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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

43.

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: Sam Churchill – John Read from Lyneham Primary School attended in Sam’s place, from Georgina Keily-Theobald, Mel Jacob, Denise Lloyd and Jon Hamp – Lynn Yendle attended in Jon’s place.

 

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

 

Membership changes

 

The Forum had been notified that Fergus Stewart would no longer be Chair of WASSH from the end of December 2020.  This role will be Co-Chaired by Georgina Keily-Theobald from Downland School and Ian Tucker from St John’s in Marlborough from January 2021.

 

The Chair thanked Fergus Stewart for his support on Schools Forum and congratulated him on completion of his term as Chair of WASSH.

44.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

To approve as a correct record and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 15 October 2020 (copy attached).

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15 October 2020 were presented and it was

 

Resolved:

 

That the Chairman sign the minutes of the meeting held on 15 October 2020.

45.

Chair's Announcements

To receive any announcements from the Chair.

 

Minutes:

As the Agenda was quite lengthy the Chair reported that he would include a 5-minute comfort break in at an appropriate point during the meeting.  

46.

Declaration of Interests

To note any declarations of interests.

Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

47.

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 8 December (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 3 December 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 statements or questions had been received in advance of the meeting and there were no members of the public present at the meeting.

48.

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 – 30 November 2020

·      Early Years Reference Group – 4 November 2020 – to follow and 4 December 2020.

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 30 November 2020.  There were no questions arising.

 

The Forum noted the update received by way of the minutes of the meetings of the Early Years Reference Group meetings held on 4 November and 4 December.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the minutes of the joint meeting of the School Funding and SEN working group held on 30 November 2020 and the Early Years Reference group meetings held on 4 November and 4 December 2020. 

49.

Update on the Multi-Agency Families and Children's Transformation (FACT) Programme

Simon Thomas (FACT Programme Lead) has prepared an update to Schools Forum on the multi-agency Families and Children’s Transformation programme.

 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Simon Thomas (FACT Programme Lead) referred to the update on the multi-agency FACT programme that was circulated with the Agenda.  Simon highlighted the following:

 

·       The feedback from the FACT Executive Board earlier in 2020 was that the programme should be more focused with defined projects.  The 28 projects were then reviewed, and now clear milestones had been set to simplify and target the work of the multi-agency FACT programme;

 

·       There were now 7 current priority projects

 

i)               Earliest Support in Communities

ii)              Young People’s Service

iii)            Transitional Safeguarding

iv)            Integrated Working

v)             Alternative Provision

vi)            Early Support Assessment

vii)           Speech, Language and Communication

 

·       FACT would continue to monitor the following Agendas which are continuing – Troubled Families, Education RESET plan, Stronger Families, PAUSE, SEND Inclusion, Contextual Safeguarding, Dads Matter Too, Council redesign of MH/LD services, Five to Thrive/Trauma informed approaches;

 

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

 

·       Particularly relevant to Schools Forum was the implementation of the Early Support Assessment which was a shift to replace the CAF.  The feedback from schools proposed a simplified form which was easier to complete and pull information together from a school and family perspective. Webinars were being presented to promote the programme and training materials were available on the Safeguarding Vulnerable People Partnership website There was a multi-agency group overseeing this project and feedback was sought for the interim report which would be completed by 1 February 2021.

 

Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills) gave an update on the Inclusion Project and highlighted the following:

 

·       The aims of the project were to maximise the number of learners who are successfully included in mainstream education? and to ensure there is quality, suitable alternative provision in place for learners for whom full-time mainstream education is not currently suitable;

 

·       It was hoped that the successes would be a reduction in exclusions, improved attendance for vulnerable learners, reduced children missing from education and that alternative providers are assessed as being highly effective in terms of Health and Safety and Safeguarding; and

 

·       Staffing capacity was being increased, including a Strategic Lead and two temporary officers being appointed for which funding had been accessed from the FACT programme for 18 months.

 

Simon Thomas reported that they were doing some reflection on FACT to ensure that they have the right education representatives and would be considering a way forward as to how they might usefully communicate and understand the views from the Education sector.  FACT was interested to hear the views and the problems faced by those in education and were always looking at ways to improve the ways in which they work to improve outcomes for families.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the FACT programme update.

50.

