Question from: County Councillor Pete Roberts Subject: Impact of pupil numbers on average cost per pupil
At the meeting of the Learning and Skill scrutiny committee where the future of Llanbedr school was the sole agenda item it was disclosed by officers that an increase of 5 pupils would move the school from the 9th highest to the 48th highest cost per capita in Powys. Given the funding formula has within it funding steps at every 30 pupils it is not easy to model the impact of pupil changes.
Would the portfolio holder therefore supply a comparable table to that supplied within the Llanbedr bundle which contains the figure for the cost per pupil for increases and decreases in pupil numbers of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 pupils for all Powys Schools in addition to the current on role cost per pupil.
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
At the meeting of the Learning and Skill scrutiny committee where the future of Llanbedr school was the sole agenda item it was disclosed by officers that an increase of 5 pupils would move the school from the 9th highest to the 48th highest cost per capita in Powys based on the response given to a specific question that was posed at that time i.e. can you recalculate the formula based on an additional 5 children going into nursery. However, what was not taken into account by Scrutiny or confirmed at the meeting by officers was that the calculation was distorted as it was not being looked at on a like for like basis with all other schools. For clarity, the assumption of moving from 09th to 48th did not include a recalculation of all other schools if their nursery numbers were also included in the calculation.
The per pupil costs in the reports are collected by WG through the section 52, and are accurate at the point that they are submitted – those in the Llanbedr report before Scrutiny and Cabinet were the most up-to-date published. It’s fair to say that almost as soon as they are submitted, they are out of date, the funding changes / the pupil numbers change etc. The smaller the school, the greater the impact on their per pupil costs of relatively small changes in pupil numbers. It is important to note that we do not fund nursery pupils and do not include them in the section 52 calculation; therefore the assumption of Llanbedr moving from 09th to 48th is inaccurate.
Officers have downloaded the most recent pupil numbers from Teacher Centre (as they do each year on the Friday after half term), these numbers will feed into the calculation of next year’s funding and next year’s section 52 returns. Individual schools are responsible for ensuring that Teacher Centre data is correct. They also provide the pupil number projections for future years. Llanbedr’s pupil number projection for November 2021 (submitted last November for use in the FY2022-23 indicative funding calculations) was 45.
At present there is insufficient capacity to do the specific calculations requested in this particular question as it would require modelling the 10 variations of pupil numbers separately for each of the 78 schools – 780 results for very little gain. Officers attention is focused on the Transformation and whole-life costings / detailed modelling and impact assessments as required by the school organisation code.