Members present

School members

Peter Freeman (PF) (Chair)
Primary Governor, Coombe Road Primary School

Oli Sharpe (OS)
Primary Governor, Middle Street Primary School

Belle Howard (BH)
Primary Governor, St Margaret’s CoE Primary School

Chris Taylor (CT)
Primary Headteacher, Patcham Infant School

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

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

Robert Hardy (RH)
Special Schools Governor, Hillview Special School

Julie Plumstead (JP)
Nursery Headteacher, Tarnerland Nursery

Helena Thomas (HT)
16 to 19 Provision, GBMC

Academies members

Aaron Barnard (AB)
Aldridge Education Trust

Non-school members

Jan Paine (JP)
Early Years PVI, Kipling Lions Pre-school

Jon Gilbert (JG)
Diocese of Chichester (Anglican)

Sarah Clayton (SC)
Diocese of Arundel and Brighton (Catholic)

Liz Ritson (LR)
Teachers’ Union, NEU

Local authority attendees

Richard Barker (RBa)
Head of School Organisation

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

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

Jane Moodey (JM)
Accountant, Children’s Services

Jo Lyons (JL)
Assistant Director Families and Schools

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

Mark Storey (MS)
Head of Education Standards and Achievement

Ashley Seymour-Williams (ASW)
Senior Advisor Education Partnerships 

Nigel Manvell (NM)
Chief Finance Officer

Vicky Jenkins (VJ)
Childcare Strategy Manager

Rhianedd Hughes (RH)
Head of SEN Statutory Services

Other attendees

Viv Warren
Early Years observer

Jo Viner
GMB representative observer


School members

Matt Hillier (MH)
Secondary Headteacher, Dorothy Stringer School

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

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

Ruth Ali
Clerk to the forum

1. Welcome and apologies


The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting. Apologies were received as listed above.

Items for any other business to be stated.


No items were raised other than those on the agenda.

2. Minutes of last meeting (6 December 2021) and matters arising

2.1 - Accuracy

The minutes were agreed as a true record.

2.2 - Matters arising

Min 2.3: This will be taken up at the March meeting (if held).

3. Any updates from Phase Groups


No items were raised by the representative headteachers present at the meeting.

4. General Fund budget report


NM introduced his report providing the context of the council’s draft General Fund budget proposals for 2022 to 2023.

There is a forecast overspend of £3.6m in 2021 to 2022 which the council is working to address.

The £9.7m underspend from the previous year was clarified as detailed in section 3.2 and a description of how it was spent was provided.

In relation to the spending review, the council had hoped for a multi-year settlement and therefore the one-year detailed budget continues to make long term planning difficult.

There are on-going cost pressures of £12.5m and £2.8m short term pressures, including Covid.

The council’s budget shortfall for 2022 to 2023 is estimated to be £18m which will be reduced by an extra £2.2m from the spending review.

Currently £11.5m of savings have been identified including some one-off measures and the savings related to Families, Children and Learning are outlined in the report. 


NM was asked what pay rates may do in the future and he outlined the current expectation for support staff is of a 1.75% rise and noted that inflation rates have risen since then which may have an effect on the following year and as such a 2 year deal may be considered.

LR clarified that teacher pay was under consideration separately.


It was clarified that the council has a working balance of reserves of £9m which cannot be borrowed against, representing 5% as outlined by CIPFA for risks and emergencies.

There are also reserves ear-marked for future disbursement in accordance with decisions previously taken by the council, which can be borrowed against but need to be paid back in time for those commitments to be realised.


The final costs in relation to the impact of Moulsecoomb Primary School’s conversion was discussed; while the estimate of £317k is referenced the final figure should be confirmed in the next fortnight.


PF thanked NM for an informative discussion. 


The forum noted the report and thanked NM for his attendance. 

5. School Improvement Grant


MS introduced the paper and confirmed that 100% of the grant funding was used to support schools and ensure no school was left behind.

22 of the 29 schools who responded to the recent survey gave positive replies, but a consistent theme was the need to ensure schools are involved in decisions on the use of the de-delegated funding in future years. 


MS confirmed that this was the first time that the Department for Education (DfE) had changed the process regarding this funding and that in future years requests for de-delegation may be for a different amount. 


RH suggested that, as part of the forum’s decision to support the proposal, details of the commitment and timescales to work with schools should be provided without undue delay.

MS confirmed that a meeting with partnership chairs at the end of the month will consider the mechanism and criteria for the use of the funding. 


PF asked MS to clarify the arrangement for special schools as they are not part of the decision-making process and MS confirmed that special schools receive a service from the council funded by the High Needs Block. 


A vote for each phase took place:

  • Secondary phase £40,600 – both headteacher and governor representatives voted in favour of the de-delegation
  • Primary phase £69,400 – both headteacher and governor representatives voted in favour of the de-delegation


Action: MS was asked to return to the June meeting to provide an update on the process and the criteria in use.

6. DSG Overview 2022 to 2023


SW provided the overview of this paper and the link to the following items.

The rise in the Schools Block of £3.0m and High Needs Block of £2.3m were summarised alongside the adjustments in the Early Years Block which are ultimately expected to conclude as a real term increase of approximately £400k.


The introduction of supplementary grants in 2022 to 2023 were explained and whilst exact figures are not yet known it is expected that this will mean an additional increase for mainstream schools and academies of £4.4m, and a £1.3m increase to the High Needs Block. 


It was clarified that the additional information provided in a confidential annexe on individual schools was a like for like comparison having removed the changes being made in relation to funding non-domestic rates. 


The report was noted including the changes in de-delegated figures and the Central Services Schools Block. 


