Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Schools Forum - Thursday 18 June 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: REMOTE MEETING

Contact: Joanne Bolton - 01452 324197 

Items
No. Item

44.

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 received.

45.

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 16 June 2020, so that arrangements can be made as the meeting is being held remotely via video conferencing.  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.  A written answer will be provided if questions are received 3 clear working days before the date of the meeting. 

Minutes:

No questions from members of the public were received.

46.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 09 January 2020 and note actions.

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting of 9 January 2020 were approved as a correct record.

47.

Impact of Covid-19 on School Funding pdf icon PDF 776 KB

To receive a verbal update on the impact of Covid-19 on school funding.

Minutes:

47.1    The Forum received an update from Philip Haslett, Head of Education, Strategy and Development, on the impact of Covid-19 on school funding.  He confirmed that future funding levels would be protected so there would be no adverse impact on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).   The local authority had received additional funding to support schools in relation to Covid-19, and schools were being asked to track their exceptional costs.

 

47.2    The Forum was informed that a total of £500k of the additional funding had been ring-fenced to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children back into education in September.  It was anticipated that there would be a spike in the level of need in the system and requests for EHCPs in September, once children returned.  A working group had been set up involving headteachers across the sector to look at how this funding could be best utilised to provide support in the system.  The working group would look at other effective solutions as an alternative to locking into long-term statutory plans, to address what would hopefully be short-term need.

 

47.3    Some of the headteacher members on the Forum reported significant concerns around the financial loss to schools from the more peripheral incomes, such as income from letting of school premises and from privately funded before and after school provision.  Schools were recording exceptional costs in relation to Covid-19, the DfE published guidance stated those to be: increased premises costs; support for free school meals; and additional cleaning costs.  There was concern expressed amongst Forum members that those exceptional costs would become more of an issue for schools in September once all children returned, and the additional expenditure was no longer being partially off-set by reduced expenditure in other areas.   The Head of Education, Strategy and Development explained that schools did need to record their additional expenditure and loss of income so that the true cost of the impact of Covid-19 could be ascertained.  In recognition that all schools may not be aware of this, he confirmed that he would ensure the message was conveyed to the headteacher groups in his regular briefings with them. 

ACTION: Philip Haslett

 

47.4    A Forum member asked officers for clarification on whether schools which had an existing surplus would be permitted to claim for additional funding to meet their increased costs in response to Covid-19.  It was felt strongly that schools should not be penalised for holding surplus balances for future planned expenditure.  The Head of Education Strategy and Development agreed to seek clarification from the DfE, and report back at the next Forum meeting on 17 September 2020. 

ACTION: Philip Haslett

 

47.5    Sarah Murphy, Trade Union, representative, reported that in the context of her work as a case worker, she had received a significant number of emails from supply teachers in Gloucestershire, over the past few months, outlining the difficult circumstances they were facing.   Depending on their contract of employment some had been furloughed via agencies, but many had not been in receipt of any pay  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

2019/20 Outturn and Maintained School Balances pdf icon PDF 258 KB

Minutes:

48.1    Philip Haslett, Head of Education, Strategy and Development, gave a presentation on the 2019/20 in-year outturn position for Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), and non-DSG, and the maintained school balances at the end of 2019/20.  (For Information:  A copy the presentation slides covering each agenda item has been uploaded to the Council’s website.)

 

48.2    The Forum was informed that the overall 2019/20 DSG outturn position was a net in-year overspend of £6.716M representing 1.48% of the gross 2019/20 DSG budget.  There was a £0.126M Schools Block net underspend, consisting of two elements: an overspend of £0.139M on the growth fund used to fund new schools and increases in basic need places, and an in-year underspend of £0.265M on the de-delegated budgets that relate to maintained schools only. 

 

48.3    The dedelegated surplus element of the DSG increased from £0.357M to £0.622M and would be carried forward to 2020/21.  The Forum noted the detailed split across the dedelegated budget headings as outlined in the report.  It was reported that although there was an overall net £6.716M DSG deficit being carried forward to 2020/21 this contained surplus commitments relating to the £0.622M maintained schools dedelegated budgets above and also to the Early Years DSG surplus of £1.576M.

 

48.4    It was reported that Early Years finished with a £1.576M underspend in 2019/20.  This related to lower than expected payments for nursery education. As in previous years the carry forward would be used to cover the time lagged increases which followed the January census.

 

48.5    The Forum was informed that the overspend on the High Needs Block in 2019/10 was £5.841M and this included the deficit in-year budget of £1.192M.  The budget pressures were a result of increases to activity, many of which had been unanticipated and above forecast trends but reflected the national picture.  The cost pressures included top ups to support Education Health and Care plans (£2.817M); Independent special schools (£1.713M) and additional special school places (£0.326M); and the Advisory Teaching Service relating to staffing costs (£0.341M).

 

48.6    The Forum agreed that the DSG deficit balance at the end of 2019/20 be earmarked, as shown in the report and carried forward to 2020/21.

 

48.7    The Forum was informed that at the end of the financial year 31 March 2020, 170 maintained schools balances were in surplus, and 33 schools (11 more than last year) were in deficit.  The total maintained school balances decreased by £3.814M (-20.0%), made up of: revenue balance decreases of £2.477M (-15.2%); capital balance decreases of £0.663M (-31.8%); and removal of £0.674M of balances relating to four academy conversions.

 

48.9    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, was outlined in the report.

 

48.10  It was reported that visits had been undertaken to 28 schools with deficit balances, during which a number of common issues arose, including significant capping in the National Funding Formula (NFF), resilience to reduced pupil numbers being low, and class  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

High Needs pdf icon PDF 462 KB

Minutes:

49.1    Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, gave a presentation on the High Needs budget and an update on the High Needs Strategy.

