The new national funding formula (NFF) arrangements

The Government is planning major school funding reforms for England, including the introduction of a new schools National Funding Formula (NFF) and another formula for high need funding – largely, this is funding for special educational needs provision.

In July 2017, it announced some changes to its funding reform plans and some additional core school funding of £1.3 billion for schools and high needs across 2018-19 and 2019. It confirmed the final arrangements, with some further changes, in September 2017. 

How and when will the funding changes be introduced?

The schools NFF will operate as a soft formula in 2018-19 and 2019-20, to work out notional individual school budgets only. These will then be aggregated; it will be up to local areas to then determine how to share out overall core funding between schools. They’ll do this in line with Government guidance, which has been revised so that the NFF can be more closely followed in local arrangements.

The NFF and associated funding reforms will not be introduced in full in 2018-19; the Government has set out transitional arrangements for 2018-19 and 2019-20, with caps on gains in respect of schools considered underfunded, and minimum per-pupil cash increases in respect of all schools.

What do the changes mean for different areas and schools?

The DfE has published provisional funding tables alongside the policy framework. Section 2 of this note provides guidance on interpreting the provisional funding tables, and what they do and do not show.

The spreadsheet produced alongside this briefing paper (linked to below) includes tables summarising the possible impact of the NFF for funding in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and if it were introduced in full with no transitional protection. It also includes unit funding data for local authorities in 2018‑19. These tables are entirely based on the DfE illustrations and hence the limitations of these figures need to be considered when interpeting the data – again, see Section 2 of this note for more on this area.

The following maps summarise the average overall change in school funding for local authorities and constituencies (notional figures only) under the ‘in-full no transition’ scenario.

Local authorityConstituency





Reaction to the Government’s proposals

One of the key policy aims of the NFF reforms is to address unintended variations in the amount of funding received by in respect of schools and pupils with similar characteristics. Another aim is to make funding more transparent. These aims have been widely welcomed, and many have also welcomed the £1.3 billion identified in July 2017 for the core school and high need budget across 2018-19 and 2019-20.  However, many maintain that regardless of how funding is distributed, the overall funding pot is insufficient and that consequently schools are struggling to meet their costs.

Related posts