Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Council Chamber - The Shire Hall, St. Peter's Square, Hereford, HR1 2HX. View directions

Contact: Sarah Buffrey, Governance Services 

No. Item



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Norman Moon and Tim Knapp.



To receive any details of Members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a Member of the Forum.


There were no named substitutes.



To receive any declarations of interest by Members in respect of items on the Agenda.


There were no declarations of interest.


MINUTES pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 22 January 2019.


Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting held 22 January 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the chair.


High Needs Budget 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 429 KB

To review the Dedicated Schools Grant high needs budget for 2019/20 and recommend to the cabinet member children and families any necessary adjustments in the Pupil Referral Service charges to schools and SEN support services to schools.

Additional documents:


The strategic finance manager (SFM) gave an overview of the report and highlighted the following key points:

·        The main focus of changes to the high needs budget for 2019/20 involved the pupil referral service;

·        Over the following two years it was proposed the pupil referral unit (PRU) transition to providing 50 places for permanently excluded pupils, funded by the council, and 30 discretionary places to be purchased as required by schools;

·        The changes would lead to savings to be delivered on a phased basis over the three year period;

·        There would be an increase in the PRU top up fee to £6,700 for all students from September 2019;

·        Further work was needed on the detail of arrangements for the PRU and the packages that would be available for schools to purchase, this was ongoing with Herefordshire Association of Secondary Headteachers (HASH);

·        It was proposed that an intervention fund be established from September 2019 to support schools with meeting the needs of students, the operation of this fund would be subject to consultation with HASH and would support the in year fair access panel;

·        A collection of changes were also proposed to SEN support services to achieve savings of £110k in 2019/20 and further savings in future years, the budget working group had asked for further detail on these savings which was now included in the report at paragraph 14;

·        Allowance had been made in the proposed budget for growth in numbers of  post 16 pupils, out of county independent special school placements and in county special school places;

·        Projections for the next three years showed that the high needs budget was expected to remain in surplus until 2021/22 but this would require support from schools to continue to transfer surplus funds from the schools block;

·        longer term changes to high needs funding could arise from the government’s comprehensive spending review and any future changes in DfE policy;

·        proposals for work on early intervention would be taken to the budget working group in May 2019, with a report back to the forum in due course, the proposals would consider how to invest to prevent further cost pressures arising while maintaining statutory services;

·        analysis of secondary rolls suggested that it might be appropriate to establish a SEN protection scheme for secondary schools similar to that in place for primary schools, this would cost approximately £60k per annum which would need to be funded, there were at present one or two secondary schools with higher than average numbers of SEN pupils;

·        the high needs budget proposals would go forward to the cabinet member children and families for a decision, any comments from the forum would be included in the report.


The PRU representative on the forum commented on the proposals for changing the service. She thanked the SFM for the time spent on preparing for the change. A working party had been established, including representatives from secondary schools, to oversee the changes and work towards a viable model.  The PRU had seen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


Work Programme and Dates of Future Meetings pdf icon PDF 79 KB

To consider the planned work programme and confirm dates of future meetings.

Additional documents:


The clerk to the forum updated members on proposed dates for meetings to the end of the summer term 2020 and the programme of work to be undertaken by the forum over this period.


The forum noted that the budget working group would consider de-delegation arrangements as requested by the forum and that it was proposed to report back to the forum on 21 June 2019.


In addition to the meeting of the forum on 21 June, a workshop session had been arranged to which the county’s MPs had been invited as requested. Jesse Norman MP had provisionally agreed to attend.


In discussion of arrangements for the workshop it was noted that:

·        The budget working group would lead on producing material for the workshop;

·        Short presentations were proposed by representatives from a primary, secondary and special school to set out both common pressures and specific circumstances experienced by schools, with real life examples where possible;

·        Schools were encouraged to put forward creative solutions and specific proposals, not just a list of difficulties;

·        Rurality and transport issues were suggested as key topics that could be included, rurality did not only affect education so the forum could look to see what lessons could be learned from other sectors;

·        Input from governors could be considered;

·        Suggestions for content should be sent to the strategic finance manager.


It was resolved that:


a)     The dates for meetings of the schools forum to the end of the summer term 2020 as set out in paragraph 7 of the report be agreed; and

b)     The work programme for the schools forum to the end of the summer term 2020 as set out in appendix A be agreed.