New local authority school finance regulations

December 13th, 2013

The School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2013/3104 will come into force on 1 January 2014.  They concern the funding arrangements made by local authorities for maintained schools and early years provision in England for the financial year 2014-15.

The 2013 Regulations largely reflect the provisions of the 2012 version of the regulations. The system, broadly, is that the Department for Education allocates a Dedicated Schools Grant to local authorities, before local authorities distribute funding to maintained schools through a locally determined formula. Note, however, that the Explanatory Memorandum to the 2013 Regulations suggests that a consultation is expected to begin shortly on proposals for reforms to the funding system which could be introduced in 2015-16.

The noteworthy provisions of the 2013 Regulations are:

  • the minimum funding per pupil in a local authority’s funding formula must is £2,000 per primary pupil and £3,000 per secondary pupil (regulation 13(5));
  • there is a threshold of £6,000 below which schools are required to meet the additional costs of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) from their own budgets (regulation 11(3));
  • special schools must receive at least £10,000 per pupil from 1 August 2014 (regulation 14(2)), although places reserved for children with SEN do not count towards a mainstream school’s pupil numbers for the purpose of calculating its budget through the local funding formula;
  • a local authority may now take account of the sparseness of schools in its area in its funding formula (see paragraphs 14 and 15 of Schedule 3). There are also changes to the way that local authorities may take account of prior attainment, and the number of looked after pupils;

The regulations also have the effect of removing the ability of local authorities to reduce the funding for early education providers in the private, voluntary and independent sectors who admit children above a limit previously agreed with the local authority. According to the Explanatory Memorandum, this is to promote parental choice.

Thomas Ogg

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