Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum
Thursday 20 June 2019 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

Items
No. Item

10.

Election of the Schools Forum Chair

To elect a Chair of the Schools Forum, for a two year term of office.

Minutes:

10.1    Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, explained that Forum members had received correspondence from the clerk outlining the proposal for Andrew Harris, the recently retired headteacher, and former member of the Schools Forum, to return as a member of the Forum and be elected as the Forum’s Chair.

 

10.2    The Forum considered the proposal and members expressed their support for Andrew Harris becoming the Schools Forum  Chair.  There were no other nominations.  Andrew Harris was therefore duly elected as the Schools Forum Chair for a two year term of office.

 

            (At this juncture there was a brief adjournment whilst Andrew Harris was informed of the Forum’s decision; he then subsequently joined the meeting.)

11.

Annual Review of the Constitution pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Minutes:

11.1    Joanne Bolton, Clerk to the Schools Forum, outlined the amendment that would need to be made to the Constitution to reflect the appointment of Andrew Harris as a community representative.  The Forum agreed to amend its membership structure (paragraph 1 of the Constitution), to include one additional non-schools member ‘a community representative’.

ACTION: Joanne Bolton

 

11.2    No other changes were proposed as part of the Annual Review.

 

11.3    A member questioned whether an addition should be made to paragraph 1 in the Constitution, to outline that there should be at least one member on the Forum who was a representative of the headteachers of academies, as well as maintained schools.  It was agreed that the clerk would look into this and report back.

ACTION: Joanne Bolton

12.

Election of the Vice Chair

To elect a Vice Chair of the Schools Forum, for a two year term of office.

Minutes:

Steve Savory, Primary Headteacher (Academy) representative, was duly elected as the Schools Forum Vice Chair for a two year term of office.

13.

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.

14.

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.

15.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2019 and note actions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

15.1    The minutes of the previous meeting held on 10 January 2019, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

15.2    Clare Steel, Special School Headteacher representative, referred to an action from the previous meeting and explained that clarification was needed on the number of children who had been allocated a special school place in the next academic year.  It was agreed that the Head of SEND would make contact with Clare Steel to discuss this.

            ACTION: Philip Haslett

 

15.3    Elisa Entwistle, Alternative Provision Schools representative, asked officers to provide further clarification on the plans for the pupils, whose named special school in their Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) was oversubscribed. 

            ACTION: Philip Haslett

16.

Outturn and Maintained School Balances 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 802 KB

Minutes:

16.1    Neil Egles, Finance Manager – Schools Strategy and Capital, introduced the report which outlined the 2018/19 in-year outturn position for the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and non-DSG, and the maintained school balances at the end of 2018/19.

 

16.2    He explained that the overall 2018/19 DSG outturn position was a net in-year overspend of £2.810M representing 0.6% of the 2018/19 DSG budget.  A further £1.993M of balances were remaining from 2017/18 resulting in an overall DSG deficit balance at the end of 2018/19 being £0.817M, equivalent to 0.2% of the £451.072M 2018/19 DSG.

 

16.3    The Forum agreed that the DSG deficit be earmarked at the end of 2018/19, as outlined in the report, and carried forward to 2019/20.

 

16.4    It was also reported that in Gloucestershire 185 maintained schools were in surplus and 22 in deficit of which 123 (61%) held revenue balances at the end of 2018/19 above the claw back thresholds (5% of ISB Secondary/8% of ISB Primary).  The excess amount above the thresholds represented £6.4M (42%) of the total £15.0M mainstream revenue balances held.  This was a £1.9M increase in the amount of excess balances that were held at the end of 2017/18.

 

16.5    The Forum acknowledged that excess funds could be retained above the thresholds when they had been committed in accordance with any of the permitted reasons as outlined in the report.  Members recognised that it would be a complex and substantial piece of work to challenge every commitment identified by the 123 schools and they were therefore satisfied that challenge of schools with the biggest surpluses by the Deficit Officer Group continued to be the most effective approach.

 

16.6    It was reported that the Council’s Deficit Officer Group was in the process of reviewing the plans of maintained schools holding surplus balances relating to the financial year 2018/19.  Schools with the largest balances had been asked to provide the reasons for their surplus and their plans for future expenditure.  The Deficit Officer Group would then work with the headteachers and school business managers to advise each school on the appropriate action to use their surplus where appropriate. A member emphasised the importance of involving the school governors in those discussions.  It was therefore agreed that officers would ensure that the Deficit Officer Group undertook to involve the governors in their discussions with the schools.

ACTION: Philip Haslett

 

16.7    Cllr Patrick Molyneux, Cabinet Member: Economy, Education and Skills; and Cllr Richard Boyles, Cabinet Member – Children’s Safeguarding and Early Years, made reference to the overall surplus amount above claw back thresholds of £6.4M, and the high amount of surplus being held by some individual schools. The point was made that the overall amount of surplus could be perceived as undermining the argument that education was underfunded.  Cllr Molyneux stressed that ultimately the revenue funding should be spent on educating the children.   Schools should be cautious about holding onto a high surplus, and be able to demonstrate valid reasons as to why the funds  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

High Needs pdf icon PDF 497 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

17.1    Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, introduced the report which outlined the High Needs outturn for 2018/19 and the 2019/20 budget; and provided an update on the High Needs Strategy and associated activities.

