Agenda item

School Funding Formula Consultation


Louise Keith / Vera Njegic to report.


Recommendation:- That the Schools’ Forum note the content of the report and that votes be undertaken with the appropriate members of the Schools’ Forum to agree the school and academy local funding formula for 2024/25 for submission in January 2024.


Consideration was given to the report presented by Louise Keith, Principal Finance Officer, which set out the indicative proposals and sought approval decisions (where needed) for two areas of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2024/25:-


·              Schools block.

·              Central schools services block.


As a result of the Government’s intention to implement a national funding formula  for school and high needs funding allocations 2024/25 represented the seventh year of the Government’s planned transition towards these proposals.


To comply with the ESFA operational guidance, Local Authorities were required         to consult with schools, academies and Schools Forums in respect of planned  changes to the local funding formula including the method, principals and rules that were to be adopted. The final decisions in respect of the local formula remained with the LocalAuthority.


A number of activities have taken place in respect of the consultation on the schools block and central schools services block including a consultation document being issued via e-mail on Friday 10th November, 2023 to all mainstream schools and academies.   


The consultation closed on Friday, 24th November, 2023.  Of the responses received seven maintained primary schools and twenty-nine academies responded (33% in total).


Further discussion ensued on the responses as set out as part of the report where consultation responses were received from individual schools/academies and those submitted as part of a multi-academy trust.  The numbers listed were detailed as individual schools/academies.


There were changes proposed both in terms of the formula factors being used and the individual rates that would be applied to those factors. Nationally, the ESFA have looked to increase NFF factor values by 1.4% for basic entitlement, low prior attainment, free school meals, income deprivation affecting children index, English as an additional language, mobility, sparsity, the lump sum and the minimum pupil levels. In addition, the ESFA have increased the funding floor by 0.5%.


Last year the Local Authority suggested that the future years should be used as a transition to the national funding formula and where possible seek to change local factors/rates to bring them in line with the national ones as this would provide for the best possible transition to the national formula. This was a view that was supported within the Schools Forum and that strategy in Rotherham was adopted.


To ensure schools and academies were in receipt of the indicative increase in the 2024/25 Local Authority’s schools block allocation of £13.4m (2.03% per pupil year on year increase) the Local Authority was aiming to set the MFG to  +0.5%. The MFG must be between 0.0% and 0.5% and is a way to protect the funding on a per pupil rate.


The Schools Forum would, therefore, need to vote on a number of proposals which were set out in detail as part of the report. The proposals were based on the consultation responses received from individual schools and academies.


In accordance with the regulations, only certain Forum Members were allowed to participate in a vote regarding the local funding formula. Other Forum Members that did not represent schools i.e. Union /Post-16 representatives could engage and participate in discussions, but were not eligible to vote.


A narrative and rationale for each of the questions was provided along with any clarification as necessary.


Agreed:-  (1)  That the report be received and the contents noted.


(2)   That the voting as indicated below be incorporated into the school and academy local funding formula for 2024/25:-


Question 1 – Do you agree with the principle that Rotherham is adopting in terms of prioritising an increase to the MFG?


Vote:-           11 For                     0 Against                0 Abstain


Question 2 Considering the borough as a whole, and to ensure support for the most vulnerable children and young people in the district, do you support the Local Authority’s request to transfer of the 0.5% from the schools block to the high needs block?


After the meeting Finance Officers contacted all Forum Members to clarify and identify a record of individual votes for them to retain for audit purposes. 


Finance Officers validated:-


Vote:-           6 For                       6 Against


Question 3 Do you agree that the Local Authority should continue to provide for a growth fund? It is estimated for 2024/25 a budget from reserve of £120,000 is required.


Vote:-           12 For                     0 Against                0 Abstain


Question 4 -  Do you agree that the Local Authority should continue to provide for a falling rolls fund? It is proposed the fund will be funded from reserve as with the Growth Fund?


Vote:-           12 For                     0 Against                0 Abstain


Question 5 Do you agree that funding from the central school services block can continue to be held centrally for the services outlined above?


Vote:-           12 For                     0 Against                0 Abstain


Question 6– Do maintained school wish to de-delegate monies to create a Financial Difficulties Contingency Fund of £50K to support those schools with a financial deficit position?


Vote:-           4 For                       0 Against                0 Abstain


Question 7- Do maintained schools wish to de delegate funds again for trade unions facilities time, they would no longer need to buy back from the portfolio of services?


Vote:-           2 For                       1 Against                0 Abstain


Question 8 - Do maintained schools wish to de delegate funds once again to support ‘core school improvement activities’ £24 per pupil and ‘additional improvement services’ £31 per pupil?


Option 1        rate of £24 per pupil

Option 2        rate of £31 per pupil


Vote:-           Option 1

1 For                       0 Against                0 Abstain


Option 2

3 For                       0 Against                0 Abstain


                                                                  Action:-  Louise Keith/Vera Njegic

Supporting documents: