New report on consequences of proposed national funding formula – Friday 17 March 2017

This week I report on the growing pressure on Government to scrap the proposed national funding formula, the launch of a new consultation on revised School Exclusion guidance and publication of new guidance on the Apprenticeships Levy.

Report on the consequences of the Government’s proposed national funding formula
Today the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has published the first comprehensive review of the consequences of the Government’s proposed national funding formula. The report raises concerns that cash will not reach the poorest pupils, that secondary schools with the most deprived intakes will lose out, as well as those schools with growing in-year admissions.

Given that every school is facing real-term losses by 2019/20 because of the removal of the education services grant, inflation and the funding formula in combination, it estimates that primary schools will lose about £74,000 on average each (the equivalent of two teachers) and secondary schools will lose about £291,000 (the equivalent of six teachers).

Revised School Exclusion guidance consultation
On Tuesday, the Government launched a five-week consultation on revised statutory School Exclusion guidance, which it says aims to “clarify” areas that were “causing confusion in the system”, rather than change existing policy. It also includes “corrected descriptions of legal requirements” that it said weren’t clear enough in the previous guidance which dates from 2012.

The Government has also issued two non-statutory annexes to the document, one for Headteachers and the other for parents, to help them understand the exclusion process. The proposed changes are due to come into effect in September 2017 and the consultation runs until 25 April if you would like to submit a response (via email: Exclusion.guidance.consultation@education.gov.uk).

Apprentice Levy
This week the DfE released guidance for schools on the Apprenticeships Levy that will come into effect next month. It provides information specific to schools on what apprenticeships are, how schools can use them, and how the apprenticeship levy and public sector target applies.

The levy applies to all employers operating in the UK, but only employers with an annual pay bill of over £3 million will pay the levy, charged at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s annual pay bill. The way in which the levy applies to schools depends on the type of school and the overall employer. For example, for schools where the governing body is the employer (and has an annual pay bill of over £3million) it will need to pay the levy, and if the local authority is the employer (for those schools with an annual pay bill of over £3 million) it will pay the levy.

Subject to parliamentary approval of regulations, public sector bodies in England with 250 or more employees will be set a target to employ an average of at least 2.3% of their headcount as new apprentices over the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2021. The target is for new ‘apprenticeship starts’, which includes both existing employees who start on an apprenticeship, and newly employed apprentices.

Schools in England with 250 or more employees will be in scope of the target, and will therefore need to have regard to it. They will be required to publish certain information annually on their progress towards meeting the target, and send information to the DfE. The DfE has indicated that it will shortly publish employer guidance on what information needs to be published and shared, and the specific format in which it should be returned. The first reports will be due by 30 September 2018.