Agenda and minutes
Venue: online meeting
Contact: Sarah Buffrey, Governance Services
Election of chairperson
To elect a chairperson for the ensuing year.
Mrs Julie Cohn was proposed and unanimously supported by members of the forum.
Resolved: that Mrs Julie Cohn be elected chairperson of the Forum for the ensuing year.
Election of vice-chairperson
To elect a vice-chairperson for the ensuing year.
Mrs Kathy Weston was proposed and unanimously supported by members of the forum.
Resolved: that Mrs Kathy Weston be elected Vice-Chairperson of the Forum for the ensuing year.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were noted from the following forum members: Alex Davies, Nicki Emmett, Ed Gwillim, Kimberly Harley, Martin Henton, Steve Kendrick, Sian Lines, Rose Lloyd, Norman Moon, Rachel Rice and Kathy Weston.
Apologies were also received from the assistant director education development and skills.
NAMED SUBSTITUTES (if any)
To receive any details of Members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a Member of the Forum.
The following substitutes were noted:
Mr Trefor Edwards for Mrs Rachel Rice
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive any declarations of interest by Members in respect of items on the Agenda.
Mr Lewandowski and Mr Deneen declared an interest in item 7 on the agenda as representatives of trades unions.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 10 July 2020.
Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting held on 10 July 2020 be approved as a correct record.
To seek the views of the forum on local and national school funding issues, including the recommendations of the budget working group (BWG) on the following matters:
· Herefordshire schools budget 2021/22 including schools consultation paper
· Update from Department for Education (DfE) 20th July 2020
· High needs budget 2021/22
The strategic finance manager gave a presentation on the key points to be covered in the annual consultation with schools. A copy of the presentation is attached to the minutes of the meeting. He explained that as in previous years the local authority would be in a position to fully fund the national funding formula rates for schools and choices would need to be made on how best to use the modest amount of remaining funding.
The chair of the budget working group provided feedback on discussions at the most recent meeting, the key points being that:
· An overspend in the high needs budget in 2019/20 had reduced Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) balances;
· The group had discussed at some length the issues associated with families moving into the county needing specialist support and the pressure on high needs funding;
· The proposals in the consultation document were similar to previous years;
· Herefordshire Association of Secondary Heads (HASH) had long argued that the funding blocks within the DSG should be ring-fenced but the pressure on the high needs budget was understood;
· The working group was in agreement that the proposals in the consultation document were the right ones;
· The working group felt that the procedure for schools to submit requests for access to the growth fund needed to be clearer and would be discussing this at a future meeting, it was recognised that this was new and that the current applications to the fund had been dealt with on the back foot;
· The new requirement for local authority schools to maintain a list of related party transactions was similar to rules already in place for academies and the working group recommended that local authority schools seek to benefit from the experience of academies.
Forum members discussed the presentation and put questions to the strategic finance manager. It was noted that:
· There were around 30 primary schools in the county smaller than 100 pupils and the impact of the changes to incorporate the teachers pay and pension grants to the had been raised with the DfE;
· The additional costs of covid-19 had not been quantified but the f40 group of local authorities had lobbied the DfE regarding additional costs likely to be incurred and lost income, a response was awaited on whether the scheme which had been in place in the summer to meet additional premises factors would be extended;
· The council had no extra funds to put into schools and the regulations would not permit a transfer in any case;
· Current forecasts projected a £350k overspend in high needs for 20/21 which would move the reserves closer to zero;
· The growth fund was new to Herefordshire in 2019/20 and was intended to meet the revenue costs of long term expansion arising from factors such as increasing birth rates and housing growth;
· The education planning team would advise on areas where schools needed to increase published admission numbers, Kingstone Academy had moved to admit 120 and an offer had been made to Fairfield ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To review the work programme for 2020-21 and identify any additional items the forum wishes to consider.
The draft work programme was noted as containing the standard items including approval of the schools budget at the January meeting and the high needs budget in March.
It was proposed that an update on the solid roots group of projects be added to the work programme and brought to the March 2021 meeting.
The dates of remaining meetings for 2020/21 academic year were noted as:
15 January 2021
19 March 2021
9 July 2021.
The amended work programme was noted.
The director for children and families commented on the difficulties caused by the coronavirus epidemic and paid tribute to the work of schools and officers. He reminded school and academy representatives to ensure that emergency contact details were up to date, including details of bubbles.
Forum members also expressed their gratitude for the hard work of everyone in challenging circumstances and thanked officers for continuing to progress work on the schools budget.