Agenda and minutes

Venue: This will be held as a virtual online meeting

Contact: James Kinsella, Governance Officer  Email:  James.Kinsella@brent.gov.uk; Tel: 0208 937 2063

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Membership

Minutes:

Tim Jones (Governor) and Councillor Agha (Cabinet Member for Schools, Employment & Skills)

 

James Kinsella (Governance Manager, Brent Council) informed the Forum that the filling of current vacancies in membership of the Forum had needed to be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  The process had been scheduled to recommence at the start of the summer term, with a further progress update to be provided for the next meeting.

 

Introduction and welcome

 

The Chair welcomed everyone to the School’s Forum and advised them of the guidance for participating in virtual meetings.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None.

3.

Deputations (if Any)

Minutes:

None.

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 158 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on Wednesday 26 February 2020 as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that subject to the following amendment, the minutes of the previous meeting held on 26 February 2020 be approved as an accurate record:

 

Min 9. Updated 2020/21 Schools Funding Formula – It was noted that the discussion at the February meeting had involved agreement to the establishment of a Working Group by the Forum to review the issue of split site funding allocation as part of the decision to recommend the mainstream funding formula for 2020/21.

 

It was therefore agreed that the minutes should reflect this decision with the establishment of the Working Group to be progressed in conjunction with the consideration of the Split Site Funding review due to be considered later during the meeting. (Action: Brian Grady)

5.

Actions arising

To consider any actions arising from previous meetings.

Minutes:

Action 59: DSG Deficit – It was agreed that Olufunke Adediran would prepare the draft letter requested on behalf of the Schools Forum to be signed by the Chair, in order to highlight the issues and concerns raised in relation to the continued pressure on DSG funding and deficit recovery plans announced by the DfE with the relevant bodies. (Action 59: Olufunke Adediran)

 

Action 60: Early Years Funding Formula – Setting-by-setting information: The Forum noted this had been included as part of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Outturn report to be considered later on the agenda.

 

Action 61- Establishment of Task & Finish Group to review the pressure in relation to ECHP and the High Needs DSG Block: The Forum noted that an update was due to be provided on this issue as part of DSG Financial Outturn report.

6.

Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Outturn 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 102 KB

This report sets out the final Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) outturn against the budget set for 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Schools Forum received a report from Olufunke Adediran, (Head of Finance)  detailing the final Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) outturn against the budget set for 2019/20 along with the breakdown of the overall £4.9 m deficit.

 

After reviewing the report, discussions that followed highlighted the following key points:

 

Ø   At the end of the financial year 2019/20, the DSG deficit totalled £4.9 m, after the use of planned DSG reserves of £2.5m.  The main reason identified was the £3.8m deficit on the High Need block mainly due to rising demand and the growth seen in Education Health and Care Plan (EHCPs).

 

Ø   The School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations, made clear the requirement for any DSG deficit balance to be held within the Local Authority’s overall DSG and be carried forward to recover from future years funding and or, recovery plans agreed with the Department for Education (DfE).  This would require the deficit to be recovered from future years funding and/or through recovery plans agreed with the DfE.

 

Ø   The breakdown of the detailed final DSG outturn position had been detailed within Table 1 and Appendix A of the report.

 

Ø   The detailed summary provided on the outturn position in relation to the Schools Block (as detailed in section 5 of the report).  Of the £230million Schools Block Budget, £111million had been allocated directly to Brent maintained schools, £115million had been recouped and allocated directly to academies, leaving a remaining expenditure budget of £4million to fund centrally retained items.

 

Ø   The schools Block was in deficit of £1million, which was mainly due to a £1.4million pressure against the growth budgets, which covered the cost of the Choice and Fair Access panel (CAFAI) arrangements for new arrivals to Brent schools, as well as the impact of rising rolls in schools. The growth in pupil numbers had mainly been within the secondary school phase resulting in the budget for 2020-21 having been increased in line with forecast secondary growth, following a consultation with schools and as agreed by the Schools Forum.  Pressure had also been offset by underspends in other school block funded budgets.

 

Ø   The detailed summary provided on the outturn position in relation to the High Needs Block (as detailed in section 6 of the report).  The High Needs Block budget was £58.7million and the allocation included a contribution of £1.1million (or 0.5%) of Schools Block income and £1.5million of DSG reserves. Of this allocation, £7.1million was recouped by the DfE to allocate directly to academies.  As detailed within the summary, the main cost driver behind the deficit of £3.8million had been being the significant growth in the number of children with Education Health and Care Plan (EHCPs).  The High Needs expenditure exceeded the allocated block income from the DfE by £6.7million with the growth identified in EHCPs a nationwide challenge, also recognised by Ofsted.  The Forum were informed that Brent had seen a 35% EHCP growth over the last 5 years. At the end of 2018/19, there were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Update on Split Site Funding Allocations & Early Years Deprivation Funding Adjustments pdf icon PDF 114 KB

This report provides further information to the Schools Forum on the early years funding adjustment applied in 2020-21 to ensure no provider rate drops by more than 1.5% compared to 2019/20.  The report also demonstrates how the criteria for split site funding has been met for the schools in receipt of this funding for 2020-21, and illustrate the impact of introducing a cap on this funding.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Schools Forum received an update report from Dena Aly, (Senior Finance Analyst) that provided further information on the Early Years funding adjustment, which had been applied in 2020-21 to ensure no provider rate dropped by more than 1.5% compared to 2019/20.

