Funding

ASCL position statements

What is the context?
Schools and colleges have lost significant income from demand-led funded programmes interrupted by Covid-19. This funding has not been protected in the same way as that for programmes which are grant-funded.

ASCL position:
ASCL believes that all schools and colleges should be compensated for loss of income due to Covid-19 lockdown measures.

This applies to all government demand-led funding programmes, including apprenticeships and ESF programmes. This is because of the intricate link between, and impact of, funding from these programmes on core 16-19 and post-19 education.

Why are we saying it?
Government funding has protected income for 16-19s on study programmes and other grant-funded programmes, but demand-led funded provision has not been protected in the same way. ASCL believes that all forms of funding for schools and colleges should be protected whilst Covid-related activity is in place, as both demand-led and grant funding are intrinsically linked to supporting the core business of these institutions.
 

What is the context?
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted several aspects of child poverty, including the requirement for rapid implementation of systems to provide food or funding to eligible families during the partial closure of schools in spring and summer 2020. ASCL has been working with Bite Back 2030 in their campaign to secure free meal provision for eligible children and young people 365 days a year.

ASCL position: 
ASCL has welcomed the government’s commitment to fund free school meals during holiday periods since schools and colleges have been closed or partially closed due to Covid-19.

We believe that the government should go further and extend free meal provision for all eligible children and young people up to the age of 19 in schools and colleges during every holiday period. Schools and colleges will work with the DfE to ensure that the system works for families whilst not being overburdensome for institutions to administer.

Why are we saying it?
Evidence indicates that access to a nutritious diet has important health and educational benefits for children and young people. Improved diet increases concentration and can potentially decrease health inequalities. It is absurd to think that the recognised benefits of providing meals or funding to children and young people during term time are somehow not applicable all year round. A valuable precedent has been set by government in their decision to provide vouchers throughout the pandemic and we believe that this has set the bar for the future. 

 

What is the context?
Schools have continued to receive their grant funding during the period of partial closure and with that the expectation that staff will continue to be paid and other regular financial commitments met. During the period of partial closure and as all schools move towards wider opening, there have been significant additional costs incurred to make buildings safe to be in, provide food and access to remote learning for children and young people not able to be in school and to implement the required protective measures to keep staff and pupils safe.

ASCL position:
Schools and colleges must be supported financially during the current pandemic; all additional coronavirus-related costs must be reimbursed.  ASCL has welcomed the extra funding package announced to date.
However:

  • schools must be able to claim for all their additional costs
  • the current funding package must better reflect the breadth of additional expenditure being incurred by schools
  • the scheme must be extended to cover the period until schools are fully reopen.

Why are we saying it?
The criteria for accessing the exceptional costs fund are too limited. The list of eligible costs is too restrictive and any reimbursement at all is restricted to those that cannot meet the costs from existing resources. Currently the fund guidance only covers the period March to July 2020 and does not extend to the new academic year.

Further information
Exceptional costs associated with Covid-19, for the period March to July 2020


 

What is the context?
Schools have continued to receive their grant funding during the period of partial closure and with that the expectation that staff will continue to be paid and other regular financial commitments met. This includes following the government supplier relief guidance PPN 0220.  Schools have seen a significant reduction in self-generated income receipts from a variety of sources. These include things like parental contributions for school meals and transport, income from lettings and provision of wrap -around care. While schools have some access to the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) the expectation is that this will be a last resort.


ASCL position:
Schools increasingly have to rely on self-generated income streams to offset the financial vulnerability brought about by years of insufficient government funding.

The Covid-19 financial support packages available must better compensate them for lost income from private sources

Why are we saying it?
ASCL highlighted the financial implications of the loss of self-generated income to DfE as soon as the decision to close schools was taken. We have continued to do so at every opportunity. The  government fund set up to cover exceptional costs associated to Covid-19 does not allow schools to claim for the loss of self-generated income. Limited access to the CJRS does not  always compensate properly for the impact of lost income on the overall financial viability of the school or group of schools. Indications are that business interruption policies, even the government backed RPA, do not cover loss of self- generated income for schools.
 

