EARLY YEARS SINGLE FUNDING FORMULA
Problems at the sharp end delay implementation
The Foundation stage is somewhat unsettled at the moment. The Government announced in June 2007 that local authorities would be required to design and implement a single local funding formula for funding the Free Entitlement to early years provision for 3 and 4 year olds across all sectors. The aim was to improve fairness and transparency in the way that funding is allocated to providers who deliver the Free Entitlement, and thereby support its extension to 15 hours, to be delivered more flexibly from September 2010. Budgetary implications for the Single Funding Formula are scheduled to take place from April 2010.
Under the scheme, each authority will draw up a single formula to make it clear how early-years funding is distributed between different types of provider. The formula would also build in incentives to improve quality. Currently, funding is distributed under different systems for different types of provider. But more and more nursery schools and settings had been reporting that the single funding formula proposed by their local authority was going to adversely affect those children who have been identified as being vulnerable and at risk, with special education needs and the parents who benefit from the support that this existing high quality provision provides.
Under the new formula nurseries attached to Primary schools will receive funding based on the number of children attending rather than the number of registered places, so schools will either need to attract more children, or will need to raise additional revenue by charging for extended services in order to operate a sustainable nursery class,
The Government has had to react to substantial problems reported on the ground in a number of authorities who have been trying to plan for the implementation of the single funding formula. The data and information the Government has collected suggests that less than a third of local authorities will be in a secure position to implement their EYSFF from April 2010 target date. Some authorities have experienced serious difficulties in obtaining accurate data from their providers, while others have simply found the task extremely challenging. The Government announced this week that has decided to postpone the formal implementation date for the EYSFF by one year until April 2011. This represents something of a victory for Early Education which has lobbied No 10 for a delay in EYSFF implementation.