Review looking at evolving schools’ landscape is published – Friday 2 December 2016

This week I report on the publication of the NFER’s research into the evolving schools’ landscape since the introduction of Regional Schools Commissioners, the announcement of additional Government funding to help address school underperformance and the publication of the Government’s response to the Early Years Funding consultation.

Research looking at the educational landscape since RSCs were introduced
New research published by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) looks at the evolving schools’ landscape since Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) were introduced in 2014 and explores how regions have changed in terms of the number and proportion of academies and free schools. Key findings include:

  • 29% of all state schools in England are now academies;
  • the proportion of academies continues to vary by phase and RSC region;
  • in 2016 primary academisation has exceeded secondary growth for the 1st time;
  • the difference in academisation within regions is greater than differences between regions;
  • there are variations in the proportions of underperforming LA maintained schools becoming sponsor-led academies;
  • the number of schools in single and multi-academy trusts by region also varies; this may make it more difficult for some RSCs to find sufficient sponsors in the future.

The NFER’s second report will be published in early 2017 using the latest performance data to explore the future challenges RSCs face to support schools in their areas.

New funding for school improvement
On Wednesday, the Education Secretary announced a new wave of funding meant to address underperformance and “help ensure every child has a good school place”. These include:

  • from September 2017, a £50m a year fund for local authorities to continue to monitor and commission school improvement for low-performing maintained schools;
  • a new “Strategic School Improvement Fund” of £140m will also be set up for academies and maintained schools to ensure that resources are targeted at schools most in need of support to drive up standards;
  • the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has committed to spend a further £20m over the next 2 years to “scale up” and disseminate evidence-based programmes and approaches.

The Government’s ambition remains that all schools will become academies forming a fully school-led system, where Headteachers and school leaders collaborate to drive improvement in their schools.

Government response to Early Years Funding consultation
Yesterday the DfE published its response to the Early Years funding consultation which ran for six weeks from 11 August to 22 September 2016. The funding formula will allocate funding for three and four-year olds, both the existing universal 15 hour entitlement and the new 30 hour entitlement for children of working parents. It will commence in April 2017 for the existing 15 hours alongside the funding rate uplift announced in the 2015 Spending Review; and for the additional 15 hours when 30 hours of free childcare is implemented nationally from September 2017.

The formula will feature three funding factors that determine the funding per child that each local authority receives as follows:

  • a base rate of funding for each child;
  • an additional needs factor, reflecting the extra costs of supporting children with additional needs to achieve good early learning and development outcomes; and
  • an area cost adjustment, reflecting the different costs of providing childcare in different areas of the country.

Though nearly 80% of LAs will see hourly funding rates rise, no local authority will face a reduction in its hourly funding rate of more than 10% against its 2016-17 baseline as a result of introducing this formula.