The Government recently announced its approach for early years funding allocations in England during the spring term 2021 and beyond. We have summarised the key points below, and you can read the full guidance documents here:
How are funding entitlements calculated for 2021 spring term?
During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the DfE had made the decision to keep funding entitlements at ‘pre-pandemic levels’ due to the continued low uptake of places in early year settings.
For spring term 2021 (which covers January 2021 to March 2021 period), Government returned to the ‘normal’ approach of funding based on the levels recorded in the Spring Census in January 2021. This census also counted children who would normally be present during census week but were absent due reasons relating to the pandemic (e.g. self-isolation and withdrawal by parents due to safety concerns).
What happens if attendance rates rise after the census has taken place?
Local authorities may be eligible for a ‘top-up’ of entitlement funding on a case-by-case basis. If a local authority provides evidence that attendance was below 85% of the January 2020 census which then increases in the spring term, the government will top-up to fund these additional places. However this funding is limited or ‘capped’ to an equivalent to 85% of their January 2020 census levels.
To find the average attendance over spring term and deliver this top-up, the Government will use a combination of the January 2021 census and the next count (which takes place at the start of summer term 2021) to find the likely ‘mid-point’ average attendance level for spring. The Government top-up for eligible local authorities will bring the spring term allocation up to the average spring levels, capped up to 85% of January 2020 census levels.
How will summer and autumn 2021 entitlements be calculated?
Under normal circumstances, local authorities would be paid for summer term based on the January census levels. Due to the pandemic, the January 2021 census data may be lower than normal, so Government have decided on a different approach to funding for 2021 to 2022.
All local authorities will be funded on a termly attendance count basis in 2021 to 2022, based on actual attendance.
Summer 2021 term (to cover April 2021 to August 2021 period) will be based on 2021 summer count and autumn 2021 term (to cover September 2021 to December 2021 period) will be based on 2021 autumn count. We are waiting to hear whether children absent due to reasons relating to the pandemic will also be recorded in the count, as was the case in the January 2021 census.
What about spring term 2022?
The Government plans to calculate funding for spring term 2022 (to cover January 2022 to March 2022 period) based on the results of the January census during 2022.