Attendees

Members present

School members 

Robert Hardy (RH) (Chair)
Special Schools Governor, Hill Park Special School 

Patricia Wood (PW)
Primary Governor, Coombe Road Primary School 

Diana Boyd (DB)
Primary Governor, Elm Grove Primary School 

Chris Taylor (CT)
Primary Headteacher, Patcham Infant School 

Claire Jarman (CJ)
Secondary Headteacher, Cardinal Newman Catholic School 

Rachel Burstow (RBu)
Special Schools Headteacher, Hill Park Special School 

Julie Plumstead (JP)
Nursery Headteacher, Tarnerland Nursery 

Amanda Meier (AM)
PRU Headteacher, Connected Hub 

Paul Barber (PB)
Head teacher, Our Lady and Lourdes  

Matt Hillier (MH)
Secondary Headteacher, Dorothy Stringer School 

Mel Fane (MF)
Secondary Governor, Cardinal Newman Catholic School 

Jan Paine (JP)
Early Years Representative, Kipling Lions Pre-School 

Jon Gilbert(JG)
C of E Diocese, Diocese of Chichester 

Academies members 

Aaron Barnard (AB)
Aldridge Education Trust 

Non-school members 

Liz Ritson (LR)
Teachers’ Union, NEU 

Local authority attendees 

Richard Barker (RB)
Head of School Organisation 

Georgina Clarke-Green (GCG)
Assistant Director Health, SEN and Disabilities 

Louise Hoten (LH)
Head of Finance, Children’s Services 

Jo Lyons (JL)
Assistant Director Families and Schools 

Steve Williams (SW)
Principal Accountant, Children’s Services 

Nigel Manvell (NM)
Chief Finance Officer, Finance 

Nicola Gardner (NG)
Clerk to the Forum 

Other attendees 

Jo Viner (JV)
GMB representative observer 

Viv Warren (VW)
Early Years representative 

Apologies 

Rachel Kershaw (RK)
Primary Headteacher, St Margaret’s CoE Primary School 

Damien Jordan (DJ)
Primary Headteacher, Fairlight Primary School 

Linda Newman (LN)
Secondary Governor, Longhill High School 

Rob Shepherd (RS)
Primary Governor, Middle Street Primary School

 

Paul Riley (PR)
Principal of Brighton Met 

Item 1. Welcome and apologies

Items for any other business to be stated, none. 

Item 2. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising

Agreed as an accurate record with an amendment to attendees at last meeting. 

Item 3. Any updates from Phase Groups from Head teacher representatives

None reported. 

Item 4. Replacement Schools Financial Management System 

4.1

Sims FMS has been used since the start of the unitary authority in April 1997.  

The system has not been updated in recent years, and the current contract runs out at the end of March 2024. As a result, the council is needing to consider a new system in the future. LH is seeking to involve school business managers, as key users of this system, to support the work to identify a new system including considering the specification for the new system  and the procurement route that will be followed.  

4.2

When a contract has been awarded, work will then take place to install and migrate the data for the new system for implementation from April 2024.  

The Forum was asked to agree to a representative group of school business manager to work with the council to take this forward, so that the council is confident that the new system will do what it needs to do for all types of phase groups and types of provision. 

4.3

Representatives are therefore invited to nominate School Business Managers. A meeting is planned for the beginning of February and invites will follow.  

4.4

The Chair asked that a message is sent out to those members absent with the request for nominations. 

4.5

Chair asks all in favour and unanimous approval is agreed.

Item 5. Dedicated Schools Grant 2023 to 2024 Overview

5.1

The paper provided an overall summary of financial year 2023-24 DSG allocation, based on the October 2022 Census data. The paper also incorporated the additional funding the government announced as part of their autumn statement.   

5.2

A breakdown of funding announced on the 16 December 2022 is shown in paragraph 3.2. 

The schools block for next year has increased by around £5.4 million, but that is mainly due to a presentational change whereby the supplementary grant that was in place this year has been transferred into the Schools Block for 2023-24. 

5.3

Another supplementary grant for mainstream schools and academies next financial year will be announced, which means that overall school funding for primary and secondary schools in the city should go up by around £6.3 million compared to 2022-23. That equates to just over 4% increase in overall cash terms and just over 5% in terms of overall funding per pupil. 

5.4

It was highlighted that with pupil numbers within our mainstream schools and academies having reduced by around 300 since last year the actual increase in the school's block funding is £2 million lower than it would have been had pupil numbers remained static across the two financial years. 

5.5

Sections four and five of the report detailed the areas of de-delegation and central services that were agreed by the Forum in the autumn term.  

Attention was drawn to paragraph 5.3 where the DfE have announced that the amount that they withhold for copyright licenses has increased from the figure that was published previously. 

5.6

Due to a late notification of the Early Years Block by Government, consultation with Early Years providers has only recently begun. Vicky Jenkins, Childcare Strategy Manager explained that it felt most appropriate to consult early years providers first, prior to providing a detailed paper to Forum. 

