Agenda and minutes

Venue: Dining Area 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

                                                                        Narinder Nathan

                                                                        Jo Jhally

 

Head Teachers                                           Gerard McKenna

Troy Sharpe

 

Trade Union                                                Lesley Gouldbourne

 

 

Members welcomed Michael Maurice and Tim Jones who had been elected to sit on the Schools Forum as Primary Governors.

 

It was noted that there was one vacancy on the Forum - a Secondary Academy Head. 

 

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Mike Heiser declared that he was a Governor representative at the Brent Schools Partnership Board (BSP).

 

Kay Charles declared that she was Chair of the Brent BSP.

 

Martine Clark declared that she was Vice-Chair of the Brent BSP.

 

Sylvie Libson declared that she was a member of the Brent BSP.

 

3.

Deputations (if Any)

Minutes:

None.

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the previous meeting, held on 21 February 2018, be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

 

5.

Actions arising pdf icon PDF 45 KB

To consider any actions arising from previous meetings.

Minutes:

The Forum examined the Action Log which had been included in the Agenda pack for the meeting and noted that actions 16, 21, 22 and 28 would be considered at the current meeting.

 

6.

Raising the Achievement of Black Caribbean Boys in Brent Schools pdf icon PDF 111 KB

The paper seeks agreement from the Schools Forum to allocate funding to raise the Achievement of Black Caribbean Boys in Brent schools.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Brian Grady introduced the report which sought agreement to allocate funding to raise the Achievement of Black Caribbean Boys in Brent schools which was below the national average. The issue had been discussed by Brent Council’s Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee in 2016 and although attainment had improved in 2017, it had remained well below that of pupils nationally at the end of Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1, 2 and 4. A Black Caribbean Strategy Group, led by Brent Schools Partnership (BSP) Specialist Centre for Black Caribbean Achievement, had been set up and had been meeting regularly since September 2017. Furthermore, a strategic framework had been developed which set out detailed actions to be taken by a range of stakeholders to strengthen capacity and expertise to raise achievement and support parents to contribute to their children’s learning (for details, please see Appendix 3 on pages 23-25 of the Agenda pack).

   

Kay Charles, in her capacity of Chair of the BSP, highlighted that the proposal outlined in the report had been based on evidence-based approaches and information which had been collected from a wide range of sources. The paper reflected BSP’s belief that Brent should be leading development and innovation related to strategies to raise the attainment of Black Caribbean students and schools had to be supported to build the necessary capacity to deliver this. She explained that the proposal had been developed in such a way that it was inclusive of all schools in Brent and it would be based on peer support, aimed at maximising resources available and creating sustainable capacity for the whole Borough (for information about individual components of the project, please see paragraph 3.14 on page 13 of the Agenda pack).

 

Members of the Forum welcomed the report. They enquired how impact would be monitored in the aftermath of the initial two-year period. Farzana Aldridge (Strategic Director, Brent Schools Partnership) stated that the BSP would manage the programme and regular updates would be provided to the Schools Forum on impact.

   

In relation to funding, it was noted that Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) reserves would be used for two academic years as set out in recommendation 2.1 of the report (page 11 of the Agenda pack) which would be in line with the decisions made by the Schools Forum at the meeting on 21 February 2018. However, Mr Grady acknowledged that a sustainable approach had to be secured and that this had informed the detail of the proposal.

 

A Member of the Schools Forum raised the issue of schools not being willing to share data on Black Caribbean Boys. Mr Grady responded that the Local Authority would explore solutions to address information sharing barriers and an update would be provided to Forum.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The contents of the Raising the Achievement of Black Caribbean Boys in Brent Schools report, be noted;

 

(ii)          The following funding for two academic years to deliver the actions to raise the attainment of Black Caribbean boys as set  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Strengthening Leadership Development and Succession Planning in Brent schools pdf icon PDF 162 KB

The paper seeks agreement from the Schools Forum to allocate funding to secure the full and effective implementation of a strategy to strengthen leadership, development and succession planning in Brent schools.

