Agenda and minutes
Venue: virtual meeting platform
Contact: Jenny Preece, Democratic Services Officer
ELECTION OF CHAIRPERSON
To elect a chairperson for the ensuring year.
Alison Banner was proposed and unanimously supported by members of the forum.
Resolved: that Alison Banner be elected chairperson of the Forum for the ensuing year.
ELECTION OF VICE-CHAIRPERSON
To elect a vice-chairperson for the ensuing year.
Paul Jennings was proposed and unanimously supported by members of the forum.
Resolved: that Paul Jennings 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: Andy Gosling, Ed Gwillim, Sian Lines and Sheila Taylor.
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:
Andrew Teale for Sian Lines
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive any declarations of interest by Members in respect of items on the Agenda.
There were no declaration of interests.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2023.
Resolved: the minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2023 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 Herefordshire schools budget 2024/25 including schools consultation paper.
The Strategic Finance Manager explained since preparing the draft consultation paper the DfE had admitted to a national budget error in the planning of school budgets. The DFE have under-counted pupils nationally which without budget reductions would overspend by £370m. The DfE are seeking to recover costs by reducing the per pupil amounts, and hence the amounts passed through to schools.
The following points were highlighted:
· For Herefordshire theDfE had reduced the national funding formula values with a compensating reduction in dedicated schools grant (DSG) of £40 per primary pupil and £61 per secondary pupil.
· Resulting in an approximate reduction of £1m in the LA’s DSG and a compensating reduction in funding passed through to schools.
· Fully funding NFF gives surplus of £230k and by capping the gains of schools provides a further £420k, to fund £650k to the SEN Protection scheme.
· The impact of the error could lead to unplanned remodeling of schools’ funding formula, later than planned schools forums for sign off, delays in submitting disapplication requests and challenges in submitting Authority Proforma Tool (APTs) on time but there would be no changes to timescales.
· It was agreed at the BWG an assessment on the impact the SEN protection scheme makes to schools would be commissioned in order to support budget decisions in January 2024.
· It was highlighted the forecast spend on the SEN protection scheme for 2023/24 was £775k-£800k whilst the funding available from the schools block is £616k.
· The Council’s preferred option for 2024/25 is for Schools Forum in January 2024 to agree the full transfer of 0.5% to high needs and for Schools Forum in March 2024 to agree contribution from high needs budget of at least £100k which would require the SEN protection scheme cap to be set at approximately 185 x NOR depending on the actual contribution agreed from the high needs budget.
· The SEN has been hugely supported by schools in previous years, it has been a fundamental part of the budget planning for the last six years although it is now proving increasingly expensive each year due to the annual growth in Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).
For 2023/ 24 The LA have 7 high schools and 42 primary schools receiving funding:
• max primary is £64,300 for 20.8 pupils (6%)
• max high is £74,000 for 27.7 pupils (5.3%)
Without the scheme the financial impact on the most inclusive schools will be significant.
In light of the errors made by the DfE the SFM provided the forum with two options moving forward.
A: To re-write the schools consultation paper with all the revised data, budgets and costs with a real possibility of introducing further errors and delays; or
B: To provide a covering document explaining that the DfE had reduced the DSG income and the NFF values by £0.6m.
Individual school allocations at the new lower level would accompany the consultation and schools could ask for an amended allocation with revised NOR.
In any case all ... view the full minutes text for item 89.
To review dates of meetings and the work programme for 2023/24 and identify any additional items the forum wishes to consider.
The work programme and dates of future meetings were noted. No additional items were proposed for the work programme.
In response to a question raised surrounding the potential rise on VAT to independent schools the SFM suggested that he would expect the DFE to fully fund the cost incurred in the transfer of pupils from independent schools to state schools.
It was noted that consideration for any proposed changes to funding for early year’s settings and the longer term impacts should be kept in mind for the future with regards to sufficiency and supporting schools.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Friday 19 January 2024, 9:30am.
Friday 19 January 2024, 9:30am