What is the context?
Over the past decade, the cost of 16-18 education has risen significantly, the needs of students have become more complex, and the government has demanded much more of colleges and schools. But the national funding rate for 16 and 17 year-olds has remained frozen since 2013, at £4,000 per student per year. In the September 2019 spending round, the government announced that it would raise the rate for 16 and 17 year-olds to £4,188 per student.

ASCL position:
ASCL fully supports the Raise the Rate campaign (www.raisetherate.org.uk) in their call for the learner rate to be at least £4,760 per year, and for that rate to be raised in line with inflation each year.

Why are we saying it?
The increase to £4,188 is a welcome first step, but research from London Economics has shown that the rate needs to increase to at least £4,760 per student per year to ensure that schools and colleges can continue to deliver a high-quality, internationally competitive education. The ongoing underinvestment in 16-18 education is bad for students, bad for our international competitiveness and bad for social mobility. 

What is the context? The government has recently committed to additional investment in Further Education.

ASCL position: ASCL welcomes the education funding increases announced in September 2019 but is concerned that this has not included any increase for adult learners. FE colleges, which deliver the majority of adult learning, are grossly underfunded which disproportionately impacts adult learning as a consequence.

Why are we saying it? The proposed additional investment in FE is actually only for 16-19 students, some of whom will be in school sixth forms and some in FE colleges. None of it is for adult learners over the age of 19, so the language is misleading and gives a false impression that the underfunding of colleges is finally being addressed.  
 

What is the context? ASCL members are increasingly concerned about issues relating to the operational effectiveness and value for money of PFI contracts to which their schools are subject. The contractual obligations of a PFI contract means that annual charges are indexed and there is usually no relief available for schools, even when the individual schools budget is decreasing in real terms.

We believe that some schools which wish to join a multi-academy trust may find this difficult as a result of the complexity and financial constraints associated with a PFI contract.

ASCL position: ASCL is concerned about the very serious financial and other implications, and hence the impact on the quality of education provision, in schools locked into PFI contracts, with year-on-year increases not matched by current funding.

Why are we saying it? The education of children and young people must not be compromised by the complexity, restriction and affordability of PFI contracts.
 

What is the context? ASCL broadly welcomes recent changes announced to the distribution methodology of the 16-19 discretionary bursary to fund T Level industry placements, and recognises that the total amount provided for this is unlikely to change. 

ASCL position: ASCL believes that the 16-19 discretionary bursary should not be used to fund T Level industry placements and associated costs. These are new high-cost activities, which should be funded separately and on top of the existing 16-19 discretionary bursary budget. 

Why are we saying it? The guidance on the distribution methodology gives a specific example of where the bursary could be used for funding industry placements for T Level students. As these placements are for 315 hours (45 days) they will be disproportionately costly and would mean little or no remaining funding available for students on other programmes.

What is the context? The overall national education budget is not currently set such that all educational institutions are funded at a level that enables them to provide an outstanding quality of education for their students

ASCL position: ASCL believes that 19 year-old students should receive the full-time 16-19 funding rate, irrespective of what type of study programme they are undertaking. 

Why are we saying it? Students in schools and colleges are the workforce of the future. Adequate preparation for the world of work is essential in all types of qualification. Schools and colleges offering full time study programmes for students at age 19 should not be advantaged nor disadvantaged by the study programme they offer.

What is the context? Recent funding announcements regarding an increase in 16-19 funding indicate that more money will be weighted towards STEM subjects. 

ASCL position: ASCL welcomes the additional funding for higher cost 16-19 STEM subjects. However, this additional cost weighting should be applied to all 16-19 STEM qualifications, e.g. A Levels and applied general qualifications (AGQs), and not just to T Levels.

