Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Kunwar Khan, Governance Officer  Email:  kunwar.khan@brent.gov.uk; Tel: 0208 937 1348

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Membership

Minutes:

Present:

 

Governors                            Mike Heiser (Chair)

                                                Martin Beard            

                                                Geraldine Chadwick

                                                Helga Gladbaum

                                                Michael Maurice

                                                Titilola McDowell

                                                Raphael Moss

                                                Narinder Nathan                 

 

Head Teachers                   Gill Bal

                                                Martine Clark

                                                Michelle Ginty

                                                Melissa Loosemore

Andy Prindiville

                                                Indira Warwick (substitute)

 

Lead Member                      Councillor Agha

 

Apologies:

 

Governors                           Lesley Benson

                                                Jo Jhally

                                                Tim Jones                                                    

           

Head Teachers                  Jayne Jardine,

                                               

Special                                 Kay Charles

 

Early Years PVI                   Sylvie Libson

                                                Paul Russell

 

Trade Union                         John Roche

 

Lead Member                     Councillor Agha

 

           

It was noted that there were three vacancies on the Forum - a Nursery Governor; an Academy Primary Head Teacher; and a Maintained Secondary Head Teacher.

 

It was further noted that Sylvie Libson, Early Years PVI Representative, had emailed to put herself forward for the vacant position of the Academy Governor. Andrew Ward, Head of Finance - Children & Young People, undertook to check the suitability/nomination criteria and report back. (Action: Andrew Ward).

 

The Governance Officer informed the Schools Forum that the Council would be publicising the vacant posts inviting all interested people who meet the criteria to apply for available vacancies. (Action: Kunwar Khan)

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None.

3.

Deputations (if Any)

Minutes:

None.

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 154 KB

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the previous meeting, held on 16 January 2019, be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

5.

Actions arising pdf icon PDF 119 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.

 

In reviewing the action points, it was noted that:

 

·         Updates on Actions 28 to 40 were provided as planned and the actions were now completed.

 

·         Action 41 (Agenda Item 6 - DSG Support for Central Education Services 2019/20 from 12 December 2019 meeting - Provide additional information on the way other local authorities used their DSG central support budgets, including the rationale behind allocations and spending in relation to categories outlined in Appendix 1) was being completed. (Action: Andrew Ward)

 

·         Action 45 (Agenda Item 7 - DSG Schools Budget Setting from 16 January 2018 meeting - Draft a letter on behalf of the Chair to the DfE addressing the issues outlined in resolution (vii) of Minute Item 7) was outstanding and needed to be sent as soon as possible. (Action: Andrew Ward)

6.

Update report on projects commissioned from Brent Schools Partnership

6a

Raising the Achievement of Boys of Black Caribbean Heritage in Brent Schools pdf icon PDF 157 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Gail Tolley, Strategic Director Children and Young People, Brent Council, introduced the report to provide an update from the Brent Schools Partnership (BSP) on the actions taken and progress made since September 2018, following the launch of the Schools Forum funded “Raising the Achievement of boys of Black Caribbean heritage in Brent Schools.

 

It was noted that BSP were commissioned to undertake this task and this report was in line with the recommendation in the Schools Forum report of the 20 June 2018, which was that Schools Forum receives six monthly reports on the use and deployment of the allocated spend and the resulting impact on securing improvement for this group of pupils. After a brief introduction, Gail Tolley, handed over to Farzana Aldridge (BSP Strategic Director) for detailed update and to respond to any questions.

 

In summarising the key points, Farzana Aldridge, highlighted the following key points which were noted by the Forum:

 

·         The Forum meeting on the 20 June 2018, unanimously agreed to allocate a total budget of £564,750 over a two-year period to the BSP to deliver the proposals set out in the report. The funding allocated for the two-year period was broken down as £359,500 (2018-19) and £205,250 (2019-20);

 

·         Section 3.7, featured what the funding was approved to deliver:

 

a)    A supported rigorous and robust analysis of the performance of pupils of Black Caribbean heritage, and the effectiveness of key aspects of schools’ practice to ensure pupils of Black Caribbean heritage achieve well.

b)    The designation of a Black Caribbean Achievement (BCA) Champion in every school in Brent for a period of two years.

c)    A programme of half termly training for the BCA Champion to ensure high level of skills and competencies to deliver the role effectively leading to real impact on outcomes in schools.

d)    A programme of subsidised training for groups of staff and for school governors.

e)    The development of online resources for parents on strengthening their role and contribution to improving their children’s learning and progress, and reducing the likelihood of their children being excluded from schools. This would provide links to opportunities for accreditation, face-to-face advice and workshops.

f)     Leadership and management of the overall BCA strategy, including regular collation and analysis of the attainment and progress of pupils of Black Caribbean heritage.

