Agenda and minutes

BCP Schools Forum
Friday, 14th December, 2018 8.00 am

Venue: Main Hall, Bournemouth Learning Centre, Ensbury Ave, Bournemouth BH10 4HG

Contact: Marilyn Scofield-Marlowe  Email: marilyn.scofield-marlowe@poole.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

20.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

None.

21.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests.

22.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 November 2018.

Minutes:

Page 5, Item 5 (i) - It was agreed this be reworded to:

‘Support the recommendations of the formula subgroup in establishing the formula changes required to achieve various levels of transfer’

 

Page 7, Item 6 (i) – It was agreed that this should also be reworded as above.

Minutes of the Meeting held on 13 November 2018 agreed subject to the changes above. To be signed by the Chair further to those changes.

 

ACTION: Clerk to amend minutes as above for Chair to sign.

23.

Report of the High Needs Block Financial Strategy Group pdf icon PDF 607 KB

To consider the report.

Minutes:

The Forum was asked to consider all the information put before them before coming to a decision or making a recommendation.

 

Dave Simpson presented the report on behalf of the High Needs Block (HNB) Financial Strategy Group.

 

Comments noted:

·                Banding of Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) funding moves the financial pressure out of the High Needs Block and into schools’ budgets.

·                There is not enough money in the pot to cover the demand.

·                The HNB Financial Strategy Group has value and would like to continue to meet to draw together the strategy for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP).

·                Vicky Wales noted that across the 3 meetings there had been good engagement and representation and they had looked at the issues in detail across BCP and the actions being taken. The situation is clearly very difficult but this is also a national issue. The need to continue lobbying Government was highlighted and thanks were expressed to Members for speaking to local MPs about this.

·                It was noted that banding exists in the Early Years Sector and in top-ups in special schools. This helps give more clarity to parents and takes away the emphasis on 1:1 funding.

·                There is support for Outreach Services.

·                The recommendations from this report are looking at the ways of keeping pupils in mainstream schools and supporting funding moving to local provision.

·                Issues around permanent exclusions were discussed in the group and what opportunities there are to look at this. A group has already been formed to explore this further.

 

The Chair requested any questions regarding the report. A summary of questions with responses was as follows:

·         Referring to Page 19 of the papers, what level of savings had already been achieved in independent special schools. Vicky Wales stated that in Poole a reduction of approximately 300k had been achieved and this was similar in Bournemouth in this part of the budget. This had been achieved by reviewing placements with a focus on outcomes, looking at contractual arrangements and value for money and a new South West Framework is being introduced.

·         Regarding investing to save, who would validate the amount of money and evaluate the investment in outreach services. Vicky Wales confirmed that both Poole and Bournemouth had worked with providers, and been informed by the ISOS reviews and looked at pupils moving from mainstream into special provision mainly around ASD. Poole have reviewed and set up a framework to look at and measure impact of outreach services. This will be adopted across the area. There is a need to continue to work in partnership to look at value for money and impact of outreach services in BCP. A Forum Member noted that outreach work in Poole is already well established.

·         Given the capacity issues around specialist provision, why had Bournemouth and Poole not put in a bid to open a special free school?  Vicky Wales noted that they had been aware that Dorset had put in a bid to open a free school in Bovington so  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Mainstream Schools Formula Consultation pdf icon PDF 191 KB

To consider the report

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jack Cutler presented the report at Agenda item 5 in detail relating to the Mainstream Schools Funding Formula Consultation responses. 

 

·         This information was presented in order for the Forum to consider whether they continue to support the funding formula principles as set out within the consultation paper in full or whether any adjustments should be made.

·         This consultation referred to the formula used to distribute rather than looking at the size of any transfer from the school’s block to the High Needs Block (HNB).

·         The response rate to the consultation was relatively high at 63 of 89 schools including 2 special schools out of 7.

·         The report provided the analysis of responses and a summary with commentary.

·         Section 3.2 shows a breakdown of respondents and indicates a good spread across all phases.

 

Queries and responses were as follows:

·         Why is MFG being set at potentially -1.5% when there is a 1% floor? It was stated that the technicalities of this are quite subtle as there is potentially floor protection compared with 2017-18 funding but the MFG applies against 2018-19 and it may not impact on a lot of schools – it is possible this has skewed the responses. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to question 1b (1% floor to be introduced if there is no transfer of funding).

·         Clarification requested on the lump sum payment as there are a range of schools including first schools and middle schools. Jack Cutler clarified the payment would be a lump sum per school irrespective of type of school.

·         Split site funding was queried – there is only 1 primary school this applies to. The impact of including that or not was discussed. The amount impacting on that school would be 66k from an equitable perspective should this be included or not. That particular school is not currently impacted by this potential funding adjustment.