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  31st October 2020.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

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

 

·       An overspend of £9.105 million was currently projected against the overall school’s budget.  The main driver of this was the ongoing pressures on the high needs block;

 

·       There was a small underspend of £0.166 million on the early years budget.  For the spring term, the Governments current guidance  is that settings would only be paid for children attending settings.  The local authority has a duty of sufficiency and has been working closely to support providers with grants as much as they are able to.  However, private income losses could not be supported in line with the terms of the grant funding.  Due to the uncertainty, no variance was being declared in year as the local authority want to support settings as much as they can.  The 19-20 adjustment based on the January 2020 census data was an increase of £0.539 million. In addition, the 20-21 allocation increased by £0.943 million. This reflected a higher count of children than the previous year;

 

·       The forecast underspend on the school’s budget related largely to the school’s growth fund which currently showed an underspend and would be helping to offset the overall pressure on the DSG;

 

·       The high needs budget was under significant pressures with the major driver of the increased costs being volume.   Whilst the number of EHCP’s being requested had slowed slightly (possibly due to the Covid restrictions in the summer term) the forecast demand would mean that there could be 4289 pupils with an EHCP by the end of March 2021 which would of course increase the high needs spend;

 

·       The DSG reserve brought forward of £11.35 million is increased by the positive early year’s adjustments.  The forecast overspend would take the reserve into a deficit position of £19.916 million.  The deficit is cash flowed by the local authority and is a major financial risk for the council.  By comparison at the end of the 2019/20 financial year the Council’s general reserves stood at £15.456 million;

 

·       The impact of Covid on the LA’s finances is significant, and this was raised at a meeting with representatives from the DfE today.  The additional Covid funding available for Councils and Schools for 2021/22 is not clear and the representative said that she would look into that for the LA; and

 

·       From 2018/19 the majority of LA’s had a deficit budget and there were updated rules governing deficits, with LA’s being required to produce a ‘DSG Management Plan’., This was not published with the Agenda as stated and would be shared with the Forum at the January 2021 meeting. 

 

An Early Years representative highlighted that in paragraph 15 of the report the reserve brought forward of £11.350 million was a deficit and Marie Taylor agreed to amend that in the report.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the budget monitoring position as at 31 October 2020  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

Update on behalf of the High Needs Block Recovery Group

Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills) will provide the Forum with an update on the progress of the High Needs Block Recovery Group – the minutes of meeting held on 12 November 2020 are attached for information.

 

The update will also include an update from Lisa Fryer (Education Officer, SEND Service) on the Independent Special School deep dive being carried out between September to December 2020.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Helean Hughes (Director of Education and Skills) gave a verbal update on the progress of the High Needs Block Recovery Group.  Helean highlighted the following:

 

·       The High Needs Block Working Group had last met on 12 November 2020 and the minutes of that meeting had been circulated with the Agenda papers;

 

·       As part of the high needs financial recovery plan the working group were overseeing the implementation and impact of 8 projects;

 

·       Dyslexia Friendly Schools – The British Dyslexia Association were evaluating the scheme that had been set up and schools were carrying out an audit of their provision.  This would be reviewed at the end of the school year.  The virtual training and this project had not been paused during Covid.  13 primary schools and 5 secondary schools had received 48 hours of training and a parent survey had been created.  Once the audits had been completed, action plans would be put in place and the schools would then work towards the quality mark;

 

·       The Inclusion and School Effectiveness project continues to be paused;

 

·       Work on the ELP and Resource Base project had now started, and Officers were looking at the provision across Wiltshire;

 

·       SEND Assessment and EHCP – Officers were currently collating data to get a clear view of priorities and from January 2021 they would reconfigure panels and needs assessments.  The FACT programme had provided resource for that;

 

·       Post-16 Transition – Someone from the LA would be leading on this project and again the FACT programme had provided resource for this.  This would start from January so further progress would be reported at the next meeting;

 

·       SEND Alternative Provision – A specialist provision was being looked at.  There would be a quality assurance process to hold AP providers to account, review provision and consider costs to ensure that there was effective AP with clear entry and exit criteria to get children back into mainstream sooner than previously; and

 

·       Early years – 2nd round of HELM, 84 children were discussed, identified that we have improved as we have gone along and are now settling in with the right support at the right time.

