Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum - Thursday 16 September 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: REMOTE MEETING

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

Items
No. Item

21.

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.

22.

Public Questions

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: joanne.bolton@gloucestershire.gov.uk) (Tel: 01452 324197), by 10:00am on Tuesday 14 September 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.

Minutes:

No public questions had been received.

23.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 17 June 2021 and note actions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

23.1    The minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 June 2021, were approved as a correct record.

 

23.2    Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, reported that at the Forum’s meeting on 17 June 2021, the Forum recommended that top-up funding should increase by 2% for both mainstream and special schools.  The Local Authority (LA) had now ratified the 2% increase, with adjustments being made to external Alternative Provision funding to keep it cost neutral for 2021/22.

 

23.3    He also reported that the government’s SEND review was still yet to be published despite repeated messages that it was imminent.  Once published a Schools Forum working group session would take place to assess the implications of the SEND review and any impacts on the local funding models.

ACTION: Head of Education Strategy and Development/Clerk to the Forum.

 

24.

School Funding 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 652 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

24.1    Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, gave a presentation on School Funding for 2022/23.  The Forum considered the implications of government indicative announcements on school funding for 2022/23, and the proposed funding formula method to use for Gloucestershire’s schools and academies.

 

24.2    The Forum received the 2022/23 indicative Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) block summary.  The percentage increases were broadly in-line with those from 2020/21 to 2021/22 (excluding the increase in 2021/22 that related to teachers pay and pensions funding moving into the DSG).

 

24.3    The Forum considered the proposed Growth Fund allocation of £1.3M for 2022/23.  In response to a question, Neil Egles Finance Manager Schools Strategy and Capital, explained that the Growth Fund was topsliced from the Schools block DSG to provide funding for new classes required as a result of a shortage of basic need places.  It would usually fund one additional class for a school in the current financial year; from the following year onwards the pupils would form part of the number on roll and the census count, meaning they would be funded through the normal method of the funding formula.  The Growth Fund also covered funding for the start up costs of new schools.  No funding was required for new schools in 2022/23, which was why £0.2M less was needed than the figure for 2021/22. 

 

24.4    A Forum member raised a concern that there should be more transparency and consultation with schools regarding the allocation of growth funding to meet the need for additional places, particularly how an area as a whole caters for the need.  He suggested that Gloucestershire’s headteachers associations would be useful forums in which the discussions could take.  The Head of Education Strategy and Development agreed to look at this issue and provide Forum members with information on how the process operated and the funding was allocated.

ACTION: Head of Education Strategy and Development.

 

24.5    In response to a question, Neil Egles the Finance Manager Schools Strategy and Capital, clarified that the Growth Fund (topsliced from the Schools block) was used for mainstream schools only.  Funding for special schools came from the High Needs block, and places were commissioned and funded at the point of need.

 

24.6    The Forum agreed a top-slice for growth of £1.3M for 2022/23, subject to being updated for any change in the basic need Age Weighted Pupil Unit rates for 2022/23 when those were finalised in January 2022.

 

24.7    The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented the changes and clarifications to the National Funding Formula (NFF) for 2022/23, as detailed in the report.  The Forum noted that:

 

Ø    There would be 3% increases to the factors for basic entitlement, deprivation allocations based on free school meals at any time in the last 6 years (FSM6) and on income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI); lower prior attainment (LPA), English as an additional language (EAL) and the lump sum.

Ø    A 2% increase to Minimum Per Pupil Levels and Free School Meals  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

High Needs pdf icon PDF 351 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

25.1    Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, informed members of the forecast financial performance of the High Needs block in 2021/22.  He explained that there was a worsening picture for the High Needs block this year.  The key variance, £532,000, was within the High Needs unallocated budget line.  The variance was comprised of a significant adjustment of £282,000 in the import/export calculation and a £250,000 adjustment for the mainstream top-up budgets, to support additional therapies and bespoke SEN packages.  The cost of therapies and bespoke packages was not an additional cost, but should have been included in the initial budget planning.

 

25.2    The Forum was informed that there had been a rise in the number of children with an EHCP moving into further education and college placements, that  had resulted in a forecast overspend of £172,000. Additional post-16 opportunities had resulted in a reduction in the use of independent post-16 providers, saving around £200,000 on 20 places.  That had helped create a forecast underspend in the Independent Special Schools budget of £51,900.

 

25.3    There had been a rise in primary and secondary mainstream forecasts, £69,000 and £96,000 respectively. It was directly linked to a rise in excess of the historic trends, in the number of new EHCPs.

 

25.4    The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that as a result of the adjustments outlined above, the expected annual overspend in High Needs had moved from £3,573,300 to £4,105,300.  However, this was an improvement of over £1M on the overspend in 2020/21.

