Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Sixth Report


APPENDIX III

Memorandum by the Department for Education and Employment

EDUCATION (NEW GRANT-MAINTAINED SCHOOLS) (FINANCE) REGULATIONS 1997 (S.I. 1997/956)

  The Joint Committee have requested a memorandum on the following point:

    Given that a comparison of the relevant characteristics of schools is required by regulation 6 for calculating a school's grant under regulation 4 or 5, explain how characteristics are determined where (as acknowledged by regulation 6(4)) there is in fact no actual school with which to make the comparison.

  Under both regulations 4 and 5 the funding authority have, in determining the amount of annual maintenance grant for a new grant-maintained school, to take into account the budget share that a comparable LEA maintained school would receive from the LEA. It does not matter whether or not there is a comparable maintained school because there does not have to be an actual school in existence with which to make the comparison.

  It may assist the Committee to give an example. Assume that the funding authority have to determine the amount of annual maintenance grant for a new primary grant-maintained school. A comparable maintained school would, having regard to regulation 6(2), be a maintained county primary school which had the same relevant characteristics as the grant-maintained school. A characteristic is relevant for these purposes, having regard to regulation 6(2), if it is relevant for the purposes of the allocation formula in the LEA's scheme.

  The grant-maintained primary school in question was established on 1 April 1997 and is situated near to London. It has 50 pupils and a swimming pool. The funding authority must look at what a comparable maintained school would have received as its budget share. There is in fact no LEA maintained school in the area with exactly the same characteristics but that does not matter. The funding authority look at the LEA's scheme and work out what the budget share of a newly opened primary school with 50 pupils (regulation 4) would have been. Alternatively they look at the "minimum threshold" of pupils or an estimated number of pupils (if higher) (regulation 5). Not all schemes make specific provision for newly opened schools and so that may not be a relevant characteristic. By far the greater part of the budget share will be based on pupil numbers and so the number of pupils in each age group determined in accordance with the Regulations will be a relevant characteristic.

  In addition the scheme in question may include in the budget share additional funds for small schools. If the comparable maintained school would fall within the definition of a small school in the LEA's scheme then the small size of the grant-maintained school will be a relevant characteristic.

  The school is situated near London and some LEAs near London make provision in their schemes for London Weighting. However, if the scheme of the LEA in question makes no such provision (and never has done) then this will not be a relevant characteristic. The school has a swimming pool but there is no longer any LEA maintained school with one and no longer any such factor in the allocation formula. Regulation 6(1) provides that, where a scheme used to include a particular factor and it has subsequently been revised, varied or replaced, then it is deemed, for the purposes of determining a comparable maintained school's budget share, still to include it. The fact that the school has a swimming pool is therefore a relevant characteristic even though the scheme no longer contains such a factor.

  In short therefore relevant characteristics are determined in accordance with the Regulations by reference to the allocation formula in the LEA's scheme and it does not matter that there is no LEA maintained school with those exact same characteristics.

1st July 1997


 
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