ASCL position statements

These position statements are agreed via our Funding Committee and cover:
  • school and post-16 funding
  • funding related to SEND
  • funding related to disadvantage
  • capital

What is the context?
The ESFA has confirmed changes to 16-19 funding for the academic year 2022/23. The headline is that the national funding rate for full-time 16 and 17-year-olds and students aged 18 and over with high needs, will be £4542 (£4188 in 2021/22). This is welcome and has been achieved using funding made available as part of the 2021 spending review (SR). The increased rate includes a commitment for provision of an additional 40 planned hours per student in band 5. In academic year 2022 /23 all institutions are expected to deliver on average 40 more hours on band 5 programmes than in academic year 2020 to 2021(the benchmark year).

In 2022/23 the annual planned hours minimum for band 5 students will be 580+.

ASCL position: we believe that where a provider delivers the minimum 580+ hours this should fully satisfy full-time funding requirements, irrespective of how many hours they have delivered in previous academic years. The same principle should apply proportionately to the other funding bands and larger qualifications such as T Levels.

Schools and colleges should not have to provide any further audit evidence over and above the census/ILR data.

Why are we saying it?
DfE expect all students funded in full-time band 5 (and all T Level students), to receive an additional 40 hours per year, (and other students to receive a proportional increase) and for providers to submit additional evidence of how this has been achieved. For example, a provider offering 560 hours might be expected to offer at least 600 hours in 2022/23. This will be monitored by the DfE with potential consequences for non-compliance. Guidance suggests that even if a provider already delivers more hours to the students than the new minimum required for their funding band, they will still expect them to proportionately increase hours for students in future years. For example, if a provider is already offering 580 hours, DfE would hope that the same provider would offer 620 hours in 2022/23. Where this is not possible providers can explain why in the end of year report. For example, if an institution’s ILR or census return showed an increase of only 30 hours above their 2020/21 baseline, the reason explained in their report could be that this was due to them changing the range of courses they deliver, with some that had a high number of hours no longer being offered, but detailing how they had added 40 hours to the courses that remain.

Further information
16-19 Funding Guidance for 2022/23 is available here
16-19 Funding guidance : Addition hours in study programmes is available here

What is the context?
In the 2022 to 2023 financial year, schools will be allocated £1.2 billion of additional funding to provide support for the costs of the Health and Social Care Levy and wider costs. This funding will be allocated through the schools supplementary grant 2022 to 2023.

The funding for maintained mainstream schools will be paid to local authorities, which will be required to pay it to individual schools at the rates published. The ESFA will pay funding at the published rates directly to mainstream academies.

In addition to the schools supplementary grant, local authorities have been allocated £325 million additional high needs funding for 2022 to 2023, on top of the dedicated schools grant high needs block allocations, calculated under the national funding formula. This includes funding for the Health and Social Care Levy and wider cost pressures in special schools and alternative provision. Those schools will not receive this additional funding under schools supplementary grant methodology, but should discuss with their local authority any increases as part of the top-up funding paid from local authorities’ high needs budgets.

ASCL position: ASCL calls on the government to issue robust conditions of grant associated to the additional high needs funding in 2022/23. Conditions of grant must require local authorities to calculate and pass on funding to special schools and alternative provision that adequately safeguards their workforce costs in respect of the Health and Social Care levy and wider cost pressures.

Why are we saying this? 
This is a very welcome addition to the high needs ‘pot’. However, we would  have expected to see a more rigorous condition of grant attached to the use of this fund. Without this, we fear that special schools and alternative provision settings are at risk of being disadvantaged compared with mainstream schools.

Further information
 Schools supplementary grant 2022/23 methodology is available here.

What is the context?
The 2019 spending review delivered a three-year plan for schools and high needs block spending. The resulting additional £7.1 billion into the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) by 2022/23 is a step in the right direction. However, funding committed in the 2019 spending review will only deliver spend per pupil levels similar to those in 2009/10.

The increase in the post-16 learner rate to £4,188 in 2020/21 was a welcome step. However, research from London Economics has shown that this 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 college sector still receives far less funding for its learners than secondary schools (Key Stage 4) or higher education.

