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Agenda and draft 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

12.

Apologies and Changes of Membership

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

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Georgina Keily-Theobald (Maintained Special School Representant/Co-Chair of WASSH), Nigel Roper (WASSH - Maintained Secondary Representative), Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills), and Cllr Laura Mayes (Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Skills).

 

Membership changes

 

Mark Cawley Early Years/PVI representative has resigned from Schools Forum as he has now sold his nursery business and also resigned from his position on the Early Years Reference Group.  Officers would liaise with the Early Years Reference Group to find a replacement representative.

 

13.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

To approve as a correct record and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 21 January 2021(copy attached).

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 January 2021 were approved.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Chairman approve and sign the minutes of the meeting of Schools forum held on 21 January 2021. 

14.

Chair's Announcements

To receive any announcements from the Chair.

 

Minutes:

The Chair thanked Mark Cawley for his service and contributions to the Forum.

15.

Declaration of Interests

To note any declarations of interests.

Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

16.

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.  ADD LINK HERE!!!

 

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 9 March 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 4 March 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.

17.

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 – 1 March 2021

·         Early Years Reference Group – 23 February 2021.

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 1 March 2021. 

 

The Forum noted the update received by way of the minutes of the meeting of the Early Years Reference Group meeting held on 23 February 2021. 

 

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

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the minutes of the joint meeting of the School Funding and SEN working group held on 1 March 2021 and the Early Years Reference group meeting held on 23 February 2021.

18.

Dedicated Schools Budget - Budget Monitoring 2020/21

The report of Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) seeks to present budget monitoring information against the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for the financial year 2020/21 as at 31 January 2021.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) referred to the budget monitoring report as at 31 January 2021 that was circulated with the Agenda.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·         There was no significant change in the forecast since the last report up to December 2020;

 

·         The forecast overspend was £9.032 million against the overall dedicated schools’ grant budget.  The main driver for the forecast variance was the ongoing pressures of the high needs block;

 

·         There was a small underspend forecast for the Early Years budget of £326K.  For the spring 2021 term, the Governments expectation was that settings would remain open whilst the schools were closed, and they would only be paid for children attending settings;

 

·         Due to the uncertainty, no variance is forecast on the budgets for the free entitlement for 15- and 30-hours childcare for 2,3 and 4-year-old.  There were small underspends, but it was anticipated that the DfE’s post financial year adjustment would recover this in the summer;

 

·         COMF grant funding of £1 million had been received by the Local Authority to support, facilitate and aid containment of the virus specifically for early years.  The deadline for applications to this funding is 22nd March when payments would be assessed and assuming affordable up to the £1 million would be paid.  A report would be presented to the June meeting of the Forum to update on how this grant was spent;

 

·         The forecast underspend on the Schools budget largely related to the school’s growth fund which currently shows an underspend of £2.273 million and was helping to offset the overall pressure on the DSG;

 

·         High Needs budgets were projected to overspend by £11.634 million.  The major driver of the increased cost was volume.  If the current increase in EHCPS continues at this rate, 4056 EHCP’s are anticipated for the end of the year which was a 10.2% increase.  The number of EHCPs being requested has slowed slightly which could be due to reduced face to face contact with pupils due to the Covid pandemic;

 

·         The DSG deficit reserve brought forward of £11.350 million was reduced by the positive early years block adjustment of £0.539 million. The forecast overspend would take the reserve into a deficit position of £19.843 million which the Local Authority is having to cashflow; and

 

·         The DSG Management Plan was approved by Schools Forum on 19 January and by Full Council on 23 February 2021.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the budget monitoring position at the end of January 2021. 

19.

Update on the work of the High Needs Block Recovery Group

Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills) and Cate Mullen (Head of Inclusion & SEND) will give an update on the work of the High Needs Block Recovery Group.  Attached are the findings from the f40 SEND survey that was carried out in the autumn 2020 and the f40’s submission to the Government review on SEND from January 2020.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Cate Mullen (Head of Inclusion & SEND) gave an overview on the work of the HNB Recovery Group.  There were a number of initiatives as part of the recovery work and with Covid and staffing changes this had meant that some deadlines had had to be amended and with the delays that would in turn mean that some of savings would also be delayed.

 

Dyslexia friendly schools – This initiative was on track although the shape of the work had changed as schools were closed to many pupils through the last year.  The main priority was to support schools to meet the needs of their children with dyslexia so that they were able to receive their education in their own schools and not have to go to independent providers.

