The DfES has launched a consultation document on the details of the proposed changes to the funding system.
In essence the changes are:
LEA schools budgets will be funded by a 100 per cent ring-fenced grant called the Dedicated Schools Grant.
Schools will get two-to-three year budget information to support three-to-five year planning, still with guaranteed minimum increase in per pupil funding at school level.
In regard to standards funds and grants, some grants - notably for the upper pay spine - will be moved into the core funding. Others will be collected into a single School Improvement Grant. The Single Standards Grant will be distributed through a new formula introduced in two stages and with protection to ensure a stable transition to the new arrangements.
SHA has welcomed the Dedicated Schools Grant as it will clarify and simplify the existing funding fog between central government and local authorities.
However it has not been welcomed by the LGA and other local authority organisations, so schools need to voice their support.
Much of the consultation is concerned with the detail for setting and administering this grant, particularly as it is tied to the two-to-three year budgets.
This part of the consultation is of little interest to most school leaders but is very important for schools forum members. Schools forums should be encouraged to respond to the consultation document and to support the grant.
SHA also welcomes the introduction of two-to-three year budget information as this will make planning easier.
However, there is a great deal of detail still to sort out and it is important that school leaders, either as individuals or as part of a response from their governing bodies, send in their comments.
SHA has long campaigned for a simpler grants system. The proposed changes are a step in the right direction in that there will be less bureaucracy and more freedom for schools to make the key decisions.
Again the devil is in the detail. The government intends eventually to distribute grants through a national formula, so your views on the formula and the rationalisation of grants are important.
Please respond to the consultation, either as a leadership team or through your governing body. If we want the government to listen to our views, we have to make them known loud and clear.
Full details of the consultation are to be found at www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations
There is a full consultation document - important for schools forums as it concentrates on the implications for LEA funding - and a summary that concentrates on the issues directly relevant to schools.
The closing date for responses is 13 May.
By Lindsey Wharmby,
SHA funding consultant
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