Agenda item

Local and national school funding update

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 High School for a PAN of 100;

·        Where growth funding was allocated this would be yearly until the new PAN applied to all year groups through the school;

·        Section 106 contributions from housing developments was designed to address capital funding requirements for expanded accommodation;

·        It was recognised that a clearer process was required and this would be developed through the schools capital programme and communicated to all schools;

·        Increased demand for places in special schools was largely driven by an increase in pupils moving from mainstream into special schools but there were also some pupils moving in from out of the county;

·        Further guidance was expected from the DfE on maintaining lists of related party transactions for local authority maintained schools and the strategic finance manager would write to effected schools after Christmas with more details.



It was unanimously agreed:


That the Schools Forum, having considered the initial budget proposals for 2021/22 for schools and high needs, supports the council’s annual budget consultation with schools.


Supporting documents: