Schools: Finance

Department for Education written question – answered at on 25 October 2023.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the letter from Susan Acland-Hood to the Chair of the Education Select Committee on National Funding Formula Update, published on 6 October 2023, for what reason was there a miscalculation in the total amount of funding allocated to schools for the 2024-25 financial year.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the letter from Susan Acland-Hood to the Chair of the Education Select Committee on National Funding Formula Update, published on 6 October 2023, what software her Department used to originally calculate the total funding allocated to schools for the 2024-25 financial year.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the letter from Susan Acland-Hood to the Chair of the Education Select Committee on National Funding Formula Update, published on 6 October 2023, whether she has made an assessment of the potential accuracy of other funding allocated by her Department to (a) local authorities and (b) other educational institutions this year; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department informed Local Authorities and academy trusts of the republished schools National Funding Formula (NFF) on 6 October 2023, alongside the publication of the corrected NFF allocations. In the initial NFF calculations for 2024-2025, there was an error processing forecast pupil numbers, which meant that the overall cost of the core schools budget using the announced schools NFF arrangements would be 0.62% greater than allocated. The Permanent Secretary has taken full responsibility for the error made by officials and has written to both the Secretary of State and the Education Select Committee to apologise.

Since identifying the error, officials have reviewed other funding models to confirm that a similar issue has not occurred elsewhere. The Secretary of State has asked the Department's Permanent Secretary to conduct an independent and external review of the quality assurance process surrounding the calculation of the NFF. This will provide external and independent scrutiny and will be led by Peter Wyman CBE. Officials will ensure that any recommendations from the review are applied to other allocation calculations done by the Department, not just the schools NFF.

The schools NFF calculations are mainly performed using R and RStudio. R is an open source programming language which is widely used for data analysis and processing across the public and private sectors, and RStudio is an open source development environment for using R.

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