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. A form is available at the back of the meeting room.
No declarations of interest were made.
To receive any public questions.
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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 had been received.
To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 16 September 2021 and note actions.
30.1 The minutes of the previous meeting held on 16 September 2021, were approved as a correct record subject to the membership details for Dermot McNiffe in the attendance list being corrected to read: ‘Secondary (Academy) Headteachers’.
30.2 The Forum noted the progress against the actions from the previous meeting as outlined in the Action Sheet.
30.3 At the September Forum meeting it was noted that schools were losing out on income due to changes in the way Pupil Premium was being calculated. The concern was that the additional Covid-19 recovery funding being allocated to schools was not covering this loss to their budgets. The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that analysis on the impact showed lost income from changes to the Pupil Premium census date totalled £1,400,370. This was a £1,213,190 loss for primary schools and £187,190 for secondary schools. Covid recovery premium funding in 2020/21 for secondary schools totalled £931,047 and £1,313,045 for primary schools. Therefore primary schools were disproportionately impacted by the change in the Pupil Premium funding which was offsetting the additional funding received for recovery.
30.4 The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that the Home to School Transport budget was increasingly under significant pressure. He would provide details on the costs for children travelling to special schools in the county and independent special schools out of county, at the 13 January 2022 Forum meeting.
ACTION: Head of Education Strategy and Development.
31.1 The Forum received an update on the key messages coming out of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review 2021 in relation to Education.
31.2 For Early Years and Family Support, there would be additional funding for the early years entitlements worth £160M in 2022-23, £180M in 2023-24 and £170M in 2024-25. A total of £302M to fund new programmes to support parents, provide bespoke breast-feeding services and parent-infant mental support, and funding to rollout Family Hubs across England.
31.3 It was reported that for the core schools’ budget there would be an additional £4.7 billion by 2024-25. In response to a question, the Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that this closely aligned with the 2019 spending review figure of £7.1 billion over three years, and should therefore result in a similar percentage increase to the Per Pupil funding levels continuing for schools, like those seen over the last 3 years. However, schools would need to consider the cost of the National Insurance Levy from April 2022, and the commitment to increase teacher starting salaries to £30k (announced in 2016).
31.4 In response to a further question, he clarified that there were no further details on whether the Per Pupil funding, by remaining at a similar level, would mean a redirection of funding into the additional needs aspects. He added that any action to direct funding to support children with additional needs would be linked to the outcomes of the government’s SEND review, which was due to be published imminently.
31.5 For Post-16 and Youth Services there would be an additional £1.6 billion by 2024-25 for 16-19 year-olds. Current funding rates would be maintained as student numbers grew. An additional 110,000 students were anticipated by 2024/25. The capital settlement for SR 21 included £2.8 billion for colleges condition funding and funding for improved facilities (including continued roll out of T-Levels) and to establish 20 new Institutes of Technology. A total of £560M new funding had been announced for youth services in England over the next three years, enough to fund 300 youth clubs.
31.6 The Forum noted that a total of £2.6 billion had been allocated to fund places for children and young people with SEND. The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that initial indications from the ESFA were that this funding would be allocated to the new free school and academies programme. The Education Building and Development Officers Group (a national group made up of local authority officers and property professionals who are responsible for effective asset manager of school premises within their own LA), was engaging with the ESFA’s policy team, and requesting greater flexibility to enable the funding to be used to enhance existing specialist provision in local areas. This was on the basis that the process for free school bids could take up to 3 years to complete, and there was a risk that the bids may not even be successful.
31.7 In education recovery there would be a £1 billion extension to ... view the full minutes text for item 31.
Consultation on School Improvement Grant Funding
32.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that the government was consulting local authorities on proposed changes to how LA’s school improvement actives were funded. The government was proposing to remove the grant and enable all improvement activity, including that provided in connection with core improvement activities, to be funded in the same way via de-delegation from schools’ budget shares. The rationale behind the proposal was that local authorities rarely needed to utilise intervention powers, many historically poorer performing schools were now academies, and core improvement activities were part of a continuum of wider activity.
32.2 He reported that the impact of the removal of this grant in Gloucestershire would be a loss of income totalling circa £720k by 2023/24. A reduction of 50% would be seen in 2022/23. The government was proposing to change the regulations to allow all LA School Improvement activities to be funded through de-delegation, with the agreement of the local schools forum or the Secretary of State.
