How to approach constituent funding enquiries: general advice and resources
This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
Members sometimes receive constituent enquiries about additional funding for schools or pupils. Often this involves pupils seeking funding for a particular additional purpose, or schools seeking funding for capital projects.
This page is not about general systems of funding for schools.
Outlined below is some of the Government/local authority funding that is available for individual schools and pupils.
There are also various foundations that may support pupils and schools (either state or independent) in some instances. These may be searched via tools such as Grantfinder. For more information on this and other potential grant-providers, see our constituency casework page: Finding funding for constituents.
Funding sources for pupils
The school funding system differs in each of the four countries of the UK. This means that if a pupil is looking for funding, the best institution to contact varies according to location.
Schools in England have discretion to spend their budgets as they deem appropriate, provided it is on the education of pupils at their school. As a result, most requests for funding for projects for individual pupils would need to be taken up with the pupil’s school itself.
Similarly, in Wales and Northern Ireland, it may be best to first contact the school.
In Scotland it may be helpful to contact the relevant local authority for any locally available funding.
The House of Commons Library, and some larger public libraries, have access to the Guide to Educational Grants, published by the Directory for Social Change. This can help individuals and organisations looking for funding from grant-providers.
Individuals can also search for grants on Turn2us.
Funding for school buildings
For schools looking for funding for capital projects, there are several funding streams that may apply.
In England capital funding is different for local authority maintained schools and academies.
Local authority maintained
The school will need to speak to the local authority, who receive capital funding through School Conditions Allocations.
Academies and free schools
There are two potential sources of funding:
- The Condition Improvement Fund(CIF) is an annual bidding round to which academies and sixth-form colleges can apply for capital funding. The core priority for CIF is to address significant condition need, keeping academy and sixth-form college buildings safe and in good working order. However, CIF also supports a small proportion of expansion projects for Ofsted-rated good or outstanding academies and sixth-form colleges that need to expand their existing facilities and/or floor space. The CIF budget is administered by the Department for Education and accessed through a bidding process.
- There are also direct formulaic School Condition Allocations to Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs). If the school is part of a MAT then this funding may be available, and it would be necessary to discuss the issue with the trust. Otherwise, it may be advisable to contact the Education and Skills Funding Agencydirectly for any further information.
The Library briefing on School buildings and capital funding (England) provides information on capital funding in the state sector.
Local authorities are responsible for deciding on priorities for capital expenditure on the school estate. Under the Prudential Framework arrangements, local authorities are free to make their own decisions about how much to borrow or spend on maintenance and the renewal of school buildings, although they are under a duty to determine how much they can afford, and then budget accordingly.
Further information, including on Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme (a £1.8 million fund for constructing or refurbing school buildings, allocated by local authorities), is available from the Scottish Government website.
21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme provides capital funding for schools and further education colleges. The second tranche, (Band B) began in April 2019 and will see a £2.3 billion investment in school and college infrastructure. It is 65% funded by the Welsh Government, with local authorities and other organisations making up the remainder. More information about applying for funding can be found on the Welsh Government website.
Capital funding for schools in Northern Ireland is explained on the Department of Education’s website, Management of school buildings. Depending on the responsible entity, grants are provided by either the Department for Education or the Education Authority. The Department of Education is responsible for Catholic maintained, voluntary grammar, Irish-medium and grant-maintained integrated schools. The Education Authority is responsible for the controlled sector. Funding is supplied either via the Minor Works or Major Works programmes, which are defined as projects that cost less or more than £500,000 respectively.
There is also the School Enhancement Programme which
“targets investment to meet the immediate and pressing needs in schools, through smaller scale works, where new build major capital works are not deemed affordable or deliverable within the budget available.”
The Conservative Government insisted that it had protected total core school funding in real terms over the last Parliament. However, as the National Audit Office (NAO) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) pointed out, pupil numbers have been rising and schools are facing cost pressures; the money has to go further. The previous Government
The Government promised a real terms rise in school funding. Will this be sufficient? And will the funding get to the schools that need it the most?