Schools Forum Meeting Minutes of Thursday 10 May 2012
Shire Hall, Chelmsford
In AttendanceJohn Hunter (JH) / Sally Davies (SD)
Jeff Fair (JF) / Helen Roberts (HR)
Debbie Rogan (DR) / Thomas Austin (TA)
Linda Oliffe (LO) / Russell Ayling (RA)
Alison Blant (AB) / Carol Skews (CS)
Jane Youdale (JY) / Richard Thomas (RT)
John Crane (JC) / Peter Malcolm (PM)
Ruth Bird (RBD)
Richard Foster (RDF)
Rod Lane (RL)
Alison Fiala (AF) / Rob Bristow (RBW) / Ron Salton (RS)
Denise Murray (DM) / Cllr. Stephen Castle (SC)
Yannick Stupples-Whyley (YSW) / Terry Reynolds (TR)
Martin Hockney (MH) / Tim Coulson (TC)
Joanne Cannings (JCa)
George Constantinides (GC)
1 / Election of Chair and Vice Chair & Apologies for Absence (and substitute notices)
YSW called for the meeting to elect a new Chair and Vice Chair, he advised that RL and JF were happy to stand. RL and JF were duly nominated, seconded and elected by 15 votes for, none against and none abstaining.
RL welcomed everyone to the meeting, TC and RBW were introduced and welcomed. Apologies were received from Richard Bassett (RBT), Rob Fox (RF), Simon Knight (SK) with RT substituting, Claire Claydon (CC) with AB substituting, Mike Alder (MA), David Bolton (DB).
2 / SEN/AEN Strategy – verbal update.
TR updated the meeting on the invest to save strategy proposal. Due to the current unsettled position in SEN and it was felt the timing was inappropriate. There have also been cabinet portfolio changes, SC’s portfolio has been extended to include Adult Community Learning and SEN, collectively known as Lifelong Learning. TR said that a business case had been submitted to re-organise internal SEN structures, a central team would look at those schools experiencing a shortfall because of the SEN/AEN correction on a case by case basis. RA raised the difficulty of funding for academies, which is based on the replication of the 251 funding, not being definite that the DfE will bridge the gap, RA gave an example involving his school. CS added that it wasn’t just academies, maintained schools were in a similar position. SD asked if there was a time limit? RL replied that the LA has two weeks to reply to the consultation document. SD voiced concerns regarding the disorganisation within SEN in the LA. TR replied that local elections were due in 2014 and a general election in 2015, that a political view would change policies and procedures. JF expressed concerns and frustration on behalf of the SEN working group that things have been put on hold. TR said that the final decision by the outcomes board, on the business case would be on 30 May. He explained that the business case outlines proposals for posts within SEN/AEN for 18 months to drive changes, these posts would report to TC. PM added that he had two areas of concern, the strategic aspect and communication of headlines, sending out a consistent message to parents and families. He said that there is pressure on schools, now with reduced funding, that parents expect levels of support for SEN pupils but not realising how limited the funding is. RT questioned whether the paper presented and agreed at the schools forum regarding the protection factor for schools affected by the SEN/AEN correction had now been withdrawn and whether the extra money would come from AWPU? TR recognised that schools would be looked at on a case by case basis and that the extra money would not come from AWPU, but would be from various under spend (£3.6million) as previously documented and any headroom or under spend from this funding would go out to schools. DM confirmed that there was an element of movement within the £3.6million, RT asked to see figures at the next meeting along with the mitigation. TR said that the budget was for exceptional circumstances, and that some schools would be gaining. He added that academies would not be looked at, but it is important that there is s commitment from the LA to support the process review.
RT asked if the agreement at the last meeting to fund capital works for the Autistic units was still going ahead? TR confirmed that the funding was still being held but the programme had been deferred. DM confirmed that £200K was reserved for 2013-14 if there is a change to this decision the money will be returned to the DSG.
