The money schools receive each year is currently based on a formula involving 37 different factors. The NSFF that comes into effect from April 2013 has 12 factors (of which only 10 apply in Herefordshire). There is a national concern that NSFF will penalise rural counties like Herefordshire that have a disproportionate number of primary schools compared to the rest of the country.
The NSFF allocates each school, irrespective of whether primary or secondary, a lump sum and a per pupil amount. There are other allocations but these two factors are critical to the funding received by each school. Schools across Herefordshire will receive a funding allocation for 2013 which is different from their current funding amount: some will gain and some will lose. The local authority is particularly concerned at the long term impact on some of its small rural schools.
To minimise the impact of the new funding, the government will, for at least the next two financial years, limit the reduction in funding any school can receive to 1.5 per cent under a minimum funding guarantee.
Councillor Graham Powell, cabinet member for education and infrastructure, said: “We are concerned about the long term impact the government’s plans are likely to have on our schools. In a rural county like ours, it isn’t appropriate to have children spending hours a day being transported around the county on buses, which is why we have so many small schools compared with other areas.
“We are working with schools to make sure they understand the new funding formula, the implications for specific schools and also to encourage collaborative working arrangements that will help to secure financial sustainability. In the meantime, we shall continue to lobby the government for fairer funding for rural schools.”