Venue: Beaumanor Hall, Beaumanor Drive, Woodhouse, Leicestershire
Apologies for absence/Substitutions.
Apologies for absence were received from Nick Goforth (Dan Neal substituting), Kath Kelly (Julie McBrearty substituting), Paul Meredith, Edy O’Connor, Bill Nash, Heather Hall, David Hedley and Chris Swan
The minutes of the meeting held on Monday 4 December 2017 were agreed.
Jenny Lawrence made reference to the final paragraph on page 4 of the Schools’ Forum pack relating to “the baseline budget for 2019/20 will be 2018/19 school budgets”. Jenny clarified that it was for protection and the baseline will be 2017/18 in terms of minimum increase per pupil and 2018/19 for the funding ceiling.
Karen Allen commented that the previous minutes did not fully reflect the reasons why primary Forum members went against the LA proposal in terms of:
1. There had not been a radical benefit for changing the formula.
2. The proportion of children the schools were representing was a small % of children.
Karen Allen asked for some clarify about the outcome of the primary funding consultation which is outlined below.
Alison Bradley confirmed that the issue regarding governors communicating with their groups has been resolved through Governor Development Service.
Jane Moore introduced the report which sets out the position in respect of high needs expenditure and actions that are being taken to address increasing costs.
Jane outlined the priorities for the SEND Strategy priorities 2017 to 2020 which have been agreed and sit under this strategy. The High Needs budget was overspent in 2016/17 by £2.5M with placement costs being the biggest expenditure. For 2017/18 the budget was increased and the current forecast is £1.5M overspent.
Jane gave background information on the SEND placement costs and the individual provision Leicestershire currently provide. A High Needs Project has now been established to look at budgets within the High Needs budget in order to identify savings.
Jane said that there were six workstreams under the project, one of which is the Specialist Teaching Service. A review of this service will be launched in mid-March and will offer a more effective structure. Jane added that significant work has been carried out on a traded offer and once restructured a paper will be presented to Forum giving a clearer overview of the trading offer.
Jane referred to Children with Medical Needs workstream which is an area of significant overspend. Jane added that mental health and anxiety were areas of concern as the local authority have to rely on private providers to support children who are not able to be in school. The current budget position is unsustainable and therefore work will be carried out to review every case and to look at the longer-term options.
The workstream of SEN Sufficiency and Provision has involved developing local provision for children with higher functioning needs through Maplewell and Birchwood which has been well received. Secondary resource bases are already in place in Wigston and Shepshed and further resource bases have been agreed at Rawlins Academy, Hinckley Academy and Wigston All Saints Primary. Jane outlined that significant work has been carried out to develop provision in the area of hearing impaired, conversations have been started with the behaviour partnerships about developing Emotional Social Mental Health provision and as part of the early years restructure additional provision to support children early on is being worked on. For the post-16 area two independent colleges are working with the local authority on the offering to post-16 students.
Jean Lewis asked about the definition of post-16 and whether this was up to the age of 19. Jenny commented before SEND reform SEN for local authorities related to 2-19 but this extended under reform to 0-25.
Jane commented that there a lot of issues about the transitions and co-working with Adults is taking place. In addition, Jane said that she was currently working on a transitions policy. Ros Hopkins commented that the 19-25 provision needs to be developed if the direction is to come away from this. There are a minority of young people with complex needs which cannot be met in the FE sector. They would need to continue independent high quality provision which is not a clear alternative.
Jane informed the meeting that additional capacity will be added to the SEN Service to support the increased numbers of children coming through the system. The changes include an additional SEN Officer to work in a person centred way with a view to preparing for adulthood and the post 16 SENCO to be mainstreamed. The SEN Service will be reviewed so it is fit for the future.
Callum Orr expressed his thanks and appreciation to Jane on the areas of development which will make a massive difference. Jane added that there was a real commitment to drive this forward and will ... view the full minutes text for item 60.
Jenny Lawrence presented a paper on the 2018/19 Dedicated Schools Grant Settlement for Leicestershire and the 2018/19 Schools Budget. The report builds upon a number of reports to the introduction of the National Funding Formula.
Jenny explained the background to the funding system in terms of how it is received into the local authority and the role of the Schools’ Forum in setting the 2018/19 Schools budget.
Jenny referred to the Dedicated Schools Grant (paragraphs 20-21) section in the paper and highlighted to the Forum members that the high needs grant will not be confirmed until May 2018. Forum members were also asked to note that the final grant for Early Years is not expected to be confirmed until May 2019.
In terms of ranking for the DSG Schools’ block Leicestershire is the 23rd lowest funded for the primary pupil rate and third lowest for secondary.
Jenny referred to paragraph 26 which sets out the formula basis for high needs funding. For Leicestershire this results in a minor increase in funding for 2018/19 but includes c£4M of protection funding which is not guaranteed in the long term. Jenny asked Forum members to recognise this.
The Central Services Block of the DSG is a separate block for the first time in 2018/19. It funds historic financial commitments related to schools such as pre-retirement costs and ongoing centrally retained functions such as school place planning and other statutory requirements.
Paragraphs 37-44 sets out the school funding formula proposals for 2018/19 and 2019/20 which were considered and approved by the County Council’s Cabinet on 9 January 2018. The budgets were submitted to the ESFA and a query was received in respect of the funding held as growth. The position of the local authority was provided and this was accepted by the ESFA who have confirmed that the formula appears compliant with the funding regulations.
The Key Stage 3 rate per pupil was discussed at a previous Schools’ Forum. The NFF figures issued by ESFA in July 2017 included schools with only KS3 pupils receiving the higher per pupil minimum funding as for KS4 which was thought to be an error. As funding guidance sets out a weighted calculation for secondary schools with no KS4 pupils based on weighting the primary and secondary minimum per pupil funding rates, however Leicestershire high schools have no primary year groups. This position was queried with the ESFA who confirmed that there is ambiguity in the wording of the guidance and stated they would prefer that the KS3 minimum per pupil entitlement be funded and not the higher rate but cannot insist on this. The 2018/19 Leicestershire Formula applies the KS3 minimum per pupil funding rates for KS3 only schools. The affected school have been advised that this higher rate may only be applicable for 2018/19 and KS3 only schools may fall to the lower rate in 2019/20.
Jenny highlighted the rebalancing of the formula on the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) and the impact of the floors and ceiling impact. For 2018/19 there is a positive adjustment which has been reflected in the formula by an increase in the ceiling to 3.2% against 3.0% included within the NFF.
The DfE issued a paper in February 2018 on expected inflationary pressure on school budgets over 2018/19 and 2019/20. Local calculations suggest that the cost of support staff could increase by 4.5% (including pay award, NI and superannuation) but there was no information on the teaching award.
Paragraphs 51-57 sets out the schools’ approach to growth, which is the most significant financial risk for the schools block whilst ... view the full minutes text for item 61.
Any other business.
There was no further business.
Date of next meeting.
The following meeting dates were agreed:
Wednesday 20 June
Monday 24 September
Monday 26 November
All dates from 2.00 – 4.00 pm at Beaumanor Hall