Waiting for the Second Consultation on the National Funding Formula

I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering when we will get the second consultation on the NFF (and the results of the first one).  Now the elections are over, we have a pretty small window before the next purdah for the EU referendum.  If it’s not released then, it will have to wait until after 23rd June, leaving very little time for Schools Forums and local authorities to compile a response before the summer break. Either way, a 12-week consultation seems unlikely. Then there’s the matter of the Early Years consultation – it is such a pity DfE couldn’t get their act together and give us a complete picture.

I’m also wondering exactly what information will be available. Did you notice the varying ways that the consultation papers described the next stage?

The NFF main document referred to balancing different factors, weightings, the primary/secondary ratio, the balance between basic entitlement and additional needs, pupil characteristics versus per-school factors, the national MFG and cap, and the impact of the formula on schools and LAs.

The main paper on High Needs funding arrangements stated that the second consultation will cover detailed factor weightings, the impact for LAs, transitional protection, the distribution of post-16 high needs funding including proxy indicators and how to recognise that some SEND would not be captured by any proxies.

However, the Case for Change document says something slightly different: ‘The second stage of the consultation will be the point at which we consult on the values attached to the formula factors and show the indicative impact on the funding of schools and local authorities.’

And the High Needs funding technical note also mentions ‘values and weightings for the various factors and adjustments, more detail on how the formula would work in practice and the impact, including the arrangements for transitional protection.’

I simply don’t see how values can be published at this stage, unless there has been a radical departure from the process of negotiating Departmental Expenditure Limits (DELs) and the Treasury has given DfE a settlement for the Schools Block already. Even then, they could be changed when the October 2016 census data is available.

I’m thinking the most likely scenario is for DfE to take the baseline returns for 2016/17 and rework them as if the NFF had been in place then. But this isn’t the same as providing values for 2017/18.

Does anyone know anything more?