Members present

School members

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

Tad Matus (TM)    
Primary Governor, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School

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

Damien Jordan (DJ)    
Primary Headteacher, Fairlight Primary School

Chris Taylor (CT)    
Primary Headteacher, Patcham Infant School

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

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

Linda Newman (LN)    
Secondary Governor, Longhill High School

James Kilmartin (JK)    
Secondary Headteacher, Cardinal Newman Catholic School

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

Louise Cook (LB)    
PRU Headteacher, Central Hub

Julie Plumstead (JP)    
Nursery Headteacher, Tarnerland Nursery

Academies members

Aaron Barnard (AB)    
Aldridge Education Trust

Non-school members

Martyn Howe (MH)        
16-19 Provision, MET (till 4.30pm)

Paul Shellard    (PS)        
Teachers’ Union, NEU

Mandy Watson (MW)        
Diocese of Chichester (Anglican)

Members apologies

School members

Ashley Harrold (AH) (Vice Chair)    
Secondary Headteacher, Blatchington Mill School

Non-school members

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

Local authority attendees

Jo Lyons (JL)            
Assistant Director Families and Schools

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

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

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

Richard Barker (RBa)        
Head of School Organisation

Local authority attendees apologies

Andy Moore (AM)        
Schools Principal Accountant Children’s Services 

Other attendees

Viv Warren (VW)        
Observer - Early Years, Tarnerland Nursery 

Ruth Ali (RA)          
 Clerk to the Forum
 

Item 1: Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and requested two items for discussion under Any Other Business, i.e updates on TTO payments and on funding for extra costs to schools related to Covid, such as childcare and cleaning. 

 

Item 2: Minutes of last meeting (15 January 2020) and matters arising

2.1 Accuracy

The minutes were agreed as a true record.

2.2 Matters arising

Backpay for Term Time only support staff (2.4):

JL reminded members that Councillor John Allcock (JA) and Nigel Manvell (NM) attended previous meetings to give updates on the council offer.  At that time, headteachers and forum were concerned, and JA agreed to engage in conversations with partnerships before making a final decision.  This was not possible, due to Covid.  

JA will now have further discussions with headteachers, and a decision will be made in the autumn. Members were advised that it is not expected that schools will be required to make any payments before the next financial year.  Some school members queried that they had been advised to budget for payments for this year. However schools will now be told that they have increased flexibility in this year’s budget assuming charges are deferred to 2021/22.

  • Actions: SW

2.3 

Minutes of the Schools Block Working Group (SBWG) meeting on 13 January had been circulated (2.3).

2.4 

The Scheme for Financing Schools has been updated. However, a further update is now required, which should be completed by the next meeting (2.5). 

  • Actions: SW

2.5

The work on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for the Connected Hub has not yet been completed (2.6).

It was clarified that this is especially relevant for academies members, as the Connected Hub is an external provision for Trusts, for which an SLA is required.  

  • Actions: RBa

2.6 

Schools have been briefed at phase meetings on FCL budget savings (3.8).

2.7

The issue around TTO national insurance contributions has been rectified (3.10). 

Item 3: Minutes of the last SBWG meeting (9 March 2020)

3.1

The main items of discussion at that meeting are covered in this agenda, ie unspent contingency, long term sick and maternity scheme, and schools’ budgets.  

3.2

The meeting scheduled for 8 June did not take place due to the workload of schools in connection with Covid. 

 

Item 4: Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Outturn report 2019/20

School and DSG outturn report 2019/20

4.1

SW presented his report, updating the forum on the outturn position for the DSG. Schools balances are now a surplus £4.347m and the central DSG balance is a surplus of £0.703m. 

The report provided a more detailed analysis, in particular the recovery of the position of secondary schools.  The number of schools finishing the financial year with an overspend has reduced; indications are that nine schools require a licensed deficit, which is in line with last year. 
 

4.2 

Some schools have potential surplus balances; the number of these has reduced from 12 to seven schools.  Conversations are being held with those schools, the outcome of which will be reported back at the next meeting. 

