Schools: Armed Forces

Department for Education written question – answered on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) schools with a large intake of military families are adequately provisioned and (b) school roll audits are carried out termly rather than annually in those schools.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education)

State-funded schools in England that are attended by children and young people from military families (known as service children) receive additional funding in the form of the service pupil premium (SPP). This funding is currently worth £320 per annum for each pupil who is recorded as a service child at the time of the autumn school census, or who has had service child status at any point in the last six years.

Schools have flexibility over how they use the SPP to support the pastoral and academic needs that service children may have as a result of growing up in a military household. These can include needs relating to the impact of moving schools frequently during their primary and secondary education.

Schools are required in each termly school census to record information about the number of service children on roll. However, allocations of SPP funding for each financial year only draw on data from the autumn school census return. This ’lagged’ approach to funding gives schools certainty over their budgets, as they know the number of pupils for which they will receive funding in the year. Therefore, when pupil numbers fall, schools have time to respond before this starts to impact their budgets.

The department has allocated £246 million in growth and falling rolls funding to local authorities in the 2022/23 financial year. This is an increase of £12 million over the amount allocated for 2021/22. Growth funding can be used by local authorities to support schools with managing a significant growth in pupil numbers or a short-term decrease in pupil numbers, where those places are forecast to be required in future years.

The responsibility for how growth and falling rolls funding is allocated rests with local authorities. If an academy or maintained school takes on significant numbers of additional pupils because of a growing population in the area, then local authorities can provide funding from the growth pot they hold locally.

Furthermore, schools in which more than 6% of pupils joined at a non-typical date through the school year at any point in the last three years also attract funding through the mobility factor in the national funding formula. For years 1 to 11, this means the first census when the pupil was in the school was a Spring or Summer census. For the reception year, the first census is the Summer census. This year, the department allocated £44 million to local authorities through this factor. Local authorities allocate the funding they receive to schools through their local funding formula.

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