Why are we saying it? The additional cost of providing these subjects occurs regardless of the resulting qualification. 

What is the context? The current spending review period ends in March 2020. The spending review is the process by which the Treasury makes decisions on the financial settlements for each government department for the next three to five years. Each department enters into a negotiation with the Treasury to achieve the best settlement that they can get. ASCL can support that negotiation by providing evidence to support the case for sufficient funding for schools and colleges.

ASCL’s position: ASCL Council endorses the work that has been undertaken with other like-minded groups to present a joint submission to any upcoming spending review. This submission will press for four years of restorative increases in funding, followed by two years of investment to meet the True Cost of Education.

Why are we saying it? We think that effective collaboration magnifies the voice of the education sector in its negotiations. We will work with other unions and interested groups, such as the F40 group, to deliver a joint submission to the Treasury. The joint submission will include a breakdown of the funding required to deliver the education that our children and young people, from 2 to 18, deserve in the 21st century.

We believe that there is value in aligning ourselves with other organisations where there is common ground. We will also make an ASCL-specific submission to be sure that our distinctive message can also be heard.

What is the context? Condition Improvement Funding (CIF) is allocated to single academies, small multi-academy trusts and sixth form colleges via the ESFA. The School Condition Allocations corresponding to these institutions are aggregated to form the Condition Improvement Fund. This is a bid-based funding stream through which these institutions can access condition funding. The size of this fund therefore reflects the mix of institutions eligible to bid, in terms of the number and age-phase of their pupils, their location, extent of modernisation and condition.

ASCL position: ASCL urges that the CIF bidding process should:

  • be more transparent
  • link effectively with the underperforming Condition Data Collection Programme
  • enable school leaders to plan their building work more strategically
This could be achieved by diverting money from the CIF to Devolved Formula Capital.

Why are we saying this? ASCL members feel that there should be closer links between the way that school data is collected to inform the ESFA about the condition of the school estate (the Condition Data Collection) and the way in which schools that rely on CIF are able to access the funding to address condition issues.

There is concern about the CIF bidding process and whether it is rigorous enough to ensure that funds are allocated to the places of greatest need.

ASCL considers that at least part of the solution could be redirecting available capital funding to Devolved Formula Capital (DFC). Devolved formula capital funding is direct funding for individual institutions to maintain their buildings and fund small-scale capital projects. It is allocated to maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools, special schools, pupil referral units, academies and free schools, non-maintained special schools and sixth form colleges. It is also allocated to those specialists post-16 institutions that have eligible state-funded pupils.

What is the context? As part of the recent reforms to the dedicated schools grant (DSG), the high needs block is allocated according to a national formula. The reforms to the DSG include a restriction on the flexibilities that LAs have to move funds from the schools block to support other blocks, typically the high needs block. Historically, around three quarters of LAs have moved funds in this way. This policy change has brought the severity of the situation in high needs funding into sharp focus.

ASCL position: A recent Isos/LGA report adds to the existing evidence that a lack of places for SEND learners is placing significant financial stress on high needs blocks, which in turn places extra stress on school resources. ASCL calls for greater capital investment in appropriate local state SEND provision to avoid the need for LAs to commission costlier places elsewhere.

Why are we saying this? The Isos/LGA report indicates that EHCPs in state-funded schools increased by 35% in the four years up to 2018, and that there is limited capacity in special schools, as well as limited access to reasonable cost provision.

The report suggests that, if steps are not taken to address the current funding shortfall, it will rise to between £1.1 and £1.5 billion within the next few years.

What is the context? The overall national education budget should be set such that all educational institutions can be funded at a level that enables them to provide an outstanding quality of education for their students. Education spending is an investment in the future workforce and should reflect the expectations of the nation having a world class education system in future years.

ASCL position: ASCL considers the current quantum of funding for schools and colleges to be wholly inadequate. Unless the situation improves rapidly the opportunities offered to, and the outcomes achieved by, our young people will be significantly compromised.

