Agenda and minutes
Venue: Online meeting
Contact: Sarah Buffrey, Democratic Services
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from the following members of the forum: Alison Banner, Paul Deneen, Nicki Emmett, Andy Gosling, Sue Jenkins, Tracey Kneale and Sian Lines.
NAMED SUBSTITUTES (if any)
To receive any details of Members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a Member of the Forum.
Carol Rushton acted as a substitute for Paul Deneen
Andrew Teale acted as a substitute for Sian Lines
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive any declarations of interest by Members in respect of items on the Agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2022.
Resolved: It was resolved that the minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2022 be approved as an accurate record.
Election of vice-chairperson
To elect a vice-chairperson for the remainder of the academic year following the resignation of the previous vice-chairperson.
The chairperson thanked the previous vice-chairperson for her work as both chairperson and vice-chairperson over a number of years.
Paul Jennings proposed and David Bennett seconded the nomination of Alison Banner as vice-chairperson of the forum.
Resolved: It was resolved that Alison Banner is elected vice-chairperson of the Herefordshire Schools Forum for the remainder of the academic year.
To make recommendations to the Cabinet Member for Childrens and Families for the £19.7m Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) high needs budget for 2022/23.
The Strategic Finance Manager (SFM) gave a presentation on proposals for the High Needs Budget 2022/23. He explained the expected outturn positon for 21/22 would be a small deficit and that a balanced budget was proposed for 2022/23. The forum was required to be consulted on these proposals and would make recommendations to the cabinet member children and families who would make the final decision.
Two corrections to the recommendations in the published report necessary to correct an arithmetic error in the budget model were highlighted as follows:
In recommendation (r) - high needs contingency is now £0
In recommendation (t) part (ii) - LA recoupment income is now £211,508
The Head of Additional Needs (HAN) provided additional commentary on the proposals and highlighted key points as set out below.
· The significant growth in independent school placements, particularly for pupils with SEMH and autism, had led to proposals for an autism secondary hub to be established. The council was working with the local branch of the national autistic society to design a suitable setting and was seeking a site and partner school to operate it.
· The growth in demand for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) had outpaced projections. Plans were being developed to increase capacity but capital projects take time to bring to completion.
· The funding required to supplement the income of the Behaviour Support Team might not be as much as suggested in the proposed budget as some details were still being worked through. The service was trying to balance trading services with centrally funded support.
· It had been difficult during the covid pandemic to judge the true picture of demand for places at the Pupil Referral Unit. The situation would continue to be monitored going forward.
Forum members discussed the proposals and put questions to the SFM and HAN. It was noted that:
· The budget proposals consulted on the in the Autumn term 2021 had proposed an increase in funding for in-county special school places of 20 but due to a lack of site capacity a reduced increase of 10 places was now proposed.
· It was necessary to seek short and medium term solutions to the pressure for special school places while longer term plans were developed and implemented.
· The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) had deducted at source for academy and free school places. The deduction of 18 post 16 academy special school places was queried. The SFM indicated the places were at Barrs Court and agreed to clarify where these places were, make sure that there was no double counting and report back to the next forum meeting. The recommendations in the report were based on the net budget after the ESFA deductions so represented the funding available to be allocated at this point.
· Independent special schools were inspected by Ofsted (or Estyn for Welsh-based settings). The council also made visits, for example attending annual reviews, and where placements were joint with social care then social workers would also visit and share information as ... view the full minutes text for item 45.