The Government has announced increases in the minimum levels of funding per pupil in England as one part of a wider school funding settlement. This Insight, which has been updated to reflect the Government’s Spending Round on 4 September, looks at what the impact of the increases in the minimum levels of funding could be and allows you to find schools in your constituency that could benefit from this policy in 2020-21 using our interactive dashboard.
This is a fast-moving policy area and as a result this Insight will be updated and should be read as correct at the time of publication.
What has been announced?
This funding settlement outlined several commitments for 2020-21. On per pupil funding, the Chancellor said: “the government will ensure that per pupil funding for all schools can rise in line with inflation (1.8%)” and “for schools already on their National Funding Formula allocation, the per pupil values in the formula will increase by at least 4%” in cash terms.
In his first speech as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson committed to “level up” school funding, by increasing the minimum funding that primary and secondary schools receive per pupil. In the Spending Round, more details were provided about this policy. This announced a planned increase in 2020-21 from the current minimum per pupil amount of £3,500 to £3,750 in primary schools, and from £4,800 to £5,000 in secondary schools, with a further increase in the primary schools minimum to £4,000 in 2021-22. In a subsequent statement the Government confirmed that Local Authorities would be required to pass on these new minimums to schools (currently Local Authorities have discretion over this). The Government has also launched a consultation to gather views on different implementation options and in what circumstances Local Authorities could possibly be exempt.
In June, (prior to several details being announced such as the time scales), the Prime Minister’s campaign team estimated this policy would cost an additional £306 million for primary schools, and the publication Schools Week, estimated an additional £49 million for secondary schools.
There are other estimates available, however it is not possible to comment on these figures given the current lack of policy detail. Overall, the estimates suggest that even if the increase in per pupil minimums is fully passed on to schools, it would be a small proportion of the announced increase in school funding.
How are schools currently funded?
There is currently a two-stage process for allocating Schools Block funding in England.
The Schools Block (also known as core revenue funding for schools) is one part of the Dedicated Schools Grant, which is paid by the Government to local authorities. It excludes special educational needs funding, early years funding, and the pupil premium.
- The Department for Education uses the National Funding Formula (NFF) to produce notional allocations for individual schools. Each allocation is then checked against the minimum funding levels and increased if necessary. Following further adjustments, the final notional allocations are aggregated and passed to the school’s local authority.
- The local authority then decides how that money is shared out between schools, using its own funding formula.
The NFF calculates notional funding allocations for schools based on pupil numbers, and various pupil and school characteristics. A July 2019 Education Policy Institute report, states: “the schools that would benefit the most from this policy would be those that do not have the characteristics associated with additional funding under the NFF.” This is likely to be schools with low numbers of disadvantaged pupils, low numbers of pupils with low results, and low numbers of pupils for whom English is not their first language.
How many schools could benefit from the changes?
The Prime Minister’s campaign team reportedly based their primary school cost estimates for this policy on the NFF 2019-20 notional funding allocations. Our estimates below use the same funding allocations to show the number of primary and secondary schools that could benefit from the changes due to be implemented in 2020-21.
It suggests there are 3,399 primary schools in England below £3,750 per pupil (21% of primary schools) and 1,146 secondary schools in England below £5,000 per pupil (37% of secondary schools) in 2019-20.
On a regional level, the South East and South West regions have the highest proportion of primary and secondary schools which stand to benefit from this policy in 2020-21. London has by far the lowest proportion of schools impacted.
|Proportion of schools below the proposed per pupil minimum funding levels|
|Primary schools||Secondary schools|
|East of England||24%||48%|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||17%||27%|
Notes: 2019-20 NFF notional allocations for schools have been compared to the 2020-21 proposed per pupil minimum funding levels (£3,750 for primary schools and £4,000 for secondary schools)
NFF notional allocations are based on pupil numbers from the previous year and are therefore subject to revision, for this reason allocations are not published for schools which the DfE considers “new and growing”. These schools have been excluded.
Middle deemed secondary schools have been included as secondary schools, middle deemed primary schools have been included as primary schools.
All-through schools have been excluded because the minimum funding for these schools is determined by the mix of year groups in the school.
Which schools in my constituency could benefit from the changes?
For a constituency breakdown of the primary schools that are notionally allocated below £3,750, and the secondary schools below £5,000 using the NFF 2019-20 notional funding allocations, select a constituency from the drop-down below.
Note: This Insight was updated on 28.08.19 to clarify the estimated number of schools affected. The Insight previously stated 6,942 primary schools in England received below £4,000 per pupil and 1,251 secondary schools in England received below £5,000 per pupil. The updated figures exclude schools without published NFF 2019-20 allocations (mainly new and growing schools).
About the author: Shadi Danechi is a statistics researcher at the House of Commons Library.