Agenda and minutes

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No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Martin Tinsley, Anne Entwistle and Helen McHale.



To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest received.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 64 KB

To approve the minutes of the Schools Forum on 8 March 2016 and 13 April 2016.

Additional documents:


Resolved unanimously: that the minutes of the meeting on the 13th April 2016 be approved as a true and correct record and that the minutes of the meeting on 8th March 2016 be a approved as a true and correct record subject to page 15 noting that Chris Tomes represents Churchmead and not Charters.


Growth Fund 2016-17 to 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 244 KB

To agree the future growth funding methodology for the three financial years starting in 2016-17


The Chairman introduced the report that related to the proposed changes previously considered to the Growth Fund provision.  The Forum were informed that under school finance regulations local authorities (LAs) could topslice the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) in order to create a growth fund to support maintained and academy schools which are required to provide extra places in order to meet basic need. The growth fund was designed to support a school temporarily or permanently increasing their PAN on a planned basis to meet basic need before the census process caught up with the number of pupils in the school. This is typically seven months for maintained schools and a year for Academy schools.


After being in operation for a number of years , the Forum considered the Growth Fund and felt that the formula had been over-generous, leading to some schools appearing to gain unduly.  The forum approved a revised formula that had been applied retrospectively.   A mechanism was introduced to get funds back if the planned growth did not happen.


Following feedback from school and discussions with schools expanding from September 2016 it was agreed to bring the formula back to the Forum to agree the future growth fund methodology for three financial years starting 2016/17. 


The Forum were being asked to agree a new formula as set out in section 4 of the report, or modify the current scheme set out in section 5, or to maintain the current arrangements.


The Chairman said that a three year limit on the growth fund was to help employ a teacher before funding caught up and that this three years was sufficient to pay for a five year expansion.


Hugh Boulter reported that schools had entered into an agreement with the LA for the expansion of pupil numbers and had committed finances to make this happen; the LA had changed the rules and schools would receive less funding then they had planned for.


Mike Wallace agreed that schools had made a commitment with the LA and had put resources in place based on that agreement, he questioned if all schools had been consulted when the changes were made.  The Forum were informed that they had made the decision and that they represented their sectors on this body.


The Chairman reported that when the report was considered in October there was a table that clearly showed the implications of the proposed changes.


Nick Stevens reported that there seemed to have been a problem communicating the changes to schools.


Cllr Hill in his capacity as Ward Member and governor of Oldfield School reported that he felt aggrieved about how the funding had been applied.  The school had expanded and was oversubscribed and this expansion had been agreed with the LA.  He felt it was not fair for the LA to then change the rules that would put a pressure on the school budget.  He could understand the change for future expansion but not retrospectively applying it to schools.  He was asking the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Request from Cox Green for growth funding in 2016-17

Request from Cox Green in light of revised growth fund proposals.


Heidi Swindenbank requested that the Forum bring forward growth funding for Cox Green by one year.  She informed that she was mindful of the previous discussion but it had been decided that Cox Green would expand in 2017, however after the LA decided to allow another secondary school to expand in 2016 Cox Green had to bring forward their expansion plans to prevent any negative impact on the school. 


During the admission round the public were informed that the other school was expanding and thus pupils could apply to go to that school.  It was requested that the Forum agree to bring forward the growth fund allocation for Cox Green from September 2017 to September 2016, to reflect the actual expansion taking place in 2016-17.


The Chairman asked if the Forum had the authority to make this decision and was informed that it had been brought to the Forum as there was an issue regarding fairness.  When the press were told that Furze Platt Secondary School would be expanding in 2016 legal had advised that the expansion had to go ahead as there could be a number of successful school appeals now that the expansion programme had been announced.  Officers had been told that Cox Green was also expected to be over subscribed but on offer day they were below PAN and thus did not meet the expansion criteria. 


Heidi Swindenbank reported that Cox Green was over PAN on decision day and the LA had said that both Furze Platt and Cox Green would expand.


Resolved unanimously: to bring forward the growth fund allocation for Cox Green from September 2017 to September 2016.





2015-16 Schools Budget Outturn, DSG Reserve, & School Balances pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To note the final outturn position for 2015-16.


The Chairman introduced the report that detailed the final outturn position of the 2015-16 schools budget, the level of DSG reserve and the level of maintained school balances held at 31st March 2016.  The Chairman highlighted that the level of reserve had dropped and asked the Forum to consider if this was too low or at the right level.


It was noted that the report showed that Oldfield was holding £70k in reserves and questioned why some schools were holding back funds that could be used for children’s education; it was mentioned that there used to be a claw back mechanism for un allocated funds.  The Forum were informed that this mechanism was never implemented. 


It was mentioned that some schools may be future proofing against the new national funding formula or building up reserves for capital projects.  The Forum were informed that the LA did question when maintained school had built up reserves and if they wished the Forum could set up a mechanism for the re-distribution of funds.


The Chairman said that the level of reserves being held by schools could be a future agenda item.


Resolved unanimously: that the Schools Forum note the report and approved the relative balances in the general and earmarked DSG reserves.


SEND funding progress updated

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


Item withdrawn.


Funding Reform 2017-18 and beyond

To provide further information, if available, on second stage consultation on Government’s funding reforms


The Forum were informed that there was still no indication when the stage 2 consultation would be undertaken. 


Isabel Cooke asked for clarification on the early help intervention officers whose funding was agreed by the Forum; it was agreed an update would be provided.