 

17.2    The Head of Education Strategy and Development gave a presentation on High Needs.  (For information: a copy of the presentation has been uploaded to the Council’s website and is included in the signed copy of the minute book.)  He explained that the High Needs budget deficit at the end of 2018/19 was £2.884M.  The Chair pointed out that this was significantly worse than the forecast overspend of £0.516M which was made at the beginning of 2018; the reasons why there had been a marked increase needed to be addressed.

 

17.3    The Forum was informed that the significant overspend in 2018/19 was driven by increased demand for places in Alternative Provision, out of county spend (Independent special schools), special school provision, and also EHCP costs in primary. It was explained that there was huge pressure on the Alternative Provision Service, pupil numbers were 140% over its capacity.    The costs associated with maintaining EHCPs had risen significantly.  The number of children with an EHCP was 368 more than the number at this time last year (an increase of 11.2%), at an estimated cost of £3.68M. 

 

17.4    The 2019/20 High Needs budget had been set at an in-year deficit of £1.192M.   There was concern that when this deficit was combined with the deficit total at the end of 2018/19, it totalled a High Needs overspend at the end of 2019/20 estimated at £4.076M. 

 

17.5    The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that the local authority was developing a 5-year recovery plan to bring High Needs to an in-year surplus so that the deficit could be recovered. The Forum reviewed the High Needs Strategy. There were concerns expressed by some members of the Forum that the specialist commissioning strategy, a key area of planning for High Needs, was based on data which did not reflect the current pupil population in special schools.  This was due to some significant changes in identification of primary need in the most recent school census. Members of the Forum emphasised the point that it was critical that the data underpinning the strategy was correct, to ensure that the right solutions were identified.   Officers agreed to work with the Association of Special School Headteachers to examine the data and ensure its accuracy. 

            ACTION:  Philip Haslett.

 

17.6    The Forum noted that the consultation period on the draft specialist commissioning strategy would close on 30 June 2019. 

 

17.7    Officers explained that the core message from the Strategy was that the available funding would be utilised to support early identification of need and inclusion.  In order to deliver this the Strategy outlined 8 areas of activity that would form the action plan for High Needs. The Forum noted the progress update on each of the 8 activities, as outlined in the report. 

 

17.8    The Head  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Gloucestershire Schools Forum Working Group pdf icon PDF 70 KB

To note the Gloucestershire Schools Forum Working Group One Page Strategy, and the notes of the meeting held on 9 May 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

18.1    The Forum noted the Schools Forum Working Group’s One Page Strategy which set out the Group’s ambitions and how it would operate.  The Forum noted that the Group would play an active role in informing, guiding and implementing the strategic aims identified in the High Needs Strategy, and it would also explore the wider school funding, and Early Years issues and plans.

 

18.2    The Forum noted the draft notes of the Working Group’s meeting held on 9 May 2019.  At the meeting held on 9 May, members of the Working Group considered in detail the High Needs Strategy and provided feedback to officers ahead of the Schools Forum meeting.

19.

Lobbying and Media - Continuing to raise the profile of school funding and high needs pdf icon PDF 147 KB

Minutes:

19.1    The Forum considered the proposal as outlined in the Lobbying for Funding Change report.  The Forum recognised that the planned spending review in 2019 would be a critical moment for school funding.  It was emphasised that a collective effort was needed now to make the case for additional funding for schools and High Needs.

 

19.2    In addition to the work already being undertaken through national campaigns (F40 and WorthLess?), the Forum recognised the importance of ensuring that everything was being done locally to mobilise support, and to gain a clear picture in Gloucestershire of the detrimental impact on pupils of the savings schools were having to make.

 

19.3    The Forum supported the proposal to run a funding event, in each of the 6 constituencies in Gloucestershire.  The purpose of the event was to bring together headteachers, MPs and the Local Authority to discuss and tackle school funding issues to ensure there was a common understanding of the issues.  MPs would be asked to use the report captured at the event to intensify the discussion in Parliament for fairer/better funding for schools.

 

19.4    It was agreed that the events would be arranged to take place in the Autumn term 2019.

            ACTION: Philip Haslett/Joanne Bolton.

20.

Schools Forum Meeting Dates

To note the future meeting dates:

 

2019

Thursday 19 September

Thursday 14 November

 

2020

Thursday 9 January

Thursday 18 June

Thursday 17 September

Thursday 12 November

Minutes:

The Forum noted the future meeting dates as outlined below:

 

2019

Thursday 19 September

Thursday 14 November

 

2020

Thursday 9 January

Thursday 18 June

Thursday 17 September

Thursday 12 November

 

Meetings will be held in the Cabinet Suite of Shire Hall and will commence at 2pm.