Agenda and minutes

BCP Schools Forum
Tuesday, 8th January, 2019 4.00 pm

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

29.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Geoff Cherrill – Head Teacher, Winchelsea School

Kate Carter – CEO, TEACH Academy Trust

Sue Ross – Executive Director, Adults and Children, Bournemouth

Michael Reid - Finance Director, Ambitions Academy Trust; Sian Thomas substituting.

 

30.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests.

31.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 117 KB

To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 14 December 2018.

Minutes:

The Chair signed the amended minutes from the meeting held on 13 November 2019 as previous resolved.

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Meeting held on 14 December 2018, having been previously circulated, be taken as read, signed and confirmed by the Chairman as a correct record.

 

32.

Financial Settlement for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To consider the report.

Minutes:

Nicola Webb presented the paper provided relating to the Financial Settlement for BCP 2019-20.

 

Summary of main points:

 

·         Initial allocations for the Early Years Block are estimated (based on the January 2018 census). The draft budget will be updated to take into account local estimates of the 2019 and 2020 January census points.

·         The Schools Block has been finalised based on the October 2018 schools census, with the growth in pupil numbers providing an increase in funding of £2.2 million compared with the 2019-20 NFF based on the October 2017 census. This is largely from the growth in secondary pupils in Bournemouth schools. The Growth Fund is greater than the minimum expected by £432k.

·         Final allocations for the Central School Services Block are based on the October 2018 census with the increase in pupil numbers providing an additional £24k of funding.  This increase was insufficient to cover the increase in charges for national DfE licenses of £39k. This means £15k less funding is available to support LA services.

·         Initial allocations for the High Needs Block reflect BCP’s share of the national £125million at £798k. The relatively small funding element dependent on the January 2019 census will be updated by the DfE in summer 2019.   Extra funding for 2018/19 would be used towards the existing pressures and reduce the deficit brought forward into BCP.

 

No questions were raised by Forum members.

 

RESOLVED that the report was noted.

 

The Chair expressed the view that all decisions should be made at the end of the meeting following the presentation of all reports, as the decisions were considered to be interdependent.

 

33.

Early Years pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To consider the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Amanda Gridley, Early Years Services Manager, Borough of Poole and Steve Ellis, Education Management Accountant, presented the paper provided.

 

It was explained that a new Early Years Single Funding Formula (EYSFF) for BCP is required for April 2019.

 

A group of provider representatives from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) helped to shape proposals which have been consulted on with providers across BCP. The response rate from providers was 27% and meetings were also held with the sector in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. The consultation responses were provided in Appendix A.

 

Providers were united in communicating that the Government’s funding rate of £4.30 for 3 and 4 year olds is too low, which results in significant challenges.  The funding provided is outside of Local Authority control and the importance of continued lobbying to Central Government by both the Local Authority and the sector was an agreed point.

 

A clear majority of providers felt that the deprivation supplement should be the only supplement in the formula.  The rate of 53p provided differing views, as some providers would prefer to see a lower supplement rate and a higher base rate.  When devising the budget, it was explained that the rate of 53p (3% of the EYSFF) gave the least number of losses across the sector.

 

2 tiers of funding were proposed for Special Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  Concerns were raised that the criteria for this had not been finalised at the point of consultation.  This is due to be shared with providers in January 2019.

 

The majority of providers did not support the inclusion of a protection element and the inclusion of a protection element is therefore not being recommended to Forum as this would mean a reduction in base rate funding of 3p.

 

Despite some reservations highlighted by providers throughout the consultation, the responses showed that providers were generally in agreement with the proposals that had been put forward in the consultation.

 

Providers have requested the removal of the word “free” from BCP marketing materials.  This is felt to give unrealistic expectations to parents that all services will be provided free of charge, when the funding provided is insufficient to allow this and additional charges are required.  The Local Authority is seeking advice from the DfE regarding this, as it is known that other Local Authorities have done this, by replacing the word “free” with “funded”. 

 

It was recognised that the change in funding has impact on providers, and providers were praised for their engagement and work with the Local Authority. 

 

Training and support is planned for providers who have been affected the most by the changes in funding.

 

The response rate of 27% to the consultation was queried; the high needs transfer consultation response rate of 26% was considered insufficient at the December meeting and additional time was given for responses.  It was queried whether a 27% response rate gave an accurate representation of the views of providers; concerns were raised that the decision had been made before the consultation was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Growth Fund pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To consider the report.

Minutes:

Jack Cutler presented the paper provided.  Explicit growth funding must be set at a local level through an established funding policy. The paper provided sets out proposals for this policy across BCP for 2019-20 for Schools Forum decision.

 

The Local Authority has been allocated £1.806m through the Growth Fund within the School Block, an increase from the budget planning assumption (£1.374m) of £0.432m.

 

It was noted that, currently, Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole have differences in Growth Fund Polices but in the main aspects are fairly consistent.  The existing policies were considered by the Budget Reference Group, mindful that schools would have short notice of any changes in policy and this could impact on financial plans.  The paper gives the recommendations from this Group.

 

The recommendation is to continue to fund under the existing policies for 2019-20 with a new aligned policy across BCP taking effect for 2020-21.

 

Under the proposed policy the total funding for growth (implicit and explicit) is estimated at £1.144m. This leaves £0.662m remaining for either the mainstream school formula funding or to contribute towards any transfer to High Needs.