5.7

The proposals relating to early years funding are set out in Section 7 of this report. Forum members were asked to provide agreement in principle to proceed on the basis outlined. 

5.8

Section 8 of the paper provides an overall summary of the 2023-24 Dedicated schools grant and includes the expected adjustments for Academy recoupment. 

5.9

The Chair sought confirmation from Forum members of their agreement for the Early Years Consultation to proceed as described. Vicky Jenkins will provide a written report to Forum members once the consultation with early years providers has concluded. Forum votes and unanimous approval is agreed. 

Item 6. School Block 2023 to 2024

6.1

The paper and supporting appendices set out the funding model for mainstream schools for 2023-24 which reflects earlier discussions with Schools Forum and will be submitted to government prior to the deadline of 20 January 2023. 

6.2

The council has now received confirmation from the government for their approval to operate the exceptional premises factor relating to St Peter's Primary School, which Forum agreed at the December Forum meeting. 

6.3

Section 3.7 of the report provides a sort of detailed breakdown of the different formula factors that will be operating next financial year and provide comparisons to 2022–23. A full breakdown of the funding plan is shown in Appendix 6.1. 

6.4  

The Schools Forum was reminded that once the government confirms that we are compliant with funding regulations, the council will then be able to issue school budgets. 

6.5

It was reiterated that there will be an increase in government funding next year of 4.1% across all schools. In terms of funding per pupil the average is just over a 5% increase per pupil. This includes core formula funding and the additional mainstream grant. 

6.6

The funding ratio between primary and secondary schools in the model for next year is 1:1.28.  

It was explained that this is very close to the current national funding formula ratio of 1:1.29. 

6.7 

The Chair asked when Schools can expect to know the final budget calculation and it is hoped that if the figures are compliant with the DfE regulations, the aim is to send out to schools in the first week of February. 

6.8

There was some discussion around the on-going issue of falling pupil numbers and the subsequent impact on future budgets. RB explained that at the end of January 2023 the council will have an indication about applications for primary school for September 2023 and can begin to consider the implications for future years including the 2024/25 budget. It was reiterated that schools should take time to consider the implications of their budget forecasts and consider the impact reorganizing or restructuring could have whilst being mindful of any late changes in government funding that may occur. Forum members were reminded that there is an option to request a licensed deficit where schools may need to have time to balance their budget in future years.  

Item 7. High Needs Block 2023 to 2024

7.1

SW advised the increase in high needs block funding announced by the government is around £3.5 million compared to 2022-23 funding level. This is quite a high increase in percentage terms of around 10% on the existing budget and will take our overall high needs block budget up to just under £38 million.  

7.2

It was noted that special schools have been particularly affected this year by factors such as the local low pay award, given that there is a higher volume of support staff in special schools. It was confirmed that the funding requirements for 2023-24 require the local authority to pass on set levels of funding to special schools and the council will comply with these regulations.  

7.3

GCG informed the Forum of proposals to increase specialist provision in the form of satellite and resource base provisions. Expressions of interest have been received from some mainstream schools and these will be evaluated in the coming weeks. Although not enough were received to meet the planned number of places.  

7.4

GCG went on to explain that Sue Franklin, Principal Education Psychologist is working with colleagues to identifying what additional SEMH provision and services are needed to meet future demands. A questionnaire will be sent out to schools capturing data on these young people and the recently established SEND Strategic Forum will consider the issue in more detail.  

7.5

A presentational error in the paper was highlighted to the Forum members. The figures for Hill Park School state 123 low band and 80 higher band. Those two figures should be the other way round, 123 high band and 80 low band. It was confirmed that the total figure is correct but the split between the low band high band is incorrect. 

Item 8. General Fund Budget Report 

8.1

NM explained that the report on the General Fund, gives some context on what's happening locally. 
The council has returned to pre-pandemic levels of government funding with visitor and economic activity remaining important income generators for the General Fund. However, increasing demands for some council services are creating additional pressures for next financial year, funding is not keeping pace with inflation or with pay awards therefore leaving the local authority in the same situation as schools.  

8.2

The report identifies pressures on the budget from services like home to school transport, where costs and demands are increasing significantly. Schemes like Council tax reduction which provide benefits or discounts to Council tax for people on benefits had expected to go back to pre-pandemic levels, but this has not happened.  

8.3

Paragraph 3.8 shows the council is suffering potential inflationary increases at around £22.5 million over and above what we'd already planned for. That's a magnitude of five times what the council would normally experience. There are increases in demand across our children’s, and adult’s services, and also from some relating to homelessness. 

8.4

Paragraph 3.9 outlines there is around £39 million worth of extra cost next year, but the council is only receiving around £18 million of additional funding. This leaves a gap of £21 million and that is what councillors are having to address in their deliberations. The report to P&R Committee in December set out draft savings proposals of £12.6 million. There remains a gap of around £8 million that needs to be addressed. The council’s budget will be discussed in February at the Policy and Resources Committee and Budget Council meeting. 

Item 9. Any Other Business

There were no AOB items to report. 

The Chair thanked everyone for their time and closed the meeting.