The total amount of money available for schools in Sheffield is known as the DSG (Dedicated Schools Grant) and depends on the level of funding determined by central government. The government is intending to introduce a new national funding formula next April, to be phased in over 4 years. As with any formula determined model, there will be winners and losers. Whilst maintained schools receive most of their funding through the local authority, academies are funded directly from the Government.
How school budgets are worked out
The Local authority apportions the DSG to its schools through a funding formula, which calculates the budget share for each school. It is up to each local authority to devise and revise its own school budget formula, taking account of local needs and circumstances. The bulk of school budgets is determined and distributed on the basis of pupil-led factors such as pupil numbers, pupil age, numbers of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) entitlement. This is age-weighted so the amount differs between nursery primary and secondary schools, but the overall average is around £4,000. The schools Special Educational Needs Coordinator‘s (SENCO) role in school is funded from this money. In addition, schools also receive funding to be used for additional support for pupils with common (“high incidence”) additional and special educational needs based on a formula. How this money is used is for the school to determine, based on their detailed knowledge of the pupils attending their school. All schools including academies receive funding in their school budget to support children and young people with additional educational needs and special needs. The government has, for the first time defined high-needs pupils in monetary terms, that is those whose total support costa are likely to cost more than £10,000. Therefore Schools can spend a further £6,000 or more on additional support to those pupils with more complex needs, giving an overall total of £10,000 or more a small number of pupils with the most significant needs. Not all children will need this high level of school support.
Additional funding elements
If the school finds that supporting a pupil’s needs will cost more than £10, 000, (the £4,000 and the £6,000) then they can apply to the local authority for additional funding. This additional funding is known as top up or Banded Funding. (See separate information on Banded Funding for more details)
Pupil Premium is a further element in the school’s budget (see separate information on Pupil Premium). This money is to improve achievements of disadvantaged pupils, and the amount per pupil has increased each year since its introduction. But despite the investment of incrementally increasing national pupil premium, schools have had a three year freeze in core budgets. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), around two-thirds of primary schools and around 80% of secondary schools across the country will have experienced real-terms budget cuts over the 3 last year period.
Schools are required to work within their defined budget limits, a range of factors can impact on how well this can be achieved and some schools faces particular challenges - for example, in areas where there is a high level of pupil mobility, or schools which are very inclusive and as a result attract families to them from outside their usual catchment areas.
For the last 3 years many schools and local authorities have had to manage on tight budgets as part of the austerity measures in the present economic climate. So it is important that in deciding on spending priorities, schools are confident that additional interventions made for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities are good value for money and make a real difference in terms of educational outcomes for learners.
Children who attend schools outside of the city may also need extra support as a result of their special educational needs and disabilities. Sheffield Council is responsible for meeting these costs.
(Reference: “Trends in education and schools spending” IFS Briefing Note - Institute for Fiscal Studies)