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Council and Democracy

Agenda item

Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Funding Formula 2020-21

To consider a report on the arrangements concerning the DSG funding for 2020-21 from the Assistant Director of Education and Assistant Director of Finance.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the Assistant Director of Finance and Assistant Director of Education, outlining arrangements concerning Dedicated Schools Grant Funding for 2020-21.

 

It was stated that the provisional Dedicated Schools Grant settlement for 2020-21 of £212.246m was received on 19 December 2019 and that, in accordance with the Schools and Early Years Finance (England) (No 2) Regulations 2018, this must be deployed to schools and/or pupils.

 

A breakdown of the provisional settlement for each funding block was provided for members of the Forum, alongside detailed explanation of the increases for each funding block.  It was explained that the increase of 4.6% to the Schools Block was related to an increase in pupil numbers, uplift for Retail Price Index (RPIX) of 3.03% on Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schools and an increase in Department for Education funding rates.

 

With regard to the High Needs Block, the increase of 18.4% related to an increase in pupil numbers and per head gain linked to the National Funding Formula.  It was explained that the Gains Cap for 2020-21 was set at 17%, allowing Local Authorities to see an increase up to this amount.  With this in mind, it was further explained that Tameside were seeing an increase of 18.37% including growth in pupil numbers.

 

In addition, the report outlined the increases in the Early Years and Central Schools Services Blocks related to an increase in Department for Education funding rates and increased pupil numbers.

 

It was explained that the Schools Block was the largest element of Dedicated Schools Grant funding and provided the majority of funding for Mainstream Schools and Academies, with additional elements potentially being allocated through the Early Years and High Needs Blocks.  It was outlined that the Schools Block settlement from the Department for Education was made up of the following funding:

  1. A primary unit of funding (PUF) of £4,297.57
  2. A secondary unit of funding (SUF) of £5,458.85

 

This core school funding covered all pupil and school led factors in the funding formula.  Members of the Forum were made aware that Primary and Secondary units of funding were multiplied by the pupil numbers on Reception to Year 6 plus pupils aged 4 to 10 who were not assigned to a year group for Primary and pupils in Years 7 to 11, pupils aged 11 to 15, not assigned to a year group for Secondary.

  1. Premises – this includes Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and business rates which were based on historical spend
  2. Mobility – to support schools in which a high proportion of pupils first join on a non-standard date
  3. Growth – this is calculated using the difference between the Primary and Secondary numbers on roll on the October 2018 and October 2019 censuses

 

The report detailed that the total Schools Block settlement for 2020-21 was £169,918.  With regard to the proposed funding formula for Mainstream Schools, reference was made to the previous decision of Schools’ Forum to support a disapplication request to the Secretary of State to move 1% from the Schools Block to the High Needs Block.  Forum members were informed that this application had not been supported and this was detailed in a letter from the Education and Skills Funding Agency, dated 15 January 2020.  As a result, it was explained that, in line with the agreement of Schools’ Forum in November 2019, the local Authority would transfer 0.5% of Schools Block funding to the High Needs Block.  This was a total of £0.849m.

 

In addition, the report referred to the approach to allocating funding that was agreed by Schools’ Forum in December 2019.  It was confirmed that, should the Local Authority have additional funding to allocate, which was to stay as close to the National Funding Formula as possible, funds would be allocated in the following way:

  1. Include a Mobility Factor
  2. Increase Basic Entitlement
  3. Reduce the Gains Cap
  4. Increase the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG)

 

With regard to the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG), it was highlighted that Schools’ Forum had agreed to include a 0.5% MFG.  However, it was explained that, due to the updated settlement and data set from the Department for Education, the MFG can actually be set at 1.84%.  In addition, the Gains Cap, which limits the gain in pupil-led funding per pupil that a school receives, had now been set at 4% as opposed to the 3.4% cap consulted upon in December 2019.  Any gain above this would be used to partly offset the MFG and allow a balanced Dedicated Schools Grant budget to be set.

 

The details of the report outlined growth within the Borough.  This was related to the Growth Fund agreed by Schools’ Forum in June 2019.  Forum members were made aware of the definitions of both explicit and implicit growth; how explicit growth related directly to the Growth Fund and how implicit growth related to adjustments to pupil numbers when calculating the funding; in this case for new and growing schools.  Forum members were made aware that the estimated Growth Fund required in 2020-21 was £0.633m and, as stated in the Growth policy, the final growth allocation would be based on numbers taken from the October 2020 census.

 

As in previous years, members of the Forum were asked to consider supporting safeguarding in the Borough; through making a contribution of £0.100m towards the cost of Tameside Safeguarding Children Partnership (TSCP).  All schools were asked to support the continuation of this arrangement for 2020-21, which equated to approximately £2.83 per child.

 

It was stated that, in December 2019, the provisional 2020-21 High Needs Block allocation of £24,599m (before Academy recoupment) was released.  Members of the Forum were made aware that this was an increase in funding of £3.817m compared to the 2019-20 settlement.  It was also explained that the number of commissioned places has been agreed with Special Schools and Resourced Units for September 2020.  It was explained that this would be presented at Schools’ Forum in June 2020.  In addition, it was confirmed that there were no planned changes in top up rates for Special or Mainstream Schools.