 

Lisa Fryer (Education Officer – Independent Specialist Placements) provided a verbal update on the Independent Special School (ISS) deep dive that had been carried out since September.  Lisa highlighted the following:

 

·       That Lisa had moved over from being a Locality Officer as from 1 September 2020 into a 2-year secondment post looking at Independent Special School Placements as part of the high need’s recovery work.  Lisa was currently carrying out a deep dive of those children and young people with an EHCP who were currently in ISS’s to try to understand why the LA have a high usage of ISS’s and to look at ways to reduce the placements and become more creative to develop our local offer;

 

·       From reviewing the ISS cohort, it was highlighted that the greatest number of children was those with a primary need of SEMH.  Consideration would be given  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.

52.

Dedicated Schools Grant Consultations 2021-22

The report prepared by Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks to update Schools Forum with the results of the most recent Autumn consultations relating to De-delegation of central services and a possible transfer of funds from Schools Block to High Needs Block. 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which sought to update on the results of the most recent Autumn consultations relating to De-delegation of funding for central services and a possible transfer of funds from Schools Block to High Needs Block.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       Under the ‘soft formula’ all funding should be fully delegated to schools, however certain central services can be ‘de-delegated’ for maintained schools, with approval of the maintained Schools Forum representatives;

 

·       All maintained schools were consulted, and 36 responses were received – 33 responses from primary schools and 3 from secondary schools;

 

·       The responses received were significantly in favour of retaining the de-delegated services in both primary and secondary schools;

 

·       In relation to a possible transfer from the Schools Block to the High Needs Block, the Local Authority have the flexibility to move up to 0.5% and anything higher would require approval from the Secretary of State though a disapplication request.  It had been agreed at the October 2020 meeting of Schools Forum that this would not be applied for as only two applications were approved for the 2020-21 year;

 

·       The consultation was carried out via Right choice and was open to all schools.  A total of 22 responses were received - 3 secondary, 1 special and 18 primary schools.  15 out of the 22 did support a transfer from Schools Block to High Needs and all 22 respondents did not want a reduction in Top-Up values;

 

·       Only 4 out of 22 supported a ‘hybrid’ option of a block transfer and a reduction in Top-Up values;

 

·       Of the 15 that supported a transfer, 53.33% (8) voted for a £1.4m 0.5% transfer;

 

·       At the October 2020 meeting of Schools Forum it was highlighted that approximately £800k of funding could be made available (through preliminary modelling) if the Mobility factor was not introduced (£571k) and if the maximum Sparsity allowance for primary schools was not increased from £26k to £45k, this would release a further £220k of funding which could be transferred to the High Needs block.

 

The Diocesan representative expressed concern about not increasing the Sparsity allowance to fund the transfer to High Needs and felt that the sparsity increase would be needed to support small schools as Wiltshire had a number of small village schools.  He felt that it this would be the wrong to help with the High Needs pressures to take away the identified national support for small rural schools.

 

Grant Davis responded that the report was highlighting the options available to Schools Forum.  The decision would need to wait until the DfE inform of the funding levels on 18 December to see if the NFF was affordable for Wiltshire.  Grant did not see a reason why it would not be affordable but would need confirmation of the funding levels.

 

The Chair suggested that a report be prepared for the next meeting to identify which Schools in Wiltshire would be eligible for Sparsity funding and show options of how implementing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Allocation of Funding for Pupil Growth 2021-22

The report of Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks  for an agreement on the methodology for allocating funding for pupil growth from the school’s block growth fund in 2021-22.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which sought agreement on the methodology for allocating funding for pupil growth from the Schools Block Growth Fund in 2021-22.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       There was a change in the methodology for funding for Local Authorities for growth two years ago, however this had not changed the way in which growth funding was allocated locally to schools;

 

·       Growth allocations for 2021-22 would be based on the pupil data from the October 2020 census and the October 2019 census.  The DfE measure growth within Local Authorities at middle layer super output area (MSOA) 1 level and in Wiltshire there are 62 MSOA’s with an average of 4 schools in each MSOA area;

 

·       Whilst there would not be any new schools opening there had been pupil growth in Wiltshire.  The allocation for 2021-22 would be announced later in December as part of the schools funding announcement;

 

·       The Growth Fund comprises of 3 elements – New schools, basic need expansion and infant class size regulations;

 

·       Local Authorities may set aside Schools Block funding to create a small fund  to support good schools with falling rolls and this found would represent a top slice of the Schools Block for which criteria would need to be established to support the fund, including clear trigger points for qualification;

 

·       Schools Forum has always resisted the establishing of a Falling Rolls Fund, but were being asked to give consideration to doing so in light of previous discussions and the additional pressures being placed upon the Schools Block; and

 

·       There had been no pressure from Schools or other groups for the establishing of a Falling Rolls Fund.

