Meeting: Schools Forum

Date: 17 January 2022

Report of: Mark Storey (Head of Education Standards and Achievement)

Subject: Change to School Improvement Monitoring Grant

Wards Affected: All

1. Purpose of the report

1.1 To inform Schools Forum of the proposed changes to School Improvement Monitoring Grant

1.2 To inform Schools Forum what the School Improvement Monitoring Grant is used for currently (see annex 1)

1.3 To explain the risks associated with the removal of this funding

1.4 To explain the consultation that has taken place and the views of schools on the use of this funding

1.5 To seek Schools Forum agreement on future funding for School Improvement and Monitoring

2. Recommendation

2.1 To agree the de-delegation request for 2022/23, as detailed in paragraph 3.2.6 of £110,000 across all maintained, mainstream schools. Agreement is required on a phase-by-phase basis.

3. Information and Background

3.1 On 29 October a government consultation was launched “Reforming how local authorities school improvement function are funded”. The government response to this consultation can he found here. This confirms the proposals will be implemented.

3.1.2 The implementation of the proposal means there will be a reduction in the school improvement grant of 50% in financial year 2022/23, and then that it will be completely removed in the following year.

3.1.3 In 2019/20 this grant was £230,748, in 2020/21 £236,306 and 2021/22 £221,000.

3.1.4 This grant currently funds standards and achievement i.e. our school improvement model including our SPA monitoring and challenge and support work. It funds LA support plans for schools causing concern; much of our citywide disadvantaged work and support for Headteacher wellbeing. Without it we would not be able to monitor schools in the way we do; challenge them or provide support when needed. Without it also means we would be unable to support the high-profile priority work of the Brighton and Hove partnership on disadvantage and wellbeing.

3.1.5 The DFE states “It will bring funding arrangements for councils’ improvement activity closer into line with the relationship between individual academies and their MATs, which

normally top-slice funding to secure improvement support; and support our overarching policy of ensuring maintained schools and academies are funded on an equivalent basis.

3.2 Funding in the future

The government consultation states that: all school improvement activity be funded in the same way via de-delegation from schools’ budget shares. Furthermore, the consultation also says, ‘in line with our drive towards a school-led improvement system, it will put more decisions about improvement provision to schools into the hands of school leaders (via schools forums). With an average uplift in next year’s provisional core school funding allocations of 3.2%, as the beneficiaries of improvement support from councils, we believe it is right that schools contribute to the cost of such support but, in turn, they should have greater influence over the activity undertaken.

3.2.1 The risk is that no alternative funding is found, and we need to make significant changes to our offer and how we support school improvement. We would not be able to identify schools at risk of failure and be unable to support them. This means more schools are likely to fail and forced academisation of schools is much more likely. The largest slice of this fund supports support plans for ‘at risk schools’. This funding currently pays for NLEs (National leaders of Education), NLGs (National Leaders of Governance), SLEs (Specialist Leaders of Education), Interim Leadership, School to School support, SPA time, training, funding for intervention and a range of other packages to support schools. There would also be no SPA service and this in turn would undermine other services such as Headteacher Performance management, Headteacher recruitment, emergency response such as when a Headteacher goes off sick or leaves at short notice. It also means in any further emergency similar to the Covid pandemic we would have insufficient capacity to respond in a way we would want. The other key risk is that Education partnership priorities could no longer be funded to support disadvantaged pupil outcomes or Headteacher wellbeing so activity would be significantly reduced or stopped.

3.2.2 Previous to the writing of this paper we have sought to understand the views of schools on the use of funding. Through conversations at the secondary school partnership meeting (17.11.21) we know secondary schools are unanimously supportive of de-delegation. This was conditional on coproduction on use of this funding moving forward. In a survey of primary schools we found 22 out of 29 schools were supportive of de-delegation. We met with the Chair of the PRG (15.12.21) to discuss the views of primary headteachers. We agreed in this meeting that should schools choose to de-delegate, they would have much greater involvement in deciding how this money should be spent. There would be clearer systems for reporting on accountability, and a committee of representative headteachers would work with LA officers to ensure this was effective. Throughout consultation the majority were positive on de-delegation. The most positive feedback came from schools in need of intervention and support who had directly seen the impact of this funding.

3.2.3 We know currently that 19 out of 55 primary schools buy into additional SPA time. We also know 43 out of 55 primary schools buy their SPA in for External Adviser for HT Appraisal.

3.2.4 A school needs this service from the local authority to ensure no other school gets left behind. A school itself however is also always at risk of: sudden leadership changes or challenges e.g sickness or Head leaving; unfavourable Ofsted outcome. There are

several other situations including public relations or premises emergencies where this service is needed.