Why are we saying it? The number of schools posting in-year deficits is increasing. The implementation of the national funding formula (NFF) has not enabled all schools to achieve their gains under the formula. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) total school spending has fallen by 8% in real terms. There is no educational justification for the dip in funding that exists between Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5.

What is the context? As part of the recent reforms to the dedicated schools grant (DSG) the high needs block is allocated according to a national formula. The reforms to the DSG include a restriction on the flexibilities that LAs have to move funds from the schools’ block to support other blocks, typically the high needs block. Historically, around three quarters of LAs have moved funds. This policy change has brought the severity of the situation in high needs funding into sharp focus. There are 240,000 children and young people with an education health and care plan (EHCP), and a further one million that require SEN support. 95% of pupils who require SEND support and don’t have an EHCP are educated in mainstream schools.

Special educational needs and disability (SEND) funding should be allocated on a formula basis that correlates to local SEND needs.

ASCL position: ASCL considers the immediate and grave pressures on high needs funding blocks across the country have now reached critical proportions. We are in imminent danger of failing the most vulnerable young people in society.

Why are we saying it? Special educational needs and disability (SEND) funding should be allocated on a formula basis that correlates to local SEND needs. The national formula does not reflect actual local need and the current level of funding is not sufficient to meet current needs.

What is the context? The DfE has committed to funding the 2018/19 pay award for teachers. The DfE grant is not intended to cover the first 1% of costs of applying the 2018/19 pay award but should cover everything above that.

ASCL position: ASCL believes that the pay of teachers in all types of sixth form provision should be equally and fairly supported by the teachers’ pay grant.

Why are we saying it? The institutions in scope for the pay grant include maintained schools and academies with pupils aged 2-19. Excluded from scope are sixth form colleges and FE colleges.

What is the context? High needs funding is allocated to local authorities for onward distribution to meet local need via a range of different types of maintained and no-maintained provision. High needs funding must support the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities from birth to age 25.

ASCL position: ASCL calls for High Needs funding that is sufficient to meet the needs of all children and young people. The DfE should take positive steps towards implementing national principles or standards for the transparent operation of top-up funding. These standards should be relative to needs and be applied consistently across the country.

Why are we saying it? Top-up funding is the funding required over and above the core or place funding an institution receives. We know from anecdotal evidence and our own research that significant differences exist between the bandings and their associated monetary value in different parts of the country. This is supported by research undertaken by the Isos Partnership in 2015.

What is the context? The NFF (September 2017) acknowledges the requirement for a minimum per pupil funding level but it doesn’t go far enough. The current methodology benchmarks minimum per pupil funding against a basket of factors including basic per pupil funding (AWPU), some additionality factors and some school factors.

ASCL position: The basic per pupil funding that a school receives should be sufficient to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum without subsidy from additional needs funding. Minimum per pupil funding level calculations should not include additional needs or school led funding.

Why are we saying it? It is ASCL’s view that the minimum per pupil level should reflect the cost of delivering a core curriculum in a baseline school and should not include additionality funding. We think that pupils eligible for additionality funding should have full access to that funding. Schools should not have to use additionality funding to subsidise core curriculum delivery.

ASCL calls for the removal of the requirements for schools and colleges to pay the apprenticeship levy.

ASCL calls on the government to ensure all relevant health bodies are compliant with the requirement to make appropriate contributions to education and health care plans.

ASCL welcomes the NFF but considers that funding levels remain insufficient to deliver an adequate level of education.

ASCL requires local authorities to take concrete steps towards full implementation of NFF for all so that transparency and fairness in school and high needs funding allows for certainty in long-term financial planning.

Audit should not be a process that disadvantages the academy sector through being overly bureaucratic and costly in its financial reporting and recording mechanisms.