 

Inclusion and school effectiveness project – Covid had meant that engagement for much of the work had been paused.  The Ordinarily Available provision (OAP) work was starting to gain momentum.

 

Enhanced Learning Provision and Resource Bases – an update would be provided later at this meeting. 

 

SEND Assessment and EHCP – The work in relation to EHCNA panel process and pathway had commenced in February 2021 as staffing resource for 2 days per week had been allocated which had enabled this to take off.

 

Independent Special School Review – Lisa Fryer had been reviewing the learners placed in Independent Special School provision, why they were placed in those settings and to consider it they were value for money.  Lisa was working to identify cost savings to be made and where young people could be brought back into Wiltshire provision at their key points of transition.

 

Post 16 Transition – Resource was being identified for this work to ensure that the right Officers were in place to work with the SEND, Education Teams, Adult Services and partners to ensure smooth transitions were in place.  FACT funding was in place to enable the employment of SEND lead workers.

 

SEND Alternative Provision Project – This was positive and now on track.  The new approved provider list was well used by schools already.

 

Early intervention project – HELM had been in place since September 2020 with meetings across the Wiltshire Council area.  Health, early years and other relevant agencies those who have identified that intervention was required to help with transitions at school.  Positive feedback following a HELM review was received.

 

A secondary school governor representative asked if the RAG ratings of the projects related to quality of progression and if the anticipated savings were being achieved.  Cate Mullen suggested that the High Needs Recovery Block plan be circulated with the minutes of the meeting which would give more detailed information on the savings and when they were on course to be delivered. – Admin note – At the time of publishing these draft minutes the refreshed High Needs Block plan was not available to be released and would be shared with Schools Forum members as soon as it was available.

 

Cate Mullen (Head of Inclusion  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

DfE Consultation Update - HNB Funding

The report of Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and  Education) seeks to present the DfE consultation on the HNB funding formula for 22-23 and beyond, to share the local authority response and to seek Schools Forum views on the consultation questions.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) referred to the report which sought to present the DfE consultation on the review of NFF for allocations of high needs funding to local authorities: changes for 2022-23 which was launched on 10 February to run until 24 March 2021.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·         This was a previously unannounced consultation asking 5 questions with a finance focus being issued prior to the SEN review which had been promised for later this year;

 

Proposal 1. The current formula has 50% lump sum comprising LA planned spend in 2017/18.  The first proposal is to use actual 2017/18 expenditure opposed to 2017/18 budget as a baseline to allocate the historical element.  Proposed 2022/23 onwards.

 

·         This proposal would mean a reduction in funding of £1.2 million for Wiltshire potentially, for one year only.  Having a formula that changes just for one year would have a nasty impact on Wiltshire, however 95 local authorities would gain under this proposal, so this was of concern.  For Wiltshire the 2017/18 actual spend was less than planned and there was a big jump from 2016 onwards so this proposal was not something that Wiltshire would support.  A response for this had been drafted and it was hoped that schools would use this for their own responses to support the view.

 

Proposal 2.  Increase the proportion of actual expenditure in 1 above (the historical lump sum) to 60%

 

         This proposal would mean a reduction funding, estimated to be in excess of £1.5 million for one year only.  The DfE wrote directly to us after this consultation was issued to inform us that they had made a mistake in the 2017/18 figures and had understated our place  values by 17 places.  Whilst the true value of the decrease was not known, it would still be significant and again Schools Forum members were encouraged to respond to the consultation to state their strong disagreement to this proposal.

 

Proposal 3.  Alternative to the historic spend factor (Proposed 2023-24 onwards)

 

       The DfE have confirmed they would prefer to replace the historic spend factor with alternative factor(s) longer term that better reflect local issues and are able to be kept up to date but that avoid perverse incentives such as numbers of EHCPs.  The DfE say that the earliest alternative factors could be introduced is 2023-24 following the SEN Review.

 

       Officers agree that moving away from an outdated formula and towards a suite of easy to update drivers to reflect the needs of young people and take into account local variables including rurality would be fair, transparent and a positive move for Wiltshire, however it was not accepted that using numbers of EHCPs is inappropriate and believe it should be a major factor in the new formula. This would be quite contentious to feed back to the DfE but in nationally an assessment for an EHCP is how we assess and support the children’s needs.  A way to avoid EHCPS being  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Schools Budget Update 2021-22 - All Blocks

The report of Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks to outline the key changes resulting from implementing the schools funding formula for 2021-22.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to his report which  sought to outline the key changes resulting from implementing the schools funding formula for 2021-22.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·         The DfE published the 2020-21 financial settlement for schools on 17 December 2020. The settlement included details of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and its individual component blocks of funding;

