Today I am confirming that the Department for Education has corrected an error in the notional allocations of the schools national funding formula (NFF) for 2024-25.
These allocations were originally published, and notified to the House, on 17 July 2023. However, the Department has subsequently uncovered an error made by officials during the initial calculations of the NFF. Specifically, there was an error processing forecast pupil numbers, which meant that the overall cost of the core schools budget in 2024-25 would be 0.62% greater than allocated. The Department therefore issued new NFF allocations on 6th October 2023 to correct that error. The Department rectified this error as quickly as possible and—because the republication of the NFF allocations took place during parliamentary recess—I am now providing this statement at the earliest opportunity.
The Department has apologised for this error in writing to both the Chair of the Select Committee on Education and the Secretary of State. The Education Secretary has asked the permanent secretary to conduct a formal review of the quality assurance process surrounding the calculation of the NFF, with external and independent scrutiny. Peter Wyman CBE will lead this review. Improvements have already been identified to ensure that similar mistakes are not repeated.
The Government are continuing to deliver, in full, the core schools budget, which includes funding for mainstream schools and funding for high needs. It will remain at £59.6 billion in 2024-25, the highest ever in history in real terms. This is a percentage increase of 3.2% compared to 2023-24.
Through the schools NFF, average funding is £5,300 per primary school pupil and £6,830 per secondary school pupil in 2024-25, up from £5,200 and £6,720 respectively in 2023-24.
Schools have not yet received their 2024-25 funding and so the correction of this error does not mean adjusting any funding that schools have already received. Likewise, the error will not impact on the publication of the dedicated schools grant (DSG) in December, or when schools will receive their final allocations for 2024-25. The 2024-25 high needs NFF allocations (which fund provision for children with complex SEND) are also unaffected by this error, as are other funding streams outside the NFF, including the teachers’ pay additional grant (TPAG) announced in the summer.
I would also like to clarify that the recalculation of the NFF for 2024-25 does not affect the affordability of the 2023 teachers’ pay award. There has been no change to the funding that was promised as part of the pay settlement in July, and which the unions agreed meant that the pay award is properly funded.
I recognise that the correction of the NFF error will be difficult for local authorities and frustrating for some school leaders, which is why the Department has rectified the error as quickly as possible. The Department are working closely with school stakeholders, including unions, to communicate this change and support schools and local authorities.
The following key documents that have been updated and replaced with new versions on 6th October 2023 are:
The policy document for the 2024-25 NFF, which is published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-for-schools-and-high-needs'>https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-for-schools-and-high-needs
The “national funding formula: summary table”, and the “impact of the schools NFF” allocation tables, which are published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-for-schools-and-high-needs'>https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-for-schools-and-high-needs