Central DSG underspend mainly relates to Early Years Block, and this will be subject to claw back from DfE to reflect the January 2020 Early Years census.

  • Actions: SW

4.3

4.1 School balances 2019/20 summary 

Members noted that a high number of schools had a reduction in their carry forward.  SW clarified that a high number of schools with a reduction in carry forward were primary, and that some secondary schools had an increase.  Their starting points were very different in that primary schools previously had a net underspend of £3,684,000, whereas secondary schools were in a net overspend position.  This has now changed.  If the use of significant amounts of carry forward continues, it must be evaluated whether this position is sustainable over a longer period.

4.4

It was questioned whether the table listing the accumulated deficits and surpluses shows that one form entry schools are in a significantly worse position than other schools.  It was confirmed that the breakdown seems to suggest that one form entry and smaller two form entry schools are in a worse position.  The LA has recognised this by retaining a larger lump sum allocation in the local formula, and for the new financial year additional consideration has been given to the disproportionate impact of SEND for one form entry schools. This has resulted in additional allocations to these schools from the high needs block.

4.5

It was requested that this should be discussed again at a future meeting, as it also has implication for future Published Admission Number (PAN) levels, a change in which would create more one and two form entry schools.  The consultation on PAN changes cannot start until October, giving time for forum to discuss proposals.  

4.6

DJ suggested that the predicted reduction in pupil numbers in two form entry schools explains why some of them carry forward more while they can, deferring any cuts.  Any discussion in relation to potential future numbers should therefore not be limited to one form and future one form entry schools, but all points should be considered. 

4.7

OS suggested that access to schools is not just an economic choice, but should also take account of the local community’s view  of what smaller schools can offer. 

4.8 

JL explained that the cross party school organisation working group (CPSOWG), when discussing PANs, will take this point into account and look at what is needed locally; however finances also need to be considered. This will be done as a city wide approach.  A report of the CPSOWG will be provided to the next meeting.  

  • Actions: RBa
     

4.9

Noted: Forum Members noted the level of school balances of £4.347m, representing a 2.9% (£4.225m) increase since the end of 2018/19, and the carry forward of £0.703m on Central DSG, representing a decrease of 0.101m since the end of 2018/19.

Item 5: High Needs Block 2020/21

Report including additional funding for 2020/21 (supporting documents 5.1 Consultation Summary and 5.2 Breakdown of allocation of HNB)

5.1

GCG took members through her report, highlighting that the majority of the funds allocated to the HNB goes straight to providers – special and mainstream schools and other educational providers.

5.2

The latest allocation to Brighton and Hove saw a £2.6m increase compared to 2019/20 and is a recognition of the increasing costs of supporting children and young people with SEND.  This increase will enable the LA to manage pressures in this area, having consulted with schools on a number of proposals.  

5.3

DJ asked whether the LA is able to confirm what additional capacity has been created with funds that have gone into specialist provision, as some schools continue to carry pupils with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) naming a special school, with no place available to them.  Further questions were raised by other members how many additional places have been created.  

5.4

GCG explained that around 12 places have been created across all four provisions, and outlined how funds were allocated:

  • Carden currently has 22 places, and there has been no increase as it had so far been underfunded and has now been re-aligned
  • Hove Park, the number of places and the unit cost has increased because of a model that had to be agreed prior to GCG starting in her role
  • Bevendean Hearing Support Facility required extra staffing for high needs children who needed extra care.  
  • Funds have been allocated for the creation of another centre for 20 places.

5.5

DJ reiterated that the key question for Headteachers was that schools hold a large number of children with named specialist places, and they were hoping that funding would enable further additional places to be created.  GCG clarified that the question was due to a misunderstanding of a figure in her report, which outlined a subtotal, and not an increase.  The unit costs assigned to the resource bases vary and are linked to the levels of need.   She recognised that there is an increase in the number of pupils requiring support, with a gap especially in Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and other learning difficulties. Funding has been set aside and capacity will be added.  However, there will be other pockets of provision needed, and she would not wish to continue with ad hoc placements.  Different levels of funding have been allocated through historical decisions, meaning that the HNB needs to be reviewed, which would be a mutual decision.