 

·         The 2018-19 year saw the introduction of the National Funding Formula (NFF). The NFF was initially proposed as a ‘soft’ formula for the 2018-19 year before becoming a ‘hard’ formula in 2019-20. Subsequently the DfE confirmed that 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 would also remain as ‘soft’ years, enabling Schools Forum to make school funding decisions at a local level;

 

·         The Schools Block of funding was set at £317.724 million which is a ‘real terms increase of £10.4m on the 2020-21 funding level;

 

·         There had been an overall increase in the pupil numbers funded within Wiltshire in 2021-22 although this was low with only a growth of 84 pupils;

 

·         For the Wiltshire funding rates for 2021-22 mobility was a new factory to be paid this year at £900 for primary pupils and £1290 for secondary pupils, above a threshold of 6% of pupils being classed as mobile;

 

·         The minimum per pupil funding level had moved over time and for 2021-22 was set at £4,180 primary and £5,415 secondary.  These figures also included the Teachers Pay and Pension grants;

 

·         The Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) for 2021-22 would see all schools receiving an increase of at least 2%.  The removal of the cap was a real milestone in ensuring all schools were fully funded using NFF values;

 

·         The total allocated to Wiltshire for growth in the 2021-22 was £1.814 m based upon primary growth numbers of 502.5 and secondary growth numbers of 492.0; and

 

·         Schools Forum had previously agreed to transfer funding from the Schools Block into the High Needs Block as a one-off non-recurrent transfer. A transfer of 0.5% (£1.517m) would take place between the Schools Block and the High Needs Block.

 

The Salisbury Diocesan representative was pleased to hear that more schools (75 out of 202 primary) would be gaining from the minimum per pupil funding.  He thought that this would be more of a gain for primaries with a higher number of pupils and asked if it was correct that smaller  schools did not really gain under that methodology.  Grant Davis confirmed that this did have a disadvantage effect for small schools in the way that the funding is worked out, in particular as the ‘lump sum’ was spread over a lower cohort of pupils in smaller schools.  However later in the meeting Grant would be sharing details of the new consultation for small rural schools and that would give an opportunity to look at how small schools should be funded and appropriate ways to do this. 

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the update on the Schools Budget for 2021-22.

22.

School Admission Appeals

The report of Libby Johnstone (Democratic Services and Clara Davies (School Place Commissioning) seeks to inform Schools Forum of the final arrangements in place for the subsidised charging for admission appeals for all schools.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Libby Johnstone (Democratic Governance Manager) referred to the report which sought to is to inform Schools Forum of the final arrangements in place for the subsidised charging for admission appeals for all schools.  Libby highlighted the following:

 

·         The DfE had changed the legislation regarding appeals as all schools had to be treated equally in relation to the charging for admission appeals;

 

·         Following various options considered, and consultation to schools it was concluded that the preferred solution would be to charge schools directly for appeals at a subsidised rate;

 

·         The Council would therefore be introducing charges from 1st April 2021, with costs split between the preparation of the case and the organisation and clerking of the panel;

 

·         Schools could use alternative providers if they wish, but would need to reassure themselves that providers were acting in accordance with the DFE Appeals Code;

 

·         Concerns had been raised that schools may want to admit over their PAN in order to avoid paying for appeals; and

 

·         It had been agreed that a small group of Schools Forum representatives would draft a position statement which could then be circulated to schools and this statement states that the expectation of Schools Forum is that all schools would fund appeals and maintain their PAN to be fair and consistent to all

 

Schools Forum were asked to approve the proposed position statement.  The Chair asked for an annual report to be prepared for Schools Forum to give them details of the numbers and type of appeal hearings so that this could be monitored. 

 

Resolved:

 

  1. That Schools Forum note the update and that the Local Authority will be introducing new charges for Admission Appeals from 1st April 2021.

 

  1. That Schools Forum agree the proposed position statement and that this be circulated to all schools through Right Choice.

 

  1. That an annual report on School Admission Appeals be prepared for Schools Forum at the October meeting each year.

23.

f40 - Campaign for Fair Funding for Schools Update

The report of Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks to provide members with an update on the work of the f40 group.  The f40 group have recently issued an outline of the work that they are undertaking and the direction of their fairer funding campaign.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which sought to provide the Forum with an update on the work of the f40 group. The f40 group have recently issued an outline of the work that they are undertaking and the direction of their fairer funding campaign.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·         The f40 group had issued their latest campaign focus, concentrating on the following areas;

-      Fairness

-      Increased Funding

-      SEND

-      Early Years

-      Covid

 

·         The key areas which f40 is asking for were;

 

-      Changes to the NFF to make it fairer, more easily understood and transparent

-      Additional £5.5bn to be funded between now and 2023

-      Guaranteed three-year funding programme

-      Schools fully recompensed for Covid costs and lost income.

