Agenda and minutes

Leicestershire Schools' Forum
Monday, 26 November 2018 2.00 pm

Venue: Beaumanor Hall, Beaumanor Drive, Woodhouse, Leicestershire

Contact: Karen Brown / Bryn Emerson (Tel. 0116 305 6432)  Email: karen.m.brown@leics.gov.uk / Email: bryn.emerson@leics.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

80.

Apologies for absence/Substitutions.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Graham Bett, Dave Hedley (Martin Towers substituting), Clive Wright, Carolyn Lewis and Councillor Ivan Ould.

 

Karen Allen gave an update on the Schools’ Forum membership as follows:

 

  • Edy O’Connor is no longer the CE representative and Carolyn Lewis will attend until a representative is appointed.
  • Suzanne Uprichard has been reappointed as representative of the Pupil Referral Unit
  • The three vacancies for maintained governor representatives, the vacancies for secondary maintained and secondary academy governor representatives are currently going through the appointment process.

 

  • Awaiting confirmation of the Post-16 representative.

 

81.

Minutes of the Meeting held on 24 September 2018 (previously circulated) and matters arising. pdf icon PDF 302 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 24 September 2018 were agreed.

 

82.

Schools Budget Update pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Minutes:

Jenny Lawrence introduced the report which sets out for Schools’ Forum’s information a number of financial issues including the basis for the 2019/20 School Funding Formula.

 

Jenny explained that the basis for the 2019/20 Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) is unchanged by the Department for Education with the exception of a new methodology for funding local authorities for school growth.  Jenny gave an update within the Schools’ Block.  Jenny stated that schools will fully receive their rent where allowable and rates using funding formula agreed for 2018/19.  It was not possible to set out the level of growth funding to be received as not all the census information was available.  An update will be provided at the next meeting.  In terms of Early Years’ settlement this will remain the same which includes funding the Early Years’ Service.  The Central Block meets the local authority’s statutory responsibilities that remain for all schools.

 

Jenny highlighted the changes made by the DfE to the 2019/20 NFF funding rates.  The funding guarantees remain on a per pupil basis so schools with a falling number on roll will see a reduction in funding. 

 

DSG allocations for the schools, high needs and central schools’ service blocks will be updated by the DfE for the October 2018 census and revised allocations will be available in December.  Jenny added that there will be no changes to the Leicestershire school funding formula and no transfer from schools to the high needs block; Leicestershire is one of the few authorities not to do so for 2019/20.

 

Jenny reported that paragraphs 8-12 sets out the changes in growth funding.  The growth policy will need to be presented to Schools’ Forum in order to understand the new formula (paragraph 10) for Leicestershire, the build in the profile for new and expanding schools and future age range change protection.

Jenny outlined the teachers’ pay award rates set by the DfE for the teachers’ pay grant based upon the October 2017 school census.  Jenny added that the ESFA have indicated that the teachers’ pay grant will continue into 2020/21 but is likely to be absorbed into the funding formula.  David Thomas asked how this will tie in with the minimum increase per pupil.  Jenny stated that this was only guaranteed for 2018/19 and 2019/20 and in terms of 2020 there was no indication of school funding or any future funding protection levels; the only information available is that it would be a soft formula for 2020/21 with future funding levels dependent upon Comprehensive Spending Review, the date of which and the period it will cover are unknown.

 

In terms of support staff pay it has been necessary to address the issues of the national living wages impacting on the local government pay award and the implications for the Leicestershire County Council pay structure and therefore a new salary structure is being consulted on.  The implications will differ between schools and academies that adopt the Leicestershire pay structure but are estimated between 4% and 7% of support staff pay.  There were large concerns expressed at the meeting about the support staff pay scales which will in some cases require a restructure. 

 

Jenny stated that the Government announced £400m of additional funding in October which suggests will be a one off grant for 2018/19 and is a capital grant.  Details of this were awaited.

 

The local authority received a capital grant of £0.2m for maintained schools from the Healthy Pupils Fund which has been allocated across all schools.  Jenny stated that schools are asked if the money has been spent using the correct guidelines in December and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 82.

83.

High Needs Block Recovery Plan pdf icon PDF 431 KB

Minutes:

Jane Moore introduced the report which builds upon the presentation from the Schools’ Forum meeting on 24 September setting out the position in terms of high needs provision and presents the proposals for the High Needs Recovery Plan.

 

Jane gave explained that nationally there are growing concerns over the high needs block and high needs deficiency across the country.  Paragraphs 8 and 9 give the key issues which were founded by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and National Association of Headteachers.  There are indications that the DfE are aware of the financial pressures but have yet to provide a solution.

 

For Leicestershire, the High Needs Block Dedicated Schools Grant budget for 2017/18 was £61m and overspent by £1.1m.  At the end of Period 6 for this financial year the projected overspend on the high needs block was £3.6m.  The DSG reserve is £2.2m resulting in an overall deficit of £1.4m.  As outlined in the report, Jane highlighted the factors that the overspend relates to and the system wide issues in how the funding is determined.  This increase in overspend sits alongside a backdrop of a number of key issues which are outlined in the report.  Jane stated that the projected increase in provision demand over the next 5 years is 22% and based on a number of factors, the expected financial position to 2022/23 is a £44m cumulative deficit if no actions are taken which is financially unsustainable and therefore not an option.

 

Jane stated that through expansion of current provision and the development of new provision it is possible to reduce the high needs overspend and in time, estimated to be 2023/24, result in expenditure being brought into line with the grant.

 

The table in paragraph 16.3 sets out the deficit plan in order to reduce the overspend by 2022/23.  Jane acknowledged the huge financial risks associated with the recovery plan which is outlined in paragraph 16.4.  Leicestershire is one of the few local authorities that have not implemented a transfer of funding from the schools to the high needs block for 2018/19 or considering doing so for 2019/20.  Jane stated that most other local authorities high needs recovery plans are not being delivered through Invest to Save schemes but are cutting services and moving funding from other blocks.

 

Jane referred to paragraph 17 which outlined the focussed activities for the recovery plan, the third one being the area where most of the costs will be.  Jane outlined the provisional plan that has been developed to significantly grow Leicestershire SEN provision.  The closing date for expressions of interest from schools to develop specialist provision is Friday 30 November 2018. 

 

In order to manage the deficit approval will be sought from the Schools’ Forum annually to carry forward the deficit in line with the requirements of the terms and conditions of grant.  The local authority is also required to report annually to the DfE to bring DSG expenditure in line with the grant.  A report is to be presented to Cabinet in December to seek approval to conduct a formal consultation process.

 

Chris Parkinson asked if the cumulative surplus would fund the high needs overspend and asked what the future need was.  Jenny said that we are dependent on being able to predict the rate of housing growth. 

 

Jenny Lawrence added that these are two issues that need to managed alongside each other; it is not acceptable for local authorities to have a high needs deficit funded by school growth, the local authority plans to ‘bank’ unallocated school growth allocations as the need is a future one  ...  view the full minutes text for item 83.

84.

Any other business.

Minutes:

There was no further business.

85.

Date of next meeting.

Monday 26 November 2018, 2.00 – 4.00 pm at Beaumanor Hall

 

Proposed Dates to be agreed:

 

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Monday 10 June 2019

 

Minutes:

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Monday 10 June 2019

 

Both 2.00 – 4.00 pm at Beaumanor Hall.