Introduction

The terms of reference and procedures for the City of Brighton & Hove Schools Forum meet the requirements of legislation, are consistent with guidance issued by the Department for Education and are based on consultation with Headteachers, governors and other relevant groups.

This paper covers:

  1. Terms of reference - role and function
  2. Membership and procedures
  3. Management arrangements
  4. Reporting procedures
  5. Evaluation and review

1. Terms of reference - role and function

1.1 The role of the Schools Forum is to take decisions and to advise the Executive Director Families, Children and Learning having taken account of responses from wider representation.

1.2 These terms of reference are in accordance with the Schools Forums (England) Regulations 2012 (S.I. 2012/2261) (as amended).

1.3 The Schools Forum makes decisions on the level of de-delegation of services (Exception 1) and on centrally retained services (Central Services Schools Block).

As well as the growth, the forum will also decide on any proposals by the local authority (LA) to move up to 0.5% from the Schools Block to other blocks.

Should the Schools Forum not agree to an LA proposal, the Department for Education (DfE) can be asked to adjudicate.

1.4 The Schools Forum is the approving body for LA proposals to change its Scheme of Financing Schools following the LA’s consultation with all governing bodies and headteachers within the LA where appropriate.

Should the Forum not approve the LA proposal the DfE can be asked to adjudicate.

1.5 The Schools Forum must be consulted about formula changes (including redistributions) that are proposed and, after consultation, decided by the LA.

1.6 The Schools Forum is asked to give a view when the LA proposes the terms of any proposed contract before an invitation to tender where the LA enters into a contract to be funded from the schools budget.

The Schools Forum is also asked to give a view when the LA proposes any exclusions from the Minimum Funding Guarantee, although the decisions for these are taken by the DfE.

1.7 The LA will consult annually regarding formula change, contracts and a variety of financial issues relating to:

  • arrangements for pupils with SEN
  • arrangements for use of PRU and EOTAS/Alternative Provision
  • arrangements for early years education
  • administrative arrangements for the allocation of central government

The Schools Forum will be asked for their views and the LA will inform governing bodies of the relevant consultations.

1.8 The function of the Schools Forum is to receive and consider information on matters related to the funding of schools and services to schools, to consult the people the members have been elected to represent and on this basis provide advice to the Executive Director Families, Children and Learning.

The information may come from the LA, from the DfE, from the strategic partnership boards or another source. The Schools Forum will publish to schools and other relevant bodies its findings, decisions and a summary of the advice it provided.

1.9 A summary grid including School Forum’s powers and responsibilities, as set out by the DfE, is attached to this document.

2. Membership and procedures

2.1 Membership (review December 2021)

School members (14)

  • Governors of Primary Schools - 3
  • Headteachers of Primary Schools or their representatives - 3
  • Governors of Secondary Schools - 2
  • Headteachers of Secondary Schools or their representatives 2 Governors of Special Schools - 1
  • Headteachers of Special Schools or their representatives - 1
  • Headteachers of Nursery Schools or their representatives - 1
  • Headteachers of PRU or representative - 1

Academy member (1)

  • Academies’ Representative - 1

Non-school members (5)

  • Early Years PVI representative - 1
  • Representative of the Diocese of Chichester - 1
  • Representative of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton - 1
  • Representative of the Teachers’ Trade Unions - 1
  • Representative of 16 to 19 Institutions - 1

Observers (4)

  • Early Years - 1
  • Non-Teaching Trade Union Representative - 1
  • Schools Business Manager Forum Representative - 1
  • ESFA Representative - 1

2.2 Period of membership

The LA oversees the election process and determines the length of office for schools’ members and seeks nominations from relevant bodies and appoints non-school members, in line with the Schools Forum operational and good practice guide

This process is carried out with advice from the Schools Forum and it has been agreed that members will serve on the Schools Forum for a term of 4 years.

The maximum number of consecutive terms of membership is normally 3. The Schools Forum seeks to achieve a rolling programme of reappointment to achieve a level of continuity of membership.

Membership may be terminated by the LA in advance of the full term if the member ceases to act in the capacity in which they were appointed or misses 3 consecutive meetings.

In the event of any membership terminating, a selection process to replace the individual member will be instituted on the same basis as the regular selection process.

2.3 Substitutes

Members of the Schools Forum may nominate a substitute from the same sector, including a senior member of staff, to attend a meeting in their absence. The substitute will have full voting rights where relevant.

2.4 Quorum

The Schools Forum will be quorate if at least 40% of the total membership (not counting vacancies) is present at a meeting.

Membership includes substitutes for the purposes of establishing a quorum.

Procedures

2.5 Election of Chair and Vice Chair

The Chair of the Schools Forum will be drawn from schools members only. They will be elected by a simple majority vote of members at a quorate meeting.

