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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Kennet Room - County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN. View directions

Contact: Lisa Pullin, Tel 01225 713015 or email  committee@wiltshire.gov.uk  Email: lisa.pullin@wiltshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

13.

Apologies and Changes of Membership

To note any apologies and changes to the membership of the Forum.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from the following Forum members: Michelle Chilcott (Secondary Headteacher representative), Tracy Cornelius (Primary Headteacher representative), Jon Hamp (Secondary School Academy representative), Jen Jones (Post 16 provider – Observer), Giles Pugh (Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education representative), Neil Spurdell (Secondary Academy representative) and from Lindsay West (Primary Academy representative).

 

Apologies were also received from the following Wiltshire Council Officer –Helen Jones (Director – Commissioning)

 

The following changes to the membership of the Forum were noted:

 

Sam Churchill was substituting for Tracy Cornelius for this meeting only.

 

Sue Jiggens has recently stepped down as chair of Wiltshire Governors’ Association and Chair of Wylye Valley Primary School and has asked the WGA to find a replacement Primary School Governor Rep on Schools Forum.  The WGA will advise Schools Forum as to the replacement soon.

14.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

To approve as a correct record and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2019 (copy attached).

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 January 2019 were approved as a correct record.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Chairman sign the minutes of the meeting of Schools forum held on 17 January 2019.

15.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements from the Chair.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed all to the Forum and asked all others present to introduce themselves.

 

The Chairman made the following announcements:

 

Press attendance at meetings

 

The meeting is not being webcast today, however we are aware that this is a public meeting that anyone can attend.  The Chairman asked if any members of the press were present.  Julia Hiystek confirmed that she was the Local Democracy reporter for The Gazette and Herald and the Wiltshire Times.

 

Confidential Item for Agenda Item 11 – Dedicated Schools Budget – Budget Monitoring 2018-19

 

There is confidential information within an Appendix to share with the Forum at agenda item 11 at which point a request will be made for Forum members to agree to move to a Part II closed session part of the meeting to allow information to be shared and discussions to take place.

 

16.

Declaration of Interests

To note any declarations of interests.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

17.

Presentation/Consultation from ISOS

ISOS have been commissioned to lead on the review of the High Needs Block/SEND provision and will present to the Forum and lead a question and answer session.

Minutes:

Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills) reminded the Forum that the ISOS Partnership had been commissioned to lead a strategic review of support, services and provision for children and young people with high needs in Wiltshire. 

 

Helean introduced Ben Bryant and Karina Kulawik from the ISOS Partnership who were present to explain the following to the Forum:

 

1.          That the aims and proposed approach to the review are to

 

·        Build an evidence informed collective understanding of how effectively the local system supports young people with high needs – what is working well, challenges and pressures;

·        To engage a broad range of partners, build consensus and harness collective expertise to shape and implement solutions;

·        To work co-productively and iteratively to develop a shared strategic approach with clear, practical actions to take forward;

 

Initial work would be carried out to understand current context, analyse data and documents and scope out evidence gathering (during January to March 2019).  During April and May 2019 there would be broad engagement with key partners to gather feedback and evidence.  During June and July 2019 ISOS would be testing their findings and shaping recommendations and a future approach through co-production.

 

2.          The six broad themes that ISOS were planning to use to structure their discussions and evidence gathering are:

 

·       Co-production with parents/carers and young people

·       Partnerships working across education, health and care

·       Identification, assessment and access to support

·       Building inclusive capacity in mainstream schools and settings, and providing targeted support for inclusion

·       Developing responsive, effective local specialist provision

·       Preparation for adulthood

 

Together with an overarching theme about having effective and sustainable systems, processes, strategic clarity and governance for the system.

 

They then gave details of some of the key areas they proposed to explore under each of the six themes.  

 

3.          That they proposed to work with Schools Forum and colleagues across Wiltshire by undertaking four sets of evidence gathering activities:

 

·            Visits to a selection of settings, schools’ colleagues and other services;

·            Workshops with parents and carers

·            Engagements with young people

·            Two parallel online surveys.

 

During the latter part of the summer term ISOS were planning the following:

 

·       To share and test with a broad range of partners (professionals and parents/families) their key findings, through a series of workshop discussions;

·       Work iteratively with colleagues to develop solutions and recommendations; and

·       Work with partners to shape these into a final, accessible, evidence-informed report focused on practical actions required to put a new strategic approach into practice.

 

Ben asked the Forum’s views on their proposed approach, how the system works currently, future priorities and key questions to explore and the Forum responded as below:

 

·       It is the wish of the Forum for there not to be a continuing overspend on the high needs block year on year – would there be benchmarking carried out to see what is happening in other authorities?

