Venue: REMOTE MEETING
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.
No declarations of interest were received.
To receive any public questions.
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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.
No public questions had been received.
To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2020 and note actions.
55.1 The minutes of the previous meeting held on 18 June 2020 were approved as a correct record.
55.2 Matters arising from the Schools Forum meeting held on 18 June 2020 – Early Years
55.2.1Having highlighted the challenges being faced by the early years sector at the June Forum meeting, Gwyneth Keen, Early Years representative gave a detailed account of the severe financial strain the early years sector was now under as a result of the widespread closure of settings during the Covid-19 pandemic. She reported that many early years providers were indicating that they may be forced to close permanently as a result of the financial instability.
55.2.2The Early Years representative also outlined how the economic and public health consequences of the crisis could deepen existing patterns of vulnerability and under-achievement for young children and families, especially those living in poverty and disadvantage. She reported that early years were a crucial stage for social mobility, with the poorest children already 11 months behind their better-off peers before they started school, and that attending high-quality early years provision provided a vital opportunity to narrow this gap before children started school.
55.2.3The Early Years representative made reference to the Covid-19 emergency fund for schools, and pointed out that there was no similar funding available for early years providers to claim for loss of income and additional costs incurred due to Covid-19. The Early Years representative questioned whether the Early Years block underspend could be used as an emergency fund to ensure the future sustainability of the sector in Gloucestershire. She stated that she had been asked by a cross section of the sector to formally raise this at the Forum meeting for urgent attention.
55.2.4Suzanne Hall, Finance Business Partner, explained that £1M of the Early Years underspend last year was distributed out to providers. It was not yet know whether there would be an underspend this financial year, as it would depend on the number and activities between the autumn and summer term, and the lag that the Schools Census would pick up in January 2021.
55.2.5Officers agreed to look into whether any underspend could be utilised to fund the infrastructure, or, given that the need had arisen as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, whether there was an alterative funding stream available. It was agreed that officers would consult with the Early Years Forum on the options available, and that an item on Early Years funding would be included on the agenda of the next Forum meeting.
ACTION: Head of Education Strategy and Development.
56.1 In response to the queries raised on membership at the June Forum meeting, the Forum received a report which outlined the current membership structure of the Schools Forum, and the balance between maintained primary, maintained secondary and academies members in relation to the pupil numbers in each category.
56.2 The Forum noted that the balance between maintained primary, maintained secondary, and academies members on the Schools Forum, remained broadly proportionate to the pupil numbers in each category. No changes were proposed by the Local Authority to amend the number of members representing those categories on the Forum.
56.3 The Forum considered the request from the Gloucestershire Parent Carer Forum (GPCF) for one of its members to have a seat on the Schools Forum. The Chair drew the Forum’s attention to the letter received from the Coordinator of GPCF which outlined that GPCF was a strategic partner of Gloucestershire County Council, and that its aims were to promote good practice, identify need and inform planning processes, and to ensure there were services to support all children with disabilities or special educational needs. The Chair indicated that it would be very useful to gain the GPCF’s perspective in the Forum’s discussions. The Forum subsequently approved the request; a representative of the GPCF would therefore become a non-schools member of the School Forum.
ACTION: Clerk to the Schools Forum
56.4 It was acknowledged that the induction of the GPCF’s representative to the Schools Forum, would include guidance around taking a strategic view across the whole of the education estate whilst acting as a representative of the group that nominated them.
57.1 Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, gave a presentation on the implications of the government indicative announcements on school funding for 2021/22, and the proposed funding formula method to use for Gloucestershire schools and academies. (For Information: A copy of the presentation slides covering each agenda item has been uploaded to the Council’s website.)
57.2 The Forum noted the 2021/22 indicative Dedicated Schools Grant block summary (the Early Years block indicative figures for 2021/22 had not yet been released). It was reported that at the January 2021 Forum meeting there would be clarity on whether there would likely be any surplus in the Schools block; the Forum would then need to decide on how any surplus could be best utilised.
57.3 The Head of Education Strategy and Development presented the changes and clarifications to the National Funding Formula (NFF) for 2021/22, as detailed in the report. The Forum noted that:
Ø Teacher Pay and Pension Grants were now included in the NFF in 2021/22- £180 per primary pupil and £265 per secondary pupil. They would therefore be in the schools’ core budgets rather than paid as separate grants.
Ø Minimum Per Pupil Funding had increased to £5,150 per secondary pupil and £4,000 per primary pupil, and then further increased by the teacher pay and pension grants to £5,415 secondary and £4,180 primary.
Ø The Sparsity Factor for small and remote schools had increased nationally by over 60%. A total of 30 primary schools and 4 secondary schools received the sparsity factor funding - 9 qualifying primary schools below 70 pupils on roll would receive the full increase of £19k, and all qualifying primary schools below 110 pupils on roll would see an increase of at least £10,000 (the average being £14,781). The 4 secondary schools would receive increases between £2,681 and £7,137.
