Venue: REMOTE MEETING
Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197
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.
No declarations of interest were made.
To receive any public questions.
Questions can be asked on the day or sent to the Clerk before the
meeting. If you would like to ask a question on the day of the meeting, please contact the Clerk Joanne Bolton (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) (Tel: 01452 324197), by 10:00am on Tuesday 12 January 2021, so that arrangements can be made as the meeting is being held remotely via video conferencing.
The Chair will advise the timescale for any questions asked on the day of the meeting or received less than 3 working days before the meeting. A written answer will be provided if questions are received 3 clear working days before the date of the meeting.
No public questions were received.
To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 12 November 2020 and note actions.
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 November 2020 were approved as
a correct record.
4.1 The Finance Business Partner Strategic Finance gave an overview of the County Council budget proposals and provided details on the specific budget information relating to Children and Families. (For information: a copy of the presentation sides covering each agenda item has been uploaded to the Council’s website.)
4.2 A member of the Forum emphasised the importance of all schools, and in particular governing bodies, being made aware of when the County Council’s budget consultation was taking place, so that they were provided with the opportunity to respond. In response to a question on what action had been taken by the local authority to notify schools, the Finance Business Partner confirmed that headteachers and governors had been notified of the consultation via the Heads Up and What’s Up Gov bulletins. The budget for consultation was also published on the Council’s website.
4.3 Forum members were reminded that the budget consultation was open until 5:00pm on 15 January 2021 so that they could respond individually if they so wished.
4.4 The Forum noted report.
5.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented the report on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2021/22.
5.2 The Forum was informed that the DSG for 2020/21 announced on 17 December 2020 totalled £524.114M, it represented an increase in funding of £22.898M (4.8%) from the current 2020/21 DSG. A further £20.648M (4.3%) had also been included for the movement of the teachers’ pay and pension funding from separate grants into the DSG, bringing the total change up to £43.546M (9.1%). This allowed for the national funding formula factor rates for schools to be applied in full at their 100% level. 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.
5.3 The Forum was informed of the key changes between 2020/21 and 2021/22. It was reported that whilst sparsity funding continued to be based on the same distance thresholds of 2020/21, funding had increased significantly for 2021/22 with an increase of 73% in the maximum primary sparsity factor from £26,000 to £45,000 and an increase of 11% in the maximum secondary factor from £67,600 to £75,000. This had resulted in an overall increase in the sparsity funding allocated of £0.419M (53%). A total of 33 schools (28 primary and 5 secondary) qualified for the funding.
5.4 It was reported that the Minimum Per Pupil Funding (MPPF) rates had increased by £250 in primary and £150 in secondary. The MPPF rates including the teachers’ pay and pension grants was now:£4,180 for primary schools and £5,415 for secondary schools. A total of 78 schools (64 primary and 14 secondary) would be funded on the MPPF. The Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) rate had increased from £1.84% in 2020/21 to 2% in 2021/22. A total of 78 schools (74 primary and 4 secondary) would receive the MFG uplift.
5.5 The Forum noted the information outlined in the report on how the 2021/22 figures compared to those in 2020/21 and how schools in each sector were now being funded. The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that the local authority had been able to deliver the National Funding Formula in full leaving a Schools block surplus of £0.643M in 2021/22.
5.6 It was reported that for Early Years, the funding announcements on 17 December 2020 included an increase in the hourly funding rates by 6 pence for three and four year olds and 8 pence for two year olds resulting in an increase in the Early Years block of £476,895. In addition to that increase there was a reduction of £7,995 to the disability access fund, giving an overall increase to the Early Years block of £468,900 for 2021/22. The Forum noted that there would be further updates in the summer 2021 and summer 2022 for the January pupil counts.
5.7 The Forum considered the urgent report on Early Years funding, which had been published on the Council’s website and circulated to ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development gave a presentation on the 2020/21 High Needs forecast, the key funding drivers for High Needs, and an update on the national picture.
6.2 He reported that there had been a number of movements in the reporting period, which were outlined in the report. One of the key movements was the use of independent school places from September 2020 onwards, it included 2 highly complex residential placements starting in September and the need for 10 additional independent school placements between September and the new year. Consequently, there was now a forecast overspend of £204,000 on the independent school budget.
6.3 Overall the December financial forecast for the 2020/21 High Needs budget was broadly in-line with the planned year end deficit budget. The Head of Education and Strategy explained that this demonstrated that there was now a greater understanding of the level of need coming into the system and the growth trends, enabling more control of the budget and accurate forecasting.
6.4 The Forum was informed that the key drivers of the overspend continued to be the number of Education Heath and Care Plans (EHCP) in the system, and the rate of permanent exclusions. As at 1 December 2020 there were 4,284 active EHCPs, which was a rise of 202 since August 2020. The number of new requests for EHCPs continued to rise, and the local authority was reviewing the data to determine whether the rise was a consequence of the impact of Covid-19. Once the analysis was complete it would be shared with the Forum.
ACTION: The Head of Education Strategy and Development.
6.5 The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that a further spike in the number of new requests for ECHPs was anticipated over the next 12 months, due to the rising level of need in the system resulting from a further national lockdown. The rates of permanent exclusion had remained broadly in-line with the previous year - a total of 23 children and young people had been permanently excluded from schools this academic year, compared to 21 in the same period in 2019/20.
6.6 The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that the pressure on High Needs budgets continued to cause concern in local authorities across the country. The Society of County Treasurers (SCT) and the F40 group had recently surveyed members to get an up to date picture. The Forum considered a summary report from the SCT, which outlined that in terms of the cumulative High Needs deficits; by the end of 2020-21 forecasts from the 32 that responded showed: 13 members with deficits between £0M and £10M; 9 members with deficits between £10M and £20M; 1 with a deficit in the £20millions and another just over £30M; and 3 with deficits between £40M and £50M. Gloucestershire was positioned in the second group of 9 members with a deficit of between £10M and £20M. The local authority had reached out to find out which local authorities ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
7.1 The Clerk to the Forum presented a report which outlined the plans for the Schools Forum Elections 2021.
7.2 The Forum noted the report.
8.1 The Forum received the Workplan for 2021. It was noted that the key priorities for the Schools Forum in 2021 were Mainstream, Early Years, and High Needs funding; the financial impact of Covid-19; and a reassessment of the role and impact of the Forum in light of its statutory responsibilities, current priorities in school funding and developments in government guidance.
8.2 The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that schools were being asked to continue monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on their budgets. Analysis of the exceptional costs incurred by schools in Gloucestershire could then be used by the local authority to help inform DfE and ESFA policy. The analysis would be shared with the Forum once complete.
ACTION: The Head of Education Strategy and Development.
8.3 The Head of Education Strategy and Development informed members that the plan was for a Schools Forum working group on High Needs to be established within the next few months.
8.4 The Forum noted the Workplan for 2021.
9.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that there were three key areas of focus for the F40 group in 2021:
Ø The continuing campaign for a fairer school funding deal through the core national funding formula.
Ø The financial impact of Covid-19 on schools, and making the case for additional support and funding for schools from central government to cover the additional, unexpected costs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ø High Needs funding - not just the overall quantum of funding but reviewing and understanding the way in which High Needs funding was allocated across the country.