Please note that the first part ofthis item was not included on the original agenda, given that it was only received by the LA on 30th October.
Martin Phillips, Chief Accountant, shared a letter received from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (included with these minutes). The ESFA feels that the current recovery plan lacks a long term strategic focus, and that more needs to be done by the LA to ascertain why Torbay has the highest number of children with Education, Health and Care Plans in the country. The letter goes on to state that given additional funding in the Higher Needs block (discussed in item 8 of the agenda), it would be expected that the LA would not need to transfer money from the Schools Block into the Higher Needs Block in future. The EFSA would like to arrange a visit to discuss the recovery plan.
Members were in agreement that a meeting with the EFSA would be beneficial, to ascertain how they expect the LA to make the recommended changes to the current recovery plan. Rachael was keen to have representatives from both Schools Forum and the Higher Needs Recovery Group, members should contact Rachael directly if interested in attending.
Action – Members to contact Rachael if interested in meeting with the EFSA, once a date has been agreed.
The Forum discussed the allocations for 2020/21. Martin explained that the likely budget pressure next year will be around £2.5m. A decision on whether Schools Forum would support any decision to vire money to deal with this was then discussed.
Members expressed ongoing concerns about the current National Funding Formula, with schools in the most deprived areas having the least amount of growth. It was explained by Rachael that new guidance now states that any allocations not meeting the Minimum Pupil Guarantees would require a separate disapplication to the Secretary of State, and that growth into those schools that were far away from the NFF is driving the allocation of growth funds.
A decision on whether Schools Forum was still in favour on maintaining a move towards the Minimum Funding Guarantee was put to the vote:
In favour: 5
Not in favour: 4
Motion carried. Given this, how Forum works towards the MFG was then debated. Officers have produced 4 models for the allocation of growth moving forward, with the aim of meeting Minimum Pupil Guarantees.
Prior to the meeting Mike Lock, Special Schools rep, contacted the Chair with apologies but shared his views noting that there has been very limited growth in Special Schools, a position that was not challenged previously given the position we were in. Some parity between mainstream and special schools growth was asked for.
Members asked whether approval for a 0.5% disapplication would automatically be granted with or without Schools Forum approval. Rachael clarified that if Forum did not approve this, the LA would then have to apply to the Secretary of State.
Rachael felt it was important to show that the Forum is doing what is permitable in the local area but there is still a deficit, and we would welcome further discussion on the ongoing budget pressures with the EFSA. Members agree that it was needed to demonstrate the work being done collectively.
The Chair asked members to vote on whether or not they support a virement of 0.5% (Approx. £400k):
Virement supported. A decision on whether to support a further disapplication of 1.79% was then put to vote:
Unanimous, Forum does not support further disapplication. Given this decision, the LA now needs to discuss with the Chief Executive if we go ahead with Disapplication without the approval of Schools Forum. If this were to happen, the models discussed in this meeting would need to be sent out to schools for further consultation. This consultation would happen immediately and run until the 25th November, as any application would need to be submitted by the 28th November. Members requested that models of the 0.5% virement be presented for the next meeting.
Special Schools tables, as requested at the last Forum, was shared with members. In his absence, it was recognised that Mike would want parity with what is agreed with other schools, but it was felt that it would not be right to reach a decision on this without his input. With this in mind, and given that further information would be available once the 0.5% virement has been modelled, it was decided to defer this item until the next Forum.
Action – Officers to Model 0.5% tables for Forum for Novembers meeting.
- 2020-21 allocation, item 7. PDF 47 KB
- Summary, item 7. PDF 64 KB
- No Disapplication, item 7. PDF 96 KB
- Disapplication 1, item 7. PDF 96 KB
- Disapplication 2, item 7. PDF 97 KB
- Disapplication 3, item 7. PDF 97 KB
- Special Schools, item 7. PDF 48 KB
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