Over the last year many schools with sixth forms will have been trying to get their collective heads around the implications of the funding changes. Many will already be au-fait with all of these changes and have their Sixth Form team, data team and business managers all working in beautiful harmony to produce sweet music to the tune of thousands!
However even if this is the case, with the October Census looming large this week and many of us “in our counting houses” checking all the relevant data, we hope this is a timely moment to remind colleagues of a few salient points to check before you hit “send” on the Census. With many thanks to a range of colleagues who have sat through briefings, been on courses contributed to and checked the details of this. We can’t claim it’s bullet (or even blackbird) proof but we hope it’s at least useful.
The PowerPoint attached at the end of this blog provides the details and this short blog simply highlights the main points that are covered within it.
Slides 1-4 provide the background to the changes, the context of school sixth forms nationally and the agendas that have shaped the position in which we now find ourselves. The key messages of Slide 4 make it clear the burden of responsibility lies with schools and the potential impact is considerable.
Formula and Banding
Slides 5 and 7 give a detailed understanding of the components of the formula for funding. This will allow you to understand how much you are likely to be affected by the hours each student is registered for, the weighting of each programme and the slight difference in deprivation calculations. It hopefully also makes clear slight changes such as the retention factor is not qualification driven anymore but student driven. The banding on Slide 6 show the current understanding of the funding rates and the differences based on hours or age. This could have implications for those sixth forms who have higher numbers of 18 year olds (Note: 18 before the start of the academic year not during!) or those who hold more students who are not classed as full-time.
Slide 7 summarises the critical exceptions to watch out for and consider: conditional English and Maths funding, resits, retakes and withdrawals could all potentially have an impact on the total funding.
Census data collection
Slides 8-12 summarise what is collected by the census and therefore what is eligible for funding and those aspects which, whilst possibly considered valuable, will not attract funding. A useful list to double-check on Slide 12 explains the common things that schools get wrong on their data entry – well worth a double, triple check as mistakes could be very costly.
Slides 13 to 17 show some examples of how schools may choose to vary their approaches to guided learning hours. This allows a consistent approach without creating huge workload. A useful summary on Slide 17 explains how Sims can make this task more effective; it provides the opportunity perhaps to be more reflective about the effect of choices that have been made along the way with regard to individual students.
Slides 18-20 simple offers some checklists that may be useful, we cannot pretend they are exhaustive as every school will have it is own nuances that make their data entry unique. However they may act as a useful starting point.
We would have loved to gather colleagues together to discuss these changes but it was simply too close to the start of term. However we would be keen to gather feedback on this. We hope it’s been useful and then when your pie or pot comes in it really does allow you to sing!
Moving forward we would also like to meet and collaboratively discuss wider approaches to Sixth Form later in the term with a VI Form WSDN Forum. It would be great to share approaches to curriculum, qualifications, admissions and intervention across the county. Please do let us know if you have something unique to share or a specific aspect you think it would be useful explore.
Sixth Form Funding 2014-5: Sixth Form funding v2