SCHOOLS in Somerset will have more money to spend per pupil this year, but some will see their overall funding allocation fall.

Somerset County Council has published a list of the funding which every state school in the county will receive for 2018/19, and how much that works out for each individual pupil.

The county’s share of the national education budget has risen by more than three per cent. This is in light of more than 400 additional new pupils joining the school system in the past 12 months, and changes in the way that funding is calculated.

But while most schools will see some increase in funding, some have actually seen their allocation reduced.

The council has welcomed the rise in funding, but said that its schools remain historically “low funded” and that it will continue to lobby for further increases.

The government announced its intentions for a new national funding formula in December 2016, claiming that the existing system was “unfair, opaque and out of date.”

The money is currently given to schools via the local authority, but could be given directly to each school from the government by 2020/21.

For the 2018/19 financial year, Somerset’s schools will receive a total budget of £282.094M, based on the national funding formula.

Taken as a whole, this represents a rise of 3.5 per cent from last year’s allocation of £272.643M.

But it does not include funding for children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND), funding for early years provision (such as pre-schools and nurseries) or a number of central services provided directly by the council.

When these are taken into account, the total funding for this year rises to £366.050M.

Martin Young, the council’s finance strategic manager for adults,  children and public health, said that this reflected a rising number of pupils and the implementation of the fairer funding system at a national level.

He said: “This funding is delivered through the Department for Education’s Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and as such is ring-fenced to educational provision. It does not therefore form part of the local authority’s net budget.

“Somerset will have available £366.050M for 2018/19…  as a result of demographic change (442 more pupils) and the fairer funding implementation.”

  • Largest rise in pupils: Northgate Primary School, Bridgwater (134.7 per cent)
  • Largest fall in pupils: Hatch Beauchamp Primary School (minus 25 per cent)
  • Largest rise in funding: Northgate Primary School (159.6 per cent)
  • Largest fall in funding: St John’s Church of England VC Infants School, Glastonbury (minus 14.18 per cent)
  • Highest funding per pupil: Exford Church of England First School (£8647.68)
  • Lowest funding per pupil: Preston Church of England Primary School (£3298.83)
  • Mean funding per pupil across Somerset: £4,306.59 In the majority of cases, schools which have seen a rise in the number of pupils have also seen their overall funding increase.

Sharp rises in the allocation – such as Northgate Primary School in Bridgwater, or Primrose Lane in Yeovil – can be explained by the school being recently opened, and new classes coming through for the first time.

The government has guaranteed that the amount of cash for every pupil will rise by a minimum of 0.5 per cent – but it will not rise above three per cent.

Mr Young said that the council should continue to ask for a higher increase from the government, given that the area had been underfunded in the past.

He said: “Somerset should continue to lobby for removal of the cap, given it is historically a low funded authority and a disparity will still remain, given that traditionally high funded authorities will still have a guaranteed increase.”

The mean funding per pupil varies across the five districts when both primary and secondary schools are taken into account.

West Somerset children receive the highest amount on average (£5,052.90 per pupil), followed by South Somerset (£4,312.47), Mendip (£4,267.62), Sedgemoor (£4,235.69) and finally Taunton Deane (£4,148.01).

Exford Church of England First School will receive more than £8,600 for each of its 22 pupils, giving it the highest per pupil funding in the county (as opposed to the highest overall budget).

By contrast, the 442 pupils at Preston Church of England Primary School in Yeovil will receive only around £3,300 each.

There is also considerable variation within different schools in the same settlements; Bridgwater’s primary schools can receive as low as £3,500 or as high as £5,900 per pupil.

A spokesman said: “The funding a school gets will vary depending on the intake of children each year – both in terms of numbers and various factors which attract additional funding, such as free school meal status, prior attainment or income deprivation.

“It’s described as ‘pupil-led’ funding, and means that schools get the funding tailored to the needs of their pupils.

“If a school has seen a reduction in funding, it will mean that its intake has for whatever reason attracted less funding through the formula (not ours, a national formula) either because they have lower pupil numbers or the make-up of that year’s cohort attract less through the formula.”

Mr Young admitted in January that some schools “may be required to invoke redundancy procedures as a result of reducing pupil numbers and/ or increasing costs compared with the level of funding.”