ASCL Blueprint

BUILDING BLOCK 4 | RESOURCES

 
Sufficient resources for all schools and colleges to deliver the education to which we have agreed all children and young people are entitled.

WHAT WOULD THIS LOOK LIKE IN PRACTICE?
All schools and colleges have sufficient funding to ensure that children and young people receive the education to which they are entitled. This funding is based on a detailed, ‘bottom up’ analysis of what is required at each phase, taking into account the core national curriculum, the need for schools to supplement this with their own local curriculum, and the broader support, services and extra-curricular activities that schools and colleges provide to their pupils.

All schools and colleges have access to sufficient capital funding to properly maintain and develop their buildings and grounds. This enables them to meet the needs of the curriculum (including the provision of appropriate technology), ensure compliance with health and safety standards, and effectively address evolving environmental and sustainability issues.

The additional challenges faced by schools and colleges serving more deprived communities are appropriately recognised in their funding allocations.

Funding for children and young people with SEND encourages and enables early intervention and highquality provision.

Funding allocations are sufficient to enable schools and colleges to recruit enough administrative staff to relieve teachers of some of the administration they currently undertake.

School and college funding is devolved to the level at which is it most effective, and doesn’t require institutions to bid for disaggregated ‘pots’ of money to fund school improvement.

Broader social services for children and families, essential to ensuring children can succeed in their education, are also adequately funded. Schools and colleges are not expected to provide these broader services themselves, but in many cases local areas make a collective decision to co-locate services on school or college sites, to improve access and coherence.

HOW CLOSE ARE WE TO ACHIEVING THIS?
The introduction of national funding formulae for early years, schools, post-16 and high needs was a significant step. ASCL has long campaigned for a national funding formula, and we continue to believe that this is essential to ensuring schools and colleges are equitably funded.

However, we have significant concerns about the way in which these formulae work. The high needs formula in particular is not flexible enough to changes in local needs (due to the historical funding weighting), not based around what we know about what predicts educational vulnerability, and not based on the real costs of the interventions required.

We welcome the promised increase of £7.1 billion to the schools budget by 2022-23, and the extra £400 million for 16-19-year-old education provided in 2020-21. We also welcome the additional funding the government has already provided to support schools and colleges with post-pandemic recovery, and look forward to further funding for education recovery over the coming months and years.

This additional funding, however, comes after years of underinvestment in education. UK spending on education has fallen in real terms by 8% since 2010. And the promised additional funding will largely need to be spent on the cost of the increased teacher starting salary. This is right and proper, but leaves little extra funding to be spent on anything else.

Additional funding will also, due to the methodology that the government has chosen to ‘level up’ investment in education, go disproportionately to schools and colleges with less deprivation16.

Access to capital funding is inconsistent across different age ranges and types of school and college. The current distribution methodology lacks coherence17.

We are particularly concerned about the impact of insufficient funding for SEND, which is leading to disastrous scenarios. The Education and Healthcare Plan (EHCP), which should be the scaffold for planning and progress of individuals with complex learning profiles, has instead become the ‘ticket’ to funding, meaning early intervention opportunities are missed – particularly as EHCPs are so difficult to obtain. The significant overlap between children and young people with SEND and those from disadvantaged backgrounds means that insufficient high-needs funding hits them particularly hard.

The pupil premium serves a valuable purpose in supplementing the budgets of schools in direct proportion to the numbers of disadvantaged children they educate, ring-fencing an amount of money for those children, and holding schools account for how effectively they spend that money. The premium is, however, a fairly blunt tool, which makes no distinction between children who have only recently become eligible and those who have lived in persistent poverty for many years.

Too much of the funding for schools, particularly that aimed at school improvement funding, is fragmented, with schools and colleges having to bid for specific ‘pots’ of money. Struggling schools and colleges, which are disproportionately likely to be in deprived areas, are less likely to have the capacity and resources to do this.

Finally, cuts to wider social service budgets have particularly affected vulnerable families. This makes it harder for children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to learn, and means that schools and colleges often end up spending a significant proportion of their own stretched budgets on providing that wider support to children and families.

WHAT CHANGES WOULD WE LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS TO CREATE OR STRENGTHEN THIS BUILDING BLOCK?
The development of the national funding formulae into a clear, consistent approach to 0-19 funding, based on a detailed analysis of what every child and young person needs to succeed.
This should align with the core national curriculum. It needs to be both sufficient overall, and appropriately distributed. It should include a refocusing of the current approach to ‘levelling up’, which too often serves to advantage the already advantaged. It should include sufficient funding to enable schools and colleges to recruit enough administrative staff to relieve teachers of some of the administrative tasks they currently undertake, and consolidate the many different ‘pots’ to which schools can apply for funding.

An increase in the amount of capital funding available to schools and colleges, and an improvement in the way in which this is allocated.
Capital funding should be allocated on a needs-led basis, using reliable and current data on current and future numbers of pupils in schools and colleges, the condition of their buildings and their current information technology infrastructure. The total capital allocation must be set at a level that ensures sufficient capacity to meet any projected increases in pupil numbers and to replace or refurbish the school and college estate as required. The process for accessing funding for capital projects should be transparent.

A reform to the pupil premium to include 16- 19 year olds and to weight it towards pupils in persistent poverty.
Schools should continue to receive the premium for all children who are currently eligible, and it should be extended to include 16-19 year olds. Children and young people in persistent poverty (those on free school meals for at least 80% of their time in school or college) should attract a higher premium, to recognise the additional challenges they face.

A reformed approach to SEND funding, which moves away from the current deficit model (based on waiting for something to ‘go wrong’ and then trying to ‘fix’ it).
Currently, a lack of resources to support effective early intervention is leading to an over-reliance on obtaining EHCPs as the route to additional funding for children and young people with SEND. These are difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and often unnecessarily costly. Instead, the high needs formula should be sufficient to enable all schools and colleges to plan for and deliver outstanding education and support for children and young people with SEND, with no requirement for schools and colleges to meet some of these additional costs out of their core budget before additional funding is provided. The funding that individual schools and colleges are allocated through the formula should be based on predicted local needs, drawing on demographic data.

Stronger pastoral and health support for children and young people funded and delivered beyond the school gate to reduce the burden on schools and colleges, and enable teachers to focus on teaching.
This should include funding for social workers, youth and family workers, and mental health support. These services could be co-located with schools, but not provided by them.‚Äč

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16 See The National Funding Formula: consideration of better targeting to disadvantaged pupils - Education Policy Institute https://bit.ly/3xdCHGq

17 See www.gov.uk/guidance/school-capital-funding and https://bit.ly/3DVNYjA
ASCL Blueprint