Agenda and minutes
Venue: online meeting
Contact: Sarah Buffrey, Governance Services
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Steve Kendrick 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.
Andrew Teale attended as 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 7 October 2022.
It was resolved that:
the minutes of the meeting held on 7 October 2022 be approved as a correct record.
To agree final budget proposals for recommendation to the cabinet member for children and families for school budgets, central school services and early years within the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2023/24.
The strategic finance manager (SFM) presented the report and outlined the proposed schools budget based on the confirmed Dedicated Schools Grant allocation from the Department for Education (DfE). A copy of the slides used in the presentation are attached to the minutes of the meeting.
The DSG allocation was insufficient to fully fund the national funding formula values, but a School Additional Grant was to be distributed in addition to the main funding formula. The details of this additional grant had not been confirmed at the time of the meeting but it was expected to operate in a similar way to the additional grant issued for 2022/23.
Schools continued to express support for the SEN protection scheme which provides additional funding for schools when they have greater than average numbers of pupils with high needs. The budget proposals included a transfer from the schools block to the high needs block to support the continuation of the SEN protection scheme.
The chair of the Budget Working Group thanked the SFM for his work on the proposals. He highlighted the key points discussed during the working group meeting, that the funding situation was less than ideal and the proposed option C had quickly been identified as the preferred approach. Progressing any of the alternative options would have a negative impact on the SEN protection scheme.
The proposals had also been shared at a school leader’s webinar on 10 January. No objections had been raised to the approach recommended by the local authority and budget working group.
Forum members discussed the proposed budget and noted that the number of pupils in specialist settings was growing and that a longer term strategy was in place. The outcome of the local authority’s bid for a new SEN free school was still unknown. In the interim the local authority was trying to provide additional capacity in existing schools.
It was resolved that:
Due to insufficient funding within the Dedicated Schools Grant the National Funding Formula (NFF) factors for 2023/24 be reduced by 1% as included in the recommendations 1. (a) – (n) as below, and be recommended to the Cabinet member for children and families for decision as follows;
1. The final school funding values be agreed, subject to a minimum total funding per pupil of £4,405 for primary schools and £5,715 for secondary schools, including the Minimum Funding Guarantee at 0.5% as follows:
(a) Basic entitlement per pupil Primary £3,361, basic entitlement per secondary pupil Key Stage 3 £4,738 and basic entitlement per secondary pupil Key Stage 4 £5,340
(b) Deprivation per free school meal Primary £475.50 Deprivation per free school meal Secondary £475.50
(c) Deprivation per ever-6 free school meal Primary £697.95, Deprivation per ever-6 free school meal Secondary £1,019.70
(d) Socio-economic deprivation Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI)
(i) Band A Primary £663.30 Secondary £920.70
(ii) Band B Primary £504.90 Secondary £722.70
(iii) Band C Primary £475.20 Secondary £673.20
(iv) Band D Primary £435.60 Secondary £613.80
(v) Band E ... view the full minutes text for item 66.
To approve the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) management plan subject to any amendments prior to submission to the Department for Education (DfE).
The strategic finance manager (SFM) presented the Dedicated Schools Grant deficit management plan. Forum members heard that the deficit was currently small and solely attributed to overspend in recent years in the high needs block. The deficit management plan set out the history of how the deficit had occurred and the actions proposed to reduce spending and recover the deficit. The main theme of the proposals is about providing more in-county provision to avoid as far as possible expensive out county places for pupils with special educational needs.
The plan had been shared with the budget working group who had endorsed the proposals.
The government has extended the statutory accounts override to March 2026 which permits the DSG deficit to be carried forward for a further three years without requiring the council to fund the deficit.
Forum members heard that the local authority had applied what it had learnt from the successful bid to establish Beacon College to its application for a new free school. The bid sought to establish a new school with around 80 place for pupils aged 2-16 with co-morbid learning difficulties and autism. As a free school, the school would be part of a MAT and an open competition would be held to select the provider. If approved, the new school would likely take around 4 years to design, build and open. If the new school was not approved, additional places could be provided but it would be a more fragmented approach and there was currently insufficient capital funding to deliver the scale of places needed.
Forum members highlighted the importance of education, health and care plan reviews being completed promptly when children transferred school. Staff absence had a significant impact in the previous year but this had been addressed and reviews were now on target for this year. Performance was being monitored closely to make sure the improvements were sustained.
It was resolved that:
the DSG Deficit Management Plan is recommended to the Director of Children Services for submission to the Department for Education.
The Department for Education has advised that the Consistent Financial Reporting guidance does not permit schools to transfer revenue to capital in advance of spend. In order to accommodate this advice the Local Management of Schools scheme requires amendment to introduce a new category for committed revenue balances and to exclude these balances from the 20% balance clawback scheme for the financial year 2022-23 and future financial years. Local authority maintained school members are asked to approve the changes to the LMS scheme.
The strategic finance manager (SFM) presented a report on proposed amendments to the local management of schools scheme to reflect advice from the Department for Education (DfE) that schools are not permitted to transfer revenue monies to capital in advance of spend. A new category for committed balances would be created and this would be excluded from the 20% clawback criteria. Governing bodies would need to provide evidence from minutes of any transfers to the local authority each year.
No objections to the proposed changes had been received following publication in the Spotlight magazine to schools.
It was resolved that:
Local authority maintained school members approve the amendment to the Local Management of Schools Scheme, as set out in the report.
(Voting on this item was restricted to local authority school members only).