3.1 On 29 October a government consultation was launched “Reforming how local authorities school improvement function are funded”. The government response to this consultation can he found here. This confirms the proposals will be implemented.
3.1.2 The implementation of the proposal means there will be a reduction in the school improvement grant of 50% in financial year 2022/23, and then that it will be completely removed in the following year.
3.1.3 In 2019/20 this grant was £230,748, in 2020/21 £236,306 and 2021/22 £221,000.
3.1.4 This grant currently funds standards and achievement i.e. our school improvement model including our SPA monitoring and challenge and support work. It funds LA support plans for schools causing concern; much of our citywide disadvantaged work and support for Headteacher wellbeing. Without it we would not be able to monitor schools in the way we do; challenge them or provide support when needed. Without it also means we would be unable to support the high-profile priority work of the Brighton and Hove partnership on disadvantage and wellbeing.
3.1.5 The DFE states “It will bring funding arrangements for councils’ improvement activity closer into line with the relationship between individual academies and their MATs, which
normally top-slice funding to secure improvement support; and support our overarching policy of ensuring maintained schools and academies are funded on an equivalent basis.
3.2 Funding in the future
The government consultation states that: all school improvement activity be funded in the same way via de-delegation from schools’ budget shares. Furthermore, the consultation also says, ‘in line with our drive towards a school-led improvement system, it will put more decisions about improvement provision to schools into the hands of school leaders (via schools forums). With an average uplift in next year’s provisional core school funding allocations of 3.2%, as the beneficiaries of improvement support from councils, we believe it is right that schools contribute to the cost of such support but, in turn, they should have greater influence over the activity undertaken.
3.2.1 The risk is that no alternative funding is found, and we need to make significant changes to our offer and how we support school improvement. We would not be able to identify schools at risk of failure and be unable to support them. This means more schools are likely to fail and forced academisation of schools is much more likely. The largest slice of this fund supports support plans for ‘at risk schools’. This funding currently pays for NLEs (National leaders of Education), NLGs (National Leaders of Governance), SLEs (Specialist Leaders of Education), Interim Leadership, School to School support, SPA time, training, funding for intervention and a range of other packages to support schools. There would also be no SPA service and this in turn would undermine other services such as Headteacher Performance management, Headteacher recruitment, emergency response such as when a Headteacher goes off sick or leaves at short notice. It also means in any further emergency similar to the Covid pandemic we would have insufficient capacity to respond in a way we would want. The other key risk is that Education partnership priorities could no longer be funded to support disadvantaged pupil outcomes or Headteacher wellbeing so activity would be significantly reduced or stopped.
3.2.2 Previous to the writing of this paper we have sought to understand the views of schools on the use of funding. Through conversations at the secondary school partnership meeting (17.11.21) we know secondary schools are unanimously supportive of de-delegation. This was conditional on coproduction on use of this funding moving forward. In a survey of primary schools we found 22 out of 29 schools were supportive of de-delegation. We met with the Chair of the PRG (15.12.21) to discuss the views of primary headteachers. We agreed in this meeting that should schools choose to de-delegate, they would have much greater involvement in deciding how this money should be spent. There would be clearer systems for reporting on accountability, and a committee of representative headteachers would work with LA officers to ensure this was effective. Throughout consultation the majority were positive on de-delegation. The most positive feedback came from schools in need of intervention and support who had directly seen the impact of this funding.
3.2.3 We know currently that 19 out of 55 primary schools buy into additional SPA time. We also know 43 out of 55 primary schools buy their SPA in for External Adviser for HT Appraisal.
3.2.4 A school needs this service from the local authority to ensure no other school gets left behind. A school itself however is also always at risk of: sudden leadership changes or challenges e.g sickness or Head leaving; unfavourable Ofsted outcome. There are
several other situations including public relations or premises emergencies where this service is needed.
3.2.5 It is clear from articles such as in the TES that many nationally including National Association of Headteachers are against this cut to Local Authorities. Further debate can be seen in articles in Schoolsweek.
3.2.6 Request for de-delegation
In line with the government guidance the LA is seeking agreement from Schools Forum members (maintained mainstream schools only) to agree to de-delegation on a phase-by-phase basis for 2022/23. The proposed basis for de-delegation is shown in the table below.
||Basis for de-delegation
|School Improvement Monitoring Grant
||Amount per pupil
This would equate to £4.19 per pupil for both primary and secondary schools. The average de-delegation for primary schools would be £1,420, and for secondary schools would be £5,800.
Our intention is to come back to Schools Forum in autumn 2022 to discuss de-delegation of a further amount in 2023/24 financial year.