 

25.5    The Forum received details on the import and export adjustment.  It was explained that Gloucestershire was a net exporter.  That meant the number of Gloucestershire high needs pupils that other areas took in (exports) was above the number of every high needs pupil that Gloucestershire took in from another area (imports). A deduction of £1,140,000 was made from Gloucestershire’s 2021/22 High Needs funding block, compared to £858,000 in 2020/21. A difference of -£282,000.  Initial analysis by the LA had suggested that the increase was linked to the increase in the number of children with an EHCP moving into further education and college placements.  However, the Gloucestershire Parent Carer Forum representative on the Forum reported that many Gloucestershire families were experiencing difficulties in finding special school provision in the county due to a lack of places and places that were suitable, and that it was not solely related to post-16 places.

 

25.6    The Head of Education Strategy and Development, agreed that he would provide Forum members with a further breakdown of the budget, to show the cost of special school placements per pupil in the county, and the cost of out of county independent special schools placements per pupil.  It was also agreed that information on the Home to School Transport costs for children travelling to special schools in county, and independent special schools out of county, would be provided to the Forum.

ACTION: Head of Education Strategy and Development

 

25.7    The Forum noted the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Capital pdf icon PDF 162 KB

Minutes:

26.1    Gareth Vine, Universal Commissioning Manager, presented a report on Education Capital.  He informed the Forum that the revised annual budget for the 2021/22 Schools capital programme was £41.591M.  The financial year spend as at the end of August 2021 was £12.509M.

 

26.2    The Forum received an update on the construction of the SEMH special school in Brockworth, Gloucester, and Gloucestershire’s Alternative Provision Transformation Project. 

 

26.3    The Universal Commissioning Manager reported that to meet the additional demand for primary places arising from existing housing and new development in Bishop’s Cleeve, a new primary school would be built on land to the north of the village next to the Old Farmers Arms on Evesham Road.  The school would form part of Gloucestershire Learning Alliance, Multi Academy Trust.

 

26.4    The Forum was informed that development of the new 900 place High School, Leckhampton was progressing at pace with the new provision scheduled to open September 2022.   The new school, which was run by the Balcarras Academy Trust, opened as planned in September 2021 for pupils in Year 7 only in accommodation provided at the Balcarras site.   

 

26.5    The Universal Commissioning manager explained that impact of the pandemic coupled with Brexit had been affecting the supply chains of some key materials, but had not caused any significant impact in Gloucestershire as yet.  The situation would continue to be monitored on a monthly basis and mitigating plans developed where necessary.

 

26.6    Approval for a new secondary school and a primary school had been approved as part of the DfE’s Wave free school applications (Beacon Secondary Academy, as part of Cotswold Beacon Academy Trust, and The Wheatridge Primary School, as part of The Crypt School Trust).  The new schools would be centrally funded through the government’s Free School programme.  Both of the projects would be delayed by at least 2 years due to the impact of the pandemic and Brexit.

 

26.7    The Forum was informed that the DfE had also announced that two secondary academies in Gloucestershire - Katharine Lady Berkeley School, in Wotton Under Edge, and Thomas Keble School in Stroud, had been approved as part of phase 1 of the government’s School’s Rebuilding Programme. 

 

26.7    The Forum noted the current position in respect of the Education capital projects.

27.

F40 and Covid-19 Update

Minutes:

27.1    The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that on the 6th September 2021 the DfE had announced details for the funding of the COVID recovery premium.  Officers had now assessed the impact of the funding for schools in Gloucestershire.  He explained that mainstream schools would receive £145 per eligible pupil and £290 for children in a special unit.  All other schools would receive £290 per eligible pupil.  It would be paid in four payments throughout the year, and in total would amount to a provisional allocation of £2.5M of Covid-19 recovery funding for Gloucestershire’s schools.  The funding was expected to be used to support evidence based approaches.  He confirmed that the use and impact of the recovery premium must be reported as part of the Pupil Premium report and would be a focus of an Ofsted visit. 

 

27.2    Forum members emphasised the importance of all schools being made aware of this funding.  The Head of Education Strategy and Development confirmed that information on COVID recovery premium would be included in the HeadsUp bulletin.

ACTION: Head of Education Strategy and Development

 

27.3    A Primary School Headteacher representative on the Forum made reference to the fact that schools in Gloucestershire were missing out on Pupil Premium funding due to a change in the way it was being calculated.  It was now calculated on free school meals eligibility in October rather than January as it was in previous years.  She reported that the additional Covid-19 recovery funding being allocated to their school would not even cover the loss to their budget from the change to the Pupil Premium funding.  The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that the LA had completed an analysis on the impact of the change in terms of the loss of funding to Gloucestershire’s schools, he would compare this with the additional funding being received as part of the Covid-19 recovery funding and raise as an issue at the meeting of the F40 on 20 September 2021.

ACTION: Head of Education Strategy and Development