Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum - Thursday 9 January 2020 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

Items
No. Item

35.

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.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

 

36.

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 Chair will advise timescale for any questions asked on the day of the meeting or received less than 3 working days before the meeting.

Minutes:

No questions were received.

37.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 14 November 2019 and note actions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 14 November 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the chair subject to the amendment below: -

 

Minute 32.9: ‘and to understand more fully why the needs of some pupils could not be met by maintained special schools’. It was agreed that this should be changed to ‘could not be met by publicly funded schools’.

38.

Gloucestershire County Council Budget Consultation 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 334 KB

Minutes:

The Finance Business Partner Strategic Finance set out the overall position for children’s services, and reminded Forum members that the consultation was open until 17 January 2020 so that they could respond individually if they so wished.

 

The Forum noted the report and had no comment to make on the county council budget proposals.

39.

Dedicated Schools Grant 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented the detail of the report which identified that the funding position for 2020/2021 represented an increase in the total Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) of £27.6m (6.1%) from the current 2019/20 DSG.

 

The Head of Education Strategy and Development informed the Forum that after taking into account the previously agreed growth fund of £1.5m, the funds remaining in the schools block settlement were enough to allow each formula factor rate and the minimum funding levels to be implemented 100% at the National Funding Formula (NFF) level and for the minimum funding guarantee (MFG) to be set at +1.84%.

 

The Forum noted that this was in line with the factor rates that were reported at the indicative budget stage at the 14 November 2019 Forum meeting; the only change being to use the updated census data numbers which produced the summary formula and which were included in the report at Annex A.

 

It was explained that this left a balance of £0.882m in the 2020/21 schools block. The Local Authority (LA) proposal was that this balance be used as a one off contribution towards the high needs block. It was for the Schools Forum to agree, or not, to this proposal. However, it was noted that if the Schools Forum did not agree to the proposal the DfE would adjudicate.

 

The Forum was informed that the LA proposal was broken down into three parts; that the balance on the schools block to be used by the High Needs block as follows:-

Ø  Support for management of attendance - £43,000,

Ø  Additional capacity for the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) - £16,000,

Ø  Use £0.823m to partially offset the costs of the 1 in 40.

 

For information the Schools Forum had received an additional report discussing attendance and the additional MASH capacity and the Head of Service for the MASH was in attendance to engage with members with regard to the MASH.

The modelling exercises and discussions that had been undertaken by officers were explained to enable members to understand the factors underlying the LA proposal.

 

Forum members engaged in a robust debate to test the principles underlying this proposal, what alternative options had been considered, and whether this would be the most effective use of this money. The Director of Education, Head of Education Strategy and Development, the Finance Manager – Schools Strategy and Capital and the Finance Business Partner Strategic Finance responded to the many questions from Forum members.

 

The main points of the discussion were: -

Ø  That the outcome from the modelling demonstrated that there was not a way of apportioning the £0.882m balance in the schools block such that all schools would receive an equal amount. If allocated it would result in some schools being on the National Funding Formula and others above it;

Ø  Concern from forum members that using this money in this way undermined the national argument that High Needs  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Early Years Funding 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 244 KB

Minutes:

The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained the rationale for the recommendations in the report.

 

Following a short debate the Schools Forum accepted that the recommendations were an acceptable way forward with the caveat that it be acknowledged that the GLD (good level of development) also applied to primary schools (Reception) and this should be borne in mind when allocating this funding.

 

The Schools Forum therefore agreed to recommend that:-

1.         The Early Years carry forward balance of £1.47 million be used as follows:

ØRetain £0.22 million (15%) of the underspend to provide contingency should any unforeseen costs arise;

ØAllocate £1 million to providers based on the full academic year hours (option 1) and adjust for deprivation factors (option 3);

ØRetain £0.25m to support early year improvement projects to improve the GLD. Details of projects to be provided to members of School Forum.

 

2.         The additional allocated 8p per hour be added to the hourly rate passed to Early Years providers for both 2 year olds and 3 and 4 year olds. And that there is a consultation with Early Years providers on a number of options in respect of the early years formula including the deprivation and quality supplement payments for 3 and 4 year olds.

 

41.

High Needs pdf icon PDF 439 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report to the Schools Forum identified that the forecast for the High Needs budget was showing increased expenditure of £122,200 since the last Schools Forum meeting in November 2019. This meant that the forecast in-year deficit would rise to £7,035,700 and the cumulative High Needs deficit to £9,919,300.

 

Schools Forum members acknowledged that in a needs-led environment it was difficult to predict the future level of need. However, members agreed that it was important that the budget provided a much more accurate forecast than in 2019/20. This would provide a more stable basis from which to be able to deliver and make longer term plans for recovery. Importantly it would also enable the council to provide a more accurate picture of the funding pressures to the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Members noted that at the current level of overspend the LA would be asked by the DfE and ESFA to submit a recovery plan.

 

In response to questions the Schools Forum was informed that following feedback from the working group on the proposed approach to funding inclusion and early intervention, the scope and length of the proposed pilot have been revised to ensure greater stability and time to test the model. There has also been agreement from Cheltenham Headteachers to pilot the approach. A further discussion was taking place on the 10th January 2020, with the Cheltenham Association of Headteachers (CASH), to finalise the details. It was acknowledged that it would be important to keep the Alternative Provision sector informed on the progress of the pilot.

 

The Schools Forum agreed to recommend: -

Ø  That the High Needs budget for 2020/21 is based on a continued rising level of need, resulting in 355 additional funded EHCPs;

Ø  That a formal consultation on High Needs spending is planned and delivered to report at the September 2020 schools forum meeting;

Ø  That we commence a pilot of the proposed approach to funding inclusion and early intervention.

 

42.

Schools Forum Workplan 2020 pdf icon PDF 166 KB

Minutes:

The Forum noted the workplan.

43.

F40

Minutes:

There were no updates at this time.