Schools, early years settings and special needs provision will benefit from an increase in funding next year after Wiltshire’s Schools Forum agreed the schools budget for 2021 – 2022.
Under proposals agreed at the Schools Forum the Department for Education’s Dedicated Schools Grant of £406.342m will mean a 3.55% increase for schools, 4.96% increase for early years and a 9.68% increase for provision for children with special educational needs or disabilities.
The funding is due to be signed off by Wiltshire Council’s full council meeting when the overall budget is set next month.
Next year Wiltshire is able to fund mainstream schools with a guaranteed increase of at least 3% in the main pupil led school funding factors – the amount given per pupil. This brings Wiltshire into line with the national funding formula which is positive news for Wiltshire’s mainstream schools.
It was also agreed the overall early years funding will increase from £27.827million to £28.217 million.
For early years settings; nurseries and childminders, the funding will increase by 8p per hour to support entitled disadvantaged two-year-olds and by 5p per hour to support three and four-year-olds attending provision.
The demand for provision for those children and young people with SEND including the cost of providing statutory services, continues to exceed the DfE Grant funding otherwise known as The High Needs Block.
Wiltshire Council has a forecast overspend across its Dedicated Schools Grant budgets of £9.123 million for 20-21 and a funding shortfall is anticipated for 21-22 estimated at £6.943 million. The number of children requiring support is rising at 10.73% in Wiltshire and responding to this need exceeds the level of DfE funding. DfE consultations are expected in 2021 with regard to high needs and SEN funding. Officers are working alongside the DfE who have acknowledged demand is outstripping funding allocations nationally.
Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said: “We have carefully viewed our budget allocation and after many years of underfunding for Wiltshire Schools we are now seeing a welcome increase we can share across our schools and early years settings. We know however demand for SEND services continues to rise above the funding received so we continue to have to manage this overall. Our school and early years leaders have been an important part in determining how this budget is set and I’m delighted funding is increasing at this level.”