 

·         The progress and actions together with the use and deployment of the allocated funds as detailed in section 4 on pages 17-20 of the report, whereas, the early impact assessment and areas of concerns were detailed in section 5 on pages 20-21; and

 

·         A separate monitoring and tracking system, in addition to regular reporting to the Schools Forum, was in place and details were shared with the relevant Boards for transparency and accountability.

 

In considering the report, the Forum posed and noted the following questions and comments:

 

·         The initiative was welcomed. It was queried whether there was any in-depth analysis in relation to good quality Early Years (EY) support and opportunities? In response, it was noted that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6a

6b

Strengthening Leadership Development and Succession Planning in Brent Schools pdf icon PDF 201 KB

Minutes:

Gail Tolley, Strategic Director Children and Young People, Brent Council, briefly introduced the report. She handed over to Farzana Aldridge (BSP Strategic Director) for details and to respond to any questions.

 

Farzana Aldridge (BSP Strategic Director) underlined the following key points during her update:

 

·         The report provided an update from the Brent Schools Partnership (BSP) on the actions taken and progress made since September 2018 following the launch of the Schools Forum funded “Leadership Development and Succession Planning in Brent Schools and the relevant sections in the report provided the details;

 

·         A number of schools put forward multiple applications for places on the programmes. Applications were considered on the basis of the quality of applications rather than coverage of schools in Brent. However, all schools with applicants for a place on one of the programmes were successful in securing at least one place;

 

·         In addition to Brent head-teachers developing and delivering the targeted leadership programmes, two external organisations had been contracted to secure the necessary capacity and wider expertise to deliver programmes of the highest quality, and to cover each of the agreed strands of the programmes. The strands consisted of leadership development sessions, personalised coaching, shadowing/placements and a residential experience;

 

·         There was positive feedback, breakdown of expenditure was provided and there was more movement within some headings; and

 

·         Appendix 1 - Professional commitment agreement between successful candidates with a place on one of the LD programmes and their school - highlighted the commitment to remain in Brent, it was important that Brent (schools and parent/residents) benefited from this.

 

In considering the report, the following comments and queries were noted:

 

·         This was an impressive report, pleased to see Brent investing in leadership - a robust way to evaluate must continue to be kept in mind;

 

·         The Leadership Charter was work in progress;

 

·         In response to a query about what percentage of schools were from outside the Brent Schools Partnership (BSP) schools and fair distribution of funds, it was noted that all state funded Head Teachers were invited - many non BSP schools were present - at least 4 non-BSP members were benefitting from the project including audit and CPD opportunities and the programme was completely open.

 

·         A follow up event was hosted for Jewish Head Teachers as the first one clashed with a Jewish religious day;

 

·         All the hard work being done behind the scene, including by volunteers was appreciated;

 

·         The Chair thanked the Schools Forum and Farzana Aldridge (BSP Strategic Director) for their comments and contributions.

 

RESOLVED that Schools Forum notes the report, and as appropriate seeks any further information from the BSP Strategic Director and would receive the next report in six months’ time.

 

(Action: Brain Grady and Farzana Aldridge)

7.

2018/19 Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Schools Budget Outturn and Schools Balances pdf icon PDF 107 KB

This report sets out the final DSG outturn against the budget set for 2018/19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Andrew Ward - Head of Finance, Children & Young People, Brent Council - introduced the report which set out the final DSG outturn against the agreed budget for 2018/19, and provided detail on the overall £1.4 million overspend.

 

Dena Aly, Senior Finance Analyst, Brent Council, informed the Forum that the maintained school balances have increased by £0.9 million from £15.8 million during 2017/18 to £16.7 million during 2018/19 (Appendix B). It was noted that maintained schools received £1.2m of the £2.5m reserve funding added to the funding formula for 2018/19.

