Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Apologies For Absence

To receive any apologies of absence.


None received


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To receive any declarations of interest.


None received


Minutes pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 19th January 2016.


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2016 be approved.



To confirm the outcome of the latest recruitment to School Forum vacancies.


A revised membership list was circulated. As discussed at the last meeting, a number of vacancies had arisen because of conversions to academy and the impact on pupil numbers on the relative representations on the Forum. There were three academy vacancies. It was noted that Stuart Muir was to take up the first vacant academy post. The resulting vacancy for a maintained secondary representative would be filled by Chris Tomes of Charters. The other two academy vacancies would be filled by Amanda Hough of St Luke’s and Jo Haswell of Forest Bridge.


It was noted that Dedworth Middle had not yet converted to academy, however this was anticipated in the next two months.


Dedicated Schools Grant and Planned Expenditure 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To consider 2016-17 DSG expenditure proposals and approve central expenditure budgets.


The Forum considered RBWM’s 2016-17 expenditure plans for services funded by the schools, high needs and early years blocks of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and other grants. The Forum was asked to approve a number of central expenditure budgets where required under regulation.


As reported at the last meeting, the DSG settlement was £104.842m, an increase of £1.234m on the previous year as a result of the increase in pre-16 pupil numbers. Table 2 gave details of the breakdown of the total settlement. In the schools block; £39m related to the Academies delegated budget which would be topsliced from the local authority’s DSG allocation. This would change during the year as more schools converted to academy. Table 3 illustrated the total funding available (£113.7m) for the schools budget including high needs, early years and the post-16 grant. Pupil premium allocations were only included for early years (£72,000).


Table 4 illustrated the proposed expenditure for 16/17. Schools block planned expenditure would reduce to 78.9% (from 79.4% in 15/16) to cover an increase in budget required for high needs to 14.8%. Changes were detailed in section 3 of the report and the appendix. For the schools block the funding delegated through the pre 16 formula had increased by £770,000. At the same time post-16 funding had reduced by £563,000. There was an additional proposal to reduce funding for the growth fund by £278,000. Planned expenditure on high needs would increase by £730k, funded by  increased funding for high needs (£316,000) announced in the December 2015 settlement, and a transfer of £414,000 from early years and the schools block.


It was confirmed following a question from the Chairman that the changes were for noting, subject to approvals later in the agenda. Expenditure from the high needs block (e.g. Manor Green) did not require Schools Forum approval.


The Chairman commented that the use of sixth form figures that were 18 months out of date to allocate post 16 funding was odd given the amount of money involved. He suggested feedback to highlight that the latest figures should be used. The Finance Partner explained that all post-16 funding received by the LA from the EFA went directly to schools so there was no impact on the budget. The reduction in the post-16 budget was the result of falling numbers. The main pressure was in high needs, from continued growth at Manor Green and Forest Bridge. There had been some re-allocation to try to fund this as local provision was now available but this had not come through as much as had been expected.


Table 5 illustrated spending by block. Authorities are able to move funding between blocks and many did so. In 15/16 planned schools block expenditure had totalled £89.8m. The council’s schools block allocation was£90.6m therefore the unspent £780,000 had funded additional expenditure in high needs. Table 6 illustrated proposed allocations for 2016/17. The plan was to borrow a larger amount from the schools block than in previous years to fund high needs.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Growth Fund 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 166 KB

To consider and agree changes to the growth fund 2016-17.


The Forum considered proposed changes to the growth fund for 2016/17.


The Chairman commented that he had received a number of representations on this report, in particular the clawback options in paragraphs 3.4 and 3.5. Due to the complexity of the existing scheme, a new scheme was proposed.


The Head of Schools and Educational Services explained that the proposal set out a logical approach to school place planning taking into account Schools Forum comments from the meeting in January 2016 and other comments received since. He then commented on the proposed eligibility criteria, which applied to all types of schools including academies and free schools as detailed in section 4.1:


·         1 & 2 – no changes were proposed

·         3 – the change would ensure that places would be reliably available.

·         4 – this was the biggest change. Funding through the growth fund would only be allocated when an additional teacher was required. This would mean schools could employ staff earlier.

·         5 – the change recognised that additional funding would be required for every year an extra class was needed. A typographical error was noted that the section should read ‘5 years in a  secondary etc.’

·         6 – no change in the assumption that schools receiving growth funding would still be expected to operate mixed age classes where their PAN warranted it.