 

·       The Forum would like reassurance that the current pressures are not going to carry on;

 

Ben responded that his view was that there are systemic issues across  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

Appendix 1 to Minutes - Presentation from ISOS Partnership

Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills) reminded the Forum that the ISOS Partnership had been commissioned to lead a strategic review of support, services and provision for children and young people with high needs in Wiltshire. 

 

Helean introduced Ben Bryant and Karina Kulawik from the ISOS Partnership who were present to explain the following to the Forum:

 

1.          That the aims and proposed approach to the review are to

 

·        Build an evidence informed collective understanding of how effectively the local system supports young people with high needs – what is working well, challenges and pressures;

·        To engage a broad range of partners, build consensus and harness collective expertise to shape and implement solutions;

·        To work co-productively and iteratively to develop a shared strategic approach with clear, practical actions to take forward;

 

Initial work would be carried out to understand current context, analyse data and documents and scope out evidence gathering (during January to March 2019).  During April and May 2019 there would be broad engagement with key partners to gather feedback and evidence.  During June and July 2019 ISOS would be testing their findings and shaping recommendations and a future approach through co-production.

 

2.          The six broad themes that ISOS were planning to use to structure their discussions and evidence gathering are:

 

·       Co-production with parents/carers and young people

·       Partnerships working across education, health and care

·       Identification, assessment and access to support

·       Building inclusive capacity in mainstream schools and settings, and providing targeted support for inclusion

·       Developing responsive, effective local specialist provision

·       Preparation for adulthood

 

Together with an overarching theme about having effective and sustainable systems, processes, strategic clarity and governance for the system.

 

They then gave details of some of the key areas they proposed to explore under each of the six themes.  

 

3.          That they proposed to work with Schools Forum and colleagues across Wiltshire by undertaking four sets of evidence gathering activities:

 

·            Visits to a selection of settings, schools’ colleagues and other services;

·            Workshops with parents and carers

·            Engagements with young people

·            Two parallel online surveys.

 

During the latter part of the summer term ISOS were planning the following:

 

·       To share and test with a broad range of partners (professionals and parents/families) their key findings, through a series of workshop discussions;

·       Work iteratively with colleagues to develop solutions and recommendations; and

·       Work with partners to shape these into a final, accessible, evidence-informed report focused on practical actions required to put a new strategic approach into practice.

 

Ben asked the Forum’s views on their proposed approach, how the system works currently, future priorities and key questions to explore and the Forum responded as below:

 

·       It is the wish of the Forum for there not to be a continuing overspend on the high needs block year on year – would there be benchmarking carried out to see what is happening in other authorities?

 

·       The Forum would like reassurance that the current pressures are not going to carry on;

 

Ben responded that his view was that there are systemic issues across the whole education system and that the Authority would need to re-engineer their education, health and care systems to see changes happen and look to establish a cultural change within the organisation.

 

·       The outcome of the review could mean that it ends up costing s more – the age range of children that we previously were responsible for was 4-16-year olds – it is now from 0-25-year olds with the same amount of money;

 

Ben responded that there are no easy answers to the funding issues and they would not say that they can sort out the high needs overspends.  Ben had been part of research projects who had highlighted to the DfE the lack of funding and cost pressures that all Local Authorities are facing as this is a nationally recognised issue.  There is a limit to the funding available and by carrying out the review work they will not be bringing more money to the table.  The journey of completing the review is as important that just receiving the final report – along the way people engage and discuss what improvements/changes can be made.

 

From the scoping work already carried out we have already identified instances that had they been dealt with earlier then they could have been resolved in a more cost-effective way.

 

·       An overspend of £4m on the high needs budget is not trivial to us – we feel the review is well placed to identify what we can do before the National Funding Formula is in place because there will be nowhere to take money from once that is implemented.  The Forum would welcome any solutions you may have to reduce our high needs overspend.  We suggest you contact schools for further discussion through WASSH and PHF and to also talk to Early Years providers.

 

·       There are several projects currently going on – where is this positioned?

 

Helean Hughes acknowledged that this project ties in neatly with the Reset and FACT project and the importance is getting things right earlier on.

The Chairman thanked Ben and Karina for their presentation (attached as Appendix 1 to the Minutes) and gave the Forum’s endorsement and requested an update to be given at the meeting on 13 June??? Neil didn’t say a date, but it would have to be June or 10 October?

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the aims and proposed approach to the strategic review of support, services and provision for children and young people with high needs in Wiltshire and receive an update at their meeting on ???

Supporting documents:

18.

