Contact: Philippa Gibbs 020 8461 7638
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Mr Chris Hollands, Mr Steven Whittle, Mr Ian Travis and Ms Izabela Lecybyl.
The Chairman reported that Ms Lecybyl had recently resigned from the Schools’ Forum. The Forum extended its thanks to Ms Lecybyl for her contribution to previous meetings over a number of years.
MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 16TH SEPTEMBER 2021 PDF 291 KB
The minutes of the meeting held on 16 September 2021, were approved and signed as a correct record.
In response to a question from the Chairman concerning allocations for falling rolls, the Head of Children, Education and Families Finance confirmed that as yet no allocations had been made as there was still some work for the Local Authority to undertake.
It was noted that Schools’ Forum training had been arranged with one session following the meeting and a further session on 11th November.
2022/23 DEDICATED SCHOOLS GRANT PDF 209 KB
The report provided an outline of the estimated Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) allocation for 2022/23 and an overview of how this would be spent.
The indicative Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) funding for 2022/23 had been provided to all Local Authorities – this was based on October 2020 pupil numbers and would be uplifted in December to reflect the October 2021 census data. The DSG for 2022/23 was divided into four blocks – High Needs, Early Years, Schools and Schools Central. The table below sets out the expected outcome:
The Local Authority (LA) had looked at each of the blocks and forecast the related expenditure for 2022/23 based on information currently available. Full details of the projected grant income and expenditure were set out in Appendix 1 of the report with information concerning each block provided in the body of the report.
The Forum noted that an update to Appendix 1 of the report had previously been circulated.
Introducing the report, the Head of Children, Education and Families Finance explained that the funding set out was indicative and further information and confirmation would be received in December 2021. Whilst there had been an overall increase in grant, this was offset by increases in demand and expenditure across the board, particularly in High Needs.
Schools Central Block
The grant itself would reduce, a year-on-year reduction from DfE of approximately 2.5% overall. The Council were continuing to contribute to support the central spend within the LA. The intention was that there would be an additional £50k contribution from the Council resulting in an overall contribution of £460k. It was anticipated that the block would be balanced.
Early Years Block
No data regarding the Early Years Block had been received. The funding allocation allowed for £500k in the Early Years Block for Early Years High Needs provision. It was anticipated that the block would be balanced.
In response to a question, the Head of CEF Finance confirmed that delays to receipt of information concerning Early Years funding occurred every year. It was unlikely that information would be received until December 2021.
Figures were based on October 2020 census data and would be updated in due course. There were some minor changes around the NFF although the LA had been following the NFF as far as possible. The primary units of funding and secondar units of funding were increasing and this would feed into the grant allocation. The LA was anticipating a MFG level from between 0.5% and 2% as suggested by DfE although this was subject to change.
Based on current information, 23 Primary Schools were eligible for minimum funding levels which accounted for about £1.7m, this being subject to change when actual funding and pupil numbers were used in the final ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
CONSTITUTION OF THE SCHOOLS FORUM PDF 200 KB
The report provided an overview of the representation on the Schools Forum. The Forum noted that the Constitution was subject to annual review and this year there had been no major changes requiring amendment to the constitution. Noting that there was no longer a maintained pupil referral unit, which was vacant, the Forum noted that the proposal was to keep membership as it was (at 19, including schools and non-school representatives) and retain representation in areas, even where pupil numbers were small.
The Forum also noted the high number of current vacancies.
It was noted that it was unlikely that there would be further changes required in response to the NFF until 2022/23 at the earliest.
The Chairman proposed that the Constitution should refer to “Governors/Trustees”, this change was endorsed by the Forum.
RESOLVED: That the Constitution be agreed subject to the change outlined above.
HIGH NEEDS FUNDING BANDING REVIEW PDF 227 KB
The report outlined the High Needs Funding Banding Review that commenced in September 2021.
The Director of Education introduced the report explaining that the pressures on the High Needs Block were a significant factor as to why the LA needed to review high needs funding banding but they were not the only reason. It was clear from the funding bands that were currently in place within the Borough that there were too many and that they were somewhat opaque with a lack of clarity around the differences between the different funding bands. There was a need to ensure that there was consistency and transparency around the use of the funding bands.
The intention of the review was to look at the different funding models and methodologies that were in place elsewhere and also to look to achieve the three aims set out in the report. The scope of the review was set out in the report and the Schools’ Forum was a key stakeholder within the review process. The intention was to introduce a phased implementation of the outcome of the review from September 2022.
In response to a question, it was acknowledged that it was a complex and challenging issue and that the timescales were ambitious, however the Director of Education advised that it was important to maintain the ambition to meet the September 2022 timescale to avoid the loss of a further academic year and ensure that the right finding bands were in place for young people in order to provide the most effective support. In July 2022, the Schools Forum would be able to take a view as to whether the LA was in a position to proceed with a funding model from September 2022.
In response to a question, the Director of Education reiterated that the purpose of the review was to achieve the three objectives set out in the report whilst ensuring that the system was sustainable. One of the aims was to mitigate against high needs pressures and this review is one of the ways that could be achieved.
The Chairman suggested that if input from the Schools’ Forum was required outside of the scheduled meetings, information could be circulated for comment by email or if exceptional circumstances arose a special meeting could be convened.
RESOLVED: that the report and recommendations be noted.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
The Forum noted that the new Director of Children, Education and Families (Mr Richard Baldwin) had joined the Council at the beginning of the week and would attend a future Schools’ Forum meeting.
The Forum also requested that alternatives to WebEx for the virtual meeting be further explored.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
20th January 2022
20th January 2022