·         7 – this was not yet applicable in the borough but if a  new free school was set up in response to ‘basic need’, start up costs would fall to the local authority. The Head of Schools and Educational Services provided an example from his previous authority where a new two-form entry primary was established. The local authority had provided £75,000 of start up costs.


It was commented that schools had previously been funded for four years. The Finance Partner explained that the growth fund had only been around for two or three years. The rules had been changed for 2015/16 following consultation to limit funding to three years for all schools.


The Chairman highlighted the difference between primary and secondary in terms of the funding rates linked to AWPU. Questions had been raised about the actual costs of putting an extra 30 children into a school and the resulting cost of a member of staff. In addition queries had been raised about the differing figures of 0.4 and 1 FTE for a teaching assistant. The Head of Schools and Educational Services explained that the formula had been worked out backwards using the existing pay scales and the amount that would have been spent on the Growth Fund. Comments from the Forum were welcomed on whether this was a reasonable approach.


Stuart Muir commented that if schools were growing fairly quickly there would be more schools that triggered funding but the amount of money would be kept the same. He questioned this given expansion was on its way. The Head of Schools and Educational Services confirmed that for the current year there were no unfunded expansions. The Forum considered  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Falling Rolls Fund 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 143 KB

To consider proposals for a falling rolls fund in 2016-17.


The Forum considered the possible introduction of a falling rolls fund for 2016-17 to support schools with a temporary shortfall or dip in pupil numbers, as requested by the Forum meeting in January 2016.


Hugh Boulter left the meeting at 4.09pm.


It was noted that there was one mandatory element as detailed at paragraph 4.2, that only schools judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ would be eligible.


Proposals for an RBWM scheme discussed in the working group had focussed on the following principles:


·         Funding would need to be linked to a demonstrable temporary shortfall in total pupil numbers compared to the number of pupils the school would expect to need in up to three years time, with the school committing to maintain the PAN for the next three years of planned admissions.

·         RBWM’s Education team would have a key role in providing information on future need for places in individual schools and areas, in order to assess whether a school was eligible for funding.

·         Eligibility would need to take account of spare capacity in the school, whilst bearing in mind that a school did not need to be at full capacity to be ‘viable’.

·         Funding should be formula-driven as far as possible, to ensure that funding allocations were fair and transparent and not be dictated by the specific approach to teaching or structure used by a given school.

·         Eligibility for funding would need to be reviewed each year on a school by school basis. As circumstances changed, there would be no automatic assumption of ongoing funding


The Head of Schools and Educational Services highlighted that for 2015-16 the scheme would have to be funded from DSG reserves. The Forum agreed that it was in principle supportive of a scheme. The forecast currently was for falling rolls at Churchmead as a result of, in part, new free schools. The birth rate had fallen this year so it was anticipated that there would be an impact on primary schools in five years’ time. However, further new housing development could fill the gap.


The Head of Schools and Educational Services highlighted the starting point was to establish a viability level, which was proposed as 70%. The next decision was then at what level up to viability should funding be provided and a weighting of 50% on the AWPU rate and a cap of 20% of total budget was proposed. It was noted that four schools in the borough were currently at a level of less than 70%: Bisham Primary, Churchmead, Desborough College and Woodlands Park Primary. Alison Penny commented that the PAN figure for Woodlands Park was incorrect; the Head of Schools and Educational Services agreed to ensure this was amended.  The authority needed to check to see if Desborough College meet the ‘temporary dip’ criteria.


Ania Hildrey left the meeting at 4.19pm.


The Forum considered modelled funding levels using different formula criteria.


Mike Wallace left the meeting at 4.24pm.


It was noted that most authorities applied a cap, whether on different types of schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Extension of Free Entitlement for 3 and 4 Year Olds

To receive a verbal update on DfE plans to extend the entitlement to 30 hours per week.


The Forum noted that the DfE had received 92 applications from local authorities wishing to be part of the expansion to 30 hours free entitlement. Only eight were selected for the pilot. The borough had not been invited to take part in the pilot but had been asked to join the working group to discuss the outcomes.


SEN Funding Arrangements

To receive a verbal update on work to align top-up funding with  Education, Health and Care plans.


It was agreed that the item be deferred to the next meeting, at which it should be high on the agenda. The Chairman agreed to discuss with colleagues an appropriate additional meeting date.


The Head of Schools and Educational Services stated that he was keen to put together a working group to discuss secure communication between the borough and schools. If First Class was switched off on 1 April 2016 there would be no way to send secure pupil data. The one-year cost was £19,000 for the licences.


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the First Class system be funded for one year from 1 April 2016 whilst a working group on secure communication discuss options available.