Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
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. Questions can be asked on the day or sent to the Clerk before the meeting. A written answer will be provided if questions are received 3 clear working days before the date of the meeting. The Chairman will advise timescale for any questions asked on the day of the meeting or received less than 3 working days before the meeting.
No public questions had been received.
To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2017.
The minutes of the previous meeting of 16 March 2017 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
A Local system that works for children - follow up discussion in light of the general election outcome
29.1 The Forum discussed the Education Planning Session, which was held on 11 May 2017. At the session a wide range of perspectives about how the education system might evolve over the next few years were shared and consideration was given to how everyone could work together to get the best outcomes for children and young people in Gloucestershire.
29.2 The Forum considered how the key issues identified at the Planning Session could be taken forward. It was noted that Colin Belford, Secondary headteacher representative, would be meeting with representatives of the Local Enterprise Partnership, to discuss opportunities for work-based training for young people, particularly those at risk of exclusion, and for capital investment.
29.3 It was agreed that a working group would be set up to look into producing guidance for schools on multi academy trusts and other forms of collaborations involving different mechanisms. Martin Doidge, Amanda Horniman, Lisa Jones, and Ian Marshall, all agreed to be part of the group.
ACTION: Stewart King
29.4 It was noted that there may be no role for the Forum from 2018/19 on mainstream school funding. As a result, the Forum’s future in its current form was uncertain. Consequently, there was support for the Forum to eventually evolve into an education partnership. In recognition of this it was agreed that there would be a standing item on the Forum’s meeting agenda of relevance to this wider remit. This had commenced with the High Needs report on this meeting’s agenda. In relation to the wider remit, the group of Gloucestershire school leaders who were invited to the Planning Session on 11 May 2017, were also invited to participate in this part of future Forum meetings.
ACTION: Joanne Bolton
Inspection of Services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers
30.1 Linda Uren, Commissioning Director: Children and Families, gave an outline on the findings of the Ofsted inspection which took place between 27 February and 23 March 2017. Whilst there were examples of some good work, the inspection identified substantial challenges in the safeguarding and child protection practice, and this was graded as ‘inadequate’. The Forum heard about the improvement programme in place, which was being worked through with schools, partners and the safeguarding network.
30.2 The Commissioning Director: Children and Families, informed members of the Forum that she would retire in August 2017; Alison Williams had been appointed as the Interim Director of Children’s Services until then.
30.3 The Chair on behalf of the Forum, took the opportunity to thank Linda Uren for her very valuable involvement with the Forum over the years, and wished her well for the future.
31.1 The Forum received a detailed report and presentation on the Development of a Strategic Plan for High needs. (For information – A copy of the presentation slides has been uploaded to the Council’s website, and a copy is included in the signed minute book).
31.2 Stewart King, the Lead Commissioner for Education and Skills, explained that the assumption was that the National Funding Formula for High Needs would go ahead on something close to the proposal set out in the December 2016 consultation paper. He made the point that Gloucestershire was a ‘loser’ on the National Funding Formula proposals. As a consequence the likely position was a cash standstill over the period 2017/18 to 2020/21.
31.3 The budget position for High Needs was not sustainable past 2018/19 and beyond with spending pressures/rising trends right across the High Needs block. Officers emphasised that radical changes would be needed in how needs were assessed and met and how the available funding was prioritised.
31.4 The Forum noted that John Reilly, current interim headteacher at Laker’s Academy, would be employed by the authority full time from September, to work on developing the Strategic Plan for High Needs. John Reilly attended the Forum meeting to share his initial thoughts.
31.5 The Lead Commissioner for Education and Skills referred to the design principles for a new model for High Needs which were outlined at Annex B to the report. He explained that if the programme was successful it would mean that needs were understood and plans were good; schools and other providers were confident and able to meet additional needs; and the county wide system would effectively support children in their local communities including those with complex needs.
31.6 The Forum considered different ways of managing High Needs within the context of rising demand with a strictly limited resource and very limited flexibility. There was a wide-ranging discussion on the ideas being put forward, and the following points were raised:
31.6.1The number of children needing an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) was rising year on year as an increasing number of children were coming into the reception year with complex special needs. It was reported that each EHCP cost £5,000, and there was evidence to suggest that the specific 1:1 teaching assistant support requirement in some EHCPs was not always effective in meeting needs. Officers explained that there was a need for a different approach and they outlined to the Forum what this could mean.
31.6.2There was a degree of support amongst Forum members for pursuing the idea of reducing the number of EHCPs through the devolving of funding to schools via the Resource Allocation System (RAS) for needs as a whole. However, there was recognition that if this approach was taken then the expectations of parents over the level of support for their child would need to be managed carefully. It was also acknowledged that there would be some children who would still need 1.1 teaching assistant support.
31.6.3It ... view the full minutes text for item 31.
32.1 Neil Egles, Schools Finance Manager, presented a report on the 2016/17 Outturn position for Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and non-DSG, and maintained school balances at the end of the 2016/17 financial year.
32.2 The Forum was informed that the outturn position was a net overspend of £1.152M representing 0.28% of the 2016/17 DSG budget. A further £5.694M of balances were remaining from 2015/16 resulting in the total DSG balances at the end of 2016/17 being £4.542M representing 1.10% of the 2016/17 DSG.
32.3 The Forum noted the use of the DSG balances at the end of 2016/17 as set out in the report.
32.4 The Forum noted that 208 maintained schools were in surplus, and 15 were in deficit. 123 mainstream schools (58%) held revenue balances at the end of 2016/17 above the claw back thresholds (5% of ISB Secondary/ 8% of ISB Primary). The excess amount above the thresholds represented £7.1M (41%) of the total £17.3M mainstream revenue balances held.
32.5 It was reported that the Council’s Deficit Scrutiny Group had also reviewed maintained schools holding surplus balances relating to the financial year 2016/17. Schools with the largest balances had been asked to provide the reasons for their surplus and their plans for future expenditure. The Forum noted that the senior officer group was satisfied with the plans provided, and that the group would continue to monitor the schools to ensure planned expenditure took place as identified in their submission.
32.6 The Forum discussed whether claw back should be applied to maintained school balances at the end of the 2016/17 financial year. The Forum was reminded that any funds clawed back would need to be allocated through the formula in the following year. This could result in a position where some of the clawed back funds had to be reallocated back to schools it was clawed back from.
32.7 The Forum was of the view that the best method of reviewing excess surplus continued to be through the work of the Council’s Deficit Scrutiny Group. The Forum therefore agreed that no claw back should be applied to maintained school balances at the end of the 2016/17 financial year. However, the Forum again decided that it would be prudent for a claw back provision to continue to feature in the Scheme for Financing Schools, but that claw back would be instigated in exceptional circumstances only.
32.8 The Forum was informed of the Children and Families outturn position as outlined in Annex B of the report. The Forum noted that the outturn position was an overspend of £3.83M. This was due to the sustained increase in the demand for social care, and the resulting pressures and overspends within children’s services.
The Chair confirmed that there was no F40 update, as an announcement on the national Funding Formula was still awaited.
Meeting Dates 2018
To note the meeting dates in 2018:
All meetings take place at 2pm in the Cabinet Suite of Shire Hall.
34.1 The Forum noted the 2018 meeting dates as outlined below. The meetings commence at 2pm in Shire Hall:
Thursday 11 January 2018
Thursday 15 March 2018
Thursday 10 May
Thursday 21 June
Thursday 20 September
Thursday 15 November
34.2 It was agreed that the future meeting dates would be circulated and published on the Schools Forum webpage.
ACTION: Joanne Bolton