5.6

RBu noted that the breakdown does not mention the outreach service done by special schools and asked whether the LA wants to continue to commission support to children in mainstream schools.  This is included in the special schools related budget and will therefore continue.  A separate breakdown was requested.  This will be brought to a future meeting. 

Actions: GCG

5.7

PF noted that £680,000 has been allocated to areas where DSG is used to part fund the cost of LA functions and asked what proportion is funded by the LA for these services and what from DSG.  He was advised that the vast majority is funded by the corporate general fund. Members asked whether this is on the basis of historical levels of funding or whether a decision is taken every year.  It was confirmed that it is historical, set around 10 years ago and would have been included in a paper to Forum at the time.  Home to School Transport was part of the consultation in the High Needs paper this year.  There was brief discussion as to whether there is now a need for review. JL explained that the issue is looked at regularly, as the SEN team is a statutory function of the LA and is funded through a combination from different sources. If a significant change was made this would put potential pressure on the council general fund.  

Item 6: Services to schools / school contingency

6.1

RBa presented his paper which sought the comments of the forum on proposals for the delegation of the balance of the contingency fund 2019/20 and the ongoing provision of the Long Term Sickness and Maternity schemes.

6.2 

There had been ongoing discussion around the unspent contingency; these had been paused through Covid.  £119,000 was uncommitted at the end of the financial year; this was incorporated into the DSG underspend with the intention of it to be paid back to primary and secondary schools on a per pupil calculation. This continues to be the position that is supported by primary and secondary Headteachers. This funding will now be allocated to schools.

  • Actions: SW

6.3

When schools were making decisions about which services to schools to subscribe to, concerns about increases in charges due to both schemes (LTS and Maternity) running a consistent deficit were being addressed.  It is difficult to monitor and predict demands on both elements, and in an effort to make adjustments to compensate for that, the LA has spent more on it, then increasing charges to make it up again.  It had been intended to discuss this further at the discussion meeting in March, which had to be cancelled due to Covid. 

6.4

By the deadline, only four primary schools had decided to withdraw from the scheme.  The situation now needs to be monitored, and if a significant number of schools withdraw, a decision will potentially have to be made about the long term viability of the scheme, and how to wind it up if necessary, considering the deficit still held at the moment.  The LA reserves the right to review this in future years, although immediate concerns have not materialised.   

6.5

An analysis of the previous three years’ allocations shows that none of those schools have contributed to the shortfall in the scheme. It is therefore proposed that those schools do not need to make any contribution to the shortfall upon their departure.

6.6

DJ asked whether the scheme is run by Orbis or by the LA and was advised that it continues to be a local B&H scheme.  There is a wider piece of work ongoing around Orbis and a revised offer with partners Surrey and East Sussex, but this will take some time to develop.  Meanwhile local arrangements are in place in all three authorities.

6.9

RK asked whether the proposal for using DSG underspend to cover part of the deficit is in line with guidance, which states that any underspend has to go back to schools.  SW clarified that guidance states that underspend has “to support the schools budget” and explained that this refers to the DSG as a whole and not individual schools.  The same would apply to an overspend. 

6.10

In response to the question what will happen if the deficit builds up again, members were advised that the LA had used £200,000 to try and offset the deficit, and that premiums have increased to cover losses.  There now needs to be a wider conversation with schools to discuss the way forward and whether it is viable to continue. 

6.11

PF summarised that the Forum supported the first recommendation, that the £119,000 underspend in the 2019/20 contingency allocation should be delegated to schools in 2020/21 on the same basis as had been used for the de-delegation although there was continued dissatisfaction among some members who suggested that the contingency could be used as an opportunity to pay off some TTO back pay. However discussion on proposals to address the exiting of four schools form the LTS/Maternity schemes highlighted the continuing concern among Headteacher representatives about the proposed use of funds.

