The Department for Education (DfE) has published the funding it will allocate to local authorities for mainstream schools in 2021-22 based on the National Funding Formula (NFF) for schools.

These are provisional and notional funding allocations. They are subject to revision and are not necessarily what schools will actually receive.

This Insight looks at the change in these allocations compared to the previous year. Our calculations have found that there are schools which could have real term declines in total per pupil funding in 2021-2022.

Our interactive dashboard (below) allows you to compare average per pupil funding in your constituency with others, and identify schools in your constituency that could have an annual increase or decrease (in real terms), in per pupil funding.

2020-21 allocations have been adjusted to allow for like-for-like comparisons.

What has the DfE published?

The DfE publishes the amounts it will allocate to local authorities for individual mainstream schools based on the NFF, on an annual basis. The most recent allocations are for 2021-22.

These school-level allocations can be built up to produce constituency and national figures.

For 2021-22, the average allocation per pupil in England is £5,101. This is a real terms increase of around 1% compared to 2020-21.

These figures exclude some schools, such as those that are new, split, amalgamated, have fewer than 35 pupils, or are closed or proposed to close.

What does the funding include and exclude?

These allocations are core funding for five to 16-year-olds in mainstream schools. This year, for the first time, they include funding due to the Teachers’ Pay Grant (TPG), the Teachers’ Pension Employer Contribution Grant (TPG) and (where applicable) the pensions supplementary fund.

The allocations exclude other types of school funding, such as the pupil premium, high needs funding and funding for sixth formers. They also exclude recently announced additional funding for schools, such as:

Why are these funding allocations provisional and notional?

The 2021-22 NFF allocations are subject to revision and are not necessarily what schools will actually receive.

The NFF calculates the funding allocations based on pupil numbers, and various pupil and school characteristics. The 2021-22 allocations are provisional because they are based on pupil data from 2020-21 and will subsequently be updated.

The 2021-22 allocations are notional because the NFF is currently in a transition phase (known as the ‘soft’ format). This means the local authority retains some flexibility in deciding the final allocations that schools actually receive.

For 2021-22, the DfE requires all local authorities to pass on at least £4,180 per primary school pupil, and £5,415 per secondary school pupil, although there may be exceptions to this requirement. These figures include the Teachers’ Pay Grant and pension funding and so cannot be compared with the 2020-21 minimums without adjustments.

After adjusting for the Teachers’ Pay Grant and pensions, in 2021-22 the annual real terms increase in the primary school per pupil minimum is +4%, and for secondary school pupils it is +1%.

How are schools currently funded?

The Government pays a Dedicated Schools Grant to local authorities on an annual basis, this is made up of several “blocks”.

The Schools Block (also known as core revenue funding) is one part of this. It excludes high needs special educational needs funding, early years funding, and the pupil premium.

There is currently a two-stage process for allocating Schools Block funding in England:

  1. The DfE uses the 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 schools’ local authority.
  2. The local authority then decides how that money is shared out between schools in its area, using its own funding formula subject to DfE guidance.

What does the Government’s NFF “funding floor” commitment mean?

For 2021-22 the Government has committed to give schools an increase in their pupil-led funding of at least +2.0% per pupil (this compares to +1.84% in 2020-21). This is roughly in line with projected inflation.

It should be noted this only covers the funding that changes with pupil numbers. It does not cover funding allocated under the NFF that doesn’t change with pupil numbers (known as school-led funding).

A school’s total per pupil funding is calculated based on both its pupil-led and school-led funding.

Some schools may get less total per pupil funding

Our calculations have found that based on the notional and provisional NFF allocations, there are schools which in 2021-22 could have real term declines in total per pupil funding.

This happens when changes to a school’s school-led funding are not fully compensated by increases in pupil-led funding (at least +2.0% per pupil). The exact characteristics of the school and its pupils determines how this might happen.

An example might be if a school has a large proportional increase in pupil numbers, but its school-led funding is not increased, and its pupil-led funding only increases by +2.0% per pupil. In such a scenario, the school’s total per pupil notional funding would decline in real terms.

How will schools in my constituency be affected?

For a constituency breakdown of the real terms change in per pupil NFF allocations in 2021-22 (compared to the adjusted 2020-21 allocations), please select a constituency from the dropdown below.

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All real terms figures are in 2020-21 prices.

2021-22 NFF allocations have been compared to the 2020-21 adjusted baseline.

NFF allocations are notional and provisional and are therefore subject to revision.

Middle deemed secondary schools have been included as secondary schools, middle deemed primary schools have been included as primary schools.

All-through schools are excluded from primary and secondary school averages, they are included in all school averages.

Schools which are new, amalgamated, split, have less than 35 pupils, are closed or proposed to close have been excluded.

Schools have been assigned a constituency based on the DfE tool, GetInformationAboutSchools. In a small number of cases this designation has been manually changed to assign schools a constituency based on their coordinates.


About the author: Shadi Danechi is a statistics researcher at the House of Commons Library, specialising in education.

Photo by Alissa De Leva on Unsplash