 

Resolved that Schools Forum:

 

i)               Approve the criteria for allocating Pupil Growth Fund in 2021-22.

ii)             Note that the budget for the Growth Fund be set at its meeting in January 2021, when the full DSG has been confirmed for the 2021-22 year.

iii)           Following discussion, it was agreed  not to establish a Falling Rolls Fund.

 

A brief comfort break was held between 3.10pm and 3.15pm.

54.

Dedicated Schools Budget - Provisional Central Schools Block Update 2021-22

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

 

·       That the Forum were being asked to make some in principle decisions at the meeting to make the modelling and decision making for the January 2021 meeting slightly easier;

 

·       The provisional allocation for the Central Schools Services Block was £2.449m.  The DfE had been reducing payments for historic commitments and £0.367m had been allocated for this based on those commitments agreed as eligible in 2020-21 reduced by 20% of £0.092m;

 

·       The Central Schools Services Block is the funding for the LA to carry out central functions on behalf of pupils in all schools – the central functions;

 

·       Section A – Central copyright licences.  Although notification of this amount had not yet been received the same level of inflation had been assumed so this amount could change;

 

·       Section B - The 2.75% pay award for salary inflation had also been assumed, but following the Government Spending Review these amounts would change so at the January 2021 meeting these amounts would not be at the same level;

 

·       Historic commitments – The same level of funding for the LAC Personal Education Plans and the Child Protection in Schools Adviser had been requested.  The prudential borrowing proposed allocation had been reduced so that would mean there would be an unallocated CSSB balance that could be available to transfer to the High Needs block;

 

·       ESG funding was previously removed as a ringfenced grant.  In Wiltshire the ESG was not directly removed from education budgets but taken as a reduction in funding for the whole council. This is because education is a priority for the Council.;

 

·       The DfE had provided an alternative transitional grant but had not yet confirmed that the school improvement monitoring and brokering grant would continue into year 2021-22 – should this grant be removed or significantly reduced, the situation would need to be reviewed; and

 

·       Assuming the proposed budget is accepted by Schools Forum, an amount of £0.195m unallocated CSSB is estimated to be available to transfer to fund high needs pressures.

 

Resolved:

 

1.    That Schools Forum note the report and decisions in relation to the Central Schools Block budget 2021-22 and agree the following amounts in principle in advance of setting the Schools budget in January 2021

 

Approvalrequired & legislative narrative

Services covered

2020-21 Budget

£M

Wiltshire Budget Proposal 2021-22

£M

Section A

·       Schoolsforumapprovalisnot required (althoughthey shouldbe consulted)

 

·       Central Copyright Licences for 2021-22 for Wiltshire as set by the DfE. 

 

£0.382m

 

£0.392m*

Section B

Schoolsforumapprovalisrequired ona line-by-linebasis

·       back pay for equal pay claims

·       remission of boarding fees at maintained schools and academies

·       places in independent schools for non-SEN pupils

·       admissions

·       servicing of school’s forum

·       contribution  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Dedicated Schools Budget - High Needs Block Update 2021-22

The report of Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children & Education) seeks to update Schools Forum on issues related to the High Needs Block for 2020-21 and a pre-briefing for the decisions that will need to be made as part of the budget setting process for 2020-21 at the January meeting.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children & Education) referred to the report which sought to update Schools Forum on the issues related to the High Needs Block for 2020-21 and a pre-briefing for the decisions that will need to be made as part of the budget setting process for 2021-22 at the January meeting.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       The High Need block provision allocation for 2021-22 is £57.529 million which represents an increase of £5.541m (10.66%).  36% of Wiltshire’s funding was based on historical funding compared to the national average of 33%.  Whilst the uplift was most welcome it does not fully address the magnitude of cumulative pressures from previous financial years or fully address the anticipated pressure for the 2021-22 financial year for Wiltshire.  It was hoped that the long-awaited SEN review would address and imbalance;

 

·       The additional pressure of £10.1m to meet current spend levels continues which was not the same as high need spend as there are vacant posts in year which we would wish to recruit to;

 

·       The total estimated cost pressure for 2020-21 was £14.063m.  It was not possible to fully fund the pressures from within the high needs block and an assumption model could be that there is a transfer from the Central Block, a transfer from the Schools Block and a transfer of any excess from the Growth Fund would still mean an estimated funding shortfall of £8.091 for the High Needs block; and

 

·       The current forecast overspend on the School Funding reserve was £19.916m.  The level of deficit had triggered the requirement to submit a DSG Management Plan  to the DfE and this would be shared with the Forum in January for approval.

