Members present

School members

Peter Freeman (Chair)    
Primary Governor, Coombe Road 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

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

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

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

Members not present

School members

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

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

Local authority attendees

Jo Lyons (JL)            
Assistant Director Families and Schools

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

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

Richard Barker (RBa)        
Head of School Organisation

Local authority attendees apologies

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

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

Other attendees

Cllr Hannah Clare (HC)       
Chair Children Young People and Skills Committee

Ruth Ali (RA)          
 Clerk to the Forum

Other attendees apologies

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

Item 1: Welcome, apologies and election of Chair / Vice Chair


Items for any other business to be stated – no other items were requested. 


JL welcomed everyone to the meeting and reminded all that nominations would be invited for the roles of Chair and Vice Chair.  She also welcomed HC, the Chair of the Children Young People and Skills Committee; all present introduced themselves.  


Apologies were received from AH, Secondary Schools Headteacher.  The Forum was informed that Claire Jarman (Cardinal Newman Catholic School) had been elected by Secondary Schools Headteachers to the vacancy that had arisen due to the retirement of James Kilmartin.  Due to an oversight, she had not received a notification for this meeting and is therefore not in attendance.   Apologies were also received from GCG. 


PF left the meeting whilst nominations for the role of Chair were invited.  
Peter Freeman was nominated by Damien Jordan, seconded by Chris Taylor and unanimously elected as Chair for a term of office of two years.   PF was congratulated and continued to chair the meeting.


Ashley Harrold was nominated by Damien Jordan for the role of Vice Chair, seconded by Aaron Barnard and unanimously elected as Vice Chair for a term of office of four years.

Item 2: Minutes of last meeting (17 June 2020) and matters arising

Minutes from Schools Forum meeting Wednesday 17 June 2020



The minutes were agreed as a true record.

Matters arising


2.2 – Backpay for Term Time Only support staff:  Schools have now been advised that payments will not commence in this financial year. 


2.4 – Scheme for Financing Schools:  This is an agenda item at this meeting.


2.5 – Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for the Connected Hub:  A draft is in place for the Central Hub Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) provision and has been shared with LC for consideration.  This now needs to be finalised. 


4.2 – Surplus Balances is an agenda item at this meeting.


4.8 – Although a report of the Cross Party School Organisation Working Group (CPSOWG) was not provided for this meeting, it was ascertained that all are familiar with the current consultation on Published Admission Numbers (PANs). 


5.6 –Separate breakdown for outreach service within Special Schools – It was confirmed that this area cab be split in the future, and that this year’s allocation was £65,000.  


6.2 – The uncommitted contingency from last year has now been allocated to schools, the action therefore having been completed.


  • RB

Item 3: Minutes of the last Schools Block Working Group (SBWG) meeting


It was agreed that, rather than summarising the minutes in AH’s absence, they would be referred to at relevant points in the agenda. 

Item 4: Surplus Balances 2019/20 update


RB summarised his paper which outlined the reasons given by schools for their surplus balances of 8% or more of their budget.  No further actions for this year are proposed.  However, some schools have had considerable surplus balances for two years now, and if the situation remains the same next year and it is identified that their intended spending has not materialised, action would be taken.  


Noted: Members noted that the council has not determined to reclaim any additional balance this year.  


DJ asked whether it would be appropriate for the forum to ask for a similar report from the other end of the spectrum, ie schools with deficit balances, in particular those who have gone into deficit although having planned a balanced budget.  


RB confirmed that the LA is aware that there are schools whose budgets are in a different situation from what they had planned. The LA will shortly receive budget returns from schools, and the information gathered from these can be brought back to the forum.  A meeting with Headteachers is intended to be held before the next meeting, which can also feed into this report.  This situation had been briefly considered at the meeting of the Schools Block Working Group (SBWG). 


PF highlighted to Cllr Clare that DJ’s question reflects schools’ concerns over this year’s budget and the extra costs, including national pay settlements, incurred this year and due to be incurred next year.  This presents a different picture from that described at the meeting of the Children Young People and Skills Committee on 14 September. 


