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Supporting papers 26 August 2020

Agenda and supporting papers for the schools' forum held on Wednesday 26 August 2020 can be viewed below.

Apologies for absence

Apologies for absence were received from Julie Selby

Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

Minutes of the previous meeting and matters arising

The minutes of the meeting held on the 25th June 2020 were agreed as an accurate record of proceedings.

Minutes of the previous meeting and matters arising

There were no matters arising.

Outturn report 2019/20 (Martin Judson)

The Head of Finance presented the Outturn report to the committee.

He explained that in overall terms across all the blocks we spent £2.8 million more than our allocation. This means that the DSG reserves have reduced from £8.2 million at the beginning of 2019 to £5.4 million at the end of 2019. We are still in surplus at the end of 2019/20 and this leaves a significant reduction of £2.8 million. This has been driven by the overspend in the High Needs Block.

The DfE will be expected to contact the L.A. Previously they would contact the L.A if there was a cumulative deficit in their DSG reserves. We have a surplus but will be in deficit by the end of this financial year. The DfE will be in contact even if we are showing a reduction in our reserves position year on year. The DfE will be expecting the L.A to return to a more sustainable position and not be overspending on an annual basis. This is difficult as all L. As are overspending on their High Needs Block even with additional funding from the Government.

He explained that Special schools will be consulted about revisions to the funding rates and discussing the mechanism by which mainstream top ups are paid. More information will be provided regarding special placement costs and mainstream top ups. Reports will be provided to the next Schools’ Forum. This is about distributing the funds on an equitable basis and not cutting funding.

The Director Capital programmes and his team have been working on projections for pupil numbers for mainstream and SEN and predicted that SEN numbers would plateau in terms of peak numbers in 2021/22.

The Early Needs Block 2020/21 will be slightly different because of COVID-19 as funds will be paid out based on the Census data rather than individuals turning up to the provision.

School Budgets

The Head of Finance explained that the option to claw back in the report would not be used given the size of the balances.

Members asked if any school staff had been furloughed.

The Head of finance explained that he was not aware of staff being furloughed. The only exception would have been sources of income like catering or other traded services that are not school related.

The Chair noted that some independent schools had furloughed staff. However, they derived their income from different sources.

Members asked whether there was a programme for supporting individual schools and business managers.

The Head of Finance explained that a lot more analysis of schools’ budgets was taking place along with work from Business managers. More resources are being put into the scrutiny of school budgets.

Members noted that support was still on going for Business Managers and Governors via the Closing the Gap group. The Head of Finance was invited to join the Business Manager network.

The Head of Finance agreed to work with the Business manager network. This might be on a limited capacity.

The Headteacher representative highlighted the unfunded pay increase which will have significant impact on budgets along with the increased costs related to COVID-19.

The Chair asked for suggestions regarding working more closely with schools with large deficits along with schools that have a large surplus to share information on good practice.

Members asked if there was a Primary Business Managers network in the same way as the Secondary.

The Headteacher representative explained that there were systems in place. There is more to be done regarding the interface between L.A and schools.

The Headteacher representative explained Secondary schools have a legacy of business management support and not all primary schools have a business manager. There is a difference in the way the dynamics of the way that finance and business management work in primary schools. This is about supporting schools and establishing a working relationship.

Recommendations

The Chair asked members to vote to agree that clawback will not be applied to schools shown with uncommitted balances over 10% of budget.

  1. Vote to agree that clawback will not be applied to schools with uncommitted balances over 10% of budget

    Vote: For (9) Against (0) Abstentions (0)

Review of Schools’ Forum (Update)

The Chair explained that a link had been provided regarding the structure of the Schools’ Forum.

The 16-19 sector had been contacted regarding membership and would be reminded again. It was also noted that Primary, Secondary and Academy schools should be proportionately represented based on the number of pupils registered at them. These numbers have been requested. It was agreed to investigate the representation and bring the item back to the committee.

The Principal Education Officer agreed to provide that information.

The PVI representative agreed to contact colleagues regarding Schools’ Forum representation.

De-delegation report

The Head of Finance explained that the report would be made available at the next Schools’ Forum

Any other business

i) Guidance

The Primary Governor representative asked for guidance for Headteachers when students have been declined places, specifically at Madani School and specific schools in that area. The Principal Education Officer explained that guidance is available and would be provided forthwith.

ii) Schools’ Forum training session

Members asked if a training session could be arranged for new members and other members that would like to attend.

It was agreed to send out potential dates. (Action Clerk)

iii) The PVI representative asked how much of the COVID -19 discretionary fund had been allocated to the Early Years sector and if any funds are still available. Are Nurseries eligible for the £2.6 million lock down grant as there had been a lot of rejections?

The Principal Education Officer explained that assurances had been made with Nurseries that had not closed, but were not able to open to significant numbers would be eligible for funding. This issue is being followed up.

There being no further business, the Chair declared the meeting closed at 2pm.

The next Schools’ Forum date is 30 September 2020 Via MS Teams. Time 1pm

School Members Name
Mainstream Academies Mike Hobb, Jane Ridgewell, Julie Robinson
Special Academies  
Special School Governors  
Special School Heads Sarah Osbourne
Secondary School Governors Chandrika Patel
Secondary School Head representatives Anna White
Primary School Governors Steve Wilson, Liam Mahoney, Glenys Mulvany
Primary School Head representatives Matt Potts, Nigel Bruen, Karl Stewart
Pupil Referral Units Shaun Whittingham

Non-school member Name
Teaching Unions Jessica Edmonds (Chair)
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  
Martin Walsh Clerk to the Forum