Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum
Thursday 15 March 2018 2.00 pm

Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

Items
No. Item

10.

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.

 

11.

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.

 

12.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 11 January 2018 and note actions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

12.1    The minutes of the previous meeting of 11 January 2018, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

12.2    Stewart King, The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, confirmed that he would circulate the existing guidance on Multi Academy Trusts and other forms of collaborations, for initial comments, by the end of Friday 16 March 2018.

            ACTION: Stewart King

 

12.3    Joanne Bolton, Clerk to the Forum, informed members that the election count for the Primary (Maintained) Governor seat would take place on Wednesday 21 March 2018.  The Schools Forum 2018 Elections would then be complete.

13.

High Needs pdf icon PDF 376 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

13.1    Stewart King, The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, gave a presentation on the position of High Needs in the county. 

 

13.2    He explained that the High Needs budget was in a precarious position, with a projected £1.8M overspend in 2017/18, and a forecast overspend of £0.516M at the end of 2018/19.  Remaining DSG balances to support the High Needs budget were estimated £1.1M in 2018/19.  However, there were major risk areas in the budget, particularly primary top-ups, independent schools, and Alternative Provision.   A spreadsheet was tabled which set out the High Needs budget position at the start of 2018/19. (For Information: A copy of the High Needs presentation and the High Needs spreadsheet has been published on the Council’s website and is included in the signed copy of the minute book).

 

13.3    The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy, and Development, explained that the assumption was that movement between the funding blocks would cease to be an option beyond 2019/20.  He reported that he was aware of at least four other local authorities that had had their requests to transfer funding to the High Needs block in 2018/19 refused by their School Forums, but had then subsequently received approval from the DfE through appeal.

 

13.4    The Forum was informed that most local authorities in the South West were exceeding their High Needs budget in 2017/18; in most areas the overspend was much greater than in Gloucestershire.   Other local authorities were reviewing high needs spending and their banding rates, but did not appear to be undertaking whole-system changes.  Officers explained that many authorities were relying on reducing top-ups, as an emergency measure, however this would have a negative impact on the children most in need of the provision and was not a route Gloucestershire would want to take. The Forum noted that as Gloucestershire was developing a whole new approach to High Needs there had been a lot of interest from other authorities in what this authority was doing. 

 

13.5    The Forum was concerned to note that the number of primary permanent exclusions had risen from 14 at this stage in the 2016/17 academic year to 22 in 2017/18. Secondary permanent exclusions also remained at a high level, 58 to date in 2017/18.  Gloucestershire was the highest permanent excluding authority in the South West.  Members of the Forum acknowledged that the data which was presented on the impact of the Restorative Practice approach at Moat Primary School, and Tewkesbury Secondary School, demonstrated that it could have a quick impact on reducing fixed term and permanent exclusions, and a positive impact on wider issues such as attendance, and detentions.  Officers confirmed that there were plans to roll the Restorative Practice approach out to other schools in Gloucestershire through a phased programme.

 

13.6    The Forum was informed that the cost of Alternative Provision was a major concern. Each of the three Alternative Provision schools in Gloucestershire had a high level of occupancy, and were significantly overspent in 2017/18, due to operational  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Capital pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Minutes:

14.1    Gareth Vine, Universal Commissioning Manager, presented an update report on Education Capital Spend. He explained that the revised annual budget for the 2017/18 Children and Families capital programme was £29.475M.  The spend as at the end of January 2018 was £20.637M.  This was slightly lower than forecast for this time of year mainly due to slippages on the IRIS scheme, the Paternoster School scheme, and delays caused by planning permission for the expansion works at Cleeve School and Beaufort Academy.

 

14.2    The Forum noted the Children and Families Capital Programme for 2018/19, and acknowledged that the prioritisation of schemes in the Capital Programme reflected the continued demand for school places across the county.

 

14.3    The Forum was informed that a competition was underway to find a sponsor for a new 900 place (6 forms of entry) secondary school, to be located in southern area of Cheltenham, which was expected to meet the majority of the demand for extra provision in the Cheltenham area.  The Universal Commissioning Manager explained that it was currently anticipated that that the sponsor would be appointed by September 2018, with a view to establishing the new school provision from September 2019.

 

14.4    He explained that the funding for the school had been secured through combining available basic need funding and internal borrowing.  The overall capital cost would be offset through securing further Section 106 contributions from housing developments within the area. 

 

14.5    The Forum was informed that there was a demand for extra secondary school places in the system now, and as a result additional capacity had been provided at some existing secondary schools.  A member of the Forum emphasised the need to ensure the headteachers at those secondary schools were made aware of the time period the additional places would be in place for, to enable prudent budget planning.

 

14.6    The Forum noted the report.

 

15.

Gloucestershire Schools Partnership Consultation pdf icon PDF 187 KB

To consider the attached consultation paper.

Minutes:

15.1    Tim Browne, Head of Education, presented the Gloucestershire Schools Partnership Consultation document.  He informed the Forum of the proposal to establish a Gloucestershire Schools Partnership.  He explained that the proposal for the partnership was being developed in response to changes in the school system, specifically the many levels of leadership/governance in existence.  It was also prompted by discussions with the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West in response to the expectation that each Local authority area establish local School Standard’s Boards or similar.

 

15.2    The Forum was informed that the concept of the partnership was that it would provide a more strategic approach across the county and that it would set the direction of travel; it would build capacity for school-to-school support and address areas for improvement.  The Isos Partnership undertook a brief exploration of the opportunities and challenges associated with the setting up of a local schools partnership, which included consulting with headteachers, governors and partners. The Head of Education explained that a majority of the respondents were broadly in favour of the concept of a local schools partnership, however, whilst the majority of those consulted recognised need for a local partnership, they were also concerned about the challenges of establishing such a body.

 

15.3    Some members of the Forum also expressed concerns about the challenges of establishing the body.  A member raised the issue of the cost of funding a full-time post for one year in order to get the partnership established (estimated to be around £75,000).   Members also expressed concern about the risk of duplication in an already busy landscape. Consequently, the Forum indicated support for building upon and joining-up the existing local partnerships and associations, rather than creating a new local partnership.  Officers were of the opinion that whilst a new Schools Partnership did need to established, this was compatible with the Forum’s view to look at what was in existence first, to consider whether this could be developed.

 

15.4    The Early Years and Special School representatives on the Forum asked officers to ensure that their respective sectors were given the opportunity to be involved in the partnership.

 

15.5    The Forum was informed that following the consultation, if there was sufficient support for the concept, then the proposal was that the summer period would be used for developing the partnership’s way of working and testing some of the key principles and functions.

16.

F40

Minutes:

            Stewart King, Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, informed the Forum that Gillian Hayward would be attending the F40 Conference on the National Funding Formula, its implications for f40 members and how f40’s fair funding campaign should develop in the future.  The conference would also consider how the West Sussex Schools Campaign for Fairer Funding – ‘WorthLess?’ could link with the F40 Campaign. The conference was taking place on Monday 26 March 2018, in Westminster.