Agenda and minutes

Schools Forum
Wednesday 6 December 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Dining Room 2 - The Village School, Grove Park, NW9 0JY. View directions

Contact: Nikolay Manov, Governance Officer; Email:  nikolay.manov@brent.gov.uk; Tel: 0208 937 1348 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Membership

Minutes:

Governors                                                    Helga Gladbaum

UmeshRaichada

 

Head Teachers                                           Lesley Benson

Martine Clark

Gill Bal

Jayne Jardine

 

There was one vacancy on the Forum - a Secondary Academy Head

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None.

3.

Deputations (if Any)

Minutes:

None.

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the previous meeting, held on 4 October 2017, be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

 

5.

Matters arising (if any)

To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

In relation to Agenda Item 7 – Update on the implementation of the extended 30 hours childcare entitlement, Brian Grady said that an update on the roll out of the provider portal to schools would be emailed to all Members.

 

It was noted that any other matters arising would be discussed under Item 6 of the agenda.

 

6.

Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Forecast 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 120 KB

The report provides the Schools Forum with an indicative forecast of Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) spend against the budget set for 2017/18. It is an updated position to that reported in the October 2017 Schools Forum.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Andrew Ward introduced the report and said that it would be useful to have the Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Forecast 2017/18 as a standing item on the agenda. He commented on Appendix A which contained the forecast at the end of October 2017. The Forum heard that the total income was slightly less than budgeted due to an adjustment in the Early Years Block. Mr Ward explained that the income figure provided by the Department for Education (DfE) was based on the previous year and, therefore, was indicative as final funding depended upon the actual provision as per the Early Years census. An adjustment of -£114,000 had already been made in 2017/18 based on the information from the early years census that 30 fewer children were accessing provision in January 2016, compared to January 2016. Furthermore, Mr Ward noted that the Floreat free school, which was no longer opening, had been included in the mainstream funding formula budget, causing an underspend of £0.2 million.

 

The rate of growth in primary school numbers had slowed and following the underspend last year, a variance of at least £0.75 million against the growth budgets was anticipated. As the October census data had not been confirmed yet, a revised forecast would be presented at the next meeting of the Forum once the growth allocations had been calculated following the release of the data in December 2017.

 

In relation to the High Needs Block, Mr Ward highlighted that high demand for High Needs support through the Early Years Inclusion Fund had been reported, meaning that there was a risk of an overspend by the end of the year. In contrast, Central Block expenditure was forecasted to be in line with budgets, except for the school admissions service which reported a small overspend related to staffing costs. 

 

As far as the Early Years Block was concerned, Mr Ward pointed out that the uptake of the 30 hours provision was lower than budget for. He said that it was not known whether the Block’s income would be reduced proportionately by the DfE or whether this funding would be left with Local Authorities, hence, a zero variance position had been reported.

 

Mr Ward summarised that the current forecast was reported to underspend by £1 million and acknowledged that this could change depending on the growth allocations for 2017/18.

 

RESOLVED that the contents of the Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Forecast 2017/18 report be noted.

 

7.

Dedicated Schools Grant Pupil Growth Task Group Report pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Following a report to Schools Forum in October 2017, the Forum agreed to review the Pupil Growth Funding criteria. This paper provides a summary of the policy discussion of the Pupil Demand Task and Finish Group.

 

Minutes:

Shirley Parks reminded Members that following a report to the Schools Forum in October 2017, it was agreed to review the Pupil Growth Funding criteria. She said that the paper provided a summary of the policy discussion of the Pupil Demand Task and Finish Group and recommended a Pupil Growth Fund budget of £2 million for 2018/19 and a rising rolls contingency of £1.13 million. The Group had considered four policy questions as set out below (for details, please see pages 16-19 to the Agenda pack).

 

Policy question 1: should criteria be developed for additional support beyond current guaranteed funding for primary schools that have been asked by the Local Authority to permanently expand?

 

The recommendation of the Group was that no adjustment policy would be taken forward to support these schools. The Group had noted that all schools were expected to manage budgets in response to changing patterns of demand. 