JH noted that there are more and more pupils with emotional problems, and there has been a reduction of children in the secondary sector with statements and extra work for primary schools, are the LA going to monitor this expenditure and advise schools and governing bodies? Would the LA also be looking at school carry forwards? JF asked if the staffing element had also been deferred. RT then asked whether academies could make representations for extra funding. DM suggested that at the next meeting the parameters are set out (via the SEN working group) for the additional funding. TR said that processes need to be transparent. DM said that she had the information and could marry it up, DR wanted information on the breakdown of school type also. TR added that it was almost impossible to determine from school budgets, the amounts spent on SEN. RL said that no commitments were made by the LA and should this be referred to the working group to move it forward. DR said that she was uneasy with this proposal. AF said that the Autism centre had been put on hold for primary schools in response to the new inclusion roles, Liz Cornish and her team. JH commented that the reduction of statements and movement has an impact on jobs and redundancies are inevitable. RT added that the deferment of the Autistic centres needs to be communicated to schools. SD said that she wasn’t aware of the review and deferment, and that the proposal should be emailed to all members of the schools forum.
LO agreed with DR’s point, and said that carry forwards should be looked at by the Schools Forum. DM said that she would pull together all the financial information and give it to the SEN working group, including carry forwards, TA asked that a mitigation be attached to the carry forwards. RDF expressed concerns and felt it was not relevant. DM added that the exact schedule was due out in July, but this would be expedited. RA said that all schools’ financial data would be looked at, RT replied that it wouldn’t be practical to look at all schools carry forwards, it would be helpful to look at a percentage.
- It was agreed that the SEN sub group make recommendations on behalf of the Schools Forum.
3. / Schools Budget and 251 Budget Statement 2012/13
YSW presented the paper. He gave an overview of the paper, beginning with 4.8 explaining that funding for LDG’s would continue following the Schools Forum meeting in February, but this is LACSEG affected and some LDG’s could be adversely affected. Some LDG’s have registered as charities, therefore classed as voluntary sector organisations, thus being exempt from LACSEG. TR briefed the meeting on 4.9, all schools received a paper asking for a decision on the retention by the LA of funding for public duties, giving Southend as an example. RA asked it be noted that not all schools received the letter, and would it have an effect on academies as their funding runs from April to August? DM said it would be pro-rata in year 1.
Agreement was sought from the forum for
- Treating LDG’s as voluntary sector bodies to ensure funding is exempt from LACSEG and to ensure LDG’s provide services to academies
- To agree to retain public duties funding for all schools including academies
- To move AST’s (Advanced Skills Teachers) out of the school specific contingency to ensure the viability of the service.
4. / Constitution and Membership of Schools Forum.
The paper was presented by YSW. He explained that due to the number of schools transferring to academy status, the vacant VA secondary representative post be removed. He alerted the meeting to Annex A which listed the Schools Forum members and current vacancies. The adverts for vacancies had gone out and closing on 25 May. RA asked if free schools and studio schools should have a representative? YSW said that these would be represented under academies. He confirmed that CC had resigned and that SK would be transferred into the secondary academy vacancy. JC asked if the different types of academy trusts would be represented, but these would be represented by the academy representatives. It was agreed to accept the proposals and review them at the next meeting in July. Corrections to spelling mistakes and school names were duly noted.
5 / Schools Funding Reform – 3rd Consultation.
YSW presented the paper. He explained that in late March the DfE announced the schools funding reform, that there would be a simplified formula. He said that in 2013-14 the DSG would be split into three blocks, Schools Block, Early Years Block, and High Need Block. RT pointed out that in the full consultation document, it is agreed that Schools forum members should represent an organisation. PM also raised concerns that certain papers need consultation time, and due to the large number of primary schools in Essex, this isn’t always feasible. YSW confirmed that there would be a limit imposed of the number of LA attendees and the meetings would be public, with the EFA (Education Funding Agency) given observer status. A more detailed paper regarding the changes at the next meeting.
4.16 clarified that delegating the Schools Block to schools would remove the need for LACSEG.
Point 4.17 confirmed that the DSG would be funded on the October Census and not now on the January Census, this would allow the final allocation to be confirmed in December rather than June. RT added that schools would need to be notified in good time.
