Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum
Thursday 11 January 2018 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest

Members of the Forum must declare an interest in any agenda item where the outcome may give them a direct pecuniary advantage or avoid a disadvantage.  A form is available at the back of the meeting room.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

2.

Public Questions

To receive any public questions.  Questions can be asked on the day or sent to the Clerk before the meeting.  A written answer will be provided if questions are received 3 clear working days before the date of the meeting.  The Chairman will advise timescale for any questions asked on the day of the meeting or received less than 3 working days before the meeting.

Minutes:

No public questions had been received. 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 283 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 20 October 2017 and note actions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

3.1      The minutes of the previous meeting of 20 October 2017 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

3.2      Stewart King, Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, agreed to circulate the existing guidance on Multi Academy Trusts and other forms of collaborations to the working group for initial comments.

            ACTION: Stewart King.

 

3.3      Colin Belford, Secondary (Maintained) headteacher representative, confirmed that a meeting had not taken place with representatives of the Local Enterprise Partnership, to discuss opportunities for work-based training for young people, particularly those at risk of exclusion, and for capital investment.

 

3.4      The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, explained that he had consulted with Chris Widden, Chair of the Gloucestershire Governors’ Association (GGA), on how the GGA could assist with the consultation on the funding formula for 2018/19.  It had been agreed that the consultation meetings would be arranged by GCC, but that a GGA representative would have a slot to draw attention to the GGA consultation on future networking of governors.  A meeting was taking place on Monday 15 January 2018.

 

4.

Gloucestershire County Council Budget Consultation 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 156 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1      Sue Hall, Finance Business Partner, introduced the report, which outlined the budget strategy and draft details for 2018/19, and the medium term financial strategy covering the period 2018/19 to 2020/21. The Forum noted that full details of the draft budget for 2018/19, and the Medium Term Financial Strategy for the period covering 2018/19 to 2020/21, were presented to Cabinet on 13 December 2017.

 

4.2      The Forum received a presentation which outlined the proposed changes to the Children and Families budget, plus the cost pressures and the risk and challenges.   (For Information – A copy of the slides has been uploaded to the Council’s website and is included in the signed minute book).

 

4.3      The Finance Business Partner explained that it was proposed that Children and Families achieve cost reductions of £0.89M and receive cost increases of £11.36M, a net increase in budget of £10.47M.  She explained that the investment being proposed was in recognition of the pressures on the Vulnerable Children and Young People element of the budget during 2017/18, which was forecast an overspend of £9.38M before the application of reserves.  

 

4.4      During the presentation particular reference was made to:

 

4.4.1   A sum of £7.69M of additional investment to meet the cost and demand pressures related to External Placements Budgets, ensuring the most appropriate placements for the increasing numbers of children in care.  Members of the Forum acknowledged however that the amount allowed in the investment for increases in children in care and the provision of external placements allowed little flexibility for numbers to increase further and the cost of this to be covered. It was explained that investment and changes in practice elsewhere within social care e.g. in-house fostering capacity, IRIS , should assist in mitigating the risks.

 

4.4.2   Additional investment for Adoption, Special Guardianship and Fostering Allowances and additional fostering staff.

 

4.4.3   Additional investment to provide support to care leavers until the age of 25, following the implementation of new legislation.

 

4.4.4   Addition investment for Child Protection chairs to meet the increased demand.

 

4.4.5   The activities being undertaken to improve performance resulting from the Ofsted judgement.  A member commented that they would have expected to have seen funding made available to pick up the continuing costs of the impact of the Ofsted judgement even if this was just one-off costs in 2018/19.

 

4.5      A member of the Forum raised the question of whether additional funding was being made available to fund what was likely to be a 2% pay award in addition to the 1.5% already allowed for.  It was confirmed that funding increases above a 1.5% pay award would be considered as part of the revised budget to Cabinet in January.

 

4..6     The Forum acknowledged that the Council was setting a budget within a challenging funding environment and was overall supportive of the budget proposal.

 

4.7      The Forum was informed that the Council’s budget consultation survey would run until 17 January 2018. Final approval of the budget would be considered at the Cabinet meeting on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Dedicated Schools Grant 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 397 KB

After the 11th January Forum meeting an e-mail was received from the ESFA stating they had made an error in the Free School Meals (FSM) data they provided for use in setting the 2018/19 delegated school budgets.