The Vice Chair will be elected by the same process.

Elections for Chair will be held every 2 years.

In the absence of both Chair and Vice Chair at any quorate meeting, the members will elect a chair for the meeting, drawn from the whole membership present.

2.6 Voting

The forum should work by consensus wherever possible and consultation will take place in order to ensure that the views of all groups are properly represented.

Where voting is appropriate, other than for the election of Chair and Vice Chair (see above) the voting arrangements allow only schools and academy members and providers from the Early Years private, voluntary and independent sector to vote on the funding formula (relating to their funding blocks) and only schools members to vote on changes to the Scheme for Financing Schools.

Maintained school members can vote on items relating to general duties and retained duties while Academy members can vote only on retained duties.

Other members have a vote on all other issues.

Each category of membership (as listed in paragraph 2.1) has one vote even when more than one representative of that category is present. In the event of a tie the proposal will fall and the existing arrangement will continue.

Where the Schools Forum has overseen a formal consultation process, responses should be quantified and the results published to schools as well as to the Local Authority and the Department for Education.

3. Management arrangements

3.1 

The local authority (LA) is responsible for the administrative arrangements for the Schools Forum.

The local authority will:

  • put agenda, papers and minutes on the council website, with the exception of confidential papers
  • call meetings to be held in public
  • clerk and record meetings
  • disseminate the results of meetings to schools and relevant organisations and inform them of the action taken by the LA in response to Schools Forum advice
  • manage the claims for, and payment of, expenses
  • provide a report by each year on the costs of the Schools Forum’s work
  • limit the number of other LA attendees from participating in meetings unless they are a Chair or Deputy Chair of the relevant Council Committee, the Executive Director Families, Children and Learning (or their representative) or are providing specific financial or technical advice, including presenting a paper to the Schools Forum
  • share the proportion of school population represented by members, including diocesan representatives

3.2 Costs

The costs of the Schools Forum will be charged to the Schools Budget.

3.3 Expenses

The scheme for the payment of expenses will be consistent with schemes for similar bodies in the local authority.

3.4 Meetings schedule

Meetings of the Schools Forum will be held at least 4 times a year.

One meeting must be scheduled to enable the Schools Forum to advise the Executive Director Families, Children and Learning on changes to the formula in good time for the budget allocation process, normally in the autumn term.

Extraordinary meetings may be called at the request of 4 voting members of the Schools Forum.

Meetings will be held at 4pm, normally at Hove Town Hall.

Meetings will be scheduled for a year, and papers will be dispatched to members 5 working days before each scheduled meeting.

When considered necessary, meetings may also be held remotely, normally on Microsoft Teams. 

These meeting arrangements may be changed by a quorate meeting of the Schools Forum, with the Chair or Vice Chair in the Chair.

Meetings of the Schools Forum will be open unless closed under standard council confidentiality procedures.

Meetings must not exceed 2.5 hours except by a majority vote of members at a quorate meeting, for that meeting only. Agenda items uncompleted may be carried forward to the next scheduled meeting.

In matters of urgency, when considered appropriate, the Schools Forum may make decisions by email.

The usual requirement for quoracy applies, in other words, a response must be received from at least 40% of members.

If contributing to a discussion, members are expected to 'reply to all' in the latest email in the chain, to maintain and record continuity of discussion.

3.5 Sub-groups

The Schools Forum will recognise and work with the representative groups that schools have established, which the membership may represent and be part of.

It may also act as an umbrella organisation for consultation in the local authority and may establish sub-groups or adopt existing sub-groups.

However, only the Schools Forum may commend the results of consultation on the matters listed in section 1 above to the local authority.

4. Reporting procedures

Agenda, papers and approved minutes to be published on the website (with the exception of confidential papers).

Draft minutes to be agreed by Chair and sent out to Schools Forum members as soon as possible after each meeting.

5. Evaluation and review

The efficiency and effectiveness of the Schools Forum will be kept under review.

If procedures need to be revised in the interests of efficiency, proposals for change can be put to a quorate meeting of the Schools Forum.

The Schools Forum will make recommendations to the Executive Director Families, Children and Learning for changes in procedure which they will consider and adopt or give reasons for declining to adopt.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the Schools Forum as a consultative and advisory body will be made by survey of the constituencies electing or appointing its members.

A positive evaluation would show that:

  • headteachers and governors believe that they are fully informed about school financing issues
  • headteachers and governors believe that their views have been taken into account, although the advice formulated and decisions taken may not be their preferred option
  • headteachers, governors and other bodies in membership of the Schools Forum, or invited as observers, see themselves to be in partnership with the local authority in managing the educational resource to meet the stated priorities of the city
  • the Schools Forum is seen as an economical and efficient means of managing consultation, which reduces rather than increases the bureaucratic burden