by the DfE’s announcement. The Early Years representatives on the Forum welcomed the news, and commented that they felt reassured that the local authority was proposing to fund on the basis of eligible places even if the DfE had not made the announcement. They emphasised however just how much extra pressure the Early Years sector was under in ensuring that settings could stay open during the current national lockdown.
5.9 The Forum considered the Central School Services block allocation information. It was reported that this block included funding for the on-going responsibilities of local authorities for the statutory duties that they held for both maintained schools and academies. The allocation was based on a formula using pupil numbers (90%), free school meals (Ever 6, 10%) with an area cost adjustment applied. The indicative rate per pupil for 2021/22 was £31.94 and there had been an increase of £0.205M related to the net increase in pupil numbers and for teachers’ pension employer contributions funding for centrally employed teachers.
5.10 The Forum noted that the High Needs block had been allocated an additional £8.246M, bringing the total funding for 2021/22 to £74.622M. Included within that figure was £2.255M of funding for teachers’ pay and pension costs that were previously funded through separate grants.
5.11 A member questioned whether the local authority held central data on how many schools had implemented the 1 September 2020 pay award as set out in the DfE’s School teachers’ pay and conditions document 2020. The Head of Education and Strategy confirmed that whilst the local authority did not collect this data, he would request the information from the maintained schools and academies, including information on the total amount of any pay rise awarded to teachers. The information would be brought to a future meeting of the Forum.
ACTION: The Head of Education Strategy and Development.
5.12 Having considered all of the information presented:
Ø The Forum noted the Dedicated Schools Grant settlement for 2021/22.
Ø The Forum recommended that Council agree the school funding formula for 2021/22, as set out in Annex A to the report.
Ø The Forum agreed that the balance on the Schools block could be used at year end as a one off contribution to support the continuation of the 1 in 40 High Needs model.
Ø The Forum agreed to apply the 0.06p increase to the hourly rate for 3 and 4 years olds and the 0.08p to the formula for 2 year olds.
Ø The Forum agreed the allocation of the Central School Services block as set out in section 4 of the report.