Ø The Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) had been updated from 2015 to 2019 data and adjusted the way that they are assigned – using rank rather than score. Allocations in the DfE’s 2021/22 indicative school figures had been updated to include the revised count method.
Ø The Split Site Factor has been uplifted by 3.01% for the per pupil amount and 2.97% for the lump sum amount.
Ø An additional funding floor protection was included in the formula to ensure that each school was allocated at least 2% more per pupil funding when compared to the previous year’s formula allocations - 31% of schools (86 primary and 4 secondary) would be allocated additional funding due to the funding floor.
57.4 In response to a question, Neil Egles, Finance Manager, Schools Strategy and Capital, clarified that the additional funding floor protection of at least 2%, would be allocated to schools on a per pupil basis. A reduction in the numbers of pupils at a school would mean that the school would lose the funding connected to those pupil numbers. He explained that the Minimum Funding Guarantee of 1.84% per pupil in the ... view the full minutes text for item 57.
58.1 Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, gave a presentation on the High Needs budget. He reminded members that at the June Forum meeting it was forecast that the High Needs budget in 2020/21 would overspend by £5,449.200 against the High Needs funding allocation of £67,253,100. He explained that the August forecast was currently showing a £306,700 reduction in expenditure compared to budget. A significant element of this was due to reduced costs of Alternative Provision as a consequence of no permanent exclusions during the summer term when schools were closed to the majority of children.
58.2 He emphasised the importance of accurate budget forecasting. He indicated that whilst the budget was currently showing a reduction in expenditure compared to budget, this should be treated with a degree of caution, as there would likely be an increase in expenditure in September/October as pupils returned to school. However, the current indications were that the expenditure would align closely to the planned deficit budget. This demonstrated a good understanding of the trends, enabling accurate forecasting, and the development of strategies to address those key drivers of the overspend.
58.3 It was reported that the key driver of the overspend was the number of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), that had continued to rise as forecast. Whilst there was an initial slowing of applications and the process during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, assessments had continued to be received and there were currently 253 open assessments in progress. Officers advised the Forum that those levels were exceptionally higher than forecast and there could be a future impact on the forecast for both special school and independent special school budgets.
58.4 There were indications that there could be a marked increase in need concerning children with Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs in primary schools, as primary headteachers were reporting that those children in particular were struggling to settle back into school. Consequently, it was suggested that in the near future, consideration may need to be given to increasing the number of special school places for primary age children with SEMH needs.
58.5 The Head of Education Strategy and Development acknowledged that the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was not yet know, and he confirmed that trends would be monitored carefully over the next few months. He explained that the aim was to avoid increasing the number of EHCPs in the system to address what would hopefully be a short-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other more effective and timely solutions would be looked at to support children transitioning back to school, rather than locking into long-term statutory plans.
58.6 The Head of Education Strategy and Development informed the Forum that an additional £7.515M of High Needs funding for 2021/22 was broadly in line with the additional funding received for the 2020/21 budget, and this did provide confidence of a similar uplift in 2022/23. He explained that just over £1M of the increase in funding was to ... view the full minutes text for item 58.
59.1 Gareth Vine, Universal Commissioning Manger, introduced the report on the annual budget for the 2020/21 Children and Families Capital programme.
59.2 He explained that the overall budget for the programme was £132.355M. The capital schemes were forecast to spend approximately £23.164M in 2020/21. The financial year spend as at the end of August was £3.923M. It was reported that the Covid-19 pandemic had not had a significant impact on the delivery of any of the schemes. The situation was being closely monitored to ascertain whether there would be a greater impact on delivery during the winter months when there may be a second spike in Covid-19 cases, and to also keep under review any potential impact on delivery due to Brexit.
59.3 An update was provided on the following current and future education capital projects across the county:
Ø Basic Need
Ø Additional Special Schools Places
Ø Alternative Provision
Ø New Social Emotional Mental Health Special School
Ø Cheltenham Secondary School
Ø New Free School Bids.
59.4 Members noted the approved Children and Families Capital programme 2020/21 as outlined in the report.
60.1 Philip Haslett, Head of Education Strategy and Development, informed members that he had attended a meeting of the f40 Executive Committee on 16 September 2020. He reported that the f40 was making the case in a number of areas to lobby for additional support and funding for schools to cover the additional, unexpected costs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. He made reference to the letter attached at Annex C to the School Funding report, from the f40 to DfE, which set out the concerns raised by its members on the impact Covid-19 was having on school and education funding, and suggestions on how they believed those could be dealt with.
60.2 It was reported that the local authority was seeking feedback from schools to gain an understanding of their key concerns regarding the on-going exceptional costs; this information would then be conveyed to the f40 to inform its campaign.