Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

49.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for the inability to attend the meeting were received from Isabel Cooke, Heidi Swidenbank, Joolz Scarlett, Amanda Hough, Hugh Boulter, Gina Kendall, Anne Entwistle and Helen McHale.

50.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received.

51.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2017.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 31st January 2017 were approved as a true and correct record subject to Alison Penny being in attendance and that on page 8 Forest Green School be amended to Forest Bridge School.

 

Matters arising.  The Forum were informed that the timescale for children’s services joining Achieving for Children had changed to 1st August 2017 due to the democratic process of the two existing authorities.  RBWM were still committed to becoming a partner. 

 

With regards to the New Assessment Criteria the Chairman asked if the new criteria had been signed off as at the last meeting concern had been raised about behaviour not being included.  The Head of Education and Schools informed the Forum that the matrix had been approved.  There had been a focus on cases rather then behaviour; there were behaviour services in place.  When behaviour needs were not addressed managed behaviour would be used.

 

In response to a question about existing funding the Forum were informed that the matrix would be used for new arrangements and reviews, the aim of the change was to make the process more transparent and fair.  It was noted that parents and professionals had been included in the consultation process. 

52.

High Needs Block Monitoring pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To consider the report.

Minutes:

The Forum were informed that at their meeting on the 31st January 2017 they considered the need to make savings to the High Needs Block (HNB) and requested that a working party be established to look at potential ways of delivering the required savings.

 

At the working group meeting on 9th March 2017 group members looked at saving options and a breakdown of all services and budgets included in the HNB.  There was a vacant post that it was proposed not to fill.  When reviewing the initial implementation plan it was agreed that the reduction in Mainstream, Special School and PR School top ups was not supported.  The table on agenda page 16 showed the current HNB Implementation Plan.

 

The Forum were informed that there would be a conversation with the two borough special schools during the summer term to analyse costs. Part of the review would also look if a child would be better served in a special school or a mainstream setting.

 

As part of the in year savings it was also proposed that there be a reorganisation of alternative provision and that the Council takes a more challenging stance on permanent exclusions. 

 

In response to questions it was noted that since September 2016 there had been 16 RBWM pupils excluded from schools, that there had been an increase in exclusions from the previous year due to the change in legislation regarding persistence and disruptive behaviour and that this year had seen an increase in exclusions due to one off events.  There were reasons when it was appropriate to exclude a pupil and when excluded the LEA had a duty to provide an education setting after 6 days which was paid for from the HNB.

 

There were lessons to be learnt from behaviour patterns from all schools with some schools having a more challenging setting where exclusion may be more appropriate. 

 

The Forum felt that consistency in funding from the HNB was required and this again raised the question about behaviour and the newly introduced funding matrix. 

 

It was noted that it was expected that exclusions would increase as there were already pupils within the system without exclusion plans that were being funded and schools have also indicated that without additional support more pupils would be at risk of exclusion.  The LEA wanted to be open and clear with schools; it was about being transparent and clear that there was no wish to see children out of mainstream education.

 

The LEA had a statutory duty to provide a PRU and therefore there was a demand lead budget.  It was noted that the Fair Access Protocol was binding on all where a child could not find a placement and it was felt that there could be better use of managed moves.

 

The Forum were informed that whilst attending a meeting the previous week the Head of Education had been surprised to find out that RBWM was one of a few smaller councils that did take funds from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Schools Budget 2017-18

To receive a verbal update.

Minutes:

The Forum were informed that at its January 2017 meeting concern was raised regarding Early Help Advisors working in the MASH rather then providing support to schools.  Service leads had been contacted and the service was now fully staffed and the support could be booked as usual.  Officers were working with schools on a case by case basis and could still make referrals.  There had been a short gap when they had been placed in the MASH but this had been corrected.

 

The Chairman mentioned that the Forum had supported the advisors so they could give advice and not undertake case work.  It was agreed that a further update would be brought back to the Forum in October 2017.

54.

Working Group to review Forum processes and procedures. pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To consider the Task Group report.

Minutes:

The Forum considered the findings of the Forum Processes and Procedures Working Group which was introduced by Nick Stevens.

 

The Forum were informed that the working group had been established to examine ways that the Forum could be more open and inclusive of the sectors they represented and thus they looked at governance, process and procedures.  The recommendations were contained within the report and the following areas were highlighted; distributing Forum paperwork earlier in conjunction with cluster meetings being a week before Forum meetings, that Forum reports are explicit on what decisions are being made and by which sectors and that decisions are clear with a better process being introduced if decisions are changed.  It was proposed that if approved a target date of September 2017 was introduced.

 

The Chairman agreed that it was important that different sector views were heard and that for future meeting there would be a standing item on the High Needs Block.  The Chairman suggested re-arranging Forum meetings and the possibility of having 2 fewer meetings as the December meeting was often cancelled; it was noted that it was easier to cancel a meeting them to add an additional one into the diary. 

 

Cllr Airey, Lead Member for Children Services, mentioned that when looking at meeting dates and agenda management consideration should be given to adding appropriate Cabinet reports to the Forum agenda so schools were aware of any implications.  Cllr Airey also mentioned that there was a vacancy for a primary co-opted member of the Children’s O&S Panel and asked if volunteers could be forwarded to the Kevin McDaniel.

 

Resolved unanimously that: officers considered the recommendations of the Task Group, that meeting dates be reviewed and that the Forum was the responsible body for distributing reports and decisions to the sectors they represent.