 

It was raised that there was the potential for positive discrimination against schools in different areas due to different policies being applied across areas. 

 

There is 1 school in Poole that could potentially be significantly disadvantaged depending on final growth in September 2019 compared with Bournemouth or Christchurch schools in the same circumstances. It was confirmed that for consistency in approach the budget does not need to change (allows for the maximum possible growth) but the final allocation could be different than would otherwise have been. Therefore, it was considered that this needs to be added as an adjustment to the policy used.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

(i)   Approval given that the current Growth Fund policies of the 3 existing Local Authorities are to continue for the relevant schools for 2019-20, with the exception that the principles of Bournemouth and Dorset to be applied to any Poole school that does not realise expected pupil growthand a central budget allowance is made of £779,000; by unanimous agreement of 17 votes.

 

(ii)  Approval that a consistent Growth Fund policy is to be established for BCP for 2020-21, by unanimous agreement of 17 votes.

 

35.

High Needs Transfer pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To consider the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Nicola Webb gave an overview of the paper provided.  The additional DSG funding of £0.8m for BCP for 2019-20 is very welcome news, and reduces the remaining funding gap (after the early years transfer) to £4.6m.  

 

This report proposes that the SSF is to agree a £2.2m transfer (1.1%) from the Schools Block with the Council being approached for a one off contribution to support the DSG of £2.4m.  The amount of transfer was queried, as this has also been referred to as 0.8%.  It was clarified that this is due to the increased level of growth funding compared with the previous expectation; the amount proposed for transfer of £2.2m has not changed.  The 0.8% refers to the amount needed to be found from the NFF allocations, the balance is from growth funding.

 

The BCP Shadow Authority will make its budget decisions on 21 February 2019.

 

It was noted that, although the transfer to the HNB is similar compared with previous years, the impact of banding in conjunction with this must be considered.  Some schools have shared concerns regarding this combined impact.  It was noted that Christchurch schools do not support HNB transfers of greater than 0.5%, due to the combined effect of this with banding.  It was explained that a 0.5% transfer would not provide a balanced budget, the Council contribution is at the maximum and a lower level of transfer could mean that the band funding would need to reduce further.

 

It was queried whether the £2.4m contribution from the Council had been confirmed as agreed, as this would affect the decisions made around the budget.  It was confirmed that Lead Councillors support the contribution and there is every expectation this will be agreed at Council.

 

It was noted that a central government comprehensive spending review is taking place for 2020-21 with the high needs issues now recognised, as evidenced by the additional funding for both the current and next year. At this stage we have to hope that more DSG funding will be forthcoming or central polices changed and that our local work to manage demand is successful as the £2.4m council contribution can be for one year only. 

 

The levels of HNB spend were discussed; it was confirmed that this data is being considered by the HNB Financial Strategy Group as Forum had recommended last time that this Group should continue.  Although it is difficult to extrapolate data relating to Christchurch from the overall Dorset figures, it can be confirmed that costs are rising across the conurbation.  Out of borough placements are the most expensive type of provision; a single placement can have significant effect on overall spend.  This is recognised as a national issue.

 

The HNB Financial Strategy Group has been tasked to work on a single BCP financial strategy to reduce HNB costs and monitor the impact of these actions; detailed financial reports are to be made to Forum as had been the case in Poole.  This is ongoing work.  The Financial Strategy Group  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.

36.

Maintained School Central Retentions pdf icon PDF 172 KB

To consider the report.

Minutes:

Nicola Webb presented an overview of the paper provided.  Table 1 of the paper provides a costed breakdown of the duties of the Local Authority.

 

It was noted that every year, the amount taken by Poole has reduced.

 

Table 2 provides detail of the retention from individual schools, based on the October 2018 census. This is effectively a pooled budget and schools will use some services (such as internal audit) in some years more than others. 

 

The implications of failure to retain funding for these duties were discussed.   It was explained that some services would become chargeable if possible where they went beyond the minimum required; although the Local Authority wished to avoid this.  It was expressed that this would not be an efficient use of Local Authority or school time.  Another alternative, as outlined in the report, would be to approach the DfE to make the decision.

 

It was raised that Dorset provided more services to maintained schools than Bournemouth or Poole, such as building maintenance. It was noted that how each LA provided services was different and the distinction between traded and statutory elements of services has not always been made clear. Bournemouth and Dorset have not previously introduced the central retention. DCC is proposing this for the first time from April 2019. In particular, the maintenance of school buildings is a function delegated to schools. The LA has statutory duties and capital allocations to support this. 

 

The proposal to Forum is that central retention budgets to be agreed as set out in Paragraph 10, table 1 of the provided paper, voted on by the 3 maintained school representatives only (1 being absent).

 

RESOLVED that, contrary to the Officer recommendations:

 

(i)   The central retention budgets not be agreed as set out in Paragraph 10, Table 1 of the Report; 3 votes against.

 

(ii)  The central retention rates not be set at the proposed figures:

·         Mainstream schools £22.89 per pupil

·         Special school and Alternative provision £97.27 per place, by unanimous agreement.

 

37.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To note the Forward Plan.

Minutes:

The future plans for the cessation of the Shadow Schools Forum and the new Schools Forum required for BCP will be discussed at the next meeting.

 

38.

Any Other Business

To consider any business which, in the opinion of the Chairman, is of sufficient urgency to warrant consideration.

Minutes:

No other business raised.  The Chair thanked all members for their valued contribution to the discussion.