Point 4.18 Pupil premium will continue as a separate grant in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
YSW then referred the meeting to the spreadsheet, LA table, Funding Period (2012-13) (Agenda item 3). This was colour coded to highlight the 3 blocks, green Early Years, Yellow Schools Block and Blue High Needs Block. The funding is based on an agreed number of places under a ‘place-plus’ system, with three elements
- Element 1 – core education funding
- Element 2 – additional support funding
- Element 3 – top up funding.
SD said that there was no criteria to ascertain what constitutes ‘high need’. RL suggested a ‘banding’ approach. YSW explained that the LA are currently funded for their three year old take up of the free entitlement or 90% of the three year old population, whichever is the higher. The 90% floor is being removed in 2014-15, 2013-14 will be a transition year. The consultation is asking for views on how the transitional protection could operate.
Because of the tight timescales, it was agreed that the Specific Grants Review Group (SGRG) be reconvened with the addition of a representative for small schools.
An annex to the paper was distributed which outlined possible responses to the consultation. This was discussed at length, YSW is to draft a response for the LA, the meeting was happy for him to send this off.
JF confirmed that there was an SEN strategy sub group meeting in May.
JY said that a decision had been made to only convene the Early Years group should a matter arise, she confirmed that Harriet Hill and Terry Hollingsworth had left ECC and that both vacancies were covered.
JH said that a Tier 2 CAMHS service discussion had taken place with health colleagues, looking at a tier 2 and 3 amalgamation with a single introduction to the service. He added that there was no preferred bidder agreed, but a soft marketing exercise would be arranged.
RT reported that Bursars are becoming frustrated as they are awaiting the new budgets.
6 / AOB and Feedback from schools through Associations.
R RL confirmed that a number of emails had been circulating relating to the extra Schools Forum meeting of 11 January. He had drafted a response and the members thanked him.
7 / Minutes from 8 February 2012
There were some typing errors on the minutes and RL proposed to remove a section under item 2 and insert a revised comment.
8 / Scheme for Financing Schools
YSW presented the paper and updated the meeting on the consultation by the DfE for changing the scheme for financing schools. The forum noted the changes.
9. / Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Update
RS was welcomed to the meeting. He briefed the meeting on the background to the BSF project and the cancellation by the government. He added that sample schemes Castle View, Cornelius Vermuyden, Columbus and Pioneer were completed, with just minor works remaining. He added that Woodlands financial close came in at £207 per pupil per annum (pppa), under the projected £350 with the building works expected to be completed in January 2014. The other Design and build schools, James Hornsby and De La Salle are due to be completed over the next two years.
RS explained the funding mechanism for the buildings, BSF PFI credits are made up of money from the DfE (contribution to capital costs), Unitary Charge (UC) is the annual charge made to the private sector partner in for services provided.
He gave an overview of the affordability gap estimations, with a graph showing the projections for £350 pppa, £207 pppa and the actual forecast affordability gap. RDF asked how other works are completed, whether these are provided by the PFI? RS explained that is a small value charge and there is a mechanism for larger works. DM clarified the central costs and confirmed that it was a capped contribution. The forum noted the update and RL thanked RS.
SC arrived at the meeting and gave apologies. He briefed the meeting on his on his extended duties, incorporating life long learning.
10 / Forward Plan and dates of next meeting
YSW presented the paper outlining the regular and administrative items. DR said that many items were submitted late and information and papers were delayed as a consequence allowing little time for perusal and comment.
SC commented that it was a rapidly changing environment and there were greater challenges. TR explained the process for submitting papers and the approval route.
It was agreed that the following changes were made to the agenda items
- Carbon Reduction Commitment be moved from 11 July to 10 October
- SEN strategy be a regular item over the next year
- Budget Modelling issues to be confirmed.
11 / Dates of the next meetings
- 11 July 2012 – Hylands House
- 10 October 2012 – Hylands House
- 5 December 2012 – Hylands House
- 13 February 2013 – Hylands House