Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum - Wednesday 12 July 2023 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of the Schools Forum Chair

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

Minutes:

Having been duly proposed and seconded and there being no other nominations, Andrew Harris, community representative, was re-elected as the Chair for a two-year term of office.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 12 January 2023 and note actions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

2.1       The minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 January 2023, were approved as a correct record.

 

2.2       In regard to the actions from the last meeting members noted that:

 

Ø    Future reporting on the Central School Services block allocation would also detail the funding allocated to each element within the block for the current financial year.

Ø    Benchmarking data on Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) would be circulated to the Forum ahead of the next meeting on 14 September 2023.

                        ACTION: The Head of Education Strategy and Development.

Ø    Officers had undertaken further modelling work on the band 4 adjusted funding rate which had resulted in bringing it closer to a zero variance.  However, the modelling was showing that the costs involved with the new mainstream banding model were going to be marginally higher than previously forecast.

3.

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. 

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

4.

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 11 July 2023, 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.

5.

Update on Early Years Supplementary Grant

Minutes:

5.1      Suzanne Hall, Finance Business Partner, informed the Forum that she had attended a DfE seminar on 11 July 2023 on the recently announced Early Years Supplementary Grant.  She was able to give members a verbal update on the Supplementary Grant increases.

 

5.2      The Forum was informed that the total amount of the Supplementary Grant nationally was £204M; Gloucestershire would receive a proportion of this based on the pupil census numbers in January 2023 and the amount would be adjusted in due course to reflect the results of the census in January 2024.  The increase to Early Years Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) rates totalled 33p for 3- and 4-year-olds and £1.87 for 2-year-olds.  The DfE recognised the importance of delivering the increases to providers as soon as possible so that they impacted on the Autumn and Spring terms.  The base rates would be updated in accordance with these increases and would be paid through to the providers in September 2023.  This was not cumulative, so the rates for 2024/25 would be subject to review; however, it was likely that the Supplementary Grant would be included within the DSG for 2024/25. 

 

5.3      It was reported that Pupil Premium for Early Years would increase by 4p per eligible pupil.  The Disability Access Fund would increase by £53 to £881 (in a full year) which providers would receive per eligible child. 

 

5.4      Members were also informed that the DfE would be providing additional funding in the Early Years block to increase capacity within the Early Years market, and the DfE would be working with a number of local authorities on development projects for wraparound care.

 

5.5      In response to a question, it was agreed that the Forum would be provided with the Gloucestershire Early Years current DSG base rate figures.

ACTION: Finance Business Partner.

6.

2022/23 Outturn and maintained school balances pdf icon PDF 403 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1      The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented a report on the 2022/23 outturn and maintained school balances.

 

6.2      The Forum was informed that the 2022/23 in-year Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) outturn position was an overspend of £11.541M resulting in a cumulative DSG deficit of £28.584M, representing 5.19% of the 2022/23 gross DSG budget.  The full element of this deficit related to the High Needs block deficit.

 

6.3      The total deficit position before being offset by balances within the Schools Block and Early Years block was £30.152M.  The balances related to an in-year underspend of £0.143M on the de-delegated budgets of maintained schools only, and within the Early Years block a carry forward balance of £0.5M from 2021/22 and a 2022/23 in-year underspend of £0.926M.  The total Early Years block balance at the end of 2022/23 was £1.426M.

 

6.4      The Head of Education Strategy and Development clarified that the balances within the de-delegated budgets would be carried forward into the de-delegated budgets for 2023/24 and would not be used to offset the overall DSG deficit.

 

6.5      For High Needs, DSG funded services were over-spent by £28.584M in 2022/23, which included the deficit brought forward of £17.043M.  The High Needs budget was £3.714M above the deficit budget that was set, with an in-year deficit of £10.046M.  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.

 

6.6      The Forum agreed that the DSG deficit balance at the end of 2022/23 be earmarked, as shown in the report accompanying the agenda, and carried forward to 2023/24.

 

6.7      The Forum received an update on the maintained school balances at the end of the 2022/23 financial year.  A total of 164 schools were in surplus, 23 schools were in deficit (4 more when compared to 2021/22).  The total maintained school balances increased by £3.102M (13.3%) made up of: revenue balance increases of £1.548M (7.1%); capital balance increases of £1.957M (188.4%); and removal of £0.404M of balances relating to five academy conversions.  The Forum received a summary of the work being undertaken by the Council’s Officer Deficit Group to review deficits and excess surpluses, and its work with schools.

 

6.8      The Head of Education Strategy and Development emphasised to members that looking forward it was a very challenging picture as 112 of the governor budget plans of maintained schools showed that their schools would be in a deficit budget position by 2025/26. 

 

6.9      In response to a question, the Head of Education Strategy and Development reported that in 2021/22 revenue balances for maintained schools increased by £3.3M (17.8%) – a significantly better position than in 2022/23.  The capital balances increased by £0.084M - a much lower amount than in 2022/23.  Overall, this represented a more challenging financial position for schools in 2022/23.  He agreed that maintained school balance figures for multiple years would be included in the future outturn reports.

ACTION: The Head of Education Strategy and Development.

 

6.10  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

High Needs pdf icon PDF 989 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1      The Head of Education Strategy and Development informed members that the forecast budget for High Needs in 2023/24 showed an expenditure of £105.8M against funding levels of £93M, creating an in-year deficit of £12.8M.  In setting the 2022/23 budget, three-year trend data was utilised to forecast growth in each budget line. This approach, which had provided accurate forecasts in previous years, was undermined by a significant step-change in the demand for High Needs support, predominantly through the increase in Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).  To more accurately forecast the budget for 2023/24, mainstream EHCP growth numbers had been modelled based on the 2022/23 growth rather than a three year trend.

