Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: school and college funding and accountability

Updated 8 May 2015

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/making-schools-and-colleges-more-accountable-and-funding-them-fairly. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.


We believe schools and colleges will improve if teachers are free to decide how best to teach their pupils while being properly held to account for their students’ education.

We want to reform the way schools and colleges are assessed so all pupils, regardless of background, can make progress across a broad choice of subjects and study programmes.

We also believe it is necessary to introduce a more transparent and efficient funding system that gives schools and colleges additional funding for the pupils who need it most.



To make sure schools and colleges are given more autonomy and are held to account for the education they provide, we are:


To make school funding arrangements simpler and fairer, we are:

To help schools spend their funding more efficiently, we are:



In ‘The importance of teaching’ white paper, published on 24 November 2010, we set out our commitment to reduce regulations on all schools and colleges and to make them directly accountable for the education they provide.

On 30 July 2012, we introduced a better application process for parents, pupils, school staff and governors to request data from the national pupil database (NPD).

In line with the white paper, we introduced several changes to make the schools and colleges inspections system more effective in January 2012. We also announced plans to introduce a slimmed-down national curriculum for 5- to 16-year-olds from September 2014. We introduced study programme principles for 16 to 19 education in September 2013.

In October 2013, Schools Minister David Laws announced a new accountability framework for secondary schools to be introduced in 2016. The new framework will measure the progress pupils make from the end of primary school to their score across 8 subjects at the end of key stage 4.

In March 2014, we also announced new accountability frameworks for primary schools and post-16 institutions to be introduced in 2016.

In September 2014, we introduced new regulations on how maintained schools should appoint members of their governing bodies, which all maintained schools must follow by September 2015. These regulations require governing bodies to appoint their members on the basis of the skills they will bring to the governing body. We have also published statutory guidance for schools that explains how to comply with these regulations.


On 26 March 2012, we set out plans to introduce a simpler and more transparent school funding system in ‘School funding reform: next steps towards a fairer system’.

We began introducing this fairer school funding system from April 2013. On 17 July 2014, we published ‘Fairer schools funding: arrangements for 2015 to 2016’. It sets out how we will distribute an additional £390 million for schools in the least fairly funded local authorities in the 2015 to 2016 financial year. We published details of the dedicated schools grant allocations on 17 December 2014.

In September 2013, we introduced a simpler funding system for post-16 education. We will now allocate funding on a per-student basis, rather than funding each learning aim within a student’s programme separately. This will ensure schools and colleges make decisions about programmes that are in the best interest of their students.

We published post-16 education funding arrangements for the academic year 2014 to 2015 on 23 June 2014.

In 2013, we introduced the education services grant (ESG) to allocate funding to local authorities and academies in a fairer way. On 22 July 2014, we published details of how this additional funding will change from 2015. We updated this information on 18 December 2014.

Bills and legislation

The freedoms we have given maintained schools over the constitution of their governing body are covered in The School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012.

The School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 set out how maintained schools should appoint members of their governing bodies.

Every year we review the regulations on how local authorities fund their maintained schools. The latest regulations are The School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2014.

Who we’re consulting


On 7 February 2013 we launched the ‘Secondary school accountability consultation’. It set out our proposals to change the existing secondary school performance measures so they reflect the changes we’re making to GCSEs. It also sought views on proposals to make more school data available to the public. The consultation closed on 1 May 2013.

We consulted on changes to assessment and accountability arrangements for primary schools from 17 July to 11 October 2013. We published our response on 27 March 2014.

On 12 September 2013 we launched a consultation on changes to the accountability arrangements for providers of 16 to 19 education and training in England. We sought the views of all types of providers, parents and students on reforming performance tables and raising minimum standards. The consultation closed on 20 November 2013. We published our response on 27 March 2014.


The ‘Consultation on school funding reform: Next steps towards a fairer system’ ran from 26 March to 21 May 2012. It set out our proposals to make changes to the school funding system and sought the views of local authorities, teachers, schools and governors.

From 13 March to 30 April 2014, we ran a consultation on fairer school funding. We sought views on proposals to increase per-pupil funding in the 2015 to 2016 financial year for some local areas. We published our response to the consultation on 17 July 2014.

From 27 March to 19 June 2014, we consulted on how local authorities and academies could make savings in the areas covered by the ESG.

From 1 May to 12 June 2014 we consulted on proposals to simplify the administration of academy funding. We published our response to the consultation on 17 July 2014.

From 8 August to 17 October 2014, we ran a consultation on proposals to make changes to The School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2014.

On 13 November 2014 we launched a call for evidence on how to make the funding for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) fairer. The call for evidence closed on 27 February 2015.

Who we’re working with

We are working with the National College for Teaching and Leadership to build more effective governing bodies. The college has developed the Chairs of Governors’ Leadership Development Programme and continues to expand the number of national leaders of governance, who offer mentoring to other governing bodies.

Appendix 1: national pupil database (NPD)

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The national pupil database (NPD) holds information about pupils in schools and colleges in England. The data includes detailed pupil information for all schools in the state sector in England on:

  • test and exam results
  • prior attainment
  • progression at different key stages

Attainment data is held for pupils and students in non-maintained special schools and in sixth-form and FE colleges. Where available, the database includes information on pupils in independent schools.

The NPD also includes information about pupils in the state sector and non-maintained special schools such as:

  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • first language
  • eligibility for free school meals
  • special educational needs (SEN)
  • pupil absence and exclusions

Information on how to apply for data extracts from the NDP is available.

Appendix 2: reception baseline assessment

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We want to improve the way we measure progress at primary school to ensure we take account of:

  • schools with challenging intakes
  • the important work in reception and key stage 1

As part of the changes, we are introducing an assessment at the start of reception year.

We will collect a score for each child following the assessment, but we will not use it to track individual pupil progress. The purpose of the reception baseline is to provide a score for each pupil at the start of reception. When pupils reach the end of key stage 2, we will use the reception baseline score to calculate how much progress they have made compared to others with the same starting point. A school’s measure of progress will be the average progress made by its pupils.

The reception baseline will be part of teachers’ broader assessments of children’s development, which will be wider than any single baseline assessment can accurately capture.

The criteria we used to assess the suitability of the reception baseline assessments are available on GOV.UK. We have also published the list of approved reception baselines. Schools can start using an approved reception baseline from September 2015.

Measuring primary schools’ progress

From the 2016 reception cohort onwards, the reception baseline assessment will be the only measure we use as the starting point for measuring progress to the end of key stage 2. We will hold schools to account at the end of key stage 2 by the attainment of their pupils and the progress they have made.

When pupils who have taken the reception baseline reach the end of key stage 2, we will compare their score on the key stage 2 tests with other pupils who achieved the same score on the same reception baseline. We will use this score comparison for all pupils in a school, to produce the progress measure for the school. Pupils in a school do not need to have taken the same reception baseline in order to be included in the measure, as the comparison will be national.

Allocating prior attainment funding

The reception baseline will also allow us to allocate low prior attainment funding to primary and infant schools from 2016 once the EYFS profile stops being compulsory. This funding helps schools support pupils whose attainment was below the expected level before reception year.

You can find more information in our response to the primary assessment and accountability consultation.