The question was raised whether the surplus held by some schools contributes to the LA’s ability to grant licensed deficits, as being part of the overall school budget.  This was confirmed.  There was a time in the past when licensed deficits exceeded the net surplus, but the situation is better now, allowing the LA to give a greater degree of licensed deficits. 


It was highlighted that council members need to be made aware that, although budgets have increased, there are also increased costs as a result of Covid and increased staffing costs coupled with a drop in pupil numbers.  Some pupils have not returned to school, which has considerably affected attendance levels at census day.  


PF summarised that a paper giving an overall picture of schools’ finances in the current year will be presented at the next meeting. 


  • LH/ SW


Item 5: Covid 19


RB summarised his paper which outlined government funded support for Covid related costs and information about the Early Years Free Entitlement and TTO Backpay in relation to Covid.  


The question was raised whether it is possible for forum members to see elements specific to individual school claims.  There was some uncertainty whether it is appropriate to share this information with the forum, but consideration will be given to providing some level of information in December.  


It was suggested that forum members could instead refer to the link to the DfE spreadsheet outlining what individual schools have claimed.


AB explained that academies had been advised that the Y7 catchup funding had been withdrawn this year and asked whether this is the same for maintained schools.  SW is not aware, but the Y7 catchup funding is not announced until February.  He will enquire and also search for reference to this in guidance.  


JP highlighted that nursery schools are not eligible to apply for catch up funding and claims. Tarnerland was eligible for the furlough scheme but even with this support, with the effects of income loss from parents fees the nursery is in a deficit budget. Members thanked JP for mentioning this, as not all had been aware.


  • SW

Item 6: Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) 2020/21 Update report


LH summarised her report which updated the forum on the adjustments to the DSG allocation for 2020/21.  The Early Years Block has been reduced due to a reduction in numbers on January 2020, compared to the previous year.  The remaining relates to the High Needs Block (HNB), which has reduced due to an increase in the number of high needs places being directly funded by the DfE.  


Noted: Forum members noted the update report.  

Item 7: DSG 2021/22 Overview and Agreement of Exceptions


SW took forum members through his report and explained that it served the dual purpose of updating the forum on government announcements on funding levels, but also seeking approval for de-delegation on items for both the primary phase and secondary phase.  


He highlighted the following key points:  This is now the second year of a three year spending review settlement.  The Schools Block will see an increase of £11.7m based on October 2019 census figures, but £6.5m of the increase is due to an integration of the (currently separate) teachers’ pay and pension grants into the Schools Block.  


There is now some uncertainty, as the Schools Block Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) is directed by pupil numbers from the October census.  A reduction is therefore expected, and forum will be updated.


The HNB sees rapidly growing pressures; the LA is reporting an overspend and is working on prioritisations and will liaise further with the forum on these.  


Forum members pointed out that the costs of teaching as well as non-teaching staff pay rises will considerably reduce the real terms increase in funds.  


The forum noted that at the SBWG meeting some questions about the detail had been discussed but nothing fundamental had been raised. 
Forum members were asked to vote by phase on Exception 1  items (where funding for a service is de-delegated so that it can be provided centrally)


Primary Phase Maintained School Headteachers and Governors agreed the proposed de-delegation for:

  • Maintained Schools Contingency
  • Ethnic Minority Achievement Service
  • Free Schools Meals eligibility administration
  • Insurance
  • Staff Costs, such as union duties, jury service or suspension

At an estimated cost of £893,000 for the Primary Phase.  


As no Secondary Headteachers were present, it was agreed at the request of secondary school Governors that the decision should be referred back to Secondary School Headteachers and a decision taken outside of the meeting. 
Their decision is recorded as an appendix to these minutes. 


Agreed:  Forum members agreed the growth fund of £0.330m as outlined in paragraph 5 of the paper.  


The forum also agreed the items within the Central Services Schools Block (CSSB) of £1.298m as outlined in paragraph 6 of the paper. 

Item 8: Schools Block 2021/22 and Analysis of 2020/21 Formula Against Comparators


SW took the forum through his report which gave an update on government announcements relating to the Schools Block for 2021/22 (provisional increase of £11.7m in 2021/22 for Brighton and Hove) and on changes considered regarding the local formula for the allocation of the Schools Block in 2021/22.