3.2.5 It is clear from articles such as in the TES that many nationally including National Association of Headteachers are against this cut to Local Authorities. Further debate can be seen in articles in Schoolsweek.

3.2.6 Request for de-delegation

In line with the government guidance the LA is seeking agreement from Schools Forum members (maintained mainstream schools only) to agree to de-delegation on a phase-by-phase basis for 2022/23. The proposed basis for de-delegation is shown in the table below.

Service Basis for de-delegation Primary Secondary Total
School Improvement Monitoring Grant Amount per pupil £69,400 £40,600 £110,000

This would equate to £4.19 per pupil for both primary and secondary schools. The average de-delegation for primary schools would be £1,420, and for secondary schools would be £5,800.

Our intention is to come back to Schools Forum in autumn 2022 to discuss de-delegation of a further amount in 2023/24 financial year.

Annex 1 - How Funding is currently used

The way the funding has been used has varied depending on need. In 2022/23 if funding is de-delegated we would co-produce a spending plan with schools. In 2021/22 we will use the £221,000 as following.

There are 4 main uses:

a) £92,000 - Intervention work where schools are in need of intervention and support.

Support for RI and inadequate schools or those at risk. This includes commissioning NLEs, SLEs, teaching school, other training or school support. All schools are at risk and we can never predict how changes of leadership can affect the future of a school. This funding aims to support no school becoming inadequate. Historically a large number of primary and secondary schools access this support and fund can support 10 -15 schools in any one year. Also pays for Ofsted, Headteacher recruitment or emergency support from SPA.

Supporting LA support plans for school in need of intervention and support – In the past year 1 adequate, 6 RI or schools and 4 schools at risk of RI have been supported. These schools have received support including from National Leaders of Education, SPAs and teaching school. Finance has also been used to support their improvements particularly if budgets are highly challenging.

Risk of removal: Highly vulnerable schools are unable to become good due to a lack of service to commission support and the funding to pay for that support. More schools become academies which undermines the cohesiveness of the Brighton and Hove Education Partnership.

b) £56,000 - School Monitoring from School Partnership Advisers (SPAs)

All of the local authority directed SPA activity is paid for from this budget. This includes Know Your School Well visits which most schools and governors consider helpful. These visits then mean that the SPA has knowledge to support during a future Headteacher Appointment; Ofsted inspection; support HT performance management; wellbeing support and during an unforeseen event. Unforeseen events include giving advice when headteachers go off sick or leave at short notice. These are events that do happen.

Risk of removal: The local authority does not know its schools well and leaders and governors are unsupported. There are no longer SPAs or visits which support Leaders and Governors and quality of education in the city declines. This could in turn more schools slipping into category of concern.

c) £56,000 - Citywide Disadvantaged Projects:

Disadvantaged is a Brighton and Hove Education Partnership priority. The fund supports citywide disadvantage projects including continuation of poverty proofing; research school and teaching school training; support for early years networks and secondary networks (including subject networks); it has in the past supported a recruitment fair and the development of a citywide disadvantaged toolkit. Note in the future it is proposed the working groups of the disadvantaged strategy direct this funding.

Risk of removal: Education Partnership has no funding to support a priority so poorer outcomes and less prioritisation for disadvantaged

Case Study:

d) £18,000 - Headteacher wellbeing

Wellbeing of HT is a Brighton and Hove Education Partnership priority.

Funding has been used for HT coaching, training mentors, conference speakers, Deputy Headteacher conference. Note during Covid initially partially used SPAs to support HT wellbeing.

Risk of removal: Lack of support or programs that can support HT wellbeing

Appendix 5.1 Funding Citywide School Improvement

  • 29 responses
  • Average time to complete: 03:37
  • Status: active 

1. If these proposals are agreed, do you support de-delegation from your school’s budget share to fund school improvement provision in Brighton and Hove and have greater influence over the activities undertaken?

  • Yes: 22
  • No: 6

2. What are the reasons for this decision (if answering no, what alternative provision would you seek)?

19 responses

6 respondents (32%) answered funding for this question

Top phrases used:

  • funding 
  • benefit
  • support schools
  • schools that need
  • Brighton and Hove
  • school community
  • family of schools
  • school improvement
  • schools in the city
  • not just our own school
  • school's budget
  • access to funding
  • support of high
  • intervention and support
  • School visits
  • LA support
  • good schools
  • schools at risk
  • schools in B&H
  • bonds between schools