Schools Forum

The Schools Forum is a body of elected representatives from schools, academies, nursery and 16 to 19 year old education providers.  The forum acts as a consultative body that advises the council on matters affecting school funding such as changes to the local funding formula and arrangements for pupils with special educational needs.  

Further information about the role and responsibilities of the Schools Forum can be found on the DfE Schools Forum website

Future Meeting Dates

  • 10 January 2020
  • 13 March 2020
  • 21 October 2020
  • 27 November 2020

Meeting papers

 Title  Date  Size
5/11/2019 70k
5/11/2019 141k
5/11/2019 146k
5/11/2019 80k
5/11/2019 122k
5/11/2019 108k
5/11/2019 103k
5/11/2019 114k
5/11/2019 69k
5/11/2019 75k
5/11/2019 69k
5/11/2019 61k
5/11/2019 107k
5/11/2019 98k
5/11/2019 103k
5/11/2019 95k
5/11/2019 74k
5/11/2019 80k
5/11/2019 108k

School Funding Formula 2020-21 Consultation Outcome

The School Funding Formula 2020-21 consultation was held between 30th October and 20th November 2019.  The responses to the consultation have been reviewed by the Schools Forum who, at their meeting held on 26th November,  have put forward a recommendation to Cabinet on the School Funding Formula to be used to allocate funding to Cumbrian Schools in 2020-21.  

The Schools Forum have agreed to recommend to Cabinet that the National Funding Formula (NFF) is adopted in 2020-21 impacting maintained schools from April 2020 and academy schools from September 2020.  The full details of the NFF and the unit values for each formula factor were set out in the consultation document and include a mandatory minimum per pupil level of £ 3,750 for primary and £ 5,000 secondary schools, a minimum funding floor increase of 1.84% per pupil against 2019-20 baselines and no cap on gains.  The removal of the cap on gains means that schools will attract their full core funding allocations under the NFF.

As detailed in the consultation document, Cumbria continues to experience significant budget challenges in relation to funding high needs provision in respect of the increasing numbers of pupils requiring additional SEN support which has put the High Needs budget into deficit.  The local authority is allowed to transfer up to 0.5% of the Schools Block funding to High Need Block funding with Schools Forum approval.  As required by the DfE, a High Needs recovery plan has been drawn up which includes a number of invest to save measures to reduce expenditure against the High Needs Block and the DfE has also announced that additional funding will be available to help local authorities with the significant pressures facing the High Needs block in 2020-21.  However, the measures taken to reduce expenditure and the additional funding alone will not fully address the predicted budget gap against the High Needs Block in 2020-21.  Therefore, the consultation also sought views on whether there should be a transfer from the Schools Block to High Needs Block and whether this should be on the basis of:

Model 1 - allocating the NFF in full which is likely to result in a residual surplus remaining in the School Block after calculating the schools budget shares which would then be transferred to High Needs Block (estimated at £ 1.170m equating to 0.39% based on indicative funding announced in October 2019)

or

Model 2 - allocating the NFF in full but using reduced Age Weighted Pupil Units to effect a transfer of 0.5% from Schools Block to High Needs Block.

The  impact on individual schools budgets of each model was provided at Appendix 1 to the consultation document.

The estimated residual balance against the Schools Block occurs because the methodology that the DfE use to allocate the 2020-21 Schools Block funding at local authority level is slightly different to the methodology for allocating the NFF to schools.  The allocation at local authority level is on the basis of notional NFF school level budget shares calculated using the October 2018 census data.   Then the total primary funding through the NFF is aggregated and divided by the total primary October 2018 census pupil numbers to arrive at a Primary Unit of Funding (PUF).  Likewise, the total secondary funding is aggregated and divided by the total secondary October 2018 October 2018 census to arrive at a Secondary Unit of Funding (SUF).  It is these PUFs and SUFs multiplied by the October 2019 census pupil numbers that are used to allocate the actual 2020-21 funding to local authorities through the NFF factor of the Schools Block.  In addition to this, funding is allocated for premises costs and growth in pupil numbers between the October 2018 and 2019 censuses to arrive a total Schools Block allocation.

It was agreed by Schools Forum members that the recommendation to Cabinet would be only to agree a transfer from the Schools block once the NFF was allocated in full, and on the basis that a residual surplus was left after doing this i.e. the transfer would be on the basis of Model 1 as the transfer would be achieved without having a negative impact on school budget shares as the NFF can be applied in full with all schools receiving their full core allocations.   

As the modelling included in the consultation has been prepared using the provisional Schools Block funding allocation for 2020-21, the actual amount of funding that will be available to transfer to the High Needs Block cannot be confirmed until the DfE confirm the final Schools Block allocation for 2020-21 updated with the October 2019 pupil numbers and characteristics.  Once this is known the amount to transfer to the HN block may be lower or higher than the estimated 0.39%.  The Schools Forum have agreed in principle that if the actual residual balance is 0.39% or less the total balance will transfer to HN Block however if it is greater than 0.5%, only 0.5% will transfer to High Needs Block.

Cabinet members will make the final decision on the school funding formula 2020-21, taking into account the recommendation from Schools Forum, at their meeting to be held on 19 December 2019.