Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum - Thursday 21 June 2018 2.00 pm

Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

No. Item


Election of Chair

To elect a Chair of the Schools Forum with a term of office of two years.


Graham Doswell, Primary School Governor representative, was duly elected as the Chair of the Forum, for a term of office of two years.


Election of Vice-Chair

To elect a Vice-Chair with a term of office of two years.



            There were no nominations received for the Vice-Chair role.  It was therefore agreed, that the election of Vice-Chair would be added as an item on the agenda for the next Forum meeting on Thursday 20 September 2018.

            ACTION: Joanne Bolton



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



Public Questions

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.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 15 March 2018.


21.1    The minutes of the previous meeting of 15 March 2018, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


21.2    Stewart King, the Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, confirmed that he would circulate the existing guidance on Multi Academy Trusts and other forms of collaborations for initial comments.

              ACTION: Stewart King.


21.3    Andrew Harris, Secondary Headteacher representative, confirmed that the Gloucestershire Association of Secondary Headteachers had submitted a response to the High Needs Briefing and Engagement Survey.


21.4    Tim Browne, Head of Education, confirmed that an initial meeting had taken place to develop the Gloucestershire Schools Partnership.


High Needs pdf icon PDF 48 KB

The formal consultation on high needs was launched on 4th June 2018. The papers including the on-line response form are available at high needs consultation.  It would be helpful if Forum members could familiarise themselves with the consultation materials.  There will be an update at the meeting on responses to date and further consideration of the suggestions on the ‘hub’ model and devolved funding.

Additional documents:


22.1    Stewart King, the Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, gave a presentation on High Needs ‘Stocktake and Steer’ and the formal High Needs consultation which was launched on 4 June 2018 and would run until 31 July 2018, (For Information: A copy of the presentation has been published on the Council’s website and is included in the signed copy of the minute book).  The Forum also received the High Needs Block outturn position for 2017/18.


22.2    The Forum noted that on a local and national level there were significant concerns about High Needs support and funding.  The concerns centred on the accelerated spending without an associated improvement in the outcomes for children with SEND; the very high numbers, which continued to rise, both for permanent exclusions, and children being deregistered and home educated. 


22.3    The Forum was informed that a particular concern was the high number of requests for statutory assessments for Education, Health and Care Plans, which were increasing rapidly (297 in 2014/15 and 595 in 2016/17). The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, reported that the cost of producing an EHCP was around £5000, and the current trend in numbers was not financially sustainable.  The aim was to apply the SEND Code of Practice more robustly in considering the requests for statutory assessments, and with EHCPs continuing to be the norm for children with more complex educational needs, alongside effective and flexible early intervention.  The financial savings associated with a reduction in the number of  EHCPs would release money to be devolved back to school level to fund initiatives.


22.4    The Forum was informed that the current way of working was not sustainable (the High Needs budget overspent by £1.9M last year).  The current indication was that there would be a cash standstill for the High Needs budget until at least 2020/21, and the transfer of 0.5% of funding from the Schools Block to the High Needs Block would only be an option for 2019/20.  The consultation therefore focused on proposals for changes to improve the lives of children with additional needs, by using the current level of budget more effectively, such as through primary partnership hubs; devolved funding; a different approach to exclusions; and a debate about school readiness.  A number of events and focus group sessions for stakeholders were taking place as part of the consultation.


22.5    The Forum was informed that there had been 246 responses to the main survey and 36 to the easy-read version as at 14 June), the key issues were regarding money and process.   Officers indicated that the responses were encouraging and mostly positive from across the stakeholder groups.  Officers were pleased to ascertain that only 1.1% of the respondents had indicated that they did not understand why changes had to be made.


22.6    The Forum members discussed the proposals, and it was felt that despite a clear majority of respondents indicating support for the primary partnership hub model, it would be helpful for primary headteachers and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Early Years Funding pdf icon PDF 123 KB


23.1    Sue Hall, Finance Business Partner, presented a report on Early Years Funding 2018/19.  The report provided an update on the pass through hourly rate for providers of the three and four year old entitlement in 2018/19.


23.2    The Forum was informed that the Early Years regulations limited the cost of central services to 5% in 2018/19 in relation to the hourly rate for three and four year olds.


23.3    The national hourly rate for three and four year olds was £4.30 therefore a rate of £4.09 (rounded up from £4.085) needed to be paid to providers to ensure a pass through rate of 95% or above.  Members acknowledged that the basic rate was agreed by the Forum in January 2018 as £3.90, however due to ‘rounding up’ not being allowed by the DfE the rate needed to increase to £3.91. 


23.4    Consequently, the Forum agreed to increase the basic hourly rate for three and four year olds (excluding the deprivation and quality supplement) by 1p to £3.91 from April 2018 to comply with the Early Years regulations.


Outturn and Schools Balances 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 353 KB


24.1    Neil Egles presented a report which outlined the 2017/18 outturn position for Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and non-DSG, and the maintained school balances at the end of 2017/18.


24.2    He explained that the overall 2017/18 DSG outturn position was a net overspend of £0.927M representing 0.22% of the 2017/18 DSG budget.  Balances of £4.165M were brought forward from 2016/17 resulting on the total DSG balances at the end of 2017/18 £3.238M representing 0.76% of the 2017/18 DSG.


24.3    The Forum agreed the use of the DSG balances at the end of 2017/18, as outlined in the report.


24.4    The Forum noted that 109 maintained schools were in surplus, and 23 were in deficit.  A total of 95 mainstream schools (46%) held revenue balances at the end of 2017/18 above the claw back thresholds (5% of ISB Secondary/ 8% of ISB Primary). The excess amount above the thresholds represented £4.5M (30%) of the total £15.0M mainstream revenue balances held.  This was a drop of £2.6M (37%) in the amount of excess balances that were held at the end of 2017/18.


24.5    It was reported that the Council’s Deficit Scrutiny Group had reviewed

            maintained schools holding surplus balances relating to the financial year 2017/18.  Schools with the largest balances had been asked to provide the reasons for their surplus and their plans for future expenditure, and the Group gave advice to each school on the appropriate action to use their surplus where appropriate.  The Forum noted the Group’s 2017/18 summary as outlined in the report.


24.6    The Forum discussed whether claw back should be applied to maintained school balances at the end of the 2017/18 financial year. The Forum recognised 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.


24.7    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 2017/18 financial year.


24.8    The Forum noted that the Deficits Officer Group was anticipating an increase in deficit budget submissions in 2018/19, as added pressure on school budgets continued to grow.


24.9    The Forum was informed of the Children and Families Summary outturn position 2017/18 as outlined in the report. The Forum noted that the outturn position for non-DSG funded services was an over-spend position of £6.37M, (net of additional funding from the vulnerable children’s reserve of £3.05M).   This was due to the sustained increase in the demand for social care, and the resulting pressures and overspends within children’s services.


Review of the Constitution pdf icon PDF 95 KB

It has been the Forum's practice to review the Constitution every year. The Forum is not being asked to consider any specific recommendations but the current constitution is attached.



The Forum noted that no constitutional changes were needed at this time.


Meeting dates 2019

To note the meeting dates in 2019:


Thursday 10 January

Thursday 14 March

Thursday 9 May

Thursday 20 June

Thursday 19 September

Thursday 14 November


All meetings take place at 2pm in the Cabinet Suite of Shire Hall.



The Forum noted the meeting dates in 2019. The meetings would be held in the Cabinet Suite of Shire Hall and commence at 2pm.


Thursday 10 January

Thursday 14 March

Thursday 9 May

Thursday 20 June

Thursday 19 September

Thursday 14 November