Reports from Working Groups

To note updates from the following working groups:

 

·       Joint meeting of the School Funding and SEN Working Group meeting held on 18 March 2019 (to follow).

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The Forum noted the update received by way of the minutes of the joint meeting of the Schools Funding and SEN Working Groups meeting held on 18 March 2019 (within Agenda Supplement 1).

 

At the meeting the issue of late allocation information for alternative provision was raised.  Final allocations require the publication of the January census information and this is generally not available until April. Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) reported that an estimated allocation had since been provided to secondary schools and it was questioned if these details changed there could be a clawback? 

 

Grant responded that for the 2019/20 year, the allocations would prevail and that there would be no clawback.  Through WASSH members, a review of the allocation of funding would take place and give consideration to the drivers of funding and any protection which should be implemented to avoid significant changes in individual allocations year on year.

 

Grant Davis went through the items discussed at the meeting and reported that most of the items would be picked up later on the Agenda in this meeting.

 

The next meeting of the joint working group would be held on Tuesday 4 June at 8.30am.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the minutes of joint meeting of the Schools Funding and SEN Working Group held on 18 March 2019.

19.

Schools Budget Update 2019-20

The report of Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) outlines the key changes resulting from implementing the schools funding formula for 2019-20.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which outlined the key changes resulting from implementing the schools funding formula for 2019/20.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       The DfE had published the 2019/20 financial settlement for schools on 20 December 2018.  £275.215 million was allocated to Wiltshire which was an increase of £7.3m on 2018/19.  The increase is accounted for by the growth in pupil numbers which is the remainder of the additional £1.3billion promised for school funding as part of the introduction of the NFF and a change in methodology for calculating growth funding introduced for the 2019/20 year;

 

·       There had been an overall increase in pupil numbers across all Key Stages as shown in the table on page 28.  It was acknowledged that there had been lots of new housing developments across the County and with more pupils there would inevitability be more SEN need.  This is anticipated at 0.3 per household;

 

Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills) reported that she had asked the Schools Admissions Team to include the anticipated need for SEN provision in the annual School Admissions report.  The School Admissions Team prepare indicative pupil forecasts for all schools across the County taking account of birth rate data, housing developments and any other external influencing factors such as Army rebasing.

 

·       Following the introduction of the NFF, Schools Forum agreed to align its funding rates as closely as possible to the national rates – in 2018/19 this was achieved in all instances except for the Deprivation FSM6 rate which was funded at 75% of the NFF value.  For 2019/20 the Deprivation FSM6 factor will be funded at 80% of the NFF value;

 

·       The other value to have changed between 2018/19 and 2019/20 is for Low Attainment – Primary which has been reduced from £1,050 to £1,022.  The reason for the reduction being the changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, the measure used for calculating Low Prior Attainment;

 

·       For 2019/20 all schools will have received an increase in their funding of 0.5%, based upon a positive increase in the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) per pupil funding of 0.5%.  In order to fund the MFG, schools seeing a gain in their level of per pupil funding exceeding this level are capped.  For 2019/20, this cap is set at 0.0%, which means that all schools benefitted from a gain of 0.5%;

 

The Chairman commented that the above was showing that the National Funding Formula is not affordable in Wiltshire.

 

·       The total allocated to Wiltshire for growth in 2019/20 was £2.217 million but Wiltshire would not be setting this all aside for the Growth Fund in 2019/20.  It was agreed at the last meeting that the surplus growth funding would be transferred to the Schools Block (£1.2m) to ensure that there was no detriment to this funding;

 

·       At the January 2019 meeting the Forum had agreed to transfer funding from the Schools Block into the High Needs Block as a one-off non-recurrent transfer.  Following an application  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

f40 Questionnaire for Schools

The report of Marie Taylor (Interim Head of Finance) shares with Schools Forum the example letter and questionnaire sent by a neighbouring authority which has been shared by the f40 group.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Interim Head of Finance – Children’s Services) referred to the example letter and questionnaire which the Local Authority were proposing to send out to schools to seek ongoing support for the campaign to secure a fairer funding deal for its schools.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       The proposed questionnaire had been prepared by Devon County Council and Wiltshire proposed to send out their version of it with a letter which is to be jointly sent by the Chair of Schools Forum and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services to all Wiltshire Schools;

 

·       There was currently a great deal of activity underway to support fair and better funding for schools and it was felt that involving headteachers in the campaign can only be beneficial;

 

·       PHF and WASSH would be asked to promote the completion of the questionnaire; and

 

·       Results would be collated by the LA and shared with schools through Right Choice, shared with senior Managers at the Council and Elected Members and if requested, with the f40 for comparison with other LA’s.

