Editor's view - A new resource that's on the money

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It's not often I feel moved to say this, but a new resource from the Department for Education is absolutely fascinating!

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If you haven't yet discovered the Foundation Years Benchmarking Tool, then do go and have a look - but make sure you've got some spare time because it proves to be quite addictive.

The funding of the free entitlement function, where you can compare different local authorities' spending on early years as a proportion of the Dedicated Schools Grant, the amount spent per child in PVI settings, nursery schools and primary schools, and the amount 'centrally retained' by each authority, is the part that will be leapt upon by settings and councils.

For example, the proportion of the DSG spent on early years varies from 3.3 per cent to 10.9 per cent across the country.

While it is impossible to know the full picture behind the figures, the variations in different authorities that are revealed are extremely interesting.

Nottinghamshire spends roughly the same percentage of its earlyyears budget on each sector (PVI, nursery school or primary school) as the proportion of pupils that each has, and it retains only one per cent.

Islington retains seven per cent, spends £10,500 on each nursery school pupil and £3,232 per PVI child (still well above the average).

Hackney centrally retains a whopping 25 per cent of budget (£1,073 per pupil against a median £227), and while PVI pupils make up 52 per cent of early years there, it spends only 29 per cent of its budget on them.

The figures are all in one place and easily accessible - truly transparent.

The big test is whether this tool will help bring about change.

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