ASCL believes that simply reforming the funding formula will never address the insufficiency that exists in the system. ASCL requires a NFF which establishes immediate and on-going sufficiency, transparency and fairness in school and high needs funding, which will allow certainty and stability in long-term financial planning.

ASCL welcomes the government’s commitment to supporting young people to get the best start in life, through the opportunity that high quality education and training provides. 

However, ASCL believes that the Apprenticeship Levy does not represent value for money for schools and we require the DfE to ensure that it does not result in diverting money away from the education of young people.  

ASCL welcomes the reaffirmed commitment of government to establish a fair and transparent formula for distribution of school funding.  

ASCL believes that the proposed NFF structure will not allow for all children to reach their full potential because the basic per pupil funding values are too low. There remains a significant unfairness of distribution.

ASCL continues to require a NFF which establishes immediate and ongoing sufficiency, transparency and fairness in school funding which will allow certainty and stability in long-term financial planning.

ASCL National Council requires the government to prioritise the immediate substantial allocation of funds to support schools in the financial transition towards a National Funding Formula led system.

The National Funding Formula must establish immediate and on-going sufficiency, transparency and fairness in school funding, which will allow certainty and stability in long-term financial planning.

Given national financial constraints ASCL urges the government to tighten up all strategic planning related to school places to avoid waste. On conversion to academy status schools should have the option to enter a pooled pension scheme. However, the implications of one academy moving from one Trust to another must take account of the significant implications of moving from one pooled pension scheme to another.

ASCL believes the proposed change to the SCAPE discount rate from 2019 onwards must be fully funded to avoid a further negative impact on children in schools.


The proposed change to the SCAPE discount rate from 2019 onwards MUST be fully funded to avoid further negative impact on children in schools.

A world class education system cannot be delivered without sufficient, equitable and sustainable investment which is crucial to the long-term economic well-being of the country.

ASCL welcomes Professor Alison Wolf’s ‘Heading for the Precipice’ report. The inadequate level of post-16 funding combined with swingeing cuts to adult skills endangers quality of provision and sustainability of FE. Communities are in danger of losing the training essential for the employability of many of their young people.

The refusal to fund students retaking courses is iniquitous. The decision over students retaking a course should lie with the professional judgement of the provider who will be held to account by Ofsted and EFA.

ASCL welcomes the greater clarity of the new SEND system and its potential to improve the life chances of those children with special needs and disabilities. In order to fulfil their new responsibilities, schools will need:

  • Clear and widely agreed methods for assessing the needs of SEND students and allocating resources
  • Simple and timely access to top up funding to meet the additional needs of High Need students
  • Notional SEN amounts in school budgets that are sufficient to provide for non-High Need SEND students

Reduction of funding for students over the age of 18 unfairly disadvantages many vulnerable students. ASCL strongly urges government to reconsider this decision.

All capital funding must be realistic in the context of schools and colleges being able to maintain appropriate premises and infra-structure in order to deliver quality education. Any allocation system must be transparent, fit for purpose and based on need.

We have grave concerns about the inadequacy of DFC, the inequitable bidding system which unfairly advantages the Academy and Free school sector and the dependency of maintained schools on the Local Authority Basic Need Grant.

ASCL has grave concerns about the expectation that colleges have to borrow unsustainable large sums to cover capital expenditure.

ASCL is concerned about the very serious financial implications and hence the impact on the quality of education provision in schools locked into PFI contracts with year on year increases not matched by current funding.

ASCL believes that the continuing real term reduction in Post-16 funding threatens curriculum and teaching such that students in schools and colleges are unable to access suitable adequate and meaningful provision. Coupled with this we believe some courses and opportunities will be unavailable to students outside the large conurbations.

ASCL is seriously concerned about the proxy indicators used in local formulas to distribute the high incidence low costs special needs funding. This leads to significant variability in the ability to meet need across the country. ASCL calls for consistency, clarity, predictability and security of funding for the most vulnerable students wherever they are educated.