Agenda item

Early Years Update


The Early Years Block is formulated to cover the cost of funding early years pupils (2-,3 & 4-year olds) in maintained nursery schools, primary schools with nursery provision and early years settings in the Private, Voluntary and Independent sector (PVIs).


2020-21 Update

Jonathan Castle explained how the DfE funded the Early Years Block before COVID-19 and the new basis for 2020/21 funding in response to the pandemic (9/12th of the January 2020 census and 3/12th of the January 2021 census).

The result of this is that the LA has been funded for April 2020 to December 2020 based on census data taken pre-COVID. Settings have received funding in line with this, thus funding has been maintained at a level as if COVID-19 had not happened.

However, according to information provided by the DfE in December and confirmed in early January, for the rest of the financial year, January to March 2021, the LA will receive funding based on the January 2021 census, which is taking place whilst the country is locked down, and as such is expected to be significantly lower than the January 2020 census.


The DfE also announced that the LA should return to the normal funding approach (i.e. funding follows the child) for all providers from Jan 1st, 2021. Should the January 2021 census indeed be lower than the January 2020 census, this will result in a cut to the funding to both the LA and the settings.


The DfE has put in provision for LAs where attendance is below 85% of their January 2020 census level and the local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term.


Under these circumstances, the DfE will provide a top-up to the January 2021 census. The top-up would only fund the additional places taken-up after the January 2021 census week count and would be limited to a cap equivalent to 85% of their January 2020 census. This ensures that settings will receive funding for EY pupils who start after the census date, from the date that they start, as is normal.


Following objections to these arrangements from several organisations nationally, including

concerns expressed by Barnet council), and taking account of the impact of lockdown, it is understood the DfE is reviewing these arrangements and may shortly announce changes.


2021-22 Update


The DfE has announced that funding to the LA for the EY block will return to the same method used pre-COVID for the financial year 2021-22. That is, April to August 2021 (5/12ths of the year) will be funded based on the January 2021 census, and September 2021 to March 2022 (7/12ths of the year) will be funded on the January 2022 census. Settings will continue to receive allocations based on their actual number of pupils as in the Spring term. This may result in a fall in the 2021-22 indicative EY block allocation (as reported in item 9 Budget Proposals) which is currently based on the January 2020 pre-COVID census.


ZizChater thanked Ian Harrison for communicating the concerns of Early Years providers to the DfE.  She noted the significant impact on schools. Guidance was received late and the requirement for providers to open is potentially putting staff in a difficult position.  She asked if an objection could be raised on behalf of schools.


Ian Harrison reported that the DfE guidance has now been updated. The DfE has now acknowledged that it is unfair to penalise settings by reducing funding as a result of parents deciding not to send their child in or if settings are forced to close for operational reasons linked to covid.  The DfE will now provide funding provided the nursery is open in cases where it is the parental choice to keep a child at home or children cannot attend because there are staffing shortages due to covid.


Ian Harrison advised that nursery settings should open and be available to children subject to risk assessment and staff availability.


Jo Djora agreed with Ziz Chater’s comments and thanked Ian Harrison. 


She asked for clarity of the codes that should be put in registers and that guidance to schools would be much appreciated.  Ian Harrison said schools should use code X if children could not attend because of testing positive or self-isolating but otherwise should use code C for non-attendance to indicate an authorised non-attendance.





That the Schools Forum is asked to note the latest updates regarding the Early Years Block funding.


This was duly noted.


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