 

The report also demonstrated how the criteria for Split Site funding had been met for the schools in receipt of this funding for 2020-21 and illustrated the impact any potential introduction of a cap may have.

 

After reviewing the report, discussions that followed highlighted the following key points:

 

Ø   The local Early Years Funding Formula had been set for 2020/21 with the endorsement of Schools Forum in February 2020. This included increases to the funding rates allocated to Brent for 2-year-old and three and four year-old provision. The Local Authority continued to retain 5% of the total allocated to Brent, with 95% allocated to providers.

 

Ø   The base funding rate to providers made up 90% of allocated funding. The deprivation factor allocated the remaining 10%, based on the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), which was updated in 2019. Prior to this, the index had not been updated since 2015, meaning that individual provider rates would have changed more significantly compared to recent years. Therefore, for 2019-20, the deprivation allocation had been adjusted to ensure that no provider rate dropped by more than 1.5% compared to 2019/20, while ensuring that 10% of the rate was still allocated for deprivation overall. This adjustment had been for one-year period only.

 

Ø   The Forum noted the summary impact of the Early Years minimum funding adjustment, as detailed in section 3.3 of the report, with the Forum keen to review the data available on a setting by setting basis (including what it would be possible to provide in relation to PVIs) in order to assist in supporting the ongoing monitoring and strategic planning process in relation to application of the formula.

 

Ø   In relation to the Early Years update, concern was also expressed in relation to the reconfiguration of the length of term (14 to 13 weeks) and lack of consultation with early years providers, given the significant impact on the sector.  In response, Brian Grady confirmed that he was aware of the concerns raised and apologised for the delay in the issue being responded to, which he advised he would raise with the Early Years Team.

 

The discussion then moved on to consider the update in relation to split site funding, with the following issues raised:

 

Ø   As clarification, the Forum was advised that they were not being asked to consider the introduction of any cap at the meeting, with the report providing an opportunity to explore the potential options available in advance of any of final consultation being undertaken.

 

Ø   The Forum noted there were currently four schools receiving full Split Site funding and one school in receipt of partial Split Site funding with the current criteria and funding allocation in Brent having been agreed in 2016.  The current formula  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Any Other Urgent Business

Minutes:

The Chair advised that he intended to use the remainder of the meeting to provide members with the opportunity to reflect on their experiences during the Coronavirus pandemic and the following key points were noted:

 

Ø   The significant impact of the pandemic on the early years PVI sector was highlighted both in terms of the operational and financial difficulties experienced, and also in relation to the impact on staffing.  Whilst many providers had continued to operate, the challenges and stress had been significant, which had not been assisted by changes in Government guidance and the support available with concerns raised that the DfE had not considered the full impact and immediate intervention and support required.  The ongoing financial pressures experienced as a result of loss of fees and additional expenditure in relation to PPE & cleaning products were also highlighted.

 

Ø   Brian Grady recognised the significant concerns raised and challenges identified across the early years sector as a result of the pandemic.  Highlighting his support for the way the sector had continued to deliver in such challenging times, he remained keen to explore how the local authority could continue to provide appropriate support, recognising the flexible nature of the response to date.

 

Ø   It was also noted that many Primary and Secondary schools had been working in collaboration with the Local Authority, with appreciation expressed for the support received, including the provision of PPE.  In terms of ongoing consultation and engagement with schools a request was made for the timing of meetings to be scheduled outside of the school day.

 

The Chair thanked all those who had contributed for their comments and in response to the specific concerns raised in relation to the ongoing impact on the early years sector it was RESOLVED that Brain Grady liaise with Paul Russell outside of meeting on issues identified regarding the impact and support available to Early Years PVI providers in response to the pandemic and how to ensure the Early Years Providers Consultation Group could best ensure they were fully engaged in ensuring access to the necessary support and information. (Action 67: Brian Grady)

 

As no further issues were raised, the Chair thanked the Schools Forum for their participation.

9.

Dates of Future Meetings

The Forum is asked to note the schedule of dates for future meetings during 2020/2021, which are as follows:

 

Date of the next meeting:            Wednesday 4 November 2020 at 6pm

 

Date of Future Meetings for 2020/21:

 

                                                           Wednesday 9 December 2020 at 6pm (additional date, if required)

                                                           Wednesday 20 January 2021 at 6pm

                                                           Wednesday 24 February 2021 at 6pm

 

At this stage, all of these meetings are scheduled to be held as online virtual meetings.

Minutes:

RESOLVED to approve the schedule of dates for future meetings during 2020/21 as follows:

 

Wednesday 4 November 2020 at 6pm

Wednesday 9 December 2020 at 6pm (additional date if required)

Wednesday 20 January 2021 at 6pm

Wednesday 24 February 2021 at 6pm

 

All of the above meetings to be undertaken as online virtual meetings.