 

49.2    The Forum noted that the overall High Needs budget for 2020/21 was £67,253,100, which meant that a deficit budget would be set of £5,449,200, increasing the High Needs deficit to £14,174.000.  The Forum recognised that whilst the High Needs deficit was very concerning, it did however reflect the national picture as many local authorities DSG High Needs budgets were in significant deficit.  In common with other authorities a significant part of the overspend had been driven by growth trends in Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).  There was a total net increase of 324 plans between January 2019 and January 2020. In January 2019 2.1% of the school population in Gloucestershire had an EHCP, this had now risen to 2.3% of the school population.

 

49.3    In response to a question, the Head of Education Strategy and Development clarified that the current in-year cost pressure related to the impact of the full cost of children entering into the system last year.  The growth trend would continue unless there was a reduction in the levels of need coming into the system; therefore the budget deficit would remain in future years, mirroring the national picture, unless there was a significant change to the Special Educational Needs Disability Code of Practice 0-25 years, or changes to the funding system so that government funding matched the increased levels of need.

 

49.4    It was reported that there had been a positive reduction in the rates of permanent exclusions, however, this sat alongside a rise in the need for social emotional mental health specialist placements, and in the same period, the number of active elective home education places has risen from 783 to 1,220.  The local authority would be looking at a broader measure of outcomes for children who were at risk of permanent exclusion, to determine whether the alternative measures to permanent exclusion were having a positive effect.  Officers reported that there was significantly less pressure on places in Alternative Provision than in recent years and this would enable a shift in the focus of the Alternative Provision Service to more prevention support.

 

49.5    A member asked for further data on the numbers of permanent exclusions in 2017/18 and 20/18/19 at mid March, the point at which permanent exclusion stopped due to lockdown this year.  She pointed out that whilst it was a pleasing trend the number of permanent exclusions for primary schools had seen an increase to the numbers from last year.  The Head of Education Strategy and Development agreed to circulate this data to the Forum.  He also pointed out that the figures outlined in his presentation stopped in February due to Covid-19, and were not ‘year to date’ as stated in his report and presentation.

ACTION: Philip Haslett

 

49.6    The Head of Education Strategy and Development explained that a 5-year recovery plan was being developed and he  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

Annual Review of the Gloucestershire Schools Forum Constitution pdf icon PDF 434 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

50.1    Joanne Bolton, Clerk to the Schools Forum, informed the Forum that as part of this annual review of the Constitution, a series of amendments were being proposed in order to update the document.  The clerk outlined to members the proposed amendments to the Constitution (outlined by tracked changes at Appendix 1 to the report).

 

50.2    It was reported that the amended Constitution complied with the provisions of the Schools Forum (England) Regulations 2012, and The Schools Forum (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which provided that Schools Forums could meet remotely, until 31 March 2021, whilst they were unable to meet physically in a room during the outbreak of Covid-19.  It also took account of the advice set out in the Schools Forum Operational and Good Practice Guide (May 2020).

 

50.3    The Forum agreed to approve the changes to the Constitution document.

ACTION: Joanne Bolton

 

50.4    The Forum noted the letter which had been circulated from Helen Bond, Coordinator for Gloucestershire Parent Carer Forum (GPCF), which outlined the request for a member of the Gloucestershire Parent Carer Forum, to have a seat on the Schools Forum.

 

50.5    The Chair welcomed the request, outlining that it would be useful to have their input particularly in relation to the High Needs aspects of the Forum’s work.  He suggested that careful consideration needed to be given as to how any potential issues around conflict of interest could be alleviated.  It was recognised that whilst there were no provisions within the Schools Forum Constitution which stipulated how an organisation should nominate their members, the GPCF could be asked to consider nominating a representative who did not have a child at a school of any of the current headteachers members on the Schools Forum.  Charlotte Jones, Interim Head of Education, provided assurances that the GPCF was a strategic partner of the local authority, and any representative joining the Forum would be aware that they would need to take a strategic view across the whole of the education, whilst acting as a representative of the group that nominated them.

 

50.6    In response to a question, the clerk confirmed that there was space for an additional member within the Forum’s Non-Schools membership.  A question was also asked on whether the balance of representation between primary and secondary members on the Schools Forum was proportionate to the number of pupils in the primary and secondary sectors.  It was agreed that the clerk would look into this issue to ascertain whether this was a factor which should be considered when reviewing the membership structure of the Schools Forum.

ACTION: Joanne Bolton

 

50.7    At this particular juncture, it was noted that whilst the meeting was still quorate, a number of  members had needed to leave the meeting.  As there was a reduced number of members present and in recognition of the wider issues raised around the balance of the Forum’s membership, and voting rights, which required further consideration, the Forum agreed to defer making a decision on the request  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

Meeting Dates 2021

To note the future meeting dates:

 

2020

Thursday 17 September at 2:00 pm

Thursday 12 November at 2:00 pm

 

2021

Thursday 14 January at 2:00 pm

Thursday 17 June at 2:00 pm

Thursday 16 September at 2:00 pm

Thursday 11 November at 2:00 pm

 

Minutes:

The Schools Forum future meeting dates:  

 

2020

Thursday 17 September at 2:00pm

Thursday 12 November at 2:00pm

 

2021

Thursday 14 January at 2:00pm

Thursday 17 June at 2:00pm

Thursday 16 September at 2:00pm

Thursday 11 November at 2:00pm

52.

F40

Minutes:

No update was reported.