Venue: REMOTE MEETING
Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197
Election of the Schools Forum Vice Chair
To elect the Vice Chair of the Schools Forum for a two year term of office.
Becky Martin, Special School Governor (maintained), was duly elected as the Schools Forum Vice Chair for a two-year term of office.
To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 30 March 2022 and note actions.
19.1 The minutes of the previous meeting held on 30 March 2022, were approved as a correct record.
19.2 Members noted that the two action points from the previous meeting had been completed.
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.
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:
email@example.com) (Tel: 01452 324197), by 10:00am
on Tuesday 14 June 2022, 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 had been received.
22.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented a report on the 2021/22 outturn and maintained school balances.
22.2 The Forum was informed that the 2021/22 in-year Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) outturn position was an overspend of £5.058M resulting in a cumulative DSG deficit of £17.042M, representing 3.26% of the 2021/22 gross DSG budget. There was a £0.594M Schools block net underspend consisting of two elements: an underspend of £0.456M on the growth fund used to fund new schools and increases in basic need places; and an in-year underspend of £0.138M on the de-delegated budgets that related to maintained schools only.
22.3 The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that there was also a surplus of £0.200M at the end of last year relating to de-delegated balances that was part of the net £11.984M remaining deficit balance brought forward, bringing the de-delegated surplus element of the DSG up to £0.338M. Although there was an overall net £17.042M DSG deficit being carried forward to 2022/23, this contained surplus commitments relating to the £0.338M maintained schools de-delegated budgets and Early Years DSG balances of £2.824M which consisted of the £1.345M 2021/22 in-year underspend and £1.479M brought forward underspend from 2020/21.
22.4 It was reported that the Early Years block balance of £2.824M included £1.48M relating to 2020/21 and in March 2022 the Schools Forum agreed for £1.4M of those balances to be allocated to providers and specific projects. The in-year position of £1.35M was due to lower spend against the budget for free entitlement for nursery places for three and four year olds and project initiatives both affected by the impact of the pandemic.
22.5 The Forum was informed that for High Needs, DSG funded services were overspent by £17.043M in 2021/22, which included the deficit brought forward of £13.665M. Within the total deficit position, the High Needs block was £20.205M in deficit offset by early years and de-delegated balances. The High Needs budget was £2.869M above the deficit budget that was set, with top-up budgets for colleges, special schools, primary and secondary schools overspending by £3.18M due to increased demand. The Head of Education Strategy and Development emphasised that the budget pressures that Gloucestershire was facing reflected the national picture with significant deficits in the DSG High Needs being held in many local authorities.
22.6 The Forum agreed that the DSG deficit balance at the end of 2021/22 be earmarked, as shown in the report accompanying the agenda, and carried forward to 2022/23.
22.7 The Forum received an update on the maintained school balances at the end of 2021/22. The total maintained school balances at the end of the financial year 31 March 2022 was £23.325M. A total of 174 schools were in surplus, 19 schools (4 less than last year) were in deficit. The total maintained school balances increased by £3.407M (17%) made up of: revenue balance increases of £3.357M (17.8%); capital balance increases of £0.084M (8.4%); and removal of £0.034M of balances relating to seven academy conversions. ... view the full minutes text for item 22.
23.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented a report which set out the proposed budget for 2022/23 including proposed uplifts to mainstream and specialist top-up levels, and the draft outturn for 2021/22.
23.2 He reported that there had been several significant variances that had developed throughout the year. The result of the variations in budget performance was a £6.961M overspend, against the planned overspend of £4.093M. A £2.868M variance to planned budget. The Forum noted the key variances outlined in the report.
23.3 The Forum was informed that the net increase in Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) between January 2021 and January 2022 was 522. This was above historic trends, which pre-Covid were operating at around a net increase of 350 a year. This trend had progressed with a net increase of 410 plans in 2020/21 and 522 in 2021/22. The profile of new plans being issued was heavily weighted in the primary sector. Officers advised members that this would have a long-term impact, as the EHCP generally stayed in place throughout statutory education. As a result, the expectation was that there would be a continued rise in the need for secondary and Post 16 support.
23.4 The Forum was informed that there had been a change in trends regarding the source of EHCP requests. In the last 2 years there had been a steady rise in the percentage of requests from parents and carers. This was alongside the increase in total requests and showed a significant change in the point of referral for an EHCP.
