Academies funded on estimates
Information for academies funded on estimated pupil numbers
Applies to England
For most academies, their autumn census return forms the basis for calculating pupil-led funding for the following academic year. In some cases, we use estimated pupil numbers if the academy’s funding agreement includes a clause to this effect.
The funding agreement clause may be conditional, and an academy’s allocation is funded on estimates until certain conditions are met. This is usually until all year groups are present. Once these conditions are met, the autumn census becomes the basis for future funding.
Special and alternative provision academies are not funded on estimates as the number of high needs places forms the basis of their general annual grant. More information on how high needs places are funded is available in the High needs funding arrangements for 2023 to 2024 guide.
Please refer to the academies revenue funding allocations for more information on how your allocation is calculated.
Estimating pupil numbers data collection
Institutions provide their estimated pupil numbers in October each year, using an online form via DfE Sign-in. This replaces the Revenue Funding Data Collection (RFDC) form.
We have now published revised information on how to complete your estimated pupil numbers.
Once agreed, estimated pupil numbers are used to calculate the academy’s budget. We review them to ensure they are reasonable and that evidence supports any significant changes in numbers. However, where an increase in pupils relates to basic need, this is funded by the local authority and should not be reflected in the estimates an institution provides to us.
If an academy does not provide their estimated pupil numbers, we will use the most recent census data to calculate their funding. If they are a growing school that is still adding year groups, this can result in a funding shortfall.
Pupil number adjustment (PNA)
Where we initially fund academies based on estimated pupil numbers, we include them in the annual PNA exercise during the academic year. The PNA exercise determines if adjustments are required to bring initial funding allocations into line with the actual pupil numbers that schools record in the autumn (October) school census.
Some estimate-funded academies have funding agreements with a PNA threshold, where no adjustment will occur if actual pupil numbers vary by more or less than a specified percentage. If an academy’s estimate of pupil numbers is outside the threshold, or no threshold applies, we adjust funding through the PNA process. This results in either an increase or decrease in funding.
We use an academy’s estimated pupil numbers and the pupil led funding they receive to produce per-pupil funding rates for the academic year. We multiply the difference in actual pupil numbers, taking account of any threshold, by the per-pupil rates, to determine the required adjustment. As in previous years, we run the calculation separately for pre-16 school budget share and 16 to 19 funding, and then combine the results into a single overall adjustment.
Where local authorities have already funded growth in pre-16 pupil numbers to meet basic need, we will deduct the amount they have paid from any positive PNA to ensure that academies are only funded for the growth once.
PNA calculator for 2022 to 2023
You can use our PNA calculator with the figures you have for your academy to estimate your own adjustment. By inputting your own projected numbers, it can also provide a reasonable estimate for future years, to inform your longer-term budget planning.
Academies in scope of PNA receive their statements in May. Academies receive payment of any positive adjustments in July. PNA recoveries start from September, in the following academic year.
PNA: important dates for 2022 to 2023 academic year
|February 2023||ESFA begins payment of guaranteed early positive pupil number adjustment (PNA) instalments|
|May 2023||ESFA issues main PNA statements, this covers outcomes for positive and negative adjustments|
|July 2023||ESFA pays positive PNA adjustments (backdated from September)|
|July 2023||Academies agree repayment plans for PNA recoveries|
|September 2023||ESFA begins recovery of PNA in instalments from the general annual grant (GAG)|
PNA calculator for 2023 to 2024
Our PNA calculator for 2023 to 2024 will be available in November 2023.
Estimate review and PNA: important dates for 2023 to 2024 academic year
|October 2022||Academies submit estimated pupil numbers to ESFA|
|January 2023||ESFA confirms funded pupil numbers|
|March 2023||ESFA issues initial funding allocations|
|September 2023||ESFA begins payment of initial allocations in monthly instalments|
|October 2023||Academies report actual pupil numbers in the autumn schools census|
|February 2024||ESFA begins payment of guaranteed early positive pupil number adjustment (PNA) instalments|
|May 2024||ESFA issues main PNA statements, this covers outcomes for positive and negative adjustments|
|July 2024||ESFA pays positive PNA adjustments (backdated from September)|
|July 2024||Academies agree repayment plans for PNA recoveries|
|September 2024||ESFA begins recovery of PNA in instalments from the general annual grant (GAG)|
Last updated 3 October 2022 + show all updates
We have updated the guidance and added the PNA calculator for academic year 2022 to 2023.
We have added the PNA calculator for academic year 2021 to 2022
Updated with link to revised information on how to complete the revenue funding data collection for 2022 to 2023.
The PNA calculator tool has been updated
Updated for 2020 to 2021 including estimate review important dates.
We have updated the PNA calculator and guidance for the 2019 to 2020 academic year.
We've added the PNA calculator for the 2018 to 2019 academic year and updated the PNA supporting information.
Updated PNA guidance and added PNA calculator for the academic year 2017 to 2018
Updated information on the pupil number adjustment (PNA) process for 2016 to 2017 academic year.