 

In considering the report, the following key points and comments were noted:

 

·         The Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) budgets overspent by a total of £1.4 million in 2018/19. This was primarily due to a £3.1m overspend on the High Needs block which was partially offset by underspends in the Schools’ block, Early Years block and Central Services block. The High Needs block experienced demand led overspends on top-up funding to mainstream settings, residential and independent settings, and post-16 providers;

 

·         The underspend in the Early Years block was due to an underspend on nursery provision for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, and a planned underspend on central budgets. The Schools block underspend was due to an underspend on the growth budgets. In addition to the £1.4m overspend, there was planned use of DSG reserves totalling £4.1m in 2018/19. Therefore, in 2018/19, the DSG reserves balance reduced from £7.8m to £2.4m as highlighted in section 10.3, table 3 on page 47;

 

·         The schools funding formula for 2018/19 was set in December 2017 ahead of the final DSG budget being confirmed in February 2018. The DfE recoup formula and high needs place funding from the DSG to allocate this directly to academies and free schools. The total gross 2018/19 DSG allocation for Brent was £312m, of which £118m was recouped/deducted by the DfE (Department for Education);

 

·         The Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) expenditure budget totals £315m which was supported by the £312m of grant income and £3m of DSG reserves released in consultation with Schools Forum as one off funding;

 

·         The £315m represents the total cost of funding education to early years and school age pupils in the borough before recoupment of funds by the Department for Education to fund the borough’s Academies. In addition, £3.5m of sixth form funding was received and passed onto maintained schools which have sixth form provision - Appendix A provided the budget details;

 

·         Overall, the DSG overspent by £1.4m but within this there were large variations on the High Needs block and the pupil growth fund. The overspend could be met from DSG reserves in 2018/19, but the growing cost of High Needs provision was a serious concern for future years, and might deplete reserves by the end of 2019/20;

 

·         In relation to Schools Expenditure, sections 5, 6 and 7 of the report provided further details;

 

·         With regard to pupil growth, there were compensating underspends against the growth contingency budgets. These budgets were prudently set aside for localised primary  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

2019/20 Dedicated Schools Grant Schools Budget Outlook pdf icon PDF 103 KB

This report sets out the budgetary issue that Schools Forum will need to consider when planning the DSG budgets for future years.

Minutes:

Andrew Ward - Head of Finance, Children & Young People, Brent Council - introduced the report setting out the budgetary issues that Schools Forum would need to consider when planning the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) budgets for future years.

 

In considering the report, the following key points and comments were noted:

 

He highlighted that a check on the funding formula showed that there was an error in adjusting pupil numbers for pupil growth from September to March. For example, where an additional class was expected in a school, 30 pupils were added to the Number on Roll, however as the growth would only be for the 7 months from September to March, the 30 pupils needed to be scaled back by 7/12ths. This only applied to specific schools where we were aware of planned growth. It had a minor knock on affect for other schools, as the adjustments meant that the per pupil funding could be increased slightly, so that the total allocated via the funding formula remained at £226.88m;

 

The Forum noted that the Table 1 on page 50 of the report illustrated the details of the funding formula whereas sections 4.3 and 4.4 dealt with the funding for the two innovative School Forum approved projects for raising attainment for boys of Black Caribbean heritage and strengthening school leadership and succession planning, into the proscribed national funding framework;

 

In response to a query about the potential non-payment by Academies, Andrew Ward stated that there was less risk and although it was possible, there was no indication and the Council was working constructively with schools with an arbiter process in place for such a scenario; and

 

In relation to unfunded cost pressures, such as increased pension contributions for support staff, it was noted that the government was funding the teachers’ pay rise using a separate grant for 2019/20, funding the increase in the employer’s contribution to the Teacher’s Pension scheme, and it was expected this would be also be a separate grant to the DSG. For 2020/21 it may be the case that these grants were mainstreamed into the DSG, and if so an equitable way of adding these sums to the local funding formula would need to be agreed.

 

It might be useful to look at the Government’s Schools Resource Management links that provide very useful and resources at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/school-resource-management-checklist;

 

In response to queries about the previously agreed split-side funding information, it was noted that the Forum was focussing on strategic leadership and issues but the current methodology could be looked at in budget management papers; (Action: Andrew Ward)

 

RESOLVED that Schools Forum approved the funding arrangements for the projects commissioned from the Brent Schools Partnership (BSP) in 2019/20 and 2020/21.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.

