Agenda and draft minutes

Schools Forum
Wednesday, 25th September, 2019 8.00 am

Venue: Main Hall - Bournemouth Learning Centre - BLC. View directions

Contact: Jacqui Phillips  Email: jacqui.phillips@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

13.

Introduction

Minutes:

The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed all present.  

 

14.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Linda Duly – Early Years Rep – Cuddles Day Nursery

Lauren Dean – Primary Academy – Principle, King’s Park Academy

Angela Malanczuk – Principal and Chair of PSA, Stanley Green Infant School

Bridget Hincks – Chair of Governors, St. Joseph’s Primary School

Councillor Sandra Moore, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families

15.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests from Forum Members/Officers in matters appearing on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests.

 

16.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 177 KB

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting, held on 13 June 2019, as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Meeting held on 13 June 2019, having been previously circulated, be taken as read, signed and confirmed by the Chairman as a correct record.

 

It was noted that all other matters arising are covered in the agenda.

17.

Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Budget Monitoring 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 325 KB

To consider the information report.

Minutes:

Nicola Webb, Assistant Chief Finance Officer, BCP Council, presented the report for Dedicated Schools Grant Budget Monitoring for 2019-2020.

 

Summary of main points:

 

·         The forecast end of year position for the DSG budget 2019-20 will be a net deficit of £1m.

·         The SEN expenditure is continuing to rise despite actions in place.

·         There has been extra funding coming into the High Needs Block (HNB) due to the import/export adjustment where there is a cross border flow of pupils. The details were taken from the January 19 Census which was finalised in July 2019.  The outcomes of this were not available when setting the budget in February.

·         There was additional funding from Early Years (EY) also from the January 2019 census that was underestimated in closing the Bournemouth and Poole 2018-19 financial statements. This will now be recorded as income for BCP in 2019-20 as a prior year adjustment.

·         The unbudgeted growth in the HNB is summarised in the paper and it was noted that it is an ongoing problem. It is anticipated this will continue into next year unless further actions are taken to stem demand.

·         Appendix C is the Directors’ report to Council for the end of June budget position which shows the already planned actions being taken. Additional places for SEN have been created in both mainstream and special schools. This new state-funded capacity has quickly filled with new demand with further pupils needing to be placed in the independent sector which is costly. 

·         Appendix C Key Financial Health Indicator schedule gives a summary of the areas and targets, and financial impact of non-achievement. This schedule will be considered by the Task and Finish Group at the next meeting in early October.

 

Questions were invited from Forum.

 

It was confirmed that the underspend in Appendix A of £1.2m in Place Funding is offset by the overspend in the independent sector.

 

The overspend on Bespoke/Therapies was largely due to Christchurch pupils who were still under assessment at 1 April or this activity had not yet started. High Cost temporary placements have had to be used whilst permanent arrangements are put in place. 

 

It was noted in Appendix C that there are 18% of pupils under BCP in independent provision whilst the national average is 4.7%. It was suggested that if this issue could be solved then it would resolve the HNB budget overspend.

 

Concerns were raised on the issue of independent schools outside of the BCP area being included on the Local Offer. It was noted that BCP had a strategy of creating extra places locally in order to avoid using independent places. The increase in demand meant that the places were taken up by that rather than taking children from the independent sector.

 

Significant places have been created in recent years. It was noted that there had been discussions about bidding for a special free school to create additional capacity. In the last round of special free schools bidding the previous councils were co-contributors to the Bovington School  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Budget Guidance 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 106 KB

To consider the information report.

Minutes:

Nicola Webb, Assistant Chief Finance Officer, BCP Council, presented the report.

 

It was confirmed that some of the report had been covered in the previous discussions.

 

There will be an estimated additional £3m for the HNB.

 

The headline for mainstream schools is a 4% increase in almost all formula factor per pupil amounts. The schools that are on the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) will not see an increase of that amount. It was noted that the Government’s strategy for the National Funding Formula (NFF) has provided the schools with the greatest estimated overall needs with the lowest increase in funding compared with 2017-18. This is largely because local formulae had previously provided higher allocations than the NFF for deprivation. The NFF typically provides less variation in funding between schools compared with previous local arrangements. 

 

The inflation rate is currently 1.84% and the Government want to set the MFG in the National Funding Formula (NFF) at that rate. The council then has the option to reduce this in the local formula but with a minimum of 0.5%.

