They say a week is a long time in politics. A week ago we had proposals for a national funding formula that meant all schools would be funded direct by the EFA from 2019-2020. In this week’s budget it was announced that every school would be an academy by 2020.
There are also some important deadlines relating to pensions academies need to be aware of.
All schools to be academies
In his budget (16 March 2016) the Chancellor effectively ended the association between schools and local authorities when he announced all schools must become academies by 2020 or have official plans to do so by 2022. Whilst the majority of English secondary schools are now academies (2,075 out of 3,381 – over 60%), fewer primary schools have converted (2,440 out of 16,766 – less than 15%). There are also regional differences in the concentration of academies as the map below shows.
With government all supporting collaboration between schools to ensure they deliver value for money, it is inevitable that the majority of conversions will be as a result of schools joining existing Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) or for good schools to lead in the formation of new MATs (consisting of 5 – 10 schools).
Whatever the type of school you work in and expect to work in over the coming years, two of the essential ingredients for success are sufficient funding and a supply of good teachers. Schools currently face real-terms cuts from cost increases in pensions and National Insurance and a recruitment crisis.
School Business Services are able to help schools through the conversion process, and in providing advice on immediate finance and HR matters – call us on 0345 222 1551 • option 2 if you need our assistance.
Other budget news
There was an extra £500m announced in the budget to support the introduction of the ‘fair funding formula’ that is currently under consultation (see earlier blog). The funding is aimed at addressing imbalances in the system, and to ensure the formula is up and running by the end of the Parliament.
School sport received a boost with the proceeds of a sugar tax on drinks to boost sport in primary schools – with £520m expected to be generated. English secondary schools will be able to apply for new funding of £285m per year to provide pupils with extra lessons or high quality extra-curricular activities (including sport and the arts) for at least an additional 5 hours a week. Funding of £10m per year has also been set aside to expand breakfast clubs from September 2017.
There will also be a new focus on school performance in northern England – with £20m of funding set aside to reduce the imbalance between the north and the rest of the country. There will be investment in expanding academy chains and bringing new sponsors to the north. In addition, Nick Weller will lead an in-depth report into transforming education across the Northern Powerhouse.
There will be a review, carried out by Professor Adrian Smith, to consider whether maths should be compulsory until the age of 18.
The main budget tax proposals, outside of education are:
- Reductions in the rates of Capital Gains Tax
- Introduction of a Lifetime ISA for under 40s
- Changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief
- Abolition of Class 2 NIC
- Reduction in the corporation tax
- Reforms to corporate tax losses
Education Excellence Everywhere
The DfE’s whitepaper, Education Excellence Everywhere, sets out plans for the next 5 years.
Please click here for a copy of the whitepaper.
There are a number of proposals in the paper, covered by the 8 chapters:
- Great teachers – Including reform of the NCTL, teacher vacancies website, development of initial teacher training, new standards for professional development and an expanded role for Education Endowment Fund.
- Great leaders – Including changes to leadership qualifications, move to skills-based governance, the introduction of an ‘improvement period’ to allow the time and stability to put in sustainable improvement.
- School-led system with every school and academy. There will be extra information for parents and changes to the school admission system.
- Preventing underperformance – Helping schools go from good to great: school-led improvement, with scaffolding and support where it’s needed.
- A world-leading curriculum – No new curriculum or assessment proposals are anticipated, so that there can be a period of consolidation and stability. There will be some reform to alternative provision so that mainstream schools are accountable.
- Accountability – There will be new accountability measures for MATs with performance tables. The focus will be on embedding reforms to primary, secondary and 16-19 accountability.
- Having the right resources – This covers the national funding formula and pledges to continue with pupil premium.
Year-end tasks for academies – pension schemes
The Teachers’ Pension Scheme has issued a reminder of the returns required over the next 3 months.
Academies have been asked to update the contact information held by 31 March, this will ensure documentation and reminders are sent to the most appropriate person. The End of Year Certificate (EOYC) will be available from the TPS website on 25 April; this needs to be returned by 31 May 2016. The audited EOYC must be returned by 30 September.
The Annual Service Return (ASR) will be issued in April and will need to be completed and returned by 6 July 2016.
TPS advise if you haven’t already done so you should:
- Ensure your starters are up to date by completing the TR6 template
- Ensure your leavers are up to date by completing the TR8 template
- Check any outstanding error files, amend and upload the data
For more information click here.
Local Government Pensions Schemes will also require information from academies in April. This will vary from scheme to scheme to please ensure you are aware of what is required from you.
In recent EFA bulletins (visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/efa-e-bulletin):
- Post 16 allocation statements for 2016-2017 academic year are now available
- NCTL is inviting applications from lead schools to design and deliver training in secondary maths and/or physics
- Schools and academies are strongly advised to look at the schools financial health & efficiency tools launched by the EFA in January
- A reminder to submit claims to cover national non-domestics rates
- Change in the deadline for submitting KS1 and KS2 teacher assessments – now 30 June 2016.