 

Minutes:

Brian Grady introduced the report which sought agreement from the Schools Forum to allocate funding to secure the full and effective implementation of a strategy to strengthen leadership, development and succession planning in schools across the Borough.

 

Members of the Forum welcomed the paper and said they were pleased that the programmes would be available to all establishments in Brent. They acknowledged that the route through teaching had changed and that it had been challenging to encourage teachers to become leaders. Therefore, it was necessary to deliver programmes that equipped people with the right set of skills and provided them with appropriate levels of support. Farzana Aldridge (Strategic Director, Brent Schools Partnership) commented that the three programmes were aimed to support a number of leaders while developing a shift in culture in schools. Work had already commenced on developing a Leadership Charter, which would list a set of commitments to which every school in Brent should sign up to. This would demonstrate the schools’ commitment to leadership development at all levels, and support for schools in delivering the commitments within the Charter would be provided through consultancy work and advice. This approach was expected to address teacher shortages and problems associated with recruiting Head Teachers. A Member noted that it was essential to support new teachers to identify and fulfil their ambitions as having successful leaders was a prerequisite for having successful schools. It was pointed out that the Leadership Charter would be developed in partnership with governors as the success of the initiative would depend on their engagement. 

 

The Forum discussed that if the programme was officially accredited, it was likely to attract higher numbers of teachers as they would know that their qualification would be widely recognised. Ms Aldridge said that she had had conversations with the Institute of Education in order to gain accreditation. 

 

It was noted that the Leadership Development Programme and the Leadership Charter could be self-sustainable if schools worked collaboratively to develop their members of staff.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The contents of the Strengthening Leadership Development and Succession Planning in Brent schools, be noted;

 

(ii)          The following funding for two years to deliver the actions that had been identified to strengthen the provision for leadership, development and succession planning in all schools in Brent be agreed:

·         2018-19 of £282,000

·         2019-20 of £163,250

 

(iii)         Six-monthly reports on the use and deployment of the allocated spend, and the resulting impact on strengthening leadership and succession planning in Brent schools be provided to the Schools Forum.

 

Michael Maurice and Rose Ashton left the meeting at 6:30 pm.

 

8.

Early Years Projects funded from allocated Dedicated Schools Grant reserves pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To provide information around the planned use of reserves for Early Years projects from the Dedicated Schools Grant.

 

Minutes:

Sue Gates introduced the report which proposed that allocated Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) reserves were used to fund three Early Years (EY) initiatives.

 

The first one was the establishment of a development grant to support providers who were facing challenges related to supporting children with higher levels of development needs with ensuring their business sustainability. The grant would be put in place for one year to relieve cost pressures faced by providers and allow time for renewed business sustainability to be explored.  The grant would be calculated at 20p per hour for each Nursery Education Grants (NEG) for three- and four-year olds free entitlement hour delivered by settings in the previous year.  Subject to confirmation from the Schools Forum, this grant would be made available to all settings offering the free entitlement and guidance would be made available outlining any terms and conditions relating to the administration and the spend of the grant.

 

The Progress for all project addressed issues which were impacting all settings such as lower than national average take-up rate of the EY free entitlement and lower attainment rates by priority groups. Ms Gates said that Brent’s Early Help service had been awarded a £50,000 grant from the Department for Education for the project and the money would be used to fund a pilot covering three ward areas. If funding was to be allocated from the DSG reserves, it would be used to put in place more widespread, long-term projects with clear measurable objectives aiming for a sustainable impact. In addition, work would take place to support home learning and raise awareness of childcare options. Outcomes of the pilot were expected to be available following the completion of the pilot in September 2018 and if ‘Progress for all’ was to be implemented, this would take place from September 2018 to December 2020.

 

The Superheroes project related to the exploration of an early years and primary age prevention programme that emphasised early identification and intervention to support young people to not get involved with gangs. Members heard that the issue of the role of superheroes in play had been explored at the Brent Early Years Conference in January 2018 and settings had been keen to access support to equip practitioners to develop practice in this area. The project would draw on best practice across EY settings and schools and would be focused on early identification of vulnerable children and supporting them to develop skills to avoid dangerous situations.

