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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Online meeting

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

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies and Changes of Membership

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

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Mark Cawley (Early Years representative).

 

Apologies were also received from the following Wiltshire Council Officers: Helen Jones (Director – Commissioning), Cllr Laura Mayes (Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Skills), Simon Thomas (FACT Programme Lead) and Lucy Townsend (Interim Corporate Director – People).

 

The Chair welcomed Ian Tucker from St John’s School in Marlborough who is one of the new Co-Chair’s of WASSH (with George Keily-Theobald, Downland School) and he replaces Fergus Stewart on Schools Forum.

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

To approve as a correct record and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 10 December 2020(copy attached).

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 10 December 2020 were approved subject to the following minor amendment being made at minute number 49, the 4th bullet point to read as follows:

 

There were also some projects currently in the scoping phase – Transport, Easy Early Support front doors and Multi-agency use of the Case Management System; and

 

Resolved:

 

That the Chairman approve and sign the minutes of the meeting of Schools forum held on 10 December 2020 subject to the minor amendment as detailed above. 

3.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements from the Chair.

 

Minutes:

The Chair made the following announcements:

 

Review of Membership

 

On 20 January 2021, Grant Davis carried out a review of the proportion and membership of Schools Forum, looking at the proportions following the census and conversions which have taken place since the last review in October 2020.  In terms of Primary representatives, there were currently have 4 maintained and 2 academy representatives. 

 

Based upon the latest proportions, which are now showing that we should have 3.47 maintained reps and 2.53 academy reps, a change in the membership breakdown is needed. 

 

The Chair proposed that this change come into effect from September 2021 when the annual review of membership is usually carried out. The Clerk agreed to liaise with Catriona Williamson (Chair of Primary Heads Forum) to ensure that an additional primary academy representative is sought, and one maintained primary representative will relinquish a place in time for the meeting on 7 October 2021.

 

Comfort break

 

It was agreed that a brief comfort break would be held around 3pm.

4.

Declaration of Interests

To note any declarations of interests.

Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

5.

Public Participation

Schools Forum welcomes contributions from members of the public. During the ongoing Covid-19 situation the Forum is operating revised procedures and the public are able participate in meetings online after registering with the officer named on this agenda, and in accordance with the deadlines below. A maximum of 15 minutes will be allocated to public participation at the start of each meeting.

 

Guidance on how to participate in this meeting online.

 

Statements

Members of the public who wish to submit a statement in relation to an item on this agenda should submit this is electronically to the officer named on this

agenda no later than 5pm on Tuesday 19 January 2021 (1 clear working day before the meeting). Statements should take no longer than 3 minutes to be read aloud.

 

Questions

Those wishing to ask questions are required to give notice of any such

questions electronically to the officer named on the front of this agenda no later than 5pm on Thursday 15 January 2021 to allow a response to be formulated.  Questions are limited to a maximum of 2 per person or organisation.

 

Please contact the officer named on the front of this agenda for further advice.

Minutes:

No questions or statements had been received prior to the meeting.

6.

Updates from Working Groups

The Forum will be asked to note the minutes/updates from the following meetings:

 

·       Joint meeting of the School Funding  Working Group and SEN Working Group – 11 January 2021

·       Early Years Reference Group – 12 January 2021 – to follow

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The Forum noted the update received by way of the minutes of the meeting of the School Funding and SEN working group held on 11 January 2021. 

 

The Forum noted the update received by way of the minutes of the meeting of the

Early Years Reference Group meeting held on 12 January 2021. 

 

An early years representative thanked Marie Taylor for the immense amount of work put into the preparation and modelling for the Early Years Reference Group meeting.

 

There were no questions raised from the notes of the meetings.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the minutes of the joint meeting of the School Funding and SEN working group held on 11 January 2021 and the Early Years Reference group meeting held on 12 January 2021.

7.

Dedicated Schools Budget - Budget Monitoring 2020-21

The report of Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) seeks to present the budget monitoring information against the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for the financial year 2020-21 as at 31 December 2020. 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) referred to the budget monitoring report as at 31 December 2020 that was circulated with the Agenda. 