 

7.2      It was reported that the other key assumptions and decisions that underpinned the proposed budget were:

Ø   The Local Authority had taken the decision to reduce the 1 in 40 model to 1 in 30 and put a protection in place. Whilst the Forum had not been in support of this change, if the model had stayed at 1 in 40 this would have increased the deficit by at least £2M in 2023/24.  Consequently, the 1 in 40 model was no longer sustainable.

Ø   Special school places and top-ups had been increased based on planned growth of 71 specialist places to 1,466.  It was anticipated that this would result in a small offset to the independent placement budget.

Ø   All specialist budgets including Alternative Provision and Hospital Education, incorporated inflationary uplifts of 3.4%.

Ø   The joint funded independent placement budget showed a reduction in expenditure, due to a number of high-cost placements that had ceased or were ceasing this year.

Ø   The independent school budget had been increased by £1.3M. This included a contingency for a 5% inflationary uplift.

Ø   All staffing budgets had a 2% inflationary increase included.

 

7.3      It was explained that taking all of those factors into account the local authority had forecast High Needs expenditure to rise by £11.232M in 2023/24.  Funding levels had increased by £8.459M.  This shortfall, alongside the existing overspend would result in a forecast deficit of £12.819M for the year and a cumulative deficit of £43.672M.

 

7.4      The Head of Education Strategy and Development informed members that throughout the year the local authority would keep oversight of three key indicators that sat behind the financial modelling, these being: the number of fully funded EHCPs maintained in the county; the provision in which children and young people with EHCPs were educated; and the average cost of provision.

 

7.5      The Forum was informed that the rate of growth in EHCPs had continued to increase.  At the 1st May 2023, the number of supported plans totalled 5,467 at a rate of 31.1 per 1,000 0-24yrs olds. The rate per 1,000 remained below that of the data nationally and for statistical neighbours.

 

7.6      The Forum was informed that regarding the average High Needs funding per pupil, Gloucestershire received £939 per pupil compared to a median of £1,088 which was the 14th lowest of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Annual Review of the Gloucestershire Schools Forum Constitution and Membership Structure pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Forum considered the current Gloucestershire Schools Forum Constitution and Membership Structure and agreed that no changes were needed.

9.

F40

Minutes:

9.1      The Head of Education Strategy and Development gave an update on recent f40 Group activities as part of its campaign to raise awareness and lobby government for changes to education funding.

 

9.2      He explained that the Group had now developed an alternative NFF model; the aim of which was to promote fairer school funding.  The key difference in the Group’s model, in comparison to the DfE’s NFF, was that all of the deprivation and additional needs factors that were in the current NFF were allocated before the minimum per pupil funding level, so that schools would receive the minimum per pupil amount to fund education and then the deprivation and additional needs factors were provided in full, on top of this.

 

9.3      The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented two graphs, one which demonstrated the significant variances in the High Needs block allocations 2023/24 across local authorities, and the second which demonstrated the significant variations in gross DSG allocation per mainstream pupil by local authority.  He pointed out that as both graphs highlighted the f40 member authorities, it was clear to see that f40 member authorities were amongst the lowest funded in the country, with the exception of a few outliers.

 

9.4      He referred to the Action for f40 document, which set out what the f40 Group considered to be the core High Needs issues and the Group’s view that an additional £4.6bn of funding was required each year to meet unfunded growth and inflation, and to prevent the crisis in High Needs from worsening and deficit budgets from increasing.

 

9.5      The f40 Group had a number of activities planned in the coming months, including an MPs briefing in September 2023; the focus of the session would be on raising awareness of the concerns around SEND provision and SEND funding, along with the wider issues of fairness and quantum of funding.  The Group would be meeting with the Shadow Education Team in October 2023, and with the DfE’s Funding Policy Team and the SEND Team in the new academic year 2023.

 

9.6      It was also reported that the Collaboration Group had reformed; its members were from a number of organisations including teaching unions, the County Councils Network, The Society of County Treasures, and the f40.  The Collaboration Group was identifying the current core funding issues and what changes were needed to the funding policies, in order to deliver this message to government ahead of the Autumn Funding Statement 2023.

10.

Meeting Dates 2023/24

To note the following future meeting dates:

 

2023

Thursday 14 September at 2:00pm (In-person at Shire Hall)

Thursday 9 November at 2:00pm (Remote via Microsoft Teams)

 

2024

Thursday 11 January at 2:00pm (In-person at Shire Hall)

Thursday 13 June at 2:00pm (Remote via Microsoft Teams)

Thursday 12 September at 2:00pm (In-person at Shire Hall)

Thursday 7 November at 2:00pm (Remote via Microsoft Teams)

Minutes:

The Forum noted the following future meetings dates.

 

2023

Thursday 14 September at 2:00pm (In-person at Shire Hall)

Thursday 9 November at 2:00pm (Remote via Microsoft Teams)

 

2024

Thursday 11 January at 2:00pm (In-person at Shire Hall)

Thursday 13 June at 2:00pm (Remote via Microsoft Teams)

Thursday 12 September at 2:00pm (In-person at Shire Hall)

Thursday 7 November at 2:00pm (Remote via Microsoft Teams)