 

The mainstream NFF allocation to BCP is estimated in the mainstream formula paper on the agenda. The Government is not planning a big increase for Early Years (less than 2%) so this was not part of the headlines.

 

It was noted that the small increase to Early Years may not cover the National Living Wage. Historically there has been an increase each year of 4 to 5% but the indication is that it could be below that level in 2020-21 and perhaps the funding increase for early year suggests it might be increased by only the rate of inflation.

 

Concerns were raised that this would not bring the sector back to its original position and Early Years providers have had to increase the cost of private places. It was suggested this could impact on parents or the sufficiency of places and ultimately might reduce the scale of early intervention with a financial impact on the high needs budget later.

 

It was considered that the increased high needs cost had come from improved services reaching more children. The government has announced it wants services for pupils with SEND to improve further.  Based on experience since the 2014 reforms it is likely that this would increase high needs costs further. It was explained that the NFF gave additional money for children with certain characteristics. It was suggested that if the schools had enough funding more children could be managed within mainstream and fewer would need special provision.

 

A discussion was held on the fact that schools in this area had less HNB funding than in other areas. In response it was noted that the LA quoted as an example was believed to be in DSG deficit position. It was explained that this was not a funding issue, it’s a high needs issue and the council would be remiss in their duty to allow the deficit to increase without an agreed means for its recovery.

 

RESOLVED that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Permanent Exclusion: Funding Arrangements 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 324 KB

To consider the information report.

Minutes:

Jack Cutler, Quality and Commissioning, BCP Council, presented the report.

 

When a pupil is excluded there is a financial adjustment that follows the pupil into another school or an Alternative Provision (AP). There is a statutory minimum that must be applied and that minimum is currently applied across BCP.

 

The report proposes a change to the way that the financial adjustment is made and looks for a decision from Forum members to support the decision. If agreed by Forum, the Local Authority will approach all BCP schools to request their sign-up.

 

The proposal addresses the fact that a pupil would attract funding to the end of that financial year (reflecting the different financial year for academies) and for the next year also if the pupil was excluded after census. That is the school would have the funding but not the pupil. The proposal means that the admitting school would receive a larger share of the funding. This will also mean that the funding contribution to the high needs block for the costs of AP would be greater.

 

The proposal also considers when the pupil is still on roll at the school but receives Medical Provision. It proposes that the daily rate of funding is adjusted for the Medical Provision. The rate would be based on the funding attracted by that pupil to the school on an annual basis and worked out at a daily rate.

 

There are 2 options:

 

1.    Continue to apply the statutory minimum required under the Financial Regulations.

 

2.    Apply the proposed enhancements across excluded pupils including Medical Placements and other Alternative Provision arrangements.

 

Table 2 shows in 2018-19 the financial impact under the two options. Table 1 indicates that this is a growing area of concern, especially in the secondary sector.

 

The Forum was asked to consider the 2 options.

 

Concerns were raised about the money following the child. If a child is excluded in Yr7 after the October Census the school will not have received funding for that child until they were in Yr8. Potentially the proposal could generate an unfair approach.

 

A discussion was held on the Operational Guidance. It was suggested that schools do not manage their budget based on individual pupils and that option 2 goes against operational practice in schools. Concerns were raised about the option being fair to the receiving school but unfair to the school that would lose the funding.

 

Other concerns were raised regarding Yr11 students and how option 2 would potentially lead to perverse outcomes.

 

It was questioned whether there are any schools within BCP that were on estimated funding. It was suggested that the option would not work for these schools. It was agreed that special arrangements for these schools would need to be taken into account.

 

It was stated that all schools need to agree the option and there would be a clearer case for schools if Schools Forum have agreed the option. A view was put forward that there is a lot of movement  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

BCP Mainstream Funding Formula 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 244 KB

To consider the information report.

Minutes:

Jack Cutler, Quality and Commissioning, BCP Council, presented the report.

 

There has not been the same level of announcements that there would normally be at this time of year. There is a good indication of what the NFF will be. There will be few changes to the NFF in 20/21 compared to last year. The minimum per pupil funding levels (MPPFLs) will increase by £250 for Primary and £200 for Secondary.

The Mobility factor is included in the calculation to these MPPFLs. It was noted that the MPPFL is received by the LA to distribute to schools.

 

The Government is consulting on making the minimum levels mandatory in the Local Formula. Schools were encouraged to engage with the consultation.