 

The Forum then discussed possible changes to the questionnaire to make it more useful and user friendly.  The following was suggested:

 

·       When referencing a deficit – make it clear that doesn’t mean an in-year deficit but is referring to a deficit in the 3-year budget;

 

·       Question 6 to be amended to ask for the numbers (and percentages) of those pupils who have SEN support and an EHCP at the school;

 

·       Question 7 to be amended to make it clear that “1976” is a number not referring to a year!  Also make a change so that the questionnaire does not get abandoned if they do not enter a case study.  It could be the case that all questions are answered apart from a case study and that if they cannot submit without filling that in fully they may just not submit.  Maybe look to reword that question or give the ability to attach a document;

 

·       Question 9 to be amended to ask for numbers as well as the percentage increase and to include date ranges for the information (since September 2014 and September 2018); and

 

·       That the questionnaire should also be shared with Governors via the Wiltshire Governors Association and that the Chair (via the Clerk) should be invited to respond to the questionnaire also.

 

It was confirmed that the outcomes to the questionnaire would also be shared with the consultants from the ISOS Partnership who are working on the High Needs Review.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Forum approve the draft letter and questionnaire subject to the amendments suggested above.

 

2.     That Forum Members complete the questionnaire when received and promote completion by others through PHF, WASSH and WGA.

21.

Permanent Exclusions

The report of Marie Taylor (Interim Head of Finance) seeks to update Schools’ Forum on permanent exclusions during 2018/19 financial year.

 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Interim Head of Finance – Children’s Services) referred to the report which sought to update the Forum on the number of permanent exclusions during the 2018/19 year and the formulaic arrangements around the “money following the pupil”.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       That the Local Authority has a statutory duty in overseeing the financial readjustment/payment wherever a pupil is permanently excluded which may mean adjusting the budget share for maintained schools if a pupil is permanently excluded so that the funding follows the pupil.  During 2018/19 to date, there had been 8 permanent exclusions which the LA proposed to make financial adjustment for;

 

·       Details of the exclusion calculation as advised by the DfE was attached as appendix 1 and the proposed updated Money Following Excluded Protocol (MFEP) which would apply to all maintained and academy schools in Wiltshire was attached as appendix 2 to the report;

 

Forum members made the following observations:

 

·       The pupil that we ended up permanently excluding had cost us thousands of pounds to support (before exclusion) and I would not be impressed that the funding received would be reclaimed;

 

·       There would need to be a contextual discussion with a cost benefit analysis carried out before a reclaim of funding was made as it would not be cost beneficial in all cases; and

 

·       Why is the calculation based on 52 weeks when a pupil is only at school for 39 weeks?  The time of year when an exclusion takes place will have an impact on the money coming in or going out and some schools will lose, and some will gain.

 

Marie confirmed that she had noted that there are issues of concern with the protocol, but this is a statutory duty that had to be followed.

 

Resolved:

 

1.    That Schools Forum note the guidance outlined in the report and the mechanism outlined the report and appendix together with the Local Authority actions planned in this financial year and in future financial years to follow the DfE guidance.

 

2.    That Schools Forum adopt the updated Money Following Excluded Pupils (MFEP) Protocol as attached at appendix 2.

22.

New Deficit Procedures

The Forum will receive a verbal update on the new deficit procedures.

Minutes:

The Forum received a verbal update from Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) on the new deficit procedures.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       Many schools are now entering a deficit and whilst the Local Authority (LA) can work with schools to make robust plans we need them to return to their allocated budget.  Additional LA staffing capacity (0.2 FTE) has been allocated to help with this work and a Deficit Scrutiny Panel will be established;

 

·       The new procedures would be clarifying and tightening up current procedures and would be shared at PHF and WASSH; and

 

·       Recovery plans would be a focus, and these would be monitored to ensure schools are achieving their objectives.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Forum note the update on the new deficit procedures.

23.

Dedicated Schools Budget - Budget Monitoring 2018-19

The report of Marie Taylor (Interim Head of Finance) seeks to present budget monitoring information against the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for the financial year 2018-19 as at 28 February 2019.  Appendix 1 to the report is confidential and will be shared as a Part II item at the meeting.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Interim Head of Finance) referred to the budget monitoring report as at 28 February 2019 that was circulated with the Agenda.  Appendix 1 to the report outlined the budget monitoring summary but as it contained confidential information it would be shared in Part II of the meeting.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       That an overspend of £4.170m was currently projected against the overall school’s budget.  The forecast overspend on the High Needs Block was £4.574m and this would be offset by underspends in the growth fund, early years and central blocks;

 

·       Budgets for the free entitlement for 30 hours childcare for 2, 3- and 4-year olds are currently forecast to be underspent by £0.320m, but it is important to note that the underspend will have a post financial year adjustment from the DfE;

 

·       The biggest areas of overspend in the high needs budgets are Independent Special School fees, Named Pupil Allowance and top ups in schools and alternative provision and elective home education support for pupils with SEND;

Nick Breakwell (Head of SEND Service) reported that there is an annual review for those pupils who are home schooled and receive SEND funding.

