Agenda and minutes
Venue: virtual meeting platform
Contact: Jenny Preece, Democratic Services Officer
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies received from forum members: Andy Gosling, Paul Jennings, Steve Kendrick and Andrew Teale,
Apologies received from officers: Roz Pither and Alison Naylor.
NAMED SUBSTITUTES (if any)
To receive any details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the forum.
There were no named substitutes.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive any declarations of interest by members in respect of items on the Agenda.
Paul Deneen declared an interest in agenda item 6 as a member of the National Education Union.
Tim Knapp declared an interest in agenda item 5 as the headteacher of Whitecross Hereford High School.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on Friday 20 October 2023.
Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting held on 20 October 2023 be approved as a correct record.
It was supported by members that the outstanding action to write to MP’s with regards to the dissatisfaction with the DfE budget errors and the impact it will have on schools was still relevant. It was suggested by the Chair and approved by members that in addition to this, concerns with the DfE Expansion to the Early Years funding and in particular Herefordshire having been set at the lowest rate nationally for 2YO be included.
To review the financial position of the Whitecross PFI contract and inform Schools Forum of any necessary action.
The strategic finance manager presented the findings of the triennial review of the Whitecross PFI contract, it was noted that the Council was adding an additional £100k to the annual cost of the contract due to inflationary pressures.
In response to a query the SFM confirmed the contract ends in 2031.
a) The council’s planned increase of £100,000 for 2024/25 to bring the annual base budget to £1,128,350 per annum was noted
b) The annual contribution be reviewed taking account of the then inflation rate at the next triennial review in Autumn 2026;
c) The report of the next triennial review be received by Schools Forum in January 2027
To approve school forum’s recommended budget proposals for school budgets, central school services and early years within the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2024/25.
Dedicated Schools Grant funding for the schools block in 2024/25 is £129.9m, which is an increase of 1.9% per pupil excluding the consolidation of the £2.65m supplementary grant from 2023-24 at £118 per pupil. The funding for high needs and early years block are provisional as are subject to final adjustments for pupil numbers and commissioned places. The school funding values and formula calculations are in accordance with the national school funding formula as set by the government. The £0.65m is to be transferred to the high needs block for 2024/25 to continue the SEN protection scheme.
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 SFM highlighted the report from the Budget Working Group (BWG) was published as a supplement to the agenda papers.
The principal points included:
· The SFM reminded members of the reduction to the Council’s allocations of 0.7% from the DFE proposals published in the summer due to the £370m budget error.
· The forum were presented with two choices for the SEN protection scheme; to continue with the 0.05% block transfer or terminate with a Nil transfer.
· 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.
· His Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) recommendation was that there is a strong case to continue with the arrangement if possible and some suggestions for improvements were made of which all have been taken on board and the Council will look to pursue.
· Feedback from the (BWG) was that they were supportive of the SEN protection scheme and to retain the 0.05% block transfer to enable its continuation be recommended to the Schools Forum.
· The BWG fully supported the 1.9% rise on existing de-delegation items and Education Management costs.
· The SFM highlighted the only change to the published recommendations was to not proceed with the proposals for delegation to new services; Consortium of local education authority’s science providers (CLEAPSS) and the SEMH Inclusion Service (SIS). The consultation highlighted no clear endorsement to which the BWG also concurred.
· The DfE’s national early years funding rates were discussed.
· The SFM highlighted Herefordshire, with 45 other LA’s for three and four year old funding was at the lowest possible rate whilst the allocation of funding for under two year olds Herefordshire is set at the lowest nationally, the absence of a floor mechanism (comparable with that for three and four year olds) would be raised with the DfE.
· The SFM highlighted, concerns had been raised at the early year’s consultation that the under two year olds working families funding is less than providers are currently charging for their two year olds and will have an impact on their businesses and sufficiency in the county.
· The DfE had set a composite rate for two year olds funding for both disadvantaged two year olds and working families of two year olds and the Local Authority is required to disaggregate into separate funding two year old funding rates.
· The nursery education funding (NEF) retention for central spend was discussed.
In response to member’s questions it was noted:
1. The SFM confirmed he was only aware of one school who was looking to manage their ... view the full minutes text for item 97.