The government’s own figures highlight the impact of a lack of capital funding across the school sector. The DfE’s May 2021 Condition of School Buildings Survey indicates that the modelled cost of required remedial works across the school estate is £11.4 billion.  Access to capital funding is inconsistent across different age ranges and types of school and college. The way it is allocated lacks coherence.

ASCL has welcomed the £3 billion education recovery funding to which the government has committed so far. However, this figure goes nowhere near far enough in addressing the impact of the pandemic on children and young people, particularly the most disadvantaged.

ASCL position: ASCL calls on the government to seize the opportunity of the 2021 Spending Review to address the impact of the pandemic, and to deliver funding certainty for schools and colleges for the period 2022-25. This must include

  • real terms growth in per pupil funding for schools
  • an increase in the post-16 learner rate to at least £4760
  • additional funding to implement agreed pay awards across the school and college sector
  • capital funding to address the poor condition of the school and college estate
Why are we saying it? 
We are looking to the 2021 SR to deliver the following:

A three-year revenue settlement for schools which delivers annual increases in funding. These increases should be sufficient to deliver real terms growth in spending per pupil.

A three-year settlement which supports increases in the high needs block, at least in line with recent allocations at local authority level. In 2022/3 high needs block funding will increase by £780 million and each local authority will see cash increases of around 8% per head of population. This must include capacity to deliver changes required by the SEND Review

A three-year settlement for 16 to19-year-olds that includes an uplift in the learner rate to at least £4760.

A capital settlement that has capacity to adequately address the poor condition of the school and college estate.

An education recovery package that is sufficient to address lost learning and the broader impact of the pandemic. In collaboration with a group of sector organisations, ASCL has asked the government for a three-year settlement totalling £5.8 bn in recovery funding. The package includes support for all age ranges from early years to post-16 as well as national coverage from mental health support teams.

Further information
Read ASCLs submission to the 2021 SR in full here.

Read the proposal for education recovery in full here.


What is the context?
Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) is direct funding for individual institutions to maintain their buildings and fund other small-scale capital projects. This is the intended function.

Local authorities (LAs) receive the DFC payments for their maintained schools and the LAs are required to pass on these allocations to the schools. Academy trusts, VA bodies, and other institutions receive their DFC from the DfE. Local authorities may receive a DFC payment for maintained schools that have recently converted to academies; they are required to pass this on to schools in the usual way, regardless of conversion status.

ASCL position: ASCL believes that the funding available through devolved formula capital allocations is insufficient to meet the intended function, and that the current distribution methodology does not accurately reflect condition. It is also the case that the lack of coherence between different strands of schools’ capital represents a barrier to keeping some schools in a condition deemed fit for purpose.  For example, the DFC allocation may be significantly below the minimum threshold for applying for condition improvement funding (CIF) .

Why are we saying it?
DFC is distributed according to the number and age range of pupils and an estates factor which is applied as a weighting determined by age range. 

  • In 2011/12 the  allocation for DFC was £182 million. There were 8.1 million pupils and 20,300 schools.
  • In 2020/21 the allocation for DFC was £202 million. There were 8.9 million pupils and 24,360 schools.
For primary schools, the CIF project minimum threshold is £20,000 and for secondary schools it is £50,000. A single form entry primary academy may receive around £6,500 per year in DFC funding, and a medium-sized secondary school around £18,500 (as outlined here). In both cases, the DFC allocation is significantly below the CIF project threshold.

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 CIF. The CIF is a bid-based funding stream through which these institutions can access condition funding. The size of this fund  reflects institutions eligible to bid, in terms of the number and age-phase of their pupils, their location, extent of modernisation and condition. 

Responsible bodies (larger multi academy trusts and local authorities) are allocated a school condition allowance (SCA) based on the total size of the pupil cohort across the whole estate.

ASCL position: ASCL believes that there should be greater equity of access to condition funding to help improve school and college estates.

The CIF bidding process  is not transparent and is not easily accessed or successful without the engagement of costly experts to write the application submission.

