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Quarterly update for academies from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

| Duncan & Toplis | 30 April 2024

Each fortnight, ESFA publishes information for academies on the GOV.UK website which lays out the latest updates, things to be actioned and reminders on previous updates.

Below, our expert Academies Team has provided a round-up of everything you need to know from a financial perspective from 2024’s updates so far.

January 2024

  • Level 3 Early Years Educator Apprenticeship Funding Band - ESFA announced that the funding band for the Level 3 Early Years Educator apprenticeship will increase from April 2024. This will increase from £6,000 to £7,000, enabling the Early Years workforce to deliver childcare reforms announced in the Spring 2023 budget.
  • National Tutoring Programme grant - Academies were reminded to make the most of their National Tutoring Programme grants until 31 August 2024. The grant can be used to subsidise 50% of tutoring costs - you do not have to spend your funding allocation in full to benefit and the grant can be used to deliver tuition in the school holidays.
  • Revised allocations for the newly qualified teachers grant for 2021 to 2022 - ESFA published the revised allocations for the newly qualified teachers grant for 2021 to 2022 and schools affected by the amendments are able to view their corrected grant funding allocations.

February 2024

  • Funding for mental health training - Eligible state-funded schools and colleges are now able to claim a senior mental health lead training grant worth £1,200, for training due to start by 31 July. If you previously claimed a grant and your trained lead has left your setting, you can apply for a second grant.
  • 16 to 19 funding arrangements for 2024 to 2025 - ESFA published details on how 16 to 19 funding will work for the 2024 to 2025 academic year. The national funding rate has increased for students aged 16 and 17 and students aged 18 and over with high needs in band 5 to £4,843. ESFA will also continue to fund an extra 40 hours per student.
  • Fully funded training for Further Education Mastery Specialists - The Department for Education has expanded the Further Education Mastery Specialists programme for post-16 level 2 maths, with fully funded training for at least 80 Further Education teachers in 2024 to 2025.
  • Updated good practice guide for internal scrutiny in academy trusts - ESFA updated their good practice guide for internal scrutiny in academy trusts. This guide provides suggestions as to how trusts can put in place internal scrutiny arrangements that meet the requirements set out in the Academies Trust Handbook (ATH).
  • Budget Forecast Return to be moved to the new Department for Education Sign In - Budget Forecast Return will go live in June and academies will need a Department for Education Sign In account to access the service. Most academies will already have an account, but those who don’t will receive an email inviting them to create an account.
  • General annual grant allocation guides 2024 to 2025 - ESFA published the general annual grant allocation guidelines for 2024 to 2025. This guidance is for all academies, including those opening between April 2024 and March 2025. Allocation statements to be issued from late February to the end of April.
  • Mainstream schools additional grant allocations - ESFA published the mainstream schools additional grant actual allocations for 2023 to 2024 for new and growing schools. This applies to schools that have opened in the past seven years and are still adding year groups in the 2023 to 2024 academic year (based on the October 2023 school census).
  • Teachers’ pay additional grant allocations - ESFA published teachers’ pay additional grant allocations for 2023 to 2024 for new and growing schools (based on the October 2023 school census).

March 2024

  • Academy allocation statements for 2024 to 2025 - ESFA announced it has started to issue pre-16 and 16 to 19 allocation statements for all academies and academy sixth forms, including those that opened in February and March this year. These will all be issued by the end of April.
  • Changes to UK company law - The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act became law in October 2023 and Companies House has been getting ready to introduce the measures brought in by the act, from 4 March 2024. There is information available on the changes to UK company law and a blog about how you can get ready for the changes. In summary, there are new responsibilities for all new and existing company directors and PSCs.
  • Additional teachers’ pension funding from April - ESFA announced the Department for Education has secured £1.25 billion to support eligible settings with the increased teachers’ pension scheme employer contribution rate in the financial year 2024 to 2025.
  • Publication of new governance guides - The Department for Education published two new governance guides to replace the governance handbook 2019 - one for academy trusts and one for maintained schools. The new guides provide clearer and more concise guidance and also include statutory policies guidance, but do not introduce any new policies.
  • New general annual grant pooling clause available for funding agreements - The Department for Education is giving trusts an option to add a clause to their master funding agreement (MFA). This will put the right to pool general annual grant (GAG) funding on a contractual footing. Trusts can choose to adopt this clause without moving to the latest version of the model MFA and trusts remain free to decide which financial operating model they use.
  • Academies Accounts Direction 2023 to 2024 - ESFA published the Academies Accounts Direction 2023 to 2024. Trustees will find the direction helpful in ensuring they fulfil their financial reporting responsibilities.

April 2024

  • Updated funding for time off timetable for early career teachers and mentors - ESFA published updated funding for time off timetable for early career teachers and mentors. This applies to people who participated in the national roll-out of the early career framework reforms conditions of grant, and payments will be made from the end of the academic year 2023 to 2024.
  • Backfill payments for time off timetable for early career framework mentor training - ESFA published updated conditions of grant for backfill payments for time off timetable for early career framework mentor training for the academic year 2023 to 2024. Payments will be made from the end of the academic year 2023 to 2024.
  • National non-domestic rates claim form - The national non-domestic rates (NNDR) claim portal for academies went live and the submission deadline for claims is 31st January 2025. This is for academies that opted out of the current NNDR process because their billing authority has decided not to implement the central payment process. Where the billing authority has adopted the central NNDR payment process, ESFA will pay the billing authority on behalf of the academy.
  • Teacher Mentoring Programme - Applications are open for the third cohort of the Teacher Mentoring Programme in further education. The training begins on 6 May and will run until 19 July.
  • Budget Forecast Return 2024 - The Budget Forecast Return (BFR) guidance has been updated (academies budget forecast guidance for completing the online form). This year’s excel workbooks have been added to academies budget forecast return. When the BFR goes live, it will be on a new authentication system called DfE Sign-in (DSI) and the Identity and Access Management System (IDAMs) will no longer be used. You will need a DSI account to access the form and all trust users should have received an email from the DSI team about how to activate your DSI account.
  • Best practice guidance for the Local Government Pension Scheme - The Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) Working Group has published its best practice guidance to support academy trusts in understanding their LGPS obligations and navigating financial challenges relating to pensions.
  • Levelling Up Premium - From Autumn 2024, the Levelling Up Premium (LUP) will be worth up to £6,000 annually. This applies to key STEM and technical subject teachers in the first five years of their career, including maths, construction and engineering, and early years education.

If you work for an academy trust and are looking for support - whether it’s external audit, internal scrutiny, VAT, cyber-security, budget forecast, charitable objects or pensions - our expert team can help.

Visit our academies page or get in touch to find out more.

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