 

Members of Schools’ Forum were reminded that a High Needs Review had been carried out, in consultation with all Schools and Academies and that this had been met with agreement.  It was, therefore, discussed that the next phase of this work would be to agree a plan for implementation, prioritising the following changes:

  • Looking at the Social, Emotional and Mental Health provision in the borough and expanding the current provision at Thomas Ashton
  • Review the Post 16 provision for the most vulnerable pupils in the borough and establishing post 16 provision at Cromwell
  • Looking at resource provision and establishing an increase in units in each locality, where demand dictated
  • Investigating the establishment of locality budgets, and looking at sustainability of this funding

 

Alongside these measures, it was also explained that a review of the SEND support services would be taken, alongside other Greater Manchester Authorities, in order to consider options for joint working.  In addition, a review of Element 3 top up funding was also discussed.

 

With regard to Early Years Funding, the report outlined an increase of £297,091 based on the Schools, Early Years and Alternative Provision census data from January 2019.  It was explained that this would be updated to reflect the January 2020 and 2021 census data.  Members of the Forum were informed that consultation had also taken place with regard to Early Years funding, in order to gather opinion on a number of proposals.  However, the results of this consultation were not yet available.  With regard to funding for 3 and 4 year olds, the hourly rate of funding received by the Local Authority had increased from £4.51 in 2019-20 to £4.59 2020-21 (2%) for both universal and extended entitlement.  It was proposed that deprivation bandings for 3 and 4 year olds remain as 3 bandings, as had previously been used.

 

The report outlined the continued mandatory requirement for a SEND Inclusion Fund and members of the Forum were made aware that the allocation for 2019-20 was £0.150m.  However, due to increasing demand, it was proposed that this be increased to £0.180m and that these allocations continue to be agreed through the Early Years Panel.  The central retention based on the current settlement would, therefore, be approximately £0.69m.

 

It was outlined that this centrally retained funding would support:

·         Early Education Funding Team – This fully supported the administration of Early Years funding, the annual costs associated with the Servelec IT system, which was used to calculate and process the payments to Schools and Private, Voluntary and Independent providers.

·         Family Information Services – This supported an Information Officer.  This post provided advice, guidance and information to families wishing to access Children’s services and was implemented to support the increased demands from the early years extended provision.

·         Early Years Quality Improvement Team – This supported 4 Quality Officers and 2 SENDCOs.  Support was, primarily, in relation to: signposting and promoting the standard 15 hours offer and extended 30 hours offer; OFSTED regulations and standards; and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities related issues.

·         SEND Team – funding support for an Early Years SEND Caseworker as specific support for SEND in Early Years.

·         Making it REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy). This was aimed at supporting practitioners to build parents’ knowledge and confidence so that they could help their children with reading and writing and create a positive, early, home learning environment. This programme was evidence-based and had been very successful in Oldham at raising Good Level of Development in Early Years.  There were currently trial and test cohorts in 8 Primary Schools in Tameside. The funding would be used to bring Private, Voluntary and Independent Providers and more School Nurseries on board with Making it REAL.

·         Embedding WellComm in Private, Voluntary an Independent Providers and School Nurseries with a focus on transition to schools.  WellComm was an early language assessment and toolkit used to identify language difficulties and address them within both the setting and at home.

 

With regard to funding for 2 year olds, the report highlighted an increase in the hourly rate of funding of 1.5%, from £5.30 in 2019-20 to £5.38 in 2021.  In 2019-20, the provider hourly rate allocated was £5.20 with £0.10 per hour retained centrally.  It was proposed that the hourly rate to providers be increased to £5.24 with £0.13 per hour retained centrally.  In addition, it was proposed to establish a SEND fund of approximately £5,000.

 

It was outlined that there were no proposed changes to the Early Years Pupils Premium funding allocation (EYPP) and that allocations to individual providers continue to be based on a maximum eligibility of 38 weeks per year, 15 hours per week and an hourly rate of £0.53.  Similarly, there were no proposed changes to the Disability Access Fund (DAF), with the allocation rate for eligible children proposed to remain at £615 per child.

 

Consideration was given to the Central School Services Block (CSSB) and it was explained that this brought together:

·         Funding previously allocated through the retained duties element of the Education Services Grant (ESG)

·         Funding for ongoing, central functions such as admissions, which were previously top sliced from the schools block

·         Residual funding for historic commitments, of which there were none for Tameside MBC

 

It was stated that allocation to the Local Authority was based on a per pupil element of £27.51 for ongoing duties, totaling £0.953m.  It was further explained that operational guidance for 2020-21 requires the local Authority to formally request approval from Schools’ forum on central retention of the following:

·         £0.226m to support the School Admissions service

·         £0.005m to support the costs of the Schools Forum

·         £0.546m to support elements of the Councils Centrally retained duties (formally the retained duties element of the ESG)  In addition, it was stated that National Copyright School Licenses are also funded from this block with the amount for 2019-20 being £0.176m.

 

RESOLVED

(i)        That the content of the report be noted and supported;

(ii)                  That the Funding formula for Mainstream Schools be approved;

(iii)      That the Growth fund be approved;

(iv)      That continued contribution to Tameside Safeguarding Children’s Partnership be agreed;

(v)       That the central retention of Early Years Funding be approved;

(vi)      That the allocation of the Central Services Schools Block be approved; and

(vii)    That a breakdown of the Central Services Schools Block be provided to members of the forum.

 

Supporting documents: