2019 Autumn Term 2


  • A solid foundation
    Good schools are built on good teachers, but we face a severe shortage of teachers says Sam Sims, Research Fellow at UCL Institute of Education (IOE). Here, he explains the thinking around a new collaboration between ASCL and IOE to help with teachers' job satisfaction and retention. More
  • Getting educators on board
    Supporting another school or trust by joining its governing board offers a fantastic professional development opportunity for school leaders says Dominic Judge from Education and Employers. More
  • Smoke & mirrors?
    The long-awaited government spending round has been and gone, but what does it actually mean for your school? Is the government finally addressing the funding shortages in education, or just hiding behind a smokescreen? Here ASCL Funding Specialist, Julia Harnden, talks us through the detail. More
  • Change makers
    Gohar Khan, Director of Ethos at Didcot Girls' School in Oxford, shares her school's desire to create the next generation of female leaders. More
  • All in the mind
    Ruby Wax made her name as a writer and comedian but, in recent years, has become a vocal advocate for mental health and will give a keynote speech at ASCL's Annual Conference in 2020. She spoke to Julie Nightingale. More
  • Diverse thinking
    We need leaders and governors to reflect a society and a school population that is diverse and varied, and be all the richer for it says Geoff Barton. Here he highlights how we can all help to make that change. More
  • Our united vision
    This is the first in a new regular update in Leader to provide you with the latest information from our colleagues across the nation. ASCL is proud to represent school and college leaders from all over the UK. More
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The long-awaited government spending round has been and gone, but what does it actually mean for your school? Is the government finally addressing the funding shortages in education, or just hiding behind a smokescreen? Here ASCL Funding Specialist, Julia Harnden, talks us through the detail.

Smoke & Mirrors?

Countdown to the 2019 spending round was a rollercoaster of mixed feelings. On the one hand, the previous Secretary of State, Damian Hinds, reassured ASCL members at our Annual Conference in March that he had “heard the message on funding loud and clear”. On the other hand, our regular conversations with colleagues at the DfE, and separately with the Treasury, left us in no doubt that increases in funding would be hard won. 

Our campaign

With the timeline and duration of the spending round unclear until just before it was announced, the only certainty was that we had to re-double our efforts to build a strong campaign, backed up by a body of evidence that would both support and challenge government departments in their negotiations with one another. Working with our partners in the School Cuts coalition – and with campaign groups such as f40 and #WorthLess? – has been an essential part of the process. The coming together of representatives from all our organisations has been a force for good.

In July, we set out our plans for the reversal of real-terms cuts that had impacted on all phases of education over the last ten years. The ask was simple: we need £12.6 billion pounds by 2022/23 to reverse real-terms cuts and an additional £5.4 billion by 2024/25 to meet the True Cost of Education – see www.ascl.org.uk/TrueCost

In September, the new Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced a funding settlement that would secure a three-year deal for schools (incorporating SEND) and a one-year commitment for early years and 16–19 year-olds in schools and colleges. The breakdown of the announcement is available in detail in our information paper: www.ascl.org.uk/spendinground2019

A three-year settlement for schools

The settlement for primary and secondary schools means that by 2022/23 there will be an additional £7.1 billion in the pot compared to 2019/20 levels. This will accrue over three years with an additional £2.6 billion in 2020/21, £4.8 billion in 2021/22 and reaching £7.1 billion in 2022/23. It is worth noting that the settlement years are financial years, so academies will not see any additions until September 2020.

The teachers’ pay grant will continue for the period of the schools settlement. It will part-fund the pay awards for both September 2018 and September 2019. Details of the methodology, eligibility and per pupil rates are available here: https://tinyurl.com/ybuxbs8j In 2020/21, you will continue to see this as a separate line on your budget or general annual grant (GAG) statement, so not part of the national funding formula (NFF) allocation.

The grant to cover increases in employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (introduced in September 2019) will also continue. The government has committed £1.5 billion per year outside the schools’ revenue budget settlement. This is good news for planning in terms of transparency at national level.

In the middle of October, we got first sight of the indicative NFF allocations at individual school level (https://tinyurl.com/y59pjluo) but, again, things aren’t quite what they seem. 

Sting in the tail

A key strand of the government’s policy line for primary and secondary schools is around ‘levelling up’. This is intended to address the variation in per pupil funding that still exists across England and is driven by the minimum per pupil funding (MPF) level factor. All schools in low-funded areas can benefit from this if their per pupil funding is below £3,750 (primary) and £5,000 (secondary). But the sting is in the way that the MPF is calculated. The test for the MPF factor considers all pupil-led funding and school-led funding as determined by the NFF. Therefore, while there is no doubt that this will work well for some, schools in low-funded areas that also serve deprived communities will do less well. Why? Because these schools will already be closer to the £3,750 or £5,000 by virtue of their additionality funding.

ASCL supports a minimum per pupil factor but continues to challenge the equity of the current methodology. We think the MPF should essentially be the same as the basic pupil funding – in other words, the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU).

Schools that do not qualify for an MPF top-up will be looking to the inflationary increase in the funding floor, designed to provide a minimum increase of 1.84% in cash terms and the 4% increase in NFF factor values (https://tinyurl.com/yytfknjq). 

Spread thin

Early analysis of the DfE tables indicates a spread of gains.

In the primary sector, 25% of schools will only benefit from the inflationary increase in the funding floor of 1.84%, another 25% will see gains from the funding floor to 5% and about 6,800 (41%) schools stand to gain from 5% to 10% compared to 2019/20 baselines.

For secondaries, 27% of schools will only benefit from the inflationary increase of 1.84%, approximately 25% should see gains from the funding floor to 4% and 1,100 (37%) schools stand to gain from 4% to 5%.

All of this is based on national calculations and local authorities will still set local formula in 2020/21. Your schools forum and LA will be consulting on this in the autumn term so our best advice to you is to stay close to that process. If you are in an area likely to gain from the MPF uplift, bear in mind that the DfE intends to make it mandatory that the LA formula reflects the NFF minimum funding levels.

Unfinished business

As predicted, this investment has been hard won and we welcome it. It’s a line in the sand and there can be no going back. Even in the political turmoil that prevails, it is hard to see how any government would renege on this. But the job is not done. The sector needs a three-year settlement for everything from early years to FE, and we didn’t get the £12.6 billion we need to properly offset the real-terms cuts.

By the time you read this, we will be in the midst of another General Election campaign. In any case, we will continue to work with our campaign partners to keep education funding high on the government agenda. When the government has time to think about something other than Brexit, we must make sure it’s education.

Julia Harnden
ASCL Funding Specialist