 

·       The f40 group has organised a briefing in Parliament for MP’s around fairing funding for 14 May 2019 and Terence Herbert was in discussions with Wiltshire MPs in relation to this.  It was hoped that following this briefing, messages would be passed back to the Treasury to urge Government to address the crisis in high needs funding;

 

·       One of the major drivers of increased costs to the high needs budget is volume which has increased at a higher level (16%) than expenditure (9%) which could be an indicator that we have more children and young people with lower levels of need.  The forecast variance on high needs spend is £4.574m which is a 12% increase.  The forecast variance of Education, Health and Care Plans is 633 which is a 23% increase;

 

·       Wiltshire submitted a Free School Bid for a 150 place Special School provision in the south of the county which was successful, and plans are in place to take this forward which will create additional places and enable more children to be placed in Wiltshire Special Schools; and

 

·       The forecast overspend for the DSG and adjustments to the DSG (which would be discussed under Part II) would take the reserve into a deficit position of £2.060m.  This DSG reserve deficit does pose a concern and Schools Forum will need to ensure all relevant steps are made to work alongside LA Officers to form a plan around high needs block activity to ensure best value across services provided by schools, centrally retained teams and external providers.

 

Forum Members asked about the proposed Special School provision and it was confirmed that the consultation into these proposals had been extended and would be considered by Cabinet in June 2019.  A press release had been published in relation to this and it would be shared following the meeting by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Confirmation of Dates for Future Meetings

To confirm the dates of future meetings, as follows, all to start at 1.30pm:

 

13 June 2019

10 October 2019

5 December 2019.

Minutes:

The Forum noted that the future meetings would be held on:

 

13 June 2019

10 October 2019

5 December 2019

16 January 2020

26 March 2020.

25.

Urgent Items

To consider any other items of business, which the Chairman agrees to consider as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

With the agreement of the Chairman, Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills) wished to bring to the attention of the Forum the guidance that had been prepared for Schools on the EU Exit – see link below.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-exit-no-deal-preparations-for-schools-in-england/eu-exit-no-deal-preparations-for-schools-in-england

 

A Schools Forum member reminded of the need for schools to update their Risk Registers in light of this.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the guidance on no deal preparations for schools in England.

 

 

26.

Consideration of Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider whether to exclude the press and public from the meeting for the business specified in Agenda item 15 in accordance with Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 because it is likely that if members of the public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act and the public

interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information to the public.

Minutes:

The Forum were in agreement that the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of Agenda items 15 and duly

 

Resolved:

 

To agree that in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the public from the meeting for the business specified in Minute Numbers 27 because it is likely that if members of the public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act and the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information to the public.

27.

Dedicated Schools Budget - Budget Monitoring 2018-19

The confidential Appendix 1 to the Dedicated Schools Budget – Budget Monitoring Report 2018-19 is attached.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Interim Head of Finance – Children’s Services) referred to the confidential Schools Budget 2018/19 Monitoring Statement (Appendix 1) and explained the reason for its confidentiality.

 

Forum members were disappointed that the overspend had risen again and reiterated that they would not be able to support the transfers into the high needs block again.  Marie reported that whereas in December 2018 a one-off contribution to the high needs block was approved, it seems more likely that the solution will not be short term and future transfers will need to be anticipated and planned for.

 

Helean Hughes agreed that there was work to do to get all to understand that there is only one pot of money and how brave would we be to do things differently?  Helean reported that it was the intention that the consultants from the ISOS Partnership would meet with a range of schools, even those that don’t have a SEN provision.  Even with the investigative work already carried out by ISOS more facts had come to light that we were previously aware of.

 

The increased need for SEN support and the numbers of EHCP’s was highlighted and all agreed that preventative support should be looked at to address concerns earlier.

 

Resolved:

 

  1. That Schools Forum note the budget monitoring position at the end of February 2019 and the continued pressure on high needs budgets.

 

  1. That Schools Forum contribute to the on-going work of the High Needs Working Group, a multi-agency response to the high needs pressures.

 

  1. That Schools Forum contribute through the working group to the recovery plan required by the DfE by the 30 June 2019.

 

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