Agenda item

Dedicated Schools Budget and School Funding Formula 2023/24


The Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement presented a report on the Dedicated Schools Budget and Schools Funding Formula for 2023/24.


The Cabinet Member explained that the primary source of funding for education-related activities came from the Department for Education (DfE) via the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).  The DSG consisted of four funding blocks: the Schools block (the main allocation to schools), the Central block (central costs for core Local Authority education services), the High Needs block (additional costs for Special Educational Needs pupils) and the Early Years block (childcare and pre-school services).  The DfE’s ultimate aim was for the Schools Block funding to be passported straight to schools based on the National Funding Formula (NFF), was likely to result in a shift of funding from primaries to secondaries and result in London schools being treated less favourably over time.  In the meantime, the Council was required, in consultation with local schools and the Barking and Dagenham Schools Forum, to agree its own formula in line with the prescribed framework in the DfE’s national guidance.


The DSG allocation for 2023/24 totalled £340.374m, an increase of £12.881m on the allocation for 2022/23.  The Cabinet Member pointed out, however, that once additional funding was factored to account for an increase of 379 pupils, the real-term uplift in the DSG allocation for 2023/24 was below 2%, although the Government had subsequently announced additional grant funding separate from the DSG.


In respect of the local funding formula for 2023/24, the Cabinet Member referred to the appendix to the report which set out the proposed allocations across the various blocks.  It was noted that since that document had been published, officers had reviewed the Early Years funding and further discussions had taken place at the Schools Forum.  As a consequence, the Early Years funding rate for three- and four-year-olds was proposed to increase to £5.21 per hour (from £5.15 per hour as stated in the report).


The Cabinet Member concluded that the underfunding by the DfE was pressurising schools into cutting back on much-valued additional services which would, undoubtably, impact on pupils’ learning experience.  Despite all of the challenges faced, however, the Cabinet Member was pleased to report that Barking and Dagenham’s schools were performing extremely well and Cabinet colleagues joined in extending their appreciation to all concerned.


Cabinet resolved to:


(i)  Note the indicative allocation of Dedicated Schools Grant for 2023/24 as set out in section 2 of the report;


(ii)  Approve the strategy for the main Schools funding block as set out in section 3 of the report;


(iii)  Approve the proposed principles for the design of the LBBD Local Schools Funding Formula as set out in section 4 of the report and the consequent funding factors as set out in Appendix 1 to the report;


(iv)  Approve the allocated funding and strategy for the three other funding blocks (High Needs, Central Services and Early Years) as set out in sections 5, 6 and 7 of the report;


(v)  Approve the increases in the Early Years hourly rates, with the funding rate for three- and four-year-olds increased to £5.21 per hour and the two-year-old rate increased to £6.09 per hour; and


(vi)  Delegate authority to the Strategic Director, Children and Adults, in consultation with the Strategic Director, Finance and Investment, the Schools Forum and the Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, to approve the final 2023/24 school funding formula for submission to the Education and Schools Funding Agency.

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