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Supporting papers 30 January 2020

Agenda and supporting papers for the schools' forum held on Thursday 30 January 2020 can be viewed below.

Leicester City Council Schools Forum - Minutes


Schools members Name
Mainstream Academies Mike Hobbs, Jane Ridgewell
Special Academies  
Special School Governors Mark Oldman
Special School Heads Sarah Osbourne
Secondary School Governors Chandrika Patel
Secondary School Head representatives Julie Robinson, Anna White
Primary School Governors Glenys Mulvany (Chair) Chandrika Patel
Primary School Head representatives Liz Warren, Nigel Bruen, Karl Stewart
Pupil Referral Units: Shaun Whittingham

Non-school members: Name
Teaching Unions:  
School support staff Unions: Sam Randfield
16-19 Providers: No attendee
Early Years PVI Providers: Matthew Leedham
In Attendance Role
Sue Welford Principal Education Officer
Martin Judson Head of Finance, Education & Children’s Services
Simon Walton Senior Accountant, Finance
Martin Walsh Clerk to the Forum

  1. Apologies for absence
    Apologies for absence were received from, Jessica Edmonds, Steve Wilson, Anna White, Michelle Orton and Liam Mahoney.

  2. Declarations of interest
    There were no declarations of interest.

  3. Minutes of the previous meeting
    The minutes of the meeting held on the 28 November 2019 were agreed as an accurate record of proceedings.

  4. Matters arising from the minutes

    i)  Membership issues  - Members asked if a representative had been elected to represent 16-19 Providers.
    ii)  Staff costs for Trade Union facility time - The Head of Finance noted that there could be some potential changes. A report would be made available at the next meeting in June.

  5. School Budgets
    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services presented a briefing explaining the implications of the Department for Educations finance regulations on funding streams for the ‘Dedicated Schools Grant’ for 2020/21 and the final de-delegated amounts.

    i) Schools Block DSG
    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services explained that overall all schools would see 1.84% gain. This is the first year of the full implementation of the NFF by the DfE, without any funding restrictions being applied through gains capping. He also noted that there had been a reduction in primary school numbers for the first time in many years.

    Members asked if there was a need for some protection for schools that have seen a reduction in numbers on role and suggested setting up a working party to investigate the issues facing schools with reduced numbers on role leading to a reduction in school funding. It was also suggested that it would be helpful to have the projections and data analysis related to the reduction in numbers in schools.

    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services agreed to take this back for discussion with management. Action: (Martin Judson)

    ii) Central Schools Services Block
    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services sought approval for the budget allocations.
    Members agreed to continue with the budget arrangements.

    iii) Early Years Block
    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services explained that the contingency fund had been overstated and this would have to be paid back to the DfE.
    Members noted that there was a disparity from what a nursery charges and what they receive back from the LA and parents were under the impression that nursery provision is free. They also asked if the nursery providers were aware of the support that they received from the LA. Clarification was also sought regarding where the funding comes from.
    The Principal Education Officer explained that this was about and a range of help for managers and staff designed to support and help Early Years providers and highlighted the importance of the 0-5 provision in preparing children to start full time education.

    iv) High Needs Block
    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services explained that the DfE’s formula was complicated.  The basic entitlement was 4k per SEN student. However, this doesn’t include any pupil with an EHCP in place in a mainstream school. In real terms the DfE is just bridging the gap.

    Members noted that this was a national problem and that other ways could be used to find a solution in this area, including trend analysis.  Liz Warren asked where Early Years and High Needs overlapped.
    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services explained that Early Years providers could bid for Early Years support. 

    Members asked for clarity in terms of where the money is coming from and if the funding formula had changed.  The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services explained that the DfE formula factors had been difficult.

    v) Growth fund
    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services explained that the DfE use the data from the previous year’s census as a comparison.

    Members asked if the same funding rates would be used and why new schools had been funded.  The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services explained that the DfE rates would be used as this is the fairest way to apply the funding. He also explained that schools are funded for pupils on role and the DfE did not allow for new schools, effectively the LA had to provide the funding.

    Members asked for clarity on the mechanism that determines the budget and suggested that other information could be provided to schools to help them better understand the budget.

    Members also asked if there had been any consideration for a reduction fund and would there be protection or compensation for schools that had essentially helped the local authority. It was suggested that a working party could be set up to address these concerns.

    The Head of Finance, Education and Children’s Services explained that he recognised the issues that schools faced with reductions in school numbers. However, there were no easy solutions to this problem. He agreed to take the issue back to the Director of Capital Projects.  Action (Martin Judson)

    vi) Recommendations

    i)  Approve the recommended Growth Fund funding rates and use of uncommitted balances.
    Vote: For (7) Against (0)

    ii) Approve the expenditure to be funded from the Central Schools Services Block. (£1.885m)
    Vote: For (7) Against (0)

    iii) Approve the central expenditure to be funded from the Early Years’ BlockVote: For (8) Against (0) Abstention (1)

    iv) Approve in principle a contribution from the EYB as part of further central expenditure (additional work currently funded from the council’s own general fund as in 3.48)
    Vote: For (8) Against (0) Abstention (1)

    Forum would expect to be informed when the extent of the proposed contribution was known.

  6. Any Other Business
    The Principal Education Officer asked the membership for thoughts on ways of supporting schools to better understand their budgets more effectively. This could include looking at the surplus balances of schools and should a claw back arrangement be introduced to form a pool budget to help struggling schools.

Members noted that this would not be well received by schools that had been well managed and frugal.  It was also noted that some schools may have set aside money for a large expenditure.

The Chair suggested that well managed schools could help support schools that were struggling to control their budget.

The Principle Education Officer noted the concerns raised and explained that the L.A was also under increasing pressure due to cuts in funding.

There being no further business, the Chair declared the meeting closed at 3.35pm.