6.12

There is recognition that it is within the power of the council to continue with the proposal, but there is also recognition at governor level that schools need to have an insurance scheme of this kind in place.  Some other arrangements need to be found if the council scheme is discontinued. This will require further discussion on the future of the  scheme and alternatives that can be recommended to schools if the scheme is wound up. 

6.13

The LA recognises that schools need some provision to address the uncertain impact of sickness.  Forum will continue to be updated on the work of Orbis with schools.  

6.14

SW explained that the reason the scheme was in deficit was due to reimbursements to schools being in excess of the premiums that were charged. It was highlighted that the proposal being made is in the schools’ interest. The proposal resolves the issue and leaves the scheme in a more positive position, whilst helping Headteachers.  SW was asked to look into guidance and feed back details. (This is provided as appendix to these minutes.)

  • Actions: SW

Item 7: Any other business

7.1

Feedback was sought from members on extra costs incurred through Covid.    Members were reminded of the initial guidance issued in April, which specified three areas for which claims can be made, up to a maximum.  So far no change to this proposal has been announced and no information issued about how to claim, which is an area of concern for schools.  

7.2 

Details on to what extent schools will be open in September are awaited, as providing home delivery of education is also resource intensive. 

7.3

Members shared the areas in which they have incurred costs, in the hope that they can be claimed back.  LA provision for continued Free School Meal vouchers was appreciated.

7.4

JK asked if there is greater clarity about redeeming costs of FSM vouchers for schools which have gone with a different provider, ie not Edenred. RBa explained that going with a different provider due to the problems experienced with Edenred should be covered by the “exceptional circumstances” criterion and would therefore be a justifiable expense. 

7.5

OS explained that from a parental point of view it would be helpful for the LA to advise parents of likely scenarios for September, ahead of confirmed government guidance.  

7.6 

JL agreed that this is a good point and explained that the LA is working with Headteachers and Unions to evaluate and address the situation locally in advance. However, there is a risk of putting work into making decisions, only for them to have to be amended when government guidance is issued.  

7.7

OS explained that, as detailed guidance is unlikely to be issued before August, the two broad scenarios of either being back to normal or not back full time should be explored.  

7.8

JL reminded the forum that a number of letters to parents have been issued by the LA with a view to managing expectations, and Headteachers are doing an amazing job liaising with their communities.  

7.9

Schools have worked hard in connection with the wider opening and home learning.  Good practice is now being shared.  

7.10

In connection with summer activities, as indicated by government, JL explained that the LA is thinking about possible provisions through the Early Years and Family Information Service Teams, recognising that Headteachers and schools need a break.  Activities would be targeted towards disadvantaged children.  However, it would be for the government to provide resources to help clubs to run in a safe way, and their issuing guidance at short notice is not helpful. 

7.11

JK advised the forum of his retirement from his post as Headteacher of Cardinal Newman Secondary School.  A new Secondary Headteacher Member needs to be elected.  

JK had been a member for a significant number of years and was thanked for his contribution. 

The meeting closed at 5:25pm

Next meeting

  • Monday 12 October 2020
  • 4pm to 6pm
    either Room G91  Hove Town Hall or remotely – to be confirmed
     

Appendix

Information taken from ‘Dedicated Schools Grant – Conditions of Grant 2019/20’ Document

Purpose of grant

The grant is paid in support of the local authority’s schools budget. It is the main source of income for the schools budget (the schools budget includes all expenditure on areas relating to the Dedicated Schools Grant).
Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that the DSG is deployed in support of the schools budget. This includes both DSG funding allocated to central expenditure within the schools budget and funding for the Individual Schools Budget (ISB). The ISB is the element of the DSG that is allocated to mainstream schools within the Schools Block.

Year end procedures

At the end of the financial year the central expenditure element of the schools budget may be under or overspent. If there is an underspend in respect of central expenditure at local authority level this should be separately identified within the associated notes to the accounts. The underspend must be carried forward to support the schools budget in future years, including any of the budget that is moved into earmarked reserves.