 

As a result of their error the summary of the 2018/19 Authority Proforma Tool (APT) that was recommend for submission at the 11th January 2018 Forum meeting (Annex B of the Dedicated Schools Grant 2018/19 Schools Forum paper) has had to be slightly amended.

 

The adjustment (which reduced the FSM data numbers) has not changed the amount of DSG Gloucestershire received or the total amount delegated to schools for 2018/19, but has changed some of the allocations within the overall formula and increased the capping level to 5.4%.

 

The new version of summary that will be sent to the ESFA by the 19th January 2018 submission deadline is attached for information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1      Stewart King, Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, presented the report which outlined the implications of the announcements on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2018/19.

 

5.2      The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, informed the Forum that there had been some key developments since the Forum had agreed the recommended approach to the local schools formula for 2018/19 at its meeting on 20 October 2018.  The DfE had issued a revised dataset based on the October 2017 school census, and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) had announced some rule changes to allow different methods of calculation to be used in the Authority Proforma Tool. 

 

5.3      The DfE had also announced the DSG for each authority for 2018/19.  Gloucestershire’s position was that there would be an increase of £14.8M (3.5%) from the current 2017/18 DSG, amounting to a total of £441.7M for 2018/19.

 

5.4      Members were informed that the formula had been subsequently revised, to take account of those changes, but it remained within the spirit of the Forum’s previously recommended formula.  Officer’s explained that Gloucestershire’s proposed formula now used the revised dataset, factor rates 100% equivalent to those stated for the National Funding Formula (NFF) and delivered the minimum pupil allocations of £3,300 for primary and £4,600 for secondary. 

 

5.5      Officers emphasised however that the final totals used in the formula still differed to those in the illustrative NFF issued by the DfE, as local authorities were not able to fully replicate the NFF.  One member asked for clarification on how it was possible that some schools would see gains to their budget in excess of the 3% increase mentioned in Justine Greenings statement.  In response, Neil Egles, Finance Manager, Schools Strategy and Capital, explained that even in the DfE’s NFF formula some schools showed increases above 3% due to the fact the NFF had three different capping methods, of which only one was based on 3% and the other two allowed increases in excess of 3%.  He added that Gloucestershire had to use the formula rules allowed within the ESFA’s Authority Proforma Tool (APT), this did not allow multiple capping methods like the NFF. A single capping percentage had therefore been used in the APT and set at the level needed to balance to the school block delegated budget total available. He explained that the minimum per pupil funding level was also not subject to the gains cap.  Both of those factors had meant the cap percentage had been able to be set above the 3% level.

 

5.6      The Finance Manger made the point that not all local authorities wanted to move as close to the NFF as possible; the decision was influenced by the funding history and culture in each area.

 

5.7      Officers drew the Forum’s attention to Annex C of the report which outlined the level of primary and secondary units of funding used in the 2018/19 Schools Block of the DSG.  Officers explained that this was useful in that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

High Needs pdf icon PDF 140 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1      The Forum received a report which outlined the block funding for 2018/19, the High Needs budget for 2017/18 and 2018/19, and provided an update on the High Needs Programme.

 

6.2      The Forum was informed that the High Needs block total for 2018/19 was £57.567M.  The forecast for 2017/18 showed a projected overspend of £1.2M.  Dedicated Schools Grant balances to support High Needs at 31 March 2018 stood at around £2.1M.  Officers emphasised that it was inevitable that there would need to be a future draw on balances to support the 2018/19 budget. 

 

6.3      Stewart King, Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, explained that the new approach to High Needs was being developed in the context of increasing demand and to meet needs more effectively with less money in real terms.  He was working with John Reilly, Specialist Adviser High Needs, on emphasising the risks to the High Needs budget, and the implications of this, to parents and schools, and negotiating with them on the major changes needed. The plan was for the changes arising from the High Needs Programme to have an impact from the autumn term resulting in a balanced budget being set for 2019/20. 