 

Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       There was no significant change from the blocks since the last report up to October 2020;

 

·       The overall forecast overspend was £9.123 million against the overall dedicated schools’ grant budget.  The main driver for the forecast variance was the ongoing pressures of the high needs block;

 

·       The pandemic had created much uncertainty around early years and no variance was forecast on the budgets for the free entitlement for 15 and 30 hours childcare for 2, 3 & 4 year olds however, this would depend on the outcome of the October census, consultation with the sector representatives, increased numbers of children returning to childcare, and children becoming eligible and the DfE’s post financial year adjustment which, could be negative if the January 2021 census numbers fall;

 

·       There is good news in that a separate COVID grant has been received by the local authority (COMF grant) to support, facilitate and aid containment of the virus. An amount of £1.0 million had been earmarked to allocate to providers under certain criteria;

 

·       The forecast underspend on schools block largely related to the school’s growth fund which was currently showing an underspend and was helping to offset the overall pressure on the DSG;

 

·       The high needs budgets were projected to overspend by £11.556 million.  When the level of funding available does not match the local needs, the budget cannot be set at the required level but, can only be set at the available funding level which creates an imbalance.  No one budget can be set at an achievable level and so the location of the overspend is not an indication of individual budget issues but that the whole block is under significant pressure;

 

·       The major driver of the increased cost is volume, however it is important to note that the number of EHCP’s being requested has slowed slightly – this could be due to reduced face to face contact with pupils due to Covid or it could be that we have reached a plateau; and

 

·       With the deficit reserve brought forward in 2019-20 of £11.350 million minus the positive early years block adjustment of £0.539 million this would take the forecast overspend to an overall deficit position of £19.933 million. Wiltshire was not alone in this and although there was a High Needs Working Group looking at ways to make savings it was more of a struggle to keep this project going during Covid.

 

An early years representative asked Marie to reword paragraph 16 in the report to clarify that whilst there was a positive early years block adjustment this would go towards reducing the negative reserve. 

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the budget monitoring position at the end of December 2020. 

8.

School Budget Setting 2021-22

To consider the budget for 2021-22.

 

The following update reports provide details on the overall funding settlement on each of the funding blocks, the decisions will be made after consideration of all the update papers via the decision matrix.

8a

School Revenue Funding 2021-22 - Funding Settlement and Budget Setting Process

The report of Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks to seeks to update the Forum on the revenue funding settlement and the budget setting process for 2021-22.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which sought to update Schools Forum on the revenue funding settlement and the budget setting process for 2021/22.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       The DfE had issued the revenue funding settlement for schools on 17 December 2020;

 

·       In the Autumn of 2019, the Government announced its pledge to boost schools and high needs funding over a 3-year period - £2.6 billion in 2020-21, - £4.8 billion in 2021-22 (increase by £2.2bn) and £7.1 billion in 2022-23 (increase by £2.3bn.  In addition, a further £700 million was pledged for high needs nationally in 2020-21 and a further £730 million for 2021-22;

 

·       The DfE have continued to allocate school funding on the basis of the NFF which should see all schools benefitting from the additional funding.  The 2021-22 year is another “soft” year with Schools Forum still retaining its role in determining the school funding allocation methodology;

 

·       The introduction of mandatory minimum per pupil funding levels for the 2020-21 year have been continued and the rates have increased for the 2021-22 year to £4,180 for Primary and £5,415 for Secondary.  These figures incorporate and include the teachers’ pay and pension grants will cease at end of 20-2021 year – this means that these two grants will be baselined into schools’ core funding at a value of £14.179m for 2021-22;

 

·       It was a surprise to hear from the DfE that the numbers of eligible Pupil Premium Grant funding pupils would be taken from the October 2020 census and not the January 2021 census;

 

·       The provisional Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) allocation for Wiltshire was £406.342 million which was an increase of £31.839m compared with 2020-21;

 

·       The overall uplift in ‘real’ funding for comparative purposes is 4.47%, split as Schools - 3.55%, Central – -0.98%, High Needs – 9.68%, Early Years – 4.96%;

 

·       Included within the Schools Block funding of £317.724m is the amount of £1.814m allocated on the basis of pupil growth within Wiltshire;

 

·       The DfE have stipulated that the funding awarded through the Teachers Pay and Pension elements must be excluded when considering any transfers between the Schools’ Block and other Blocks. Therefore, any transfer would be based upon the Net Funding figure of £303.545 million, not the Total funding figure of £317.724 million;

 

·       There had been an uplift in funding for all of the blocks except for the central schools’ services block;

 

·       Included within the Wiltshire allocation is £0.805m for the Teachers Pay and Pension funding for Special Schools and High Needs settings. This has been equated to an uplift of £660 per place to be added to the current funding in Special Schools;