Update on take-up of the extended 30 hours entitlement and wider early years entitlements in Brent pdf icon PDF 127 KB

This report provides an update on take-up of the free entitlement to 30 hours places in Brent as well as take up of the 2 year entitlement and the universal entitlement to 15 hours free early education for all 3 and 4 year olds.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Brain Grady, Operational Director, Safeguarding, Partnerships and Strategy

Children and Young People, Brent Council, introduced the report setting out the statutory entitlement to 30 hours of free childcare and early education for all 3 and 4 year olds from working families took effect on 1 September 2017 and 30 hour places that had been delivered in the borough alongside the existing free early education entitlements for eligible 2 year olds and all 3 and 4 year olds. The report provided an update on take-up of the free entitlement to 30 hours places in Brent as well as take-up of the 2-year entitlement and the universal entitlement to 15 hours free early education for all 3 and 4 year olds.

 

In considering the report, the following comments and points were noted:

 

·         In relation to challenges about the take-up, it was noted that the paper was discussed by the Task and Finish Groupon 27 March 2019 where the experience of offering 30 hours places was discussed, with some members of the group reporting that delivery of these places was a struggle. It was acknowledged however that there were also other providers in the borough who had advised that delivering 30 hour places had been a success and helped their sustainability significantly. It was also noted that while take-up of the two-year entitlement and the universal 3 and 4-year entitlement were still below London and national averages, take-up of the 30-hour entitlement had been consistently high in Brent since the roll-out in September 2017. Appendix 4 provided the breakdown of take up by ward for 2017-2018 academic year;

 

·         Information about 2-year olds should also be considered if available;

 

·         In relation to a comment about more marketing and awareness could be helpful to increase the take-up, it was noted that take up for the 30 hour entitlements had been consistently strong in the borough with take up in all terms, with the exception of one, exceeding the outer London average. Early difficulties with access to the HRMC online application system have largely been addressed and the Local Authority had received no recent feedback from families indicating that they had experienced problems with using this system. Promotion for the 30 hour free entitlements was ongoing and progress against take up targets for this entitlement was positive. Notwithstanding this, anecdotal feedback from parents indicated that some were choosing not to take up their full entitlement. Parents report that this was for a variety of reasons including a desire to spend time at home with children and a feeling that children were of an age when long hours at a nursery might not be appropriate. The Borough also received a congratulatory letter from the relevant Minister about the local take-up rate;

 

·         Innovative work was taking place to engage employers in the childcare agenda and this had resulted in a number of Brent employers making changes to their recruitment practices and provision of information to their employees to enable them to access childcare to meet their needs.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Scheme for Financing Schools and Financial Regulations pdf icon PDF 88 KB

This report details changes to the Scheme for Financing Schools and the School Financial Regulations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Dena Aly, Senior Finance Analyst, Brent Council, presented the report detailing the changes to be implemented to the Scheme for Financing Schools and the Schools Financial Regulations, and would become effective from 1 April 2019.

 

During the discussion, the following points were noted:

 

·         All changes applied in the revision were in line with the February 2019 Department for Education Scheme for Financing Schools - Statutory Guidance issued to local authorities, changes to the Local Authority’s own regulations, the EU Public Procurement Regulations and all the relevant regulations.

 

·         The 2019-20 Scheme for Financing Schools was attached as Appendix A, with the summary of changes being detailed in Appendix B. The 2019-20 Schools Financial Regulation was attached as Appendix C, with the summary of changes being detailed in Appendix D. The changes would become effective immediately after consultation with Schools Forum.

 

·         A particular attention of the Forum was drawn to Appendix B, section 3.6 on page 125 about the changes to the use of credit cards by schools which stated ‘if the schools opt to use credit cards or charge cards, no

interest should be incurred by the school, with balances fully cleared on a monthly basis’.

 

·         In addition, a reference was made to the High Value Contract classified between £2m to £5m. In relation to contractual value, the Chair requested that upper limit to the value be added; (Action: Andrew Ward)

 

RESOLVED that the Schools Forum approved the amendments to the Scheme for Financing Schools 2019-20.

11.

Any Other Urgent Business

Minutes:

None.