 

Resolved that Schools Forum:

 

Note the contents of the report and the f40 update.

24.

Updates for Schools Forum

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) will give verbal updates to Schools Forum on Covid funding and the consultation on support for small rural schools.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) gave the following update on Covid funding:

 

·         There would soon be an announcement for Schools via Rightchoice regarding the Covid workforce funding which covers the period following October half term up to Christmas and this would give details of how schools could make claims;

 

·         The DfE had offered funding for exceptional costs relating to Covid between March and July 2020 and all these payments had now been made;

 

·         The payment of the second tranche of the Covid Catch Up Premium payments of £80 per primary pupil and £240 for secondary pupils had just been released;

 

·         There had been announcement of £302 million as a Covid Recovery premium grant for schools.  Although the full details  were not yet available it was thought that they would be £6k for an average primary and £22k for an average secondary school using disadvantaged pupils as a driver for that.  A sum of £200m would also be available for tutoring and £200m for running summer sessions in secondary schools; and

 

·         The f40 group would continue to raise requests for additional Covid costs.

 

·         Schools were reminded that on their website they should refer to the Covid Catch Up Premium and state what the school was using it for.

 

Grant Davis referred to the report (circulated as Agenda Supplement 2) which gave details of the consultation for changes to the Sparsity Factor for 2022-23.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·         The consultation focused on the proposed changes to begin measuring sparsity distances – which determine whether schools are remote enough to attract sparsity funding – by road journeys, not as the ‘crow flies’, to better reflect the actual distance between schools and to increase the maximum sparsity factor values by £10,000 across all phases in the 2022-23 schools national funding formula (NFF);

 

·         During the DfE’s research, their evidence had suggested that the group of schools which were experiencing the most significant financial challenges are small, remote schools. The DfE recognise the vital role that such schools play in the rural communities they serve and that without them pupils could face long travel distances to school;

 

·         Obviously, Wiltshire is a rural county with many small and rural schools eligible for sparsity funding.  The current definition of sparsity is for a primary school with 150 pupils or less and the average distance from each pupil’s home postcode to their next nearest compatible school is 2 miles or greater as the crow flies.  For secondary schools this would mean 600 pupils or less and the average distance from each pupil’s home postcode to their nearest compatible school is 3 miles or greater as the crow flies;

 

·         The current maximum funding payable through this factor for eligible schools is £45,000 for primary and £70,000 secondary schools;

 

·         Through the DfE’s analysis, there were currently around 1,200 schools eligible for sparsity funding nationally and the change in calculating sparsity distances would increase this number by around 900 schools;

 

·         In Wiltshire there were currently 73 primary schools and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Scheme for Financing Local Authority Maintained Schools

The report of Bea Seggari (Schools Support Accountant) seeks to outline the updated Wiltshire Scheme for Financing Local Authority Maintained Schools and provide Schools Forum members with an update, following the revisions detailed in the DfE’s statutory guidance in August 2020.  This report is presented purely to bring the latest government led changes to the attention of maintained members of the Schools’ Forum rather than for consultation.

 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Bea Seggari (Schools Support Accountant) referred to her report which outlined the updated Wiltshire Scheme for Financing Local Authority Maintained Schools and provided Schools Forum members with an update, following the revisions detailed in the DfE’s statutory guidance in August 2020.  Bea highlighted the following key points in her report:

 

·         That the scheme only applied to maintained schools and its role was to define the financial relationship between the local authority and the schools it funds; and

 

·         Included in the scheme was financial controls, budget share and banking arrangements, surplus and deficit balances, income, charging of a school budget share, taxation, PFI, insurance, provision of services by the local authority, responsibility for repairs and community facilities.

 

The Chair confirmed that this had been discussed in detail at the School Funding Working Group and he thanked the Officer for producing a clear transparent document.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the content of the report and give approval to the updated Wiltshire Scheme for the financing of its maintained Schools.

26.

Confirmation of Dates for Future Meetings

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

 

10 June 2021

7 October 2021

9 December 2021

Minutes:

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

 

10 June 2021

7 October 2021

9 December 2021.

27.

Urgent Items

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

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

 

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