23.5 A member pointed out that the rise in the percentage of EHCP assessment requests from parents and carers, had been referenced in recent SEND updates from Gloucestershire County Council to schools, early years settings and to parents and carers who had subscribed to the updates. However, there was no context around the underlying message the local authority was aiming to make by highlighting this. In response, the Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that reference had been made in recent publications, simply to highlight the fact that there had been a cultural change in trend regarding the source of EHCP requests. He commented that this change could be linked to the 2014 reforms to the SEND system, which put more emphasis on the parent’s voice. However, despite this, he would still expect the majority of EHCP requests to come through from schools (in conjunction with the parents and carers). He acknowledged that further analysis was needed to understand why there had been a steady rise in the percentage of EHCP requests from parents and carers, and to determine whether any action needed to be taken. The member welcomed the news that further analysis would be undertaken, and emphasised that there needed to be a clear strategic response from the local authority as to why there had been a change in trend.
23.6 A member suggested that the rise in EHCP requests from parents and carers could be due to ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
24.1 The Clerk to the Schools Forum, informed members that the Schools Forum Constitution was reviewed annually at every June meeting of the Forum. There had been no changes to the Schools Forum (England) Regulations 2012, nor the Schools Forum Good Practice and Operational Guide, since the previous review, and therefore no amendments were proposed at this time.
24.2 The membership structure of the Forum was also reviewed at every June meeting. The balance between maintained primary, maintained secondary and academies members, remained broadly proportionate to the pupil numbers in each category. Consequently, no changes were proposed by the local authority to amend the number of members representing those categories on the Forum.
24.3 The Forum agreed that no changes were needed to either the current Constitution or the membership structure.
24.4 A member made reference to the term of office of Forum members being 4 years as stated in the Constitution, and queried why some members had been allocated a shorter term of office at the time of their election. In response, the clerk explained that this was because Forum elections took place every two years, whereby half of the membership was up for election, with each seat being allocated to a specific election year. On occasions when a member resigned from the Forum mid-term, the new member elected would take on the remainder of the term of office, instead of the full 4-year term.
24.5 In response to concerns expressed by members regarding the volume of Forum meeting papers, the Head of Education Strategy and Development agreed that moving forward, the key reports for the Forum’s consideration and any supporting documentation that was for information purposes only, would be clearly identified as such in the meeting paper pack, and separated out accordingly where possible. The PowerPoint presentation would also be circulated to members around the same time as the publication of the meeting papers.
ACTION: The Head of Education Strategy and Development/Clerk to the Schools Forum.
25.1 The Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that the f40 Group would be briefing MPs in July 2022 on its campaign for fairness in education funding.
25.2 He presented a table which provided a summary of f40 member local authorities and the average per pupil funding they received through the High Needs block, which demonstrated the significant variances that existed across the country.
25.3 He explained that Gloucestershire had 82,134.00 mainstream pupils on the data set used at that point in time, and was receiving £84M of High Needs block funding, which equated to £1,026 per pupil funding. By comparison, Buckinghamshire had 75,884.50 mainstream pupils and High Needs block funding of £111M. He suggested that the context around Buckinghamshire was not that much different to Gloucestershire’s to justify a £27M variance in High Needs DSG funding. He stressed that Gloucestershire would only need to have the same per pupil funding as Somerset to be in a balanced in-year position. Ultimately, the concern was that Gloucestershire was not receiving an equitable level of High Needs funding in comparison to some other local authorities.
25.4 The Head of Education Strategy and Development confirmed that he had raised the issue of the equity of High Needs block funding, and how the High Needs block was formed, with the f40 Group, and had recommended the Group progress this as a key campaign issue. He had asked the Group to explore the issue in more detail in order that a full understanding of the variation in funding across the country was developed.
25.5 The working hypotheses was that this issue had arisen from locked-in inequity from the formation of the Dedicated Schools Grant and the development of the High Needs funding formula. He explained that 50% of High Needs funding formula was still based on historic funding levels from 2018. This meant that for a local authority that had, at that time, spent much more of the funding on the mainstream sector in an aim to support inclusion, it would have a much lower amount of funding going into the High Needs block, in comparison to a local authority that invested more of the funding in the special school sector.
25.6 In response to a question, the Forum was informed that whilst 50% of the High Needs funding formula was based on historic funding levels, the remaining 50% was based on needs led elements consisting of a number of proxy indictors similar to those in the National Funding Formula, although crucially there were no indicators on the number of EHCPs in the system.
25.7 The Head of Education Strategy and Development informed members that he would provide an update on the f40 Group’s proposals for next steps in regard to the equity of funding levels for High Needs nationally, at the next Forum meeting in September 2022.
ACTION: The Head of Education Strategy and Development
Meeting Dates 2023
To note the following future meeting dates:
Thursday 15 September 2022 at 2:00 pm
Thursday 10 November 2022 at 2:00 pm
Thursday 12 January 2023 at 2:00 pm
Thursday 15 June 2023 at 2:00 pm
Thursday 14 September 2023 at 2:00 pm
Thursday 9 November 2023 at 2:00 pm
The Forum noted the future meeting dates in 2022/2023.