Agenda item

Early Years National Funding Formula - Year 2 2018/19

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Minutes:

Sue Gates introduced the report which provided an update on the Brent’s Single Early Years Funding Formula which had been agreed at the January 2017 Schools Forum meeting. Ms Gates said that the base rate funding rate remained £4.46 which had been made up 90% of allocated funding, with the remaining 10% covered by the deprivation factor. Funding full time nursery places for children meeting free school meals criteria at some schools had been approved until March 2018 and further arrangements had been put in place until the 2018 summer term. However, as no further disapplication arrangements were permitted by the Department for Education (DfE), reserve funding had been identified to cover the gap. Ms Gates highlighted that it had been decided to set the percentage of early years funding retained centrally by the local authority at 5% which was the maximum that could be retained. In addition, supplementary funding from the DfE for the nursery schools had been reduced and the initial allocation for additional resources for maintained nursery schools for 2018/19 was £797,000. Ms Gates said that the Early Years Task and Finish Group met to discuss options for the distribution of the amount no longer used to fund full time nursery places using Free School Meals criteria (section 3.7 of the report on page 13 to the Supplementary Agenda pack) and informed the Forum that option 3 was preferred.

 

Ms Gates commented that the 30 hour take up in Brent was good and the Borough ranked 15th in London. However, a primary governor challenged this statement as the 839 children who had taken up places constituted only 54% of the DfE’s estimated number of eligible children and accounted for 85% of the places planned for in the budget. In response, Ms Gates explained that the take up was 85% because some children did not meet the criteria until a certain time in the year. As this was this first year in which the entitlement was available, parents who were working might have made alternative arrangements – for example, they could rely on family care and the proportion of such families was higher in Brent compared to other boroughs. Furthermore, Ms Gates said that as parents’ circumstances changed, this impacted their eligibility so it would not be possible to reach 100% take up.

 

Members of the Forum discussed that there had been difficulties with the online system, including problems with eligibility codes, and these had made some parents give up. A Member of the Forum referred to an article, according to which, 40% of private nurseries were not taking up the 30-hour offer because it did not fully fund their expenses which meant that nurseries were either working at a loss (the funding was less than what providers charged for that additional time) or had to reduce their opening hours. Moreover, the change in the regulations for receiving the 30-hour entitlement meant that the most vulnerable children who used to qualify under the old criteria based on receiving free school meals could not benefit. It was noted that unemployed parents who most needed the support could not qualify for it and this could have a negative impact on their children as they received less hours. Ms Gates said that in order to address the concern around the lack of alternative funding for vulnerable children, the Early Years Task and Finish Group had considered options and it proposed that funds of approximately £400,000 be added to the budget for the Early Years Under 5’s specialist nursery panel. She explained that allocating this funding to the panel rather than adding it to the hourly rate meant that it continued to be targeted at vulnerable children who met different criteria and referred to Table 2 (page 15 to the Supplementary Agenda pack) which illustrated the proposed total funding for distribution.

 

An academy headteacher asked if there was a correlation between the number of children in a nursery and it offering the 30 hours childcare entitlement. Ms Gates responded that she would not be able to confirm such a trend until a full evaluation was carried out, but she said that such a correlation was likely to occur.

 

A nursery headteacher welcomed the recommendation of the Early Years Task and Finish Group and said that it could be used to address the needs of children with (mild) Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who did not qualify for additional funding and, therefore, remained vulnerable. Furthermore, nursery provision often made substantial difference later at school so it was important to assess the needs of the child at an appropriate time so they were given the best start in life. 

 

A Member of the Forum enquired about the consequences of receiving a large number of applications that met the Band 3 criteria. Andrew Ward explained that this would cause pressure on the High Needs block which would have to be monitored throughout the year. Mr Ward noted that the Early Years funding formula already allocated the maximum percentage (10%) for deprivation and explained that it would not be possible to take a more flexible approach towards this matter.

 

The Schools Forum agreed that Brent Council would provide a briefing note at the June Forum on the early years services provided by the Council as part of a report on the Early Years Block outturn.

 

RESOLVED:

(i)            The contents of the Early Years National Funding Formula – Year 2 report, be noted;

 

(ii)          The following changes to the Brent Early Years Funding Formula be noted:

·         The decision to set the percentage of early years funding retained centrally by the local authority at 5%.

·         Supplementary funding from the DfE for the nursery schools had been reduced as the initial allocation for additional resources for maintained nursery schools for 2018/19 was £797k

 

(iii)         The following recommendation of the Early Years Task and Finish Group be accepted:

·         The amount no longer used to fund full time nursery places using Free School Meals criteria be allocated to the Under 5’s Nursery Panel and that both PVI and maintained providers could apply for this.

 

(iv)         A briefing note on the early years services provided by the Council as part of a report on the Early Years Block outturn, be provided to members.

 

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