 

·       The DfE continue with their commitment to reviewing the High Needs NFF and a consultation is proposed with the initial changes expected to be reflected in 2022-23.  The review will cover all factors of the High Needs NFF including the ‘Historic Spend’ factor and also the weightings applied to each factor.  Schools Forum members will be asked to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8a

8b

Central School Services Block Update 2021-22

The report of Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) seeks to update the Forum on issues relating to the Central Schools Services Block (CSSB) budget for 2021-22 and the decisions that will need to be made as part of the budget setting process.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) referred to the report which sought to update Schools Forum on issues relating to the central schools block budget for 2021-22 and the decisions that would need to be made as part of the budget setting process.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       The budget proposal for the central schools services block was approved in principle at the December meeting of the Forum and the only change since that was the actual charge for copyright licences has been which had now been received from the DfE and it was higher than our estimate and comes in at £0.395 million; and

 

·       Assuming the proposed budget is accepted by the Forum, an amount of £0.192m unallocated CSSB is estimated to be available to transfer to fund high needs pressures.

 

Resolved:

 

1.    That Schools Forum note the change to the copyright licence cost for 21-22 and reduction in the contribution to the high needs block in the report and the required decisions to the central school’s block budget for 2021-22 later in the meeting when all information had been received.

 

2.    That Schools Forum note that the notification of the school improvement monitoring and brokering grant has not yet been shared by the DfE.  If the grant ceases or is significantly reduced, the expenditure plan will need to be reviewed and decisions would need to be reconsidered at the next available Schools Forum meeting.

8c

High Needs Block Update 2021-22

The report of Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children & Education) seeks to update the Forum on issues related to the High Needs Block for the 2021-22 and the decisions that will need to be made as part of the budget setting process for 2021-22.  Appendix 2 which is the DSG Management Plan is to follow.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) referred to her report which sought to update Schools Forum on issues related to the high needs block and the decisions that would need to be made as part of the budget setting process for 2021-22.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       The budget proposal for the high needs block was approved in principle at the December meeting of the Forum and the only changes since this are the now confirmed planned places for September 2021 and the DSG management plan (contained in Agenda supplement (1);

 

·       The high need block allocation is £57. 529 million (which is an uplift of £5.5 million – 10.66% on 2020-21).  Looking at the current pressures there is £10.144 million that needs to be covered to meet current spend levels, £1.811 million which is the best estimate of planned placements and the top ups needed to support these placements, £4.716 million which is the estimated cost increase based on planned reduced EHCP rate of increase for 2021-22, £0.348 million for estimated contract inflation at 2%.  £2.260 million of savings has been identified as per the high needs block recovery plan, leaving an estimated cost pressure for 2021-22 of £14.606 million;

 

·       It is not possible to fully fund the pressures above from within the high needs block. In order to partially fund the pressures on the high needs block, there could be a transfer of the surplus from the central block (£0.192 million) a transfer of 0.5% from the schools’ block (£1.5 million).  However, this would still mean a funding shortfall which would be similar for other local authorities; and

 

·       The current forecast overspend on the School Funding reserve is £19.898 million. This is currently being cash flowed by the local authority.  This level of deficit has triggered the requirement to submit a DSG Management Plan to the DfE. This has been completed by the High Needs Recovery Group and will be encompassed into the governance and sign off alongside the Council’s budget and Schools Budget for 21-22 by Members at Council at the February meeting.

 

The Chair reported the DSG Management Plan was considered by the joint meeting of the School Funding and SEN Working Group and they had made some suggestions to add to the Plan.  The consultation on high needs funding was welcomed and it was suggested that Schools Forum with the assistance of the Officers do all they can to ensure that the other stakeholder groups are given the opportunity to respond to the consultation. 

 

Schools Forum were consulted and confirmed their support for the proposals detailed below.