 

Resolved:

 

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 and noted that this would be considered in full at the January 2021 meeting.

56.

Dedicated Schools Budget - Early Years Block Update 2021-22

The report of Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children & Education) seeks to update schools forum on issues related to the early years block for 2021-22 and the decisions that will need to be made as part of the budget setting process for 2021-22 financial year. 

 

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 for the 2021-22 financial year.  Marie highlighted the following:

 

·       Details of the 2021/22 early years funding will be received later in December, together with the rest of the DSG information for 2021/22;

 

·       The Chancellor announced in his spending review that £44m was being put into early years education to increase the hourly rate for providers and whilst this would probably not even cover the cost of living it was better to have than not to have.  The modelling options would look to pass on the maximum possible increase to providers.

 

An Early Years representative asked whether the national funding increase of 8p for 3&4 year old funding which was not possible to fund in 20-21 plus 5p potential to change 21-22 funding could be taken onto account when modelling the 21-22 hourly rates.  Marie Taylor confirmed that they would model likely childcare hours and the total allocation for 21-22 and reminded the Forum there was a minimum % to pass to providers from the funding.   When the allocations are received, January’s report and detailed working paper will look at modelling options within % of pass through.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the update on the Early Years Block.

57.

Covid Costs - Case Studies from Schools and Early Years Settings

The report of Grant Taylor (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks to provide Schools Forum with the results of a recent survey with schools relating to the additional costs being incurred by Schools and Early Years Settings.  The report is for information only.

 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which shared with Schools Forum the results of a recent survey with schools relating to the additional Covid costs being incurred by Schools and Early Years settings.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       The Director for Education and Skills (Helean Hughes) has regular contact with the DfE to discuss a number of issues including Covid related costs.  A key topic raised by schools and Early years settings is the continuing additional costs pressures  faced since the start of the 2020-21 academic year;

 

·       A survey was sent to schools and early years settings to give them the opportunity to demonstrate the additional costs that they are incurring which cannot be met from existing resources. The results of the survey will be used to help lobby local MP’s, support the work of the f40 group and ask the DfE for additional funding to support schools through the current pandemic;

 

·       Over 30 responses had been received and common themes related to cleaning – deep cleans, materials and the increased frequency required, staffing to cover those who were shielding, absent and isolating, PPE costs, catering costs (making arrangements to ensure bubbles can be retained), additional IT costs to enable remote working etc;

 

·       There were also lost income sources from breakfast and after school clubs, holiday clubs, income from lettings and catering, contributions from ‘Friends’ of the school or PTA organisations and less children on roll due to some parents choosing to home educate;

 

·       Some organisations had been able to mitigate some additional costs through making savings in some budget areas;

 

·       The impacts on the schools that had responded where shown in the appendices and there were huge differentials between schools - this information would be shared with the f40 group;

 

·       Not surprisingly the number of pupils eligible for a Free School Meal had grown significantly during the Covid period.  Given the projected growth in FSM eligible pupil numbers, there was the potential that due to the lag in school funding, schools will be educating significantly greater numbers of pupils eligible for FSM, FSM6 and PPG funding than they are actually funded for.  If there was recognition of this by the DfE this would alleviate a significant additional cost pressure; and

 

·       The findings from the survey would form part of the Authority’s lobbying with Members, the f40 group, MP’s and other stakeholders to highlight the funding shortfall.

 

An Early Years representative reported that many early years settings had been unable to continue with their breakfast and/after school club provisions due to mixing of ‘bubbles’ and those were significant losses that were not covered by the Government funding and a risk that the settings could not continue to remain open.

 

A secondary academy representative asked how any shortfall might be distributed.  Grant Davis responded that funding would be based on October Census data and the Pupil Premium funding based on the January census data and from the DfE’s point of view they might consider that they are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

F40 Update

The report of Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks to provide Schools Forum with an update regarding the work of the F40 Group and share their recent communication with the Department for Education, in relation to impact of Covid-19 upon schools.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which sought to update the Forum on the work of the f40 group and share their recent communication with the DfE in relation to the impact of Covid upon schools.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       That the f40 group are continuing to campaign on behalf of its members on the continuing impact of Covid on school and education funding and a letter was sent to Tony Foot (director of the Education Funding Group, DfE and Tom Goldman (Deputy Director,  Funding Policy Unit, DfE) on 20 October 2020; and

 

·       Subsequent to the letter being sent a meeting was held between the f40 group and Tom Goldman and they were advised that the DfE were relying on the information they could provide and asked for information around the costs that schools are facing.  Wiltshire would continue to support f40 with their lobbying and it was good to note that discussions with the DfE were taking place and that we are partner to that.  A copy of the notes from that meeting held on  3 November would be circulated with the minutes of this meeting (attached as Appendix 1).