The forum confirmed the de-delegation of items within Exception 1 previously agreed at the October 2021 Forum as per paragraph 4.4. 


The forum agreed the Growth Fund of £0.271m (£271,000) as per paragraph 5.


The de-delegation of the school improvement grant was agreed under item 5 above. 

7. Schools Block 2022 to 2023


SW introduced the paper and outlined the increase in the Schools Block and the supplementary grant of over £7m compared to 2021 to 2022, an approximate 5% rise.

Due to the split of pupil numbers in the city there is an increase of £2m for primary schools and £5m for secondary schools. The funding ratio between primary and secondary is unchanged at 1:1.27. 


The report includes indicative allocations of the supplementary grant allocations which will not be confirmed by the Department for Education (DfE) until the spring. 


The council is required to submit the funding template to the DfE by Friday and expects that there will be a 2 to 3 week turnaround before approval is granted and final budgets can be issued to schools. 


It was confirmed that there is no change to the notional SEN budget, but the template includes plans to increase funding from the HNB for schools with a disproportionate number of pupils with SEN that is not reflected in the formula. 


The forum were asked to keep the supplementary information on individual schools confidential.


DJ highlighted the concern that, while funding per pupil has risen, there will be fewer primary aged children.

This is causing real concern for schools and it can be anticipated that more schools will be in a deficit position.

Therefore, the council must consider what support it will provide those schools. 


PF asked about the timing of implementation of a hard national funding formula.

While there is no definitive timeline it was not expected to be implemented until at least 2024 to 2025 and possible the following year subject to the necessary parliamentary process.  


The report’s recommendations were noted. 

8. High Needs Block 2022 to 2023


GCG introduced the paper and outlined that the core funding and additional supplementary grant meant an increase in the overall amount which will help to address the pressures that have been discussed in previous meetings. 


Section 5.2 highlighted the information used to inform the commissioning process and the forum was asked to note that the asterisk referenced in paragraph 5.4 should read that the 18 places re-assigned to West Blatchington Primary School are subject to a final consultation. 


The proposal to provide 24 places as satellite places to Downs View and Hill Park was brought to the forum’s attention as a means of addressing the concerns about rising need.

In addition, there will also be an increase of 6 places at the primary PRU commissioned for pupils with EHCPs.


GCG was asked to elaborate on the timetable for expression of interest to accommodate specialist units in mainstream schools.

It was explained that a working group is being established to meet 3 times in the spring term to look at models of provision and to also consider the research on meeting the needs of ASC pupils so that a Service Level Agreement and commissioning process can be established.

While it was hoped this could be undertaken for September 2022, this would be subject to:

  • how able schools are to submit expression of interest
  • what refurbishment would be needed to accommodation
  • what recruitment will be needed


It was confirmed that the working group will have governor representation on it by virtue of the dual role held by some members of the Parent and Carers Council and Amaze.

GCG confirmed she would be happy to look at other representatives joining the group but mindful that it was important not to make it too unwieldy by being too large. 


GCG was asked if some of the funding could be used to speed up the process of identification and assessment of pupils with additional needs.

The statutory assessment process is bound by timescales detailed in the code of practice and currently Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) is operating above the England average and those of our statistical neighbours.

Additional EP resource is being commissioned through that council’s General Fund and not the HNB. 


The report’s recommendations were noted.

9. Early Years Block 2022 to 2023


VJ introduced the paper and confirmed that in 2022 to 2023 the national funding formula will increase for both 2 year old places and 3 and 4 year old places.

The rise will be £0.21 for 2 year olds and £0.17 for 3 and 4 year olds compared to 2021 to 2022 rates.

The value will increase to £5.57 per hour for 2 year olds and locally the basic hourly rate for providers will increase to £4.36 per hour for 3 and 4 years olds. 


The SEN Inclusion Fund which applies to 3 and 4 year olds will be increased to £719,700.

This is funded through a combination of Early Years and High Needs Blocks. 


There will also be a small rise in the Early Years Pupil Premium and the Disability Access Fund. 


As required more than 95% of the grant funding for 3 and 4 year olds will be used to fund places the remainder being used for central costs. 


The comments of the early years funding group, detailed in the report, were drawn to the attention of forum members. 


JPa acknowledged the work of the Early Years team and the proposals to transfer the increasing amount into the funding rates. 


The concerns about the national funding formula were raised again and the forum were reminded of previous efforts to bring this to the attention of the authorities.

Noting the absence of the Local Democracy reporter, it was proposed that having previously recorded the dismay of the forum and making representation to the Department for Education (DfE), the forum should consider making a public statement highlighting the damage the formula has to Brighton & Hove children entering the sector, as well as the additional burden additional fees childcare place upon parents. 


Action: VJ and PF will work on a draft comment in the name of the Schools Forum.


The report’s recommendations were noted and forum agreed the 2022 to 2023 funding rates as outlined in the report

10. AOB - Chair/Vice-Chair


PF reminded forum members that his term of office comes to an end in February 2022 and that he is not eligible or willing to stand again.

Alongside which there remains a vacancy for a Vice Chair, traditionally a position held by a Headteacher, since September 2021. 


The process of appointing a Chair will be taken forward by the Clerk, JL and RBa including nominations to stand and details of how a vote will be undertaken. 


JL offered the appreciation of Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) and schools in the city for the work PF has undertaken in chairing the forum since 2003. 


PF confirmed that he is continuing as the Chair of Governors at Coombe Road Primary School and ended the meeting with his appreciation for the long-standing support of LH and SW in servicing the forum and providing the necessary advice and guidance.

Next meeting

Monday 14 March 2022, 4pm to 6pm