 

Resolved:

 

1.    That Schools Forum note the pressures on the high needs block for 2021-22 and the potential options to reduce the shortfall against high needs budgets including agreeing a transfer from Schools Block to balance the high needs pressures.  (This decision was made later in the meeting under Agenda item 9)

 

That Schools Forum approve the draft DSG Management Plan for presenting to Cabinet and submission  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8c

8d

Early Years Update 2021-22 (Indicative Allocations)

The report of Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) seeks to update the forum on issues related to the Early Years Block or 2021-22 and the decisions that will need to be made as part of the budget setting process for 2021-22.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) referred to the report which sought to update Schools Forum on issues related to the Early Years block for 2021-22 and the decisions that would need to be made as part of the budget setting process.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       In his 2020 Spending Review, the Chancellor announced that there would be £44 million nationally for early years education in 2021-22 to increase the hourly rate paid to childcare providers for the government’s free hours offers.  The provisional early years block settlement for Wiltshire for 2021-22 was £28.217 million and of this sum, £0.265 million related to the increased hourly rates;

 

·       At the moment, the indicative allocations would mean an increase of 8p per hour for 2-year-old funding (to £5.48 per hour) and 6p for 3 to 4-year-old funding (£4.25 per hour);

 

·       The operational guidance for early years entitlements: local authority funding of providers 2021-22 was published in December 2020 and this contained a number of key points for the local authority to include when they were funding their providers;

 

·       Consultation had been carried out with Schools Forum early years representatives (John Proctor and Mark Cawley) prior to the meeting of the Early Years Reference Group meeting as well as at the meeting itself where they had considered modelling of what the allocation would mean for early years and the hourly rates.  Appendix 1 to the report showed options of the hourly rates and the % of the contingency unallocated (to be used for any increased take up of hours);

 

·       Option 1 shown maxims the 2-year-old funding and passports the increase in full. The guidance previously protected 2-year-old funding however, this has been relaxed.  To do this, the 3&4-year-old rate needs to be £4.25 in order to leave a contingency for any increased take up of hours.  Option 6 shows that in order to increase the 3&4-year-old rate by 1p per hour, the hourly rate for 2-year olds would need to be £5.42.  The steer from the Early Years Reference Group was that the 2-year-old vulnerable children rates needed to be protected and so option 1 was the preferred option;

 

·       Appendices 2 and 3 to the report showed the calculations of compliance with a worked example showing 98.2% of pass through;

 

·       The Disability Access Fund is payable as a lump sum once a year per eligible child. If a child is splitting their entitlement between two or more providers, then parents should be asked to nominate the main setting. If a child receiving DAF moves from one setting to another within a financial year the new setting is not eligible to receive DAF for this child within the same financial year. There was no change in the allocated funding rate for 2021-22.

 

The Chair asked if the early years block would be funded under the same census for Pupil Premium as schools?  Marie Taylor reported that the Early Years Pupil Premium is indicative based upon the January 2020 Early  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8d

8e

Schools Block Update 2021-22 (Delegated Budget)

The report of Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks to update the Forum on issues relating to the schools delegated budget for 2021-22 and the decisions that will need to be made as part of the budget setting process.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which sought to update Schools Forum on issues relating to the schools delegated budget for 2021-22 and the decisions that would need to be made as part of the budget setting process.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       That it had been previously agreed that Wiltshire would move as close to the national funding formula (NFF) as possible. In 2020-21 all factors were fully funded at the published NFF values, apart from the Mobility factor.  Historically, due to the major beneficiaries being service schools, who were already benefitting from additional one-off growth funding from the DfE and also the MOD’s Education Support Fund, Schools Forum felt that the factor’s introduction would not achieve an equitable position. A school’s mobility position could move each year and is less predictable as a factor;

 

·       The main funding formula for 2021-22 was similar to 2020-21 but the key following changes should be noted:

 

Ø  An increase in Pupil and School led funding values of 3%

Ø  Teachers Pay and Pension Grants being baselined into AWPU values

Ø  IDACI data has been refreshed

Ø  Minimum Funding Guarantee to bet set between 0.5% and 2.0% to ensure all schools see a gain in funding on their pupil led funding

Ø  Maximum Sparsity funding being increased from £26,000 to £45,000 for small and rural primary schools

Ø  Increases in the minimum per pupil funding levels (MPPFL) to £4,180 and £5,415 in primary and secondary schools

 

·       Initial modelling suggests that the NFF is fully affordable for all schools in Wiltshire which is a real milestone which includes:

 

Ø  Full NFF values applied for all funding factors

Ø  Increased Sparsity funding in line with NFF proportional increases

Ø  Mobility included and funded at NFF values

Ø  MFG set at the maximum level of 2%

Ø  Split site increased £90,000 as agreed with Schools Forum (76.4% of lump sum value)

Ø  Transfer from Schools’ Block to High Needs Block of 0.5% (£1.517m)

 

