Agenda item

2019-20 Funding Policy for New and Expanding Schools

To seek approval to the Start-up and Diseconomy Funding Policy for New and Expanding Schools to be applied in 2019-20.


The Forum considered a report presenting the revised text for the Start-up and Diseconomy Funding Policy for New and Expanding Schools to be applied in 2019-20.  This followed on from discussions at the June 2018 Forum meeting where proposed changes to the 2018-19 policy were agreed in principle.


Supporting new and expanding schools in the initial years after they opened, often with relatively low numbers of pupils as housing developments progressed, can require significant amounts of additional financial support over a number of years.  It was important to ensure that a clear, fair and transparent funding policy was in place (and was regularly reviewed) that could be applied consistently to all new and expanding schools, placing the minimum financial burden on existing schools.  Whilst the policy document set out associated funding rates, it was stressed that these were illustrative, with final values to be agreed each year through the budget setting process.


The new policy was attached as Annex 2 to the report and contained the following three key changes that had been envisaged by the Forum at its previous meeting:


  • A new category for one-off pre-opening start-up costs to recognise synergies and other benefits that arise when a group of schools by the same provider are opening simultaneously.  This was relevant to the second school being opened by the Kings Academy Group and was a cost reduction.
  • An underlying principle of the diseconomy funding model was to link per pupil funding rates for new schools to the minimum rates that the DfE are setting into legislation through the School National Funding Formula (SNFF). The national rates will increase in 2019-20 from £3,300 to £3,500 for primary aged pupils and from£4,600 to £4,800 for secondary aged pupils.  The model had been updated with these changes, the cost of which was reflected in the DfE funding settlement.
  • A new post-opening revenue grant allocation of £250 per primary aged pupil and £500 per secondary aged pupil had been added.  This recognised that new schools experienced initial high costs of stocking up with general resources which the day to day budget allocation did not cover (and replicates the funding allocations the DfE makes to new free schools).


Appendix 3 of the Funding Model set out the forecast revenue impact from new/expanding schools, based on the Council’s updated medium term forecasts.  These would of necessity be reviewed each year as part of the Council’s budget setting process.


The Forum also received a summary outcome from the review of school place planning in Bracknell Forest (attached as Annex 4 to the report).  The review had examined the reasons why forecasts had not been as accurate as hoped.  In particular there had been a failure to react quickly enough to the falling birth rate and a reduced number of children being brought forward from new housing development over the last three years compared to what was expected from previous trends.  The summary concluded by setting out some recommendations for changes in the approach of the Council to place planning and provision.  It was acknowledged that a number of these would require further detailed consideration, including specific consultation with schools.  More accurate forecasts would be a key factor in drawing up the next School Places Plan.


RESOLVED that the updated Start-up and Diseconomy Funding Policy for New and Expanding Schools as set out in Annex 2 be agreed.

Supporting documents: