Documents to download


National school funding reform

Currently, different local authority areas receive different amounts of per-pupil school revenue funding. Schools within areas can also receive different per-pupil amounts, depending on their characteristics.

In discussions of how much funding different local authorities receive, per pupil, the figure that’s usually referenced is what’s known as the ‘Schools Block Unit of Funding’, or SBUF. This refers to the schools block of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). The DSG is the main (but not the only) source of income for school budgets in England

In 2016-17, per-pupil schools block per-pupil funding varied from just over £4,000 in Wokingham to just under £7,000 in Tower Hamlets.

School funding in Merseyside

In 2016-17 the SBUF for Merseyside local authorities was as follows:[1]

Local authority

SBUF 2016-17

St Helens












The Government intends to introduce a new national school funding formula, which it says will be fairer. Until the second phase of consultation on how the formula is released, it is difficult to say how particular areas – such as Merseyside – may fare.

The new national funding formula’s introduction has been delayed. It is now scheduled for phased introduction from 2018 as opposed to 2017. Some areas have raised concerns about this delay, arguing that their schools will struggle to meet costs in the meantime.

Early years education

Early education and care is provided by a wide range of settings in England, including nursery classes attached to primary schools, private, and voluntary providers. There are also around 400 maintained nursery schools in England; around 200 have closed or amalgamated since the 1980s. The majority of these local authority funded settings are graded ‘Outstanding’ by the inspectorate Ofsted. Almost all others are graded ‘Good’.

Introduction of early years funding formula

All children are currently entitled to 15 hours of term-time early education and care from the term after they turn three (two for the most disadvantaged children). The Government has plans to expand this entitlement to 30 hours per term-time week for qualifying working parents, across England, from September 2017. It has recently consulted on the way it funds settings to deliver early education. Ultimately, the intention is to introduce a common base rate for all providers.

There are some concerns that childcare providers might struggle to provide the additional hours, with recent surveys of childcare providers finding around a fifth to a quarter of respondents are not planning to offer the extended entitlement, and a further third to a half unsure if they would.

The Government has committed to providing £55 million each year as supplemental funding to local authorities for maintained nursery schools, in recognition of the higher operating costs they often face. This will be provided for at least two years.

Previously, in the Spending Review of November 2015, the Government announced an extra £300 million to increase the national average funding rate for free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds to £4.88 (although the actual rate paid to providers will be determined by local authorities), as well as allocating £50 million from the DfE’s capital budget to support the creation of early years places.

[1]     DfE, Schools block units of funding 2016 to 2017. Technical note (July 2015),p. 5

Documents to download

Related posts