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum note the content of the f40 letter in support of additional Covid related funding for Schools.

Appendix 1 to Minutes - Minutes of f40 meeting

Supporting documents:

59.

Update on School Admission Appeals

The report of Libby Johnstone (Democracy Manager) and Clara Davies (School Place Commissioning Lead) seeks to update Schools Forum on the introduction of charges for admission appeals.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Libby Johnstone (Democracy Manager) referred to the update on the introduction of charges for Admission Appeals.  Libby highlighted the following:

 

·       The Forum would recall that the DfE had updated guidance around admission appeals and that this poses a number of challenges including confirmation that funding for admissions appeals lies with schools; the subsequent introduction of charges and schools electing to accept pupils above PAN to avoid appeal costs;

 

·       Schools Forum had previously not favoured options to increase the Central Schools Services Block or take an allocation from the budget of maintained schools to fund admission appeals as this would not affect all schools, including those that do not have appeals.  The preferable option would be to introduce charges to schools that do have admission appeals;

 

·       Schools were consulted over the summer and a survey was issued to ascertain if schools would be likely to buy into an appeals service at a similar rate; and

 

·     Since the survey, the local authority has become aware of situations where

    schools would prefer to admit pupils over the Planned Admission Number

    (PAN) in order to avoid paying for appeals. This would lead to popular schools

    being over capacity whilst other local schools continued to have surplus places.  It was felt that it would be useful to have feedback from Schools Forum members on this issue and for them to consider drafting a position statement to send out to schools.

 

Marie Taylor (Head of Finance – Children and Education) reported that the Authority’spowers were limited in this matter, but the Admissions Team had advised that it would be useful if there was a joint statement issued.  Unfortunately, there was not a statutory duty for a School to stick to their PAN and if the PAN’s were simply going to be ignored by schools this would be difficult for the LA to manage the planned admission numbers.  It was suggested that there should be a LA and Schools Forum expectation and hope that schools would conform to their PAN.

The Chair asked what the point of a PAN was if schools can ignore it.  Helean Hughes (Director – Education & Skills) confirmed that schools do have control as an Admission Authority, but for voluntary aided schools and academies, Wiltshire was not the Admission Authority.  It was suggested that Schools Forum could provide a statement to ask schools to consider and be mindful of the situation the LA is in and highlight the need for place planning and to be away of growth planning income. 

 

After discussion it was agreed that a group be set up to discuss this further outside of this meeting.   Neil Baker, Nigel Roper, Giles Pugh, David Whewell and Lisa Percy volunteered to join this group and work with Clara Davies and Libby Johnstone and an update could be provided at the January meeting.

 

Resolved that Schools Forum:

 

1.    Note the update on the introduction of charges for School Admission Appeals and that the Local Authority is currently considering representations received following the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Scheme for Financing Maintained Schools 2021-22

The report of Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) seeks to provide Schools Forum with an update on the Wiltshire Scheme for Financing Maintained Schools. 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Grant Davis (Schools Strategic Financial Support Manager) referred to the report which sought to update Schools Forum on the Wiltshire Scheme for Financing Maintained Schools.  Grant highlighted the following:

 

·       That the Local Authority is required to publish a scheme for financing schools and that when making any changes to a Scheme that all maintained schools are consulted before approval is sought from Schools Forum.  Wiltshire’s current scheme document was considerably dated, and a rewrite had been undertaken which would be subject to consultation before being brought to Schools Forum for approval.

 

Resolved that Schools Forum:

1.    Note the proposed consultation which will be sent to maintained schools.

 

2.    Consider the introduction of the new Scheme for Financing Maintained Schools at a future meeting, based upon the consultation responses.

 

61.

Confirmation of Dates for Future Meetings

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

 

21 January 2021

11 March 2021.

Minutes:

The Forum noted that the future meetings would be held at 1.30pm via Microsoft Teams:

 

21 January 2021

11 March 2021.

62.

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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