 

Policy Question 2: should funding be used to support secondary schools that expand by 30 pleases or more at the request of the Local Authority?

 

The recommendation of the Group was that secondary schools that had expanded would be funded to address the issues of lagged funding and to ensure that they could fund the required resources. Ms Parks said that the Group had discussed the differences between primary and secondary schools as well as the impact of expansion of the number of staff employed by schools. Two models for funding growth had been considered – payment of a lump sum in the year in which the growth occurred which would require schools to manage their cash flow in subsequent years  or funding to be calculated through a manual variation in the funding formula. 

 

Policy Question 3: how should rising rolls funding operate in the future and for what time period should support to schools be provided?

 

The recommendation of the Group was to retain the rising rolls contingency for primary schools at 1.75%, with the expectation that the requirement for access to this funding would reduce over time. Ms Parks noted that the preferred course of action in relation to secondary schools would depend on which option under the second policy question was selected. For example, if it was decided to calculate funding through a manual variation in the funding formula, there would not be a need for rising rolls funding as there would not be a lagged funding issue. However, it was noted that in relation to secondary schools, 1.75% equated to a larger number of pupils in secondary schools than primary. Therefore, the Local Authority had been asked to consider allocating a different percentage to each sector or to use an absolute value instead.

 

Policy Question 4: Schools Forum to consider if a one-off payment should apply to secondary schools

 

The recommendation of the Group was that a lump sum of £25,000 was not to be awarded to secondary schools that had been asked to expand. However, where the expansion of schools required a capital project,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Dedicated Schools Grant Schools Budget and Mainstream Funding Formula 2018/19 and 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 131 KB

The paper  report presents the key decisions that need to be made in order to set the 2018/19 mainstream funding formula.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Andrew Ward introduced the report which contained key decisions that had to be made in order to set the 2018/19 mainstream funding formula. He noted that calculations for the presented models had been made using numbers from the October 2016 census so changes were expected once data from the October 2017 census was released in December 2017. Mr Ward drew the Members’ attention to section two of the report (page 21 to the Agenda pack) and explained the rationale behind the recommendations. As reported at the previous meeting of the Forum, an additional £1.5 million would be allocated to the Schools Funding Block and an additional £1 million to the Nigh Needs Block. Dedicated Schools Grant funding of 3 and 4 year olds would be reduced by £0.17 to £5.37 per hour and this would go ahead for 2018/19. Moreover, inflation was expected to exceed the 0.5% per pupil funding increase that had been announced over the summer and there had been an increase in the number of requests for new Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs).

 

Mr Ward reported on the work of the Task and Finish Groups. The High Needs Task and Finish Group had met twice since the last Schools Forum meeting and its recommendation was that the proposed additional £1 million be used to fund increases to top up funding rates in mitigation of cost pressures, and enable planner increases to special provision places. Furthermore, placements were increasingly available in Brent as opposed to independent and out of the Borough settings and this was expected to improve cost efficiency. The Early Years Task and Finish Group had met once and an additional meeting had been scheduled to agree further actions. Mr Ward highlighted that both Groups had emphasised the need to hold reserves as contingency measures.

 

Mr Ward drew Members’ attention to the table in Appendix 1 which provided information on the funding formula rates, with the proposed increase of rates shown in the middle columns. Mr Ward emphasised that the ratio between primary and secondary provision would be the same as the national average; 1:1.29

 

The total amount of reserves was estimated to be approximately £7 million and increased rates had been modelled to account for release of £2, £2.5 and £3 million. However, the sustainability of these options could be questioned as it had not been possible to predict trends in the next couple of years and account for the way funding would be controlled. Moreover, if too much funds were allocated, there might be a need to reduce the rate in the future.

 

Members of the Forum enquired about the way secondary low attainment was defined and if there had been any changes to Key Stage 2 data. In response, Mr Grady said the definition and application of secondary low attainment would be examined and reported back on.

 

Mr Ward said that Appendix 2 contained data on modelled funding allocation by School which also provided information on the future trends indicated by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Any Other Urgent Business

Minutes:

None.