32.3 The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that in terms of next steps, the LA would assess the impact of the proposed changes and work with Forum members representing maintained schools to model potential options for School Improvement funding. Consultation/engagement would take place with all maintained schools, (Primary, Secondary, Alternative Provision and Special) to consider options, and to also produce a response to the government’s consultation. He stressed that the consultation was focused on the pace of the removal of the grant, rather than whether the grant should or should not be removed.
32.4 The Head of Education Development and Strategy emphasised that decisions on de-delegations for School Improvement funding would involve the Forum members representing maintained schools across the school sector (i.e. Special, Alternative Provision, Primary, and Secondary).
32.5 In response to a question, the Head of Education Strategy and Development confirmed that Gloucestershire rarely needed to utilise the intervention powers. LAs were working hard not to get into the position of having to use the intervention powers with schools that were causing concern. The Director of Children’s Services added that using this statutory power of direction was always an intervention of last resort. The LA aimed to work with governing bodies to build consensus to avoid having to use it; however, it was a useful power to call upon when needed.
32.6 The Director of Children’s Services explained that ultimately the consultation was sending the message that it remained the government’s intention to move to full academisation, and for all stand alone academies to join Multi Academy Trusts by 2025. It could be implied that the removal of this grant was removing a barrier to academisation. He added that following the loss of the grant income it would be incredibly difficult to maintain a school improvement service at local authority level to support schools, consequently this would be a loss of service to maintained schools. Senior officers were concerned about the impact this would have on the school improvement service, including a ... view the full minutes text for item 32.
33.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development provided an update on the High Needs forecast for 2021/22 and the current growth trends in Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).
33.2 As reported at the last School’s Forum meeting in September there had been a further £660,000 increase in costs which has resulted in a forecast in-year deficit of just over £5M. The forecast now included a 2% increase to top-ups as agreed at the previous Schools Forum meeting. To offset this cost, the LA had made an adjustment in the forecast expenditure on external Alternative Provision, this had been possible due to the reduced pressure the Alternative Provision service.
33.3 He reported that the most significant movement was in the College and FE budget, where there had been a sharp increase in the number of places. An overview of the current mainstream EHCP profile was presented to the Forum which showed the allocation of funding into the different year groups. It was noted that there had been a rise in primary, which may then flow through into secondary. The spike in years 10 and 11 was starting to flow through into Post-16. Small changes in trends and average costs in other budget areas, in this case the year 11 cohort, could have a significant impact. To address those issues, the LA had developed a more detailed activity led financial model incorporating the various component budgets supporting High Needs. The model would look back over the last three years to assess trends, and then forecast a 5 year forward plan. Officers were confident that the model would significantly improve the LA’s ability to accurately forecast and plan the budget for the next financial year. The model had been developed in line with the DfE Dedicated Schools Grant Management Plan, to aid future discussions with the DfE. It was noted that the Forum would receive further information on the model at the 13 January 2022 Schools Forum meeting.
33.4 The Forum noted that EHCP numbers were continuing to rise – the requests to assess in the June-September period were significantly up on last year. The LA was planning to use a net increase of 400 new plans to forecast budget. As part of the modelling work, there would be close look at the financial impact of that assumption over a 5 year period.
33.5 The forecast High Needs in-year deficit of just over £5M was broadly in line with previous year’s budget position. The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that the position was as good as could be reasonably expected, given the changes in the trends and pressures on the system. Some LAs were reporting significant in-year High Needs deficit budgets – in one case £22M.
33.6 The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that there was now an increased focus on the Post-16 transition process, making sure that the review process was effective, and that plans were ceased or reduced, as required. The SEND Casework Team was ... view the full minutes text for item 33.
The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that he had attended the recent meeting of the f40 Executive Group. The core focus of the F40 Group for this year and the next 3 years was to continue the campaign for equity in the National Funding Formula. The f40 Group would also increase its focus on High Needs funding following publication of the government’s SEND review.
The next meeting of the Schools Forum will take place at 2:00pm on Thursday 13 January 2021.
The Forum noted the next meeting would take place at 2:00pm on Thursday 13 January 2022.