6.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Inclusion presented the report on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2023/24.
6.2 He reported that the 2023/24 DSG announced on 19th December 2022 totalled £589.344M. This included an extra £3.676M in the High Needs block that was on top of the indicative High Needs total in September. An additional Mainstream Schools Additional Grant (MSAG) was also announced of £18.998M, giving total funding of £604.666M. This represented an increase in funding of £41.247M (7.3%) from the current 2022/23 DSG and supplementary grant total. After taking into account the previously agreed growth fund of £1.0M, the funds allocated in the DSG Schools block settlement were just enough to allow each formula factor rate and the minimum funding levels to be implemented 100% at the NFF level and for the MFG to be set at the same +0.5% level as the funding floor within the NFF.
6.3 This left a £0.092M balance in the 2023/24 Schools block. The local authority was proposing that this be used to provide a contribution towards the High Needs targeted funding model (currently the 1 in 40 model). He emphasised that there had been a steady decline over the past few years in the amount of funding remaining and contributing to the High Needs model, from £0.882M 3 years ago. If the trend continued there were concerns that it may not be possible to 100% fund the NFF in future years and officers were aware of some local authorities where they had indicated they would be unable to 100% fund the NFF for their schools in 2023/24.
6.4 The Head of Education Strategy and Inclusion reported that there had been significant increases in pupils with Free School Meals (FSMs) and English as an Additional Language (EAL). The mainstream pupil unit totals used by the DfE to allocate the final DSG were set in the summer and therefore before the census increases. The increase in FSMs can be attributed to the current wider economic situation and for EAL to a significant number of children from Ukraine coming to the county. The local authority, and the f40 group, were seeking clarification from the DfE about the plans to take account of these new funding pressures.
6.5 It was reported that the £15.322M (3.5%) additional funding for mainstream schools would be received as a separate grant (MSAG). This grant would be provided separately to the DSG budget allocations, in a similar way to how the supplementary grant was provided in 2022/23, and like that grant would be rolled into the DSG in the following year.
6.6 The Forum was informed that for Early Years, the funding announcements on 19th December 2022 included an increase in the hourly funding rates by 26p for three and four year olds and 8p for two year olds. In addition to this increase there was an increase of £61,808 to the Disability Access Fund and an increase of £11,083 for Pupil Premium, giving an overall increase to the Early Years block of £1,939,553 for 2023/24. There would be further updates in the summer 2023 and summer 2024 for the January pupil counts which would reflect more accurately the picture than the January 2022 census which the figures were based on.
6.7 The Forum considered the Central School Services block allocation information. It was reported that the block included funding for 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 rate per pupil for 2023/24 had increased by £0.89 to £36.98 and there had been an increase of 1,083 pupils resulting in a 3.8% increase of £0.113M.
6.8 Following a request from a member it was agreed that future reporting on the Central School Services block allocation would also detail the funding allocated to each element within the block for the current financial year.
ACTION: Head of Education Strategy and Inclusion.
6.9 Having considered all of the information presented, the Forum:
Ø Noted the Dedicated Schools Grant settlement for 2023/24.
Ø Recommended the Council agree the school funding formula for 2023/24, as set out in Annex A.
Ø Agreed that the balance on the Schools Block could be used to support the continuation of the High Needs targeted funding model (currently the 1 in 40 model).
Ø Noted the information on the additional funding that would be received through the separate Mainstream Schools Additional Grant.
Ø Noted the increase in the Early Years hourly rates.
Ø Agreed the allocation of the Central Schools Services block as set in section 5 of the report.