 

In relation to expenditure, Ms Gates said that the reserve amount allocated to Early Years by the Forum would cover part of the two projects and all the cost of the Development Grant (for more details, please see section four of the report (page 63 of the Agenda pack)).

 

Members of the Forum enquired how the outcomes of the Superheroes project would be measured and Ms Gates explained that predicting the impact of EY interventions was challenging. She suggested that effectiveness would be measured by assessing children’s attributes and understanding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Outturn 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 135 KB

The report sets out the final Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) outturn against the budget set for 2017/18, and provides detail on the overall £1.8 million underspend.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Andrew Ward introduced this report which set out the final Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) outturn against the budget set for 2017/18 and provided detail on the overall £1.8 million underspend. He informed Members that the 2017/18 Statement of Accounts had been submitted to the Council’s external auditor and was expected to be finalised and approved by the statutory deadline (31 July 2018).

 

Mr Ward informed the Forum that the underspend had been caused by an underspend on school growth and rising rolls within the schools block (£2.1 million) and this was despite a £1 million reduction in the budget in 2017/18. Furthermore, there was also an underspend in the Early Years block, largely due to an underspend on nursery provision for three and four year olds in maintained schools and a planned underspend on central budgets. In contrast, the High Needs block had overspent in 2017/18 by £1.6 million, primarily due to overspends on top-up funding to mainstream settings, and a higher amount of recoupment for High Needs post-16 than anticipated. There had been an underspend of £0.3 million on High Needs recruitment which had not been predicted.

 

Members heard that the DSG underspend of £1.8 million would be added to existing reserve of £6 million, so that reserves would total £7.8 million as at the start of 2017/18. Mr Ward reminded the Forum that it had been approved to use £2.5 million for allocation in the funding formula in 2018/19 and 2019/20. An additional £2 million reserves would be retained as a contingency against cost pressures and potential funding reductions within the High Needs block and the Early Years block.

 

Dena Aly directed Members’ attention to Appendix B (page 45 of the Agenda pack) which contained a breakdown of individual balances by school. The overall balances had decreased by £2.7 million and although this was the second year in which balances had decreased, Ms Aly said that it was not possible at present to identify a pattern. Six primary schools had finished the year in deficit and 13 had small balances (less than 8%), while most special schools and Pupil Referral Units had increased their balances. Improvement projects and other planned activities had been the main reasons for spending funds and most schools had been able to manage pressures without deviating from their balances significantly. In terms of future steps, Ms Aly noted that most schools were likely to have taken actions to address the drops in their balances and schools in deficit would be required to set balanced budgets.

 

A Member of the Forum enquired whether the Local Authority received information on the balances of academies and Mr Ward explained that their accounts were published and it was possible to look at their net current assets, but this would not provide an easy comparison. In a similar way, examining the accounts of an academy school would not be informative when these were part of larger Multi Academy Trusts.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The contents of the Dedicated Schools Grant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Outlook Report pdf icon PDF 146 KB

The report considers the issues Schools Forum will face when setting the 2019/20 Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), known as the ‘Schools Budget’. It takes into account what was previously announced in the summer of 2017 regarding 2019/20 DSG funding, and the current financial position, but is written prior to the publication of the detailed operational guidance for that year.

 

Minutes:

Andrew Ward introduced this report which outlined the issues the Schools Forum would face when setting the 2019/20 Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), also known as the ‘Schools Budget’. Mr Ward said that there was not much information on the national funding formula available and High Needs and the Early Years Task Groups would continue to meet to set a balanced budget for 2019/20. Mr Ward highlighted that the predicted funding gap was £1.4 million and noted that as it was not sustainable to continue using reserves and reallocate underspending. There was a risk that school allocations would have to be reduced in cash terms in future years in order to balance the budget. Additional information about planning the budget would be available following the Teacher Pay announcement and once data from the October 2018 census became available.

