£34.5 million in additional cash to support Notts pupils

Councillors in Nottinghamshire have welcomed millions of pounds in extra funding to support schools and some of the most at-need pupils.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 2:13 pm

However, some have warned the increase needs to be higher amid a ‘dire need’ for fairer funding to support Nottinghamshire’s children.

The Government has confirmed Nottinghamshire Council will see its Dedicated Schools Grant – used to support education services – increased by £34.5 million for the coming financial year.

About £24.4m of this will be an increase in Schools Block funding, cash allocated to schools independently of any specific factors relating to its pupils.

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Coun Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP and Nottinghamshire Council leader, outside County Hall, the council headquarters in West Bridgford.

The authority’s High Needs Block, which is spent supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, will also see its funding increase by slightly more than £10m – an 11.5 per cent rise.

This section of the council’s budget is currently experiencing ‘difficulties’, documents state, with a forecasted overspend of £1.5m for 2021/22.

But councillors were told this is an issue experienced across the country, with further backing required to help schools manage and support SEND pupils.

Overall, the grant increase takes the authority’s educational support from £702.3m in 2021/22 to £736.8m for the coming financial year.

The funding will now be distributed between Nottinghamshire schools, academies and early years providers to boost education provision and increase per-head spending.

Speaking in a policy committee meeting, Coun John Wilmott said: “May I say how important this schools and early years funding is.

“This is the money that gives our young children extra opportunities to help with learning, so they can have a standard of education that will help them in later life.”

The way the funding will be distributed to schools and education prov iders was decided after a meeting of the county’s schools forum.

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Fairer funding

However, Coun Kate Foale, Labour group leader, said there is a need for fairer funding for schools moving forward and urged Coun Ben Bradley, council leader and Mansfield MP, to lobby the Government.

“Anybody who has worked or is associated with schools will know how tight their budgets are,” she said.

“There is a dire need for better funding for schools, particularly in this county, to get fairer funding. I know it’s outside this county’s [control] but we all appreciate this.

“It would be really good if the leader could make this point on our behalf as we need to continue to lobby, and to get across what’s really happening in schools.”

Coun Bradley said he has ‘consistently’ made the point and believes further Government investment should be provided to improve schools across the country.

He said: “In my personal view, if there’s anything the Government should be spending money on it should be schools and education.

“I would do that to the detriment of all else if I’m honest, because it’s clearly the key building block to all sorts of things.

“But I’m pleased to welcome within the Levelling Up White Paper last week that Nottinghamshire will be one of the education investment zones, which will help us attract more support and funding across teacher retention, SEND and other areas.”

The committee approved the recommendations set out by the schools forum to distribute the funds to education providers.

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