·       Growth allocations for 2021-22 are based upon pupil data from the October 2020 census and the October 2019 census.  Criteria for growth was agreed at the December meeting of the Forum.  No new schools were opened in 2020-21 and £1.814 million was allocated from the DfE for the 2021-22 growth fund;

 

·       There were no plans to open any new schools in the 2021-22 year.  The growth fund supports new primary and secondary schools with diseconomy costs for the first 7 years or until the school is full.  The Basic Need Class Expansion for additional classes is still to be confirmed with colleagues in the School places team for the 2021-22 academic year.  The Infant Class Size increases have been confirmed for 2020-21 with six schools being funded through this factor;

 

·       Following the additional funding pledge, the DfE are seeking to ensure that all schools see an uplift in their calculated per pupil funding and have therefore proposed that the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) is set at a positive figure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8e

9.

School Budget Decisions 2021-22

The Forum will be asked to consider the Schools Budgets for 2021-22 and make relevant decisions using the attached decisions matrix. 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The Chair led the Forum though the Decision Matrix (completed version attached as Appendix 1 to these minutes) and the decisions as detailed below were made:

 

Resolved:

 

Early Years Block(Confirmation below of decisions around Early Years agreed earlier in the meeting)

 

1.      Schools Forum agreed to increase the current rate of 2-year-old funding to £5.48 and 3 and 4-year-old funding to £4.25 per hour.

 

2.      The early years block to fund the Early Years Inclusion Fund at £357,000. 

 

3.      If any significant increase in DfE funding be notified, the Early Years Inclusion fund should be increased accordingly during the financial year, of at least 95% pass through to providers.

 

Central Schools Services Block

 

4.      The Section B expenditure for the Central Schools Services block is agreed as follows:

 

Education Welfare Service                    £0.199 million

Asset Management                               £0.186 million

Statutory/Regulatory duties                  £0.669 million

Admissions                                           £0.438 million

Servicing of Schools Forum                 £0.003 million

 

5.      Central spend on historic commitments (Section C) agreed as follows:

          i)        Funding for LAC Personal Education Plans be funded at                          £0.103 million;

ii)             Funding for Child Protection Officer in Schools Adviser at £0.056 million; and

iii)           Prudential Borrowing at £0.208 million.

 

6.   Schools Forum note the LA decision (Section A) to set budget at      £0.395 million for central copyright licences for 2021-22.

 

7.   These allocations allow a transfer of £0.192M to support the high          needs block.

 

8.   Schools Forum agree that there be no top slice for services   formerly funded from the general duties’ element of ESG pending        DfE grant announcement unless a significant change to DfE grant   for School Improvement is notified.

 

High Needs Block  

 

9.      Schools Forum agreed that top up values for Named Pupil        Allowances, Extended Learning Programme’s Resource Bases and   Special Schools are to remain at the 2020-21 values and note the      proposed consultation on High Needs formula for 2022-23 with less       weighting on the historical funding factor.    

 

10.   Schools Forum approve the content of the DSG Management Plan as set out on pages 17 to 44 of the Agenda Supplement.

 

Schools Block – Delegated Budget

 

11.      Schools Forum agree to apply all the funding factors at the 2021-22 NFF rates.

 

12.      Schools Forum note the modelling of the Mobility factor and agree to introduce Mobility as a funding formula factor. 

 

13.      Schools Forum note the modelling of the Sparsity factor and agree to apply a proportional uplift of 3% for 2021-22. 

 

14.      Schools Forum agree to set the Minimum Funding Guarantee at a level of +2.0%.

 

15.      Schools Forum to agree that the Growth fund be set at £2.21 million – split £0.1 million Infant Class Size and £2.1 million basic need.

 

16.      Schools Forum agree to transfer up to a maximum of £1.517 million (0.5%) from Schools block to High Needs block. 

 

17.      That the budgets for De-delegation of central services be agreed as follows:

 

i)           Access Budget Software        £52,544

ii)         FSM Eligibility                         £27,804

iii)        Trade Union                             £70,000

iv)        EMAS & Travellers       £542,796  (Primary only)

v)         Behaviour support       £639,105  (Primary only)

vi)        Maternity  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

Appendix 1 to Minutes - Completed Decision Matrix

Supporting documents:

10.

Confirmation of Dates for Future Meetings

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

 

11 March 2021

10 June 2021

7 October 2021

9 December 2021.

Minutes:

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

 

11 March 2021

10 June 2021

7 October 2021

9 December 2021.

11.

Urgent Items

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

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

 

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