He explained that a hard National Funding Formula (NFF) is still due to come out at some point in the future, but it has not yet been confirmed when.  Five changes considered to the application of the local formula for 2021/22 were presented to the SBWG at their last meeting, as also outlined in the paper.  These were compared to the NFF and statistical neighbours and included:

  • Changes to secondary basic entitlement age weighted pupil unit (AWPU) rates
  • Increase to the unit rate of funding for the low prior attainment factor
  • Incremental extension to the use of the ever-6 free schools means and Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) factors, which had previously been recommended by the SBWG and agreed by the forum
  • Adoption of minimum funding per pupil levels set by government
  • Reviewing the level of the minimum funding guarantee


The meeting of the SBWG agreed that changes should be restricted to those that are directed by government or already agreed by the forum, and SW explained that he is now seeking views on remaining with the status quo overall.  


By January, when the funding model is submitted to the government, the October census data will have replaced current data. 


Individual members expressed their views:

  • It would be helpful if the NFF was published as any changes that can be made now do not amount to much in the great scheme of things and the LA is as close as it can get to the NFF.  
  • Per Pupil Funding (PPF) is simple, but there should also be a per class element to ensure that a class is a viable unit.  There is therefore some merit in speaking in favour of maintaining some local involvement, and/or LA involvement in discussions with government about this to ensure that schools are viable. 
  • Favouring local decision making as long as this is allowed and thereby taking advantage of the flexibility it offers in order to take decisions in the interest of local schools.  
  • The biggest change under consideration is to equalise KS3 and KS4 AWPU which would redistribute funding between schools and create perverse incentives to change school structures.
  • The Minimum Per Pupil Funding (MPPF) guarantee had an unexpectedly large impact this year, which could be the same for next year, in that it moved funds from schools with children in greater need to schools with children with less need.  When the LA tweaks the formula, it would be good to offset for that through increasing the amounts granted for low prior attainment.  


SW summarised that when the data from the October 2020 census is available a more informed position regarding the 2021/22 schools block will be known, and forum will be updated in December or January.  The KS3 and KS4 AWPU will not be changed. He shared members’ concerns around the weighting on pupil numbers and the effect this has on those under capacity, but emphasised that the LA has to operate within the formula permissible by the government.  


An update will be given at the next meeting. 


  • SW

Item 9: Scheme for Financing Schools


SW summarised his paper and explained that the Scheme for Financing Schools is an overarching document issued by the government to which the LA may make variations.  Some changes are also dictated by the government, and the Scheme for Financing Schools has therefore now been updated with directed changes to bring it in line with the national model.  


SW outlined the changes, ie provision of multi-year budget information, planning for deficit balances, and an amended section on insurance in light of the option maintained schools now have to opt in to join the Risk Protection Arrangement (RPA), and highlighted that the LA has already been compliant with the requirements of the first two points.  


The Forum unanimously approved the amended Scheme for Financing Schools. 


JP informed the forum that, as a consequence of Covid, Tarnerland Nursery is now in deficit, which she is working with SW to address.  This is likely to result in redundancies or early retirement, and in line with statutory guidance, she is asking for the support of the Forum to action these.


All members agreed that the Forum would support Tarnerland Nursery in the actions they need to take to address the deficit budget.  

Item 10: Any other business

The work plan for the year ahead was shared and comments invited.  Members were also invited to suggest any other items for business.

The meeting closed at 5:20pm

Next Meeting

  • Monday 7 December 2020, 4.00 – 6.00 pm 

2021 Meetings – all 4pm – 6pm

  • 18 January
  • 15 March
  • 21 June
  • 11 October
  • 6 December


In subsequent correspondence Secondary Phase Maintained School Headteachers and Governors agreed the proposed de-delegation for:

  • Maintained Schools Contingency
  • Free Schools Meals eligibility administration
  • Insurance
  • Staff Costs, such as union duties, jury service or suspension

At an estimated cost of £405,000 for the Secondary Phase.