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EAL Funding

How the EAL needs of bilingual learners in English schools are funded

Current Funding

From April 2013, an 'EAL' factor could be included in local funding formulae to enable schools in England to meet the needs of bilingual pupils. This factor is limited to bilingual pupils who have been enrolled in English schools for a maximum of three years. The local schools forum 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.

87% of all local authorities chose to include an EAL factor in their local formula in 2014/5. Those who did not include an EAL factor are: Barnsley, Central Bedfordshire, Doncaster, Durham, East Sussex, Halton, Isles of Scilly, Leicester City, Leicestershire, Newham, North East Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Northamptonshire, Redcar and Cleveland, Shropshire, Slough, Solihull, Somerset, St Helens, Warrington, Warwickshire and Wolverhampton. 23% of authorities chose to count EAL pupils who had been enrolled in a UK school for only one or two years, rather than the full three years allowed.,

The value of local authority EAL primary factor is relatively narrow with 99 local authorities allocating between £250 and £1,000 per pupil. There are three authorities allocating over £1,500 (Liverpool, Suffolk and Wiltshire). There is rather greater variation in the values selected for the secondary factor; ranging from £47 (Cheshire West) to £4,500 (Islington).

Overall, all local authorities are allocating less than 5% of schools block funding through this factor with an average of around 0.9%. A total of £243 million was delegated to schools through the EAL factor in 2014/5.

For 2015/6 the government has identified a minimum funding level for this EAL factor within its calculations for identifying the sums which should be made available to local authorities.

The minimum funding levels for English as an additional language 2015-16 will be: Primary £466 Secondary £1,130
This minimum funding level will apply to pupils with EAL who entered the English state school system in the past three years.
DfE (July 2014): Fairer schools funding: arrangements for 2015 to 2016

However there is no compulsion for local authorities to include an EAL factor, nor for the value of this to be at the minimum level or above

Under the current system, there is no accountability mechanism regarding schools' use of this funding. Schools are not required to use this funding to meet the needs of bilingual pupils. This contrasts with the requirement on schools to fully account for their use of pupil premium funding annually and to evaluate its impact.

The local schools forum continues to be allowed to 'de-delegate' LA maintained school funds to finance a local specialist EAL service.

Funding from 1966 - 2013

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. boys in class

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'.

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.