 

6.4      The Forum considered the latest update of the Programme Plan which indicated where attention was currently being focused.  One area currently being focused on was High Needs provision within Post-16 education.  A key initiative was to look at why the costs were out of line with other authorities. Hospital Education funding was also be looked into; whilst the authority provided a service judged as ‘outstanding’, costs were well above the level of most other authorities.  Different approaches were being developed, such as the Restorative Practice approach at Tewkesbury.  The Forum was pleased to hear that this was having a positive impact on attendance and exclusions, and was now in the process of being expanded to other schools.

 

6.5      The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, informed the Forum that a Briefing and Engagement Survey, for parents, schools and other stakeholders, would be sent to relevant parties, to gather views on the ideas being put forward on the future of High Needs.  The deadline for responses was 28 February 2018. Any comments on this from Forum members could be sent direct to him.  Following a request from a member of the Forum, it was agreed there would be some context included in the paper, to set out the budget situation and the inability to move between blocks under the NFF from 2020/21.

            ACTION: Stewart King

 

6.6      The Forum noted that formal consultation on the Strategic Plan would take place from May 2018, with changes phased in from September 2018. 

 

6.7      Officers explained that the High Needs budget was set to undergo a major review at the end of January.  The Forum would consider the budget for High Needs 2018/19 and the medium term financial plan at its next meeting on 15 March 2018.

7.

Elections 2018 pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Minutes:

7.1      The Forum received a report which outlined the plans for the Schools Forum election 2018.  

 

7.2      Joanne Bolton, the Clerk to the Forum, explained that the representative bodies of the Forum’s non-schools members had been asked to confirm their membership for the next term of office.  The term of office of the schools/academies members, outlined in the report, would end on 31 March 2018, and nominations for those seats would be sought from 12 January 2018.  The Secondary School Governor (Maintained) seat was currently vacant and would be included in the current election round.  The Forum noted that the deadline for return of nomination forms was by 5pm on 9 February 2018.  The election count for seats where an election had been trigged would take place on Wednesday 21 March 2018. 

 

7.3      The Forum noted that the Gloucestershire Association of Secondary Headteachers had undertaken its own nomination/election process.  Colin Belford confirmed that he would continue as the Forum’s Secondary (Maintained) headteacher representative, and Andrew Harris would continue as the Forum’s Secondary (Academy) Headteacher representative. 

 

7.4      The Clerk confirmed that the Forum would be kept up to date on each stage of the nomination/election process.

 

7.5      Following a request, it was agreed that the emails to schools seeking nominations would include context on the evolving role of the Forum.  From the demise of its decision making role on mainstream funding, to its current focus on issues which had key strategic and resource implications; in particular the new approach for High Needs.

            ACTION: Joanne Bolton.   

 

7.6      At this juncture Gillian Hayward,  the Chair,  informed the Forum that her term as a Secondary (Academy) School Governor representative, was due to come to an end and that she would not be standing for election again.  Therefore her membership to the Forum would cease at the end of her term of office  on 31 March 2018.  The Chair explained that she would need to send her apologies for next meeting in 15 March 2018, so this would be her last meeting. 

 

7.7      Steve Savory, Primary (Academy) Headteacher representative, took the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Forum to pay tribute to Gillian; he spoke of her exceptional contribution to education and the Schools Forum over the past seventeen years.  On behalf of the Forum he thanked Gillian for her fantastic chairing skills, and her constant presence over the years.  Officers and members of the Forum wished her well for the future.

 

7.8      The Forum noted the report.

8.

Schools Forum Workplan 2018 pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Minutes:

8.1      Stewart King, Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, introduced the report which outlined the items which would require the Forum’s input in 2018.

 

8.2      The Forum noted the key priorities and the Workplan for 2018.

9.

F40

Minutes:

9.1      The Chair informed the Forum that the results of the f40 questionnaire on Fair Funding for schools had determined that f40 members felt that a fairer funding allocation to schools had not been achieved, and that the group should continue on campaigning for a fair funding deal.  A series of f40 Executive Committee meeting dates had been scheduled to take place over the next year, however there was some uncertainty about how the group would go forward given that the Chair was planning to retire and the secretary was planning to step down, both by the end of 2018.

 

9.2      The Forum noted that the f40 group was staging a conference on the NFF, its implications for f40 members and how f40’s fair funding campaign should develop in the future.  The conference would be held on Monday 26 March 2018, in Westminster London.