ASCL believes successful applications should be linked more effectively with a robust condition data collection process which delivers funding in a way that enables school and sixth form college (SFC) leaders to plan capital works more strategically over time. This requires greater alignment between access to CIF and access to school condition allowance (SCA).

ASCL also believes the timeline from application to announcement of successful projects must be shortened to ensure that works can be scheduled to fit the regular closure periods  within the academic year. The current timing of the announcement of successful applications has slipped to late spring / summer.

Why are we saying it?  
ASCL has two concerns:

  • Firstly, there is no close link between the way that school estates condition data is collected to inform the ESFA (the Condition Data Collection) and the way in which institutions that rely on CIF can access the funding. The CIF funding annual application cycle tends not to support longer term strategic planning. This creates inequality between institutions eligible for CIF and responsible bodies which automatically receive school condition allowance (SCA). 
  • Secondly, the CIF bidding process often requires costly bid writing services to be successful, which then takes funds away from those with the greatest need.

What is the context?
We welcome the government’s focus on supporting people to retrain through their lives and gain new skills aligned to the needs of the economy. 
We continue to be concerned about the severe underfunding of the post-16 sector, which plays such a vital role in delivering the technical and vocational education that the government says it is so keen to boost, as well as academic routes which are also of the utmost importance.

ASCL position: ASCL supports the proposal for skills being central to the government’s growth plan. However, we believe that growth will only be sustainable if the development of skills is properly funded and builds on existing good practice in schools and colleges.

Why are we saying it?
We believe the systematic underinvestment in education and training since 2013, including at level two and below has contributed to “the Forgotten Third” of young people who underachieve in comparison with their peers. If the white paper on skills is intended to be a leveller in society then education and training, including for skills, must be properly funded. 


What is the context?
Ahead of the outcome of the Ofqual consultation on the awarding process for 2021, schools and colleges have received communications from exam boards indicating that entry fees for this year will be increased.

ASCL position: ASCL is extremely concerned about the proposed increase in exam fees in 2021. It is unacceptable to implement increased fees while there is so much uncertainty surrounding the awarding process.

Exam boards must provide a clear business case to support any fee increases. The business case must demonstrate how schools, colleges and exam boards will work together, in the best interests of students and ensuring manageable workloads for staff. Arrangements should include an agreement to waive late entry fees. Schools and colleges must know what they are paying for.

ASCL welcomes the ongoing commitment by exam boards to return any money that has not been used to institutions. This should be as a cash refund and not a credit note.

ASCL acknowledges the decision to stick to the usual timeline for entries. However, these are extraordinary circumstances for institutions and exam boards, and both will need to make adjustments to support the awarding process this year.

Why are we saying it? 
The education sector is facing extreme levels of uncertainty at the moment. Costs associated with managing this uncertainty are piling up and budgets are under pressure. Schools and colleges are expecting to cover the reasonable costs of the awarding process in 2021. However, it is impossible to see how exam boards can make decisions about what these might be when the awarding process itself has not been finalised.


What is the context?
The normal process for determining funding allocations for local authorities for the early years entitlements is to take an annual census count of the number of hours taken up by children in each local authority in January. Payment for the spring term 2021 is based on the January 2021 census data. 

ASCL position: Early years provision, including maintained nursery schools, nursery classes in schools and other pre-reception provision on school sites, should be afforded the same flexibilities around unusual circumstances caused by Covid-19 as schools. All children recorded on the admissions register should attract funding for their usual hours irrespective of whether they attended on census day.

Why are we saying this?
Information about how to interpret the early years and schools census guidance during the pandemic was issued in mid January. This indicated that, in the context of the pandemic, to be counted on the census the place must be actually available on census day. This means that if a setting reduced numbers to critical worker and vulnerable children, in line with a risk assessment, only those children could be included on the census return. While there is capacity to provide top-up funding to LAs as attendance begins to return to normal, this will be capped at 85% of an LA’s January 2020 census numbers.

Further information
DfE Census dates - Complete the school census guidance

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.

  • 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 ( 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? 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.