In 1966, Section 11 of the Local Government Act made funds available 'to help meet the special needs of a significant number of people of commonwealth origin with language or customs which differ from the rest of the community.' This inlcuded funding to support the education of EAL and bilingual learners. In general, support for early stage bilingual learners took place in specialist and separate Language Centres or through withdrawal from mainstream classes in schools. The findings of a 1986 Commission for Racial Equality report of a formal investigation in Calderdale Local Education Authority led to the closure of separate Language Centres. Specialist language support was subsequently provided in schools and usually in the context of mainstream classrooms.
In 1999, the DfEE Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) replaced Home Office 'Section 11' funding. This grant was distributed to local authorities on a formula basis relating to the number of EAL learners and the number of pupils from ‘underachieving’ minority ethnic groups in local authorities, combined with a free school meals indicator. The EMA grant was intended to 'narrow achievement gaps for those minority ethnic groups who are underachieving and to meet particular needs of pupils for whom English is an additional language. The purpose of the grant is two-fold;
- To enable strategic managers in schools and LEAs to lead whole school change to narrow achievement gaps and ensure equality of outcomes.
- To meet the costs of some of the additional support to meet the specific needs of bilingual learners and under-achieving pupils. Each local authority was required to devolve the bulk of this funding to schools.'
The bulk of this grant was required to be devolved to schools in a local authority area and was required to be spent only on the purposes outlined above, whether by local authorities or by schools.
In 2011, despite significant opposition, the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant was mainstreamed into the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) and schools were allowed complete freedom over its use. This was confirmed as part of the Spending Review decisions announced in October 2010. The School Finance Regulations were however amended to: 'enable LAs to retain funding centrally within DSG for services which support schools in narrowing achievement gaps for under-performing ethnic groups and in meeting the specific needs of bilingual learners'. Details of these regulations can be downloaded from http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/d/dsg%20technical%20note.pdf
A national figure of £203,995,29 of EMAG was taken into account in the revised funding formula for local authorities and schools for 2011-2012 and a similar figure in 2012-2013.
According to a research report from the NASUWT published in April 2012, the impact of this 'mainstreaming' of EAL and ethnic minority funding was a reduction in available support at a time when demand for such services were increasing.
From April 2013, an 'EAL' factor can be included in local funding formulae for schools but this factor is limited to bilingual pupils who have been enrolled in English schools for a maximum of 3 years. Local schools fora can decide:
- whether to include an EAL factor in their formula;
- whether this factor will 'count' bilingual pupils who have been enrolled in a school in England for one, two or three years
- the cash value of this factor for primary aged pupils and for secondary aged pupils.
Local schools fora are allowed to 'de-delegate' LA maintained school funds to finance a Under this new system, there is no accountability mechanism regarding schools' use of this funding. This contrasts with the requirement on schools to account for their use of pupil premium funding annually.