 

Mr Ward directed Members’ attention to section six of the report (page 53 of the Agenda pack) which focused on the mainstream funding formula. He said that the primary to secondary funding ratio was in line with the national funding formula at 1:1.28.  The mix of additional need funding factors and school funding factors had not changed in recent years and was not an exact match for the national funding formula. However, changing it would require a consultation with all schools which would have to be built into the budget timetable. Therefore, it could be more beneficial to adjust the pupil funding factor allocations proportionally as this could be done in consultation with Schools Forum rather than with all schools.

 

Mr Ward emphasised that the DSG budget was set by the Council in consultation with Schools Forum as per the timetable set out in Table 3 (page 55 of the Agenda pack).

 

A Member of the Forum noted that the growth fund had declined and enquired whether unused funding should be shifted to falling rolls funding. They also commented that the number of primary students was falling which had caused a capacity issue for schools that had expanded and recommended at looking at how this problem had been tackled by other local authorities.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The contents of the Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Outlook – 2019/20 report, be noted;

 

(ii)          That the High Needs Task Group would continue to meet in 2018/19 and would recommend  a balanced High Needs budget for 2019/20;

 

(iii)         That the Early Years Task Group would continue to meet in 2018/19 and would recommend  a balanced Early Years block budget for 2019/20; and

 

(iv)         Members of the Schools Forum to send their feedback, comments and suggestions regarding falling rolls funding to Brian Grady and Andrew Ward.

 

Andy Prindiville and Sylvie Libson left the meeting at 7:55 pm.

11.

High Needs Task and Finish Group Report pdf icon PDF 85 KB

The report provides an update to the Schools Forum on the work of the High Needs Task and Finish Group comprised of forum members and advised by officers from both the Finance and Inclusion services.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Dena Aly presented the report which provided an update on the work of the High Needs Task Group. The Group last met in May 2018 and had continued its work on the development projects funded by the reserves earmarked for High Needs. The Inclusion Support Panel would allocate funds of up to £250,000 to support schools in improving their capacity to provide for pupils with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Members heard that the Head of Inclusion had written to all schools to advise them on how to bid for the available funding and allocations would be agreed and confirmed in the autumn term. Furthermore, a draft specification for the post-19 provision had been presented to the Group. It had been agreed that an independent consultant would be recruited in the autumn term and an update would be presented at the Schools Forum meeting in December 2018. The Group had also reviewed the Low Cost High Incidence funding support model which was aimed at supporting schools with higher proportions of SEND students. It had been agreed by the High Needs Block Task Group to replace the old arrangements under which the SEND register had been used as a proxy indicator to allocate funds to those schools which had 4% or more of pupils on the register. This model had allocated £30,000 in 2017/18, using it in 2018/19 would result in zero allocations. Therefore, the Group decided to replace it with the model outlined in Appendix A (page 59 of the Agenda pack). Ms Aly highlighted that the new arrangements would support approximately 50% of the schools with highest proportion of SEND students at a cost of £120,000.  

 

Ms Aly informed Members of the Schools Forum that approximately £500,000 of the reserves earmarked for High Needs was still available for further development projects or to mitigate overspends.

 

The Schools Forum welcomed the report, however, a member enquired why the proposal to replace the Low Cost High Incidence funding support model had not been voted on and whether schools which had reserves would be eligible to receive funding. Andrew Ward explained that the Inclusion Support Panel and the post-19 provision had been presented previously to the Forum and had been approved, hence, this paper was a progress report which did not contain any new proposals. As far as changing the Low Cost High Incidence model was concerned, the increase of the funding available to £120,000 would be funded from the existing budget and that the Task and Finish Group had been delegated to confirm the allocation details.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)                    The contents of the High Needs Task and Finish Group Report, be noted; and

 

(ii)                  The High Needs Task Group be retained to monitor the post-19 High Needs review and recommend a 2019/20 High Needs block budget.

 

12.

Any Other Urgent Business

Minutes:

None.