Academies funding: A to Z of terms

A guide to the main academy funding terms and acronyms.

Applies to England


Age weighted pupil unit (AWPU)

This terminology is no longer used; please see the entry ‘Basic entitlement’.

Alternative provision (AP)

Alternative provision (AP) academies teach children who are not able to attend a mainstream school. This could be because they have behavioural difficulties, a short or long-term illness or have been excluded.

Authority proforma tool (APT)

The APT is the spreadsheet local authorities use to submit their agreed mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.


Basic entitlement

Basic entitlement is the rate local authorities set to allocate basic entitlement funding for pre-16 pupils in mainstream schools. Basic entitlement is a compulsory factor which must be used in the funding formula. This funding was previously referred to as age weighted pupil unit (AWPU).


Dedicated schools grant (DSG)

The DSG is paid by the Education and Skills Funding Agency to local authorities, and is the main source of pre-16 schools funding. It is allocated on a financial year basis. The DSG has historically been divided into four blocks:

  • the schools block
  • the high needs block
  • the early years block
  • the central school services block


Deprivation is a compulsory funding factor in the mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula that directs funding to the most deprived pupils.


Early years block

The early years block of the DSG covers the free entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds, and disadvantaged 2 year olds.

Early years funding

This applies to private, voluntary and independent providers, and to schools or academies with a nursery class. This is paid directly by local authorities to early years providers, including academies and maintained schools, through the early years national funding formula (EYNFF).

Element 3

Another term for high needs top-up funding, see high needs top-up funding.

English as an additional language (EAL)

This is an optional funding factor in the mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula.


The Education and Skills Funding Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE).

Exceptional premises factors

Local authorities can apply to ESFA to use exceptional factors relating to premises in their mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula.


Free school meals (FSM)

Arrangements by which children from low income households are provided with a free meal while they are at school.

Funding factors

For 2022 to 2023, schools are funded using a maximum of 15 factors. You can read more about the factors in the schools block funding formulae 2022 to 2023.


General annual grant (GAG)

This is the term used to describe the revenue funding allocated to academies on an academic year basis.


High needs block

The high needs block of the DSG covers place funding for special schools and academies, top-up funding for high needs pupils, alternative provision and education otherwise than at school, and funding for local authority central SEN services.

High needs place funding

This applies to mainstream schools and academies with a designated special unit or resourced provision, plus special schools, and special academies.

High needs top-up funding

This is additional funding paid directly by the commissioning local authority for some high needs pupils.

Hospital provision

Hospital education places can be found in maintained special schools (usually a particular type of special school known as a hospital school), maintained pupil referral units (PRUs) (sometimes known as medical PRUs), special and AP academies and free schools. Often these institutions will have a combination of hospital education places, and other high needs (AP and SEN) places.


Income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI)

The income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI) measures the number of children in a given area who are under the age of 16, and live in low income households. The mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula can use a combination of IDACI categories and/or free school meals data to allocate their funding under the deprivation factor.


Lagged funding

A term used to describe funding based on the previous year’s school’s census. For example, funding for 2021 to 2022 for most academies was based on census data from the autumn 2020 census. Funding for 2022 to 2023 for most academies is based on the autumn 2021 census.

London fringe

An optional factor in local authorities’ mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula but only for the 5 local authorities to which it applies (Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and West Sussex).

Looked after children (LAC)

The term ‘looked after’ refers to children, under 18, who have been provided with care and accommodation by children’s services.

Low prior attainment

An optional funding factor in the mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula, it often acts as a proxy indicator for low level, high incidence special educational needs.

Lump sum

An optional funding factor in the mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula.


Mainstream academy

An academy that isn’t a special or alternative provision academy.

Minimum funding guarantee (MFG)

The MFG is a protection against changes in per pupil school budget share (SBS) funding between academic years.


An optional funding factor in the mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula. ‘Mobility’ refers to pupils who started the school at an unusual time during the last three academic years, that is not in August or September (or not in January for pupils joining in reception).


National non-domestic rates (NNDR)

NNDR are business rates incurred by academies.

Notional SEN budget

A notional budget identified by local authorities which can be used for high incidence, low cost pupils with special educational needs.


PE and sport grant

The PE and sport grant is additional funding given to publicly-funded schools in England to improve physical education (PE) and sport in primary schools.

Post-opening grant (POG)

Free schools, studio schools and university technical colleges (UTCs) are provided with a POG to reflect the additional costs of establishing a new publicly-funded school.

Pre-16 funding

Usually associated with revenue funding for reception to year 11 pupils.

Private finance initiative (PFI) factor

An optional funding factor in the mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula. The purpose of this factor is to support schools that have unavoidable extra premises costs because they are a PFI school, or to cover situations where the PFI ‘affordability gap’ is delegated and paid back to the local authority.

Pupil number adjustment (PNA)

An adjustment process for academies that receive funding based on estimated pupil numbers, to make sure funding more accurately reflects the actual pupil numbers present during the year.

Pupil premium grant

Pupil premium is a grant for publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.


Resourced provision

Resourced provision within mainstream academies is where education takes place mainly in the classroom, but pupils are either withdrawn to a resource for specialist input, or teachers from the resource deliver specialist help to the child within the classroom.

Revenue Funding Data Collection (RFDC)

RFDC is the annual collection of pupil data for institutions funded on estimated pupil numbers.


School budget share (SBS)

SBS forms the majority of the general annual grant (GAG) and is calculated by ESFA using the funding factors determined by the local authority.

Schools block

The schools block of the DSG relates to pupils in national curriculum year groups reception to 11 at mainstream schools and academies, who are not in a special unit or resourced provision.

Schools forum

The schools forum is a body comprising representatives of maintained schools, academies, and early years providers within a local authority area, together with other local partners and stakeholders.


An optional funding factor in the mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula. Schools that are eligible for sparsity funding must be small schools, and they must be located in areas where pupils would have to travel a significant distance to an alternative, if the school closed.

Split site

An optional funding factor in the mainstream pre-16 schools block funding formula. The purpose of this factor is to support schools which have unavoidable extra costs because the school buildings are on separate sites.

Start-up grant (SUG)

On opening, SUG is paid to sponsored academies. It is intended to contribute to costs, such as leadership, as a new academy grows towards full capacity.


Universal infant free school meals (UIFSM)

The UIFSM grant is funding for schools to provide free school meals to all pupils in reception, year 1, and year 2.

Published 25 February 2015
Last updated 22 September 2022 + show all updates
  1. Age weighted pupil unit has been replaced with basic entitlement as accepted terminology. Other entries have been updated with links to guidance for the current year.

  2. We've updated this page to add up-to-date information for 2020 to 2021.

  3. We've made this page simpler, and removed some out of date information.

  4. Updated information and links to more information for academic year 2016 to 2017.

  5. First published.