·         Some clarification requested around question 3b (approach that all schools should contribute to the transfer using the various levers proposed). The principle behind this question was how do we make it an equitable transfer. The responses were mixed but this could have been because there was some confusion around the question as there were a number of ‘not sures’. The Chair noted that if respondents had not been at Forum meetings or been part of the working group it would have been difficult to understand the question. It was further noted by a Forum Member that feedback from colleagues in Christchurch was that it had been challenging to understand the questions in the survey. Nicola Webb commented they had worked through all the slides at the three consultation events and had responded to any queries on how the formula works.

·         Confirmation sought of whether there were any responses to suggest that schools are not happy with the principles to achieve a transfer. There had been discussion at the Formula sub group meetings about which formula factor to adjust in lever 5 and the Basic Entitlement had been seen as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Central Services for all Schools pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To consider the report.

Minutes:

Nicola Webb presented the report in detail. Table 6 indicated the proposed budget for 2019-20.

 

It was noted that these are budgets supporting all schools. Admissions will become one service for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) during next year and there will be opportunities to make savings but these will come over time, as current arrangements will need to continue for this current academic year, with Dorset continuing the process for Christchurch in the summer term. Other services will also be configured during next year.

 

It was noted that it is important to recognise that some savings have already been made from this budget and more will be needed in 2020-21 as funding reduces further.

 

Queries raised:

·         How much choice do schools have over this? If there is a reduction then the LA will need to decide what it can provide to schools within what is agreed.

·         Historic commitments - how long will they continue? Nicola Webb confirmed that one relates to pensions (Christchurch) so would continue while eligibility for  payments continues. Neil Goddard confirmed that the Bournemouth ASD base will have 25 more years but this is an invest-to-save example and there could be similar options in the future. That particular route to fund it is no longer available, but this was a decision taken by Bournemouth Schools Forum previously.

 

RESOLVED that

 

a)        The total budget for central services for all schools is to be set at the level of funding provided through the Central Services Block (estimated at £2,083,000)

          UNANIMOUSLY AGREED

 

b)        The detail of individual budgets to be set as scheduled in Table 1 in paragraph 6 with any residual surplus or shortfall allocated to LA Ex ESG statutory services.

UNANIMOUSLY AGREED

 

26.

Funding Transfer from Schools Block to High Needs Block pdf icon PDF 192 KB

To consider the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Neil Goddard apologised for there not being a paper on what he was about to propose.  This was because proposals were still being considered in the period leading up to the Forum meeting.

 

All have agreed that there is insufficient funding in the HNB to meet the need. The ideal outcome would be to attract more funding and that is being pursued through various routes, however we have to assume that no more DSG will be allocated for high needs for 2019-20. 

 

There is cumulative deficit of around £4.5m which the new LA will inherit and hold at risk. The focus today is on the predicted in year deficit of £5.4m. There is a lot planned to get to that point but that is the current position having reviewed all budgets thoroughly. 

 

There are a number of options to deal with this annual deficit:

·                It could be left to grow to demonstrate to Government the difficulties we are under – this is not possible as the Council must be able to demonstrate a balanced budget, including the DSG for 2019/20 to comply with financial regulations.

·                The LA could look to balance it by making some extremely difficult decisions about the HNB but would prefer to work in partnership with this Forum to explore possible options for a potential transfer from the schools block to the HNB.

·                This Forum can approve a transfer of up to 0.5% of the schools block. Above this level, even with Forum support, approval must be sought from the Secretary of State.

·                The LA can choose to request a transfer above the level approved by the Forum by applying directly to the Secretary of State.

When the Formula Sub-Group of the Shadow Schools Forum met to consider how a transfer could be funded, it concluded that:

·                If a transfer was to be made, then this should impact as equitably as possible on all schools

·                A transfer of over 1.5% would not be achievable while maintaining this equitable impact.

The LA accepts both these principles and therefore if School’s Forum approves a transfer of at least 1.5%, it will not seek approval from the Secretary of State for a larger transfer.

 

A number of further points were made:

·                The High Needs report lists possible savings in the HNB to the level of 2.3m but these would be very difficult and unpalatable and could be counter productive if there are increases in Tribunal cases and costs.

·                Historically Elected Members have taken the view that the LA will not contribute to DSG funding. This has been ringfenced with the expectation that Schools Forum will balance that budget.

·                LAs have been hardest hit by austerity and pressures on demand led budgets so have had to make considerable savings across all services. However, there are a specific set of circumstances for us in 3 LAs coming together which have further impacted.

·                Lead members have been consulted regarding the current difficulties in balancing high needs and there is an opportunity under these  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.

27.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To discuss meeting dates for 2019 and consider the forward plan.

Minutes:

Not discussed.

 

28.

Any Other Business

To consider any other business which, in the opinion of the chairman, is of

sufficient urgency to warrant consideration.

Minutes:

There was no other business.