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 2020/21 formula was the equivalent of the funding floor protection of 2% per pupil in the 2021/22 formula.
57.5 Having considered the NFF factor rates as outlined in the report, the Forum agreed that the basis on which the formula would be allocated for 2021/22, would match the NFF method as closely as possible.
57.6 The Head of Education Strategy and Development, explained that on current information expectations were that the growth fund needed for 2021/22 was £1.5M to cover growth in basic need places and start up costs for new schools. In response to a question, the Finance Manager, Schools Strategy and Capital, reported that the amount needed for growth varied each year depending on the type of schools and places needed. It had been forecast that the same figure as 2020/21 of £1.5M would be needed in 2021/22. The growth fund in 2021/22 includes the start up costs of two new schools.
57.7 The Forum agreed a top-slice for growth of £1.5M for 2021/22, subject to being updated for any change in the basic need Age Weighted Pupil Unit rates for 2021/22 when those were finalised in January 2021.
57.8 The Forum considered the proposals for de-delegations. Sarah Murphy, Trade Union representative, accompanied by Tony Chong, NASUWT, presented the report on Local Authority Teaching Union Facilities 2020. She emphasised the importance of the de-delegation provision for union facilities, explaining that it allowed all primary local authority maintained schools to meet all statutory and procedural entitlements to union representation. The Trade Union representative drew the Forum’s attention to Annex B of her report which summarised how the facilities time was spent in 2019/20 by NEU and NASUWT. She explained that without this service schools would individually be responsible for meeting all statutory obligations from their own budget, and she referred to the implications of not buying the service as outlined in her report. She concluded her presentation by stating that she strongly hoped that the Forum members eligible to vote would approve the ongoing de-delegation of union facilities for primary schools. Tony Chong emphasised how vital the service was in supporting the requirements and needs of colleagues, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. He stated that feedback received on their work from colleague members, as well as headteachers and deputies, had always been very positive.
57.9 The Forum’s maintained schools’ representatives present at the meeting (by sector) agreed de-delegation at the per pupil rates shown in the report for: In-year increases in pupil numbers – primary; Targeted intervention – primary; Union facilities – primary; Local authorities’ duties (primary and secondary).
57.10 The Forum was informed that the government had announced a £1 billion Covid-19 catch-up package which was on top of the £14.4 billion 3 year settlement. The first part was a one-off Universal Catch-up Premium (£650M nationally), which would be paid across 3 terms in the next academic year, based on £80 per pupil for mainstream, and £240 per place for specialist provision. The second part to be allocated in the 2020/21 autumn term was a £350M Tutoring Fund, involving subsidised tuition programmes; academic mentors for the most disadvantaged schools; a reception and early language programme; and £96M for colleges and 6th forms. The Head of Education Strategy and Development emphasised the importance of all schools being made aware of the Tutoring Fund and how to make a claim. It was reported that whilst there had been no guidance as yet from the DfE on how this would be evaluated and monitored, schools would be advised to keep an oversight of how this additional funding was being used and the impact it had had.
57.11 The Forum was informed that the total amount of Covid-19 exceptional costs successfully claimed by maintained schools was £441,059, with the primary sector claiming the biggest share (63.7% = £281,145). Funds claimed for increase in premises costs represented the biggest share of the claim (45.5% = £200,901) closely followed by the support for Free School Meals (42.65% = £187,700). Officers explained that whilst the Covid-19 fund claiming period had now closed for 2020, schools were still advised to track their exceptional costs incurred due to Covid-19. The local authority would then be able to determine the overall amount of exceptional costs to schools in Gloucestershire, and be in a position to make an informed claim for any government funding which may become available.
57.12 Lyn Dance, Special School Headteacher representative, reported that as special schools were required to remain open during the Covid-19 pandemic, their key concern was the additional cost of using supply teachers to cover staff absences.
57.13 The Forum advised officers that if another band of Covid-19 funding for exceptional costs became available to schools in 2021, then the Local Authority would need to provide advice and clarification to schools on whether those, that had accumulated an historic surplus, and that expected to increase that surplus, were eligible to make a claim if they were able to demonstrate that the surplus was earmarked for a future project.
57.14 The Forum acknowledged that it would make its final recommendations on the funding formula at its meeting on 14 January 2021, ahead of the submission of the final formula to the DfE.