 

The Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) will be allocated through the NFF at 1.84% in line with inflation. Locally a variance can be set between 0.5% and 1.84%. A majority of the funding formula factors will see an increase of 4% for 20/21 except for the Free Schools Meals (FSM) factor.

 

Projections based on current knowns and assumptions, and static pupil numbers show that primary phase funding will increase by 6% and secondary by 5%. Table 2 showed the predicted difference this would make to NFF. It would bring more schools onto the NFF.

 

The formula is less generous to schools on MFG that have high levels of deprivation and additional needs and will therefore be protected. There are fewer schools on MFG than last year.

 

Different scenarios were put forward on how the formula may work but it was noted until the full details were released the figures could not be confirmed. It was suggested that a smaller growth factor will be received this year. Currently BCP only has growth in the secondary sector and this will be the first year this would be funded through local basic need growth funding.

 

It was questioned whether the amount of growth funding received would meet the growth factor and it was confirmed that current forecasts suggest it would.

 

Questions were invited from Forum.

 

A discussion was held on whether the LA had considered how its merger and funding would affect maintained special schools. It was asked whether the LA would be required to apply the same MFG rate for special schools as that set for mainstream schools. During the meeting it was reported that this is likely to be the case but has not yet been confirmed by the DfE. Post meeting the LA has revised this view and are not expecting special school MFG to be required to be identical to mainstream school MFG. It was noted that this may be an opportunity to look at special school funding as a whole and review the decisions made historically.

 

It was noted that last year all schools contributed towards the transfer into the HNB. With the expected Government decision that the MPPFL’s cannot be changed this could potentially mean a large proportion of schools would not contribute to any transfer of funding to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

BCP Growth Funding Policy 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 322 KB

To consider the information report.

Minutes:

Jack Cutler, Quality and Commissioning, BCP Council, presented the report.

 

A policy for 19/20 was put in place for the first year of BCP and existing growth would be funded under the legacy LA policy that was applicable to when the growth was put in place. The only exception was an adjustment to the legacy Poole LA policy.

 

There are 2 options;

 

1.    To continue to fund existing growth under the arrangements put in place for 19/20 and for new growth introduce an aligned policy. The policies are similar across BCP apart from a slight difference in legacy Dorset. Legacy Dorset considers a form of entry as 25 rather than the 30 that Bournemouth and Poole consider.

 

2.    To fund existing growth and any new growth under a new 2020-21 policy.

 

Option 1 is the preferred LA option with a guaranteed class size of 30 regardless of whether those pupils start at a school.

 

Funding for bulge classes is an incentive for schools because they get the extra funding in the first year due to the increased costs. Growth funding is paid for basic need requirements and is paid even if the pupils do not materialise.

 

It was noted that although Appendix 2 gave a clear picture of actual and projected growth it did not show the outcome of the admissions into school for September 2019.

 

A table was shown and will be distributed to the members. In previous years primary growth generally happened as it was forecast with funding matching where pupil growth occurred.

 

The LA role in ensuring that there are sufficient places in schools was explained. The table showed schools where secondary phase growth places have been added and funded. Across the BCP area the overall Year 7 pupil numbers are broadly as expected but some schools have admitted over their PAN. This means that growth funding has gone to some schools without extra pupils as it is guaranteed under the policy. 

 

There was some discussion regarding the fairness of certain decision making along with the impact it has had on schools that are below their PAN. There was also concern about funding schools where the growth has not materialised, but other schools within the same Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) have admitted considerably above PAN. It was clarified that revenue funding for a particular school is not ringfenced for that school so the MAT is able to align the growth and funding if they choose.

 

It was suggested that if a school was admitting above PAN not intended to meet basic need then that is a different situation to growth requested to meet basic need. It was explained that the LA was not suggesting funding schools that go over PAN. The LA has growth funded 199 places for September 2019 which are not being filled, while 196 pupils have been admitted above PAN.

 

RESOLVED that new information had been introduced to the meeting that Schools Forum will need to consider. No decision was taken on whether to agree  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 29 KB

To consider and note the Forward Plan.

Minutes:

The forward plan was noted.

23.

Dates of Future Meetings

·         Tuesday 5 November 2019

·         Wednesday 11 December 2019

·         Friday 17 January 2020

·         Friday 19 June 2020

Minutes:

-   Tuesday 5 November 2019

-   Wednesday 11 December 2019

-   Friday 17 January 2020

-   Friday 19 June 2020

 

24.

Any Other Business

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

Minutes:

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