Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum
Thursday 10 January 2019 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

Items
No. Item

1.

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 Chair 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.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2018 and note actions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

2.1      The minutes of the previous meeting held on 15 November 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

2.2      The Forum noted that there were no outstanding actions from the previous meeting.

3.

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.

4.

Election of Vice-Chair

To elect a Vice-Chair with a term of office of two years.

Minutes:

No nominations were received for the election of a Vice-Chair.

5.

Gloucestershire County Council Budget Consultation 2019 pdf icon PDF 156 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1      Suzanne Hall, Finance Business Partner, introduced the report which informed members of the budget strategy and draft details for 2019/20 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy covering the period 2019/20 to 2021/22.  The Forum noted that full details of the draft budget for 2019/20, and the Medium Term Financial Strategy for the period covering 2019/20 to 2021/22, were presented to Cabinet on 19 December 2018.

 

5.2      The Forum also received a presentation on the proposed changes to the Children and Families budget, plus an outline of 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.)

 

5.3      The Forum noted that it was proposed that Children and Families achieve cost reductions of £2.25M and receive cost increases of £13.15M, a net increase in budget of £10.9M.  The investment being proposed was in recognition of the pressures on the Children and Families budget during 2018/19, which was forecast an overspend of £9.83M before the offset of the business rates retention income.  

 

5.4      During the presentation particular reference was made to:

 

Ø    The investment being proposed in recognition of the pressures on the Vulnerable Children and Young People element of the budget during 2018/19   In particular, the sum of £6.2M of additional investment for the External Placement Budget to meet the cost and demand pressures for ensuring the most appropriate placements for the increasing numbers of children in care.

Ø    The additional investment of £3.514M for additional social work capacity and initiatives to support recruitment. 

Ø    The £1.7M of saving against placements through improved commissioning and review of costs.

Ø    The investment being proposed in recognition of the pressures on the other Children’s Services element of the budget, in particular the sum of £0.069M for staff to support the increase in Education, Health, and Care Plan.

Ø    The £0.250M saving in relation to Education Services, through aligning the intervention and support capacity with demand/changing number of local authority maintained schools and academies.

 

5.5         The Forum was informed that the Government had recently (December 2018) announced an additional £4.322M of ringfenced grant funding for Social Care, to be allocated equally between Adult Care and Vulnerable Children.  The announcement was made after the proposed budget had been formulated and therefore the draft budget position presented to the Forum did not include the additional funding.

 

5.6         In response to a question on the investment of £3.514M for additional social work capacity and initiatives to support recruitment, the Finance Business Partner explained that there was strong competition between neighbouring authorities to attract and recruit newly qualified social workers.

 

5.7         Gloucesershire County Council’s recruitment drive had focused on promoting its comprehensive training, support and supervision package. The Forum welcomed the news that nearly all of the Team Manager post vacancies had now been recruited to.

 

5.8         The Forum recognised that the Council was setting a budget within a challenging funding environment, and members noted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Dedicated Schools Grant 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 581 KB

Minutes:

6.1      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 2019/20.

 

6.2      The Forum was informed that the DSG for 2019/20 totalled £451.1M, this represented an increase in the total DSG of £10.3M (2.3%) from the current 2018/19 DSG, and included the additional funding for High Needs.  The Forum noted the DSG total for each of the four allocation blocks (Schools, Central School Services, High Needs, and Early Years) as set out in the report.

 

6.3      The Forum was informed that Gloucestershire’s expected requirement for growth costs in 2019/20, was £1.6M.  The Forum noted that the growth allocation in the Schools Block 2019/20 totalled £2.6M.  This had been calculated using the new method introduced by the DfE which allocated on a lagged basis, based on positive growth between census dates using middle super output areas.  The £1.0M balance now not needed for growth, could be used as part of the 2019/20 delegated funding formula to schools.

 

6.4      The Lead Commissioner for Education Strategy and Development explained that on 16 December 2018, the Secretary of State had announced some additional funding for High Needs.  Gloucestershire would receive an additional £1.35M revenue funding in 2018/19, and the same amount again in 2019/20.  The Forum noted that that the Council’s appeal to the Secretary of State (not supported by the School’s Forum) for a 0.25% transfer from the Schools Block to High Needs had now been withdrawn.

 

6.5      Officers emphasised that the pressure on the High Needs budget remained, and that the overspend had continued to accelerate.  The Forum noted that the 2018/19 High Needs forecast budget position (reflecting the national picture), was showing a £4.7M overspend (allowing for the £1.35M additional funding) before the High Needs carry forward reserve was applied which would reduce the overspend to £2.7M. The Lead Commissioner for Education Strategy and Development stressed that the overspend was significant and that it placed Gloucestershire in a serious and challenging position.

 

6.6      It was reported that whilst the additional High Needs funding had eased the deficit to a degree, recovering the budget position remained heavily dependent on a favourable Spending Review settlement for 2020/21 onwards; and finding strategic solutions locally.  Given the severity of the situation the Forum agreed to hold a High Needs Seminar on Thursday 28 February 2019, for members to consider the possible solutions in greater depth. 

            ACTION: Stewart King

 

6.7      It was agreed that Forum members would advise the Lead Commissioner for Education Strategy and Development, via email, on the High Needs budget issues and potential solutions, which they felt should be considered in greater depth, to enable the seminar to be structured accordingly. Forum members were asked to complete this by 31 January 2019.

            ACTION: Joanne Bolton

 

6.8      Clare Steel, Special School Headteacher representative, stressed to officers that in view of the special schools being full and oversubscribed this year, it was crucial that special school headteachers were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Schools Forum Workplan 2019 pdf icon PDF 168 KB

Minutes:

7.1      Stewart King, the Lead Commissioner for Education Strategy and Development, explained that the focus of the Forum over the next year would continue to be on High Needs and Early Years funding.

 

7.2      The Forum noted the proposed Workplan for 2019.

 

8.

Elections 2019 pdf icon PDF 146 KB

Minutes:

8.1      The Forum received a report which outlined the plans for the Schools Forum Elections 2019. 

 

8.2      The Forum noted the report.

9.

F40

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that both himself and Forum member Will Morgan, would be attending the f40 Executive Committee meetings as the Gloucestershire representatives.