Agenda and draft minutes

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No. Item



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Isobel Cooke, Joolz Scarlett and Mike Wallace.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To receive any Declarations of Interest.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting.


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY THAT: The minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2019 be approved.


Budget Outturn and School Balances 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 420 KB

To receive the above report.


James Norris, Head of Finance (AfC), introduced the report to the Forum and explained the purpose of the report was to provide a summary of the final outturn position of the Schools Budget 2018/19, the funding held in the DSG reserves and also, the level of maintained school balances held at 31 March 2019. James Norris asked Members of the Forum to note the contents of the report and to approve the carry forward of the deficit balance on the DSG reserve. He explained table one of the report summarised the financial position and showed the full outturn had favourable movements but the high needs block was still seeing budget pressures.


With regards to the high needs block, significant reduction in costs reflected a number of cost saving strategies including 0% inflation increases on providers, successful negotiation rates for new high cost placements, developing a more robust tribunal process and the continuous implementation of a more collaborative and inclusive approach within schools to retain pupils with special educational needs rather than seeking high cost alternative provision. The savings led to cost avoidance of (£327,000); clarity from ESFA of changes in funding arrangements for Further Education and colleges which had previously been in dispute resulting in the release of provision (£102,000); reduction in Alternative Provision Outreach costs following implementation of new contract (£76,000); with others at (£9,000). All of the money had been released into the forecast.


James Norris stated in the last quarter, the overspend had reduced as reported to Cabinet and Council. The overall position was that the net in-year underspend was a favourable movement on the dedicated schools grant reserve deficit which as at 31 March 2018, was a deficit of £1,212,000; the revised deficit as at 31 March 2019 had been reduced to £917,000 gross of earmarked balances.


The Director of Children’s Services stated the Borough would be one of the few local authorities to not have to report to the DfE as the Council had a deficit of less than 1%. He went on to say the SEN tribunal process was fair and robust, giving an example of a recent tribunal decision where they agreed with the Local Authority that for one particular child there was suitable educational provision in a maintained school resulting in cost avoidance exceeding £192,000 per annum. If the Borough had been unsuccessful at the Tribunal, it would have meant sending three children to a special placement. Hugh Boulter asked if the Borough and schools had identified all areas where savings could be made. James Norris confirmed work was still ongoing to identify other saving opportunities. The Director of Children’s Services state the Council had also held prices of placements down and had appointed an officer to look to try and hold prices down for all placements. The Borough had also received £368,000 extra from central government which had helped.


The Director of Children’s Services directed Members to table three of the report which showed the general reserve but there was an  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Preventing Exclusions in RBWM Primary Schools pdf icon PDF 606 KB

To receive the above report.


Clive Haines, Schools Leadership Development Manager, introduced the report and explained to Members the purpose of the report was to provide the Schools Forum with a business plan for investing resources to fund an intervention programme for preventing exclusions within the primary sector and with the potential to be rolled out into the secondary sector.


In accordance with the Schools Revenue Funding 2018/19 operation guide, the Schools Forum agreed on 27 November 2017 to a 0.5% budget transfer from the School Block to the high Needs Block representing £416,000. There were no commitments identified in 2018/19, therefore, the funding was carried forward to 2019/20. The Schools Leadership Development Manager added meetings and consultations had taken place. Helen Huntley, AfC, stated she had been working within the borough as a SEND consultant, looking at the use of funds and talking to primary schools. She added that Autism Spectrum Disorder with behaviour issues was where the schools were asking for help.


A template had gone out to schools and heads wanted to get involved but could not see a way the project could be sustainable so more work was required. Since September 2018, there had been five permanent exclusions from primary schools so it had been challenging to respond to. Helen Huntley had met with primary and secondary schools to see how the Borough could support a child at risk of exclusion. If a child was at risk of exclusion and the school were worried, the school could ring the team at the Borough who would support the child and also increase the capacity at the school to help the child and prevent the exclusion.


The scheme used a qualified teacher with two assistant support staff to work with 12 children in 12 schools across one year group. They would help a child to self-regulate and to work with staff in schools to increase capacity and confidents and prevent exclusion. There would also be some cost savings using the approach. Helen Huntley held a BASH meeting and there was interest in developing the project into secondary schools.


There were risks as the project was to only support one year in 12 schools and also, no matter how much support was offered, a child might still be excluded. Also, there could be issues with school resilience, one school might not have capacity to cope with a difficult child but, other schools might fund the child is just a challenging student.


The Chairman stated some of those children had behavioural issues that might have come from home so, they could come into school and all the work done at school could be undone at home. Perhaps an organisation such as Family Friends could work with families at home. Schools also needed consistent understanding of what behaviour was accepted as challenging and what behaviour warranted exclusion. If those issues could be worked on, it could be a way of making the project work.


Helen Huntley explained that the Haybrook College contract covered both primary  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Top-Up Funding High Needs Block pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To receive the above report.


Alison Crossick (AfC), introduced the report and explained the purpose of the report was to provide the Schools Forum with the current national and local picture for Education, Health & Care (EHC) Plans, with associated needs and costs. She added the report looked at the likely impact if no changes were made and provided information for consultation relating to Top-up funding for schools in RBWM and also information for consultation around the current matrix and banding for EHC Plans.


Alison Crossick said the Borough would be keeping the matrix the same as Slough and Bracknell councils so that it could work across borders. She had looked at the matrix used by Sussex to see if it would work with Top-up funding for the Borough. Post 16 education was not included in the current proposal, unless the pupil remained on roll at their current school into the sixth form.


The number of EHC Plan’s in place had been rising while the number of people designated for support had remained stable. In Windsor and Maidenhead, 16.17% of students required support which was higher than the national average. Alison Crossick was in agreement to look and clarify if other local authorities with grammar schools had a similar percentage of SEND support. She added she wouldhave expected inner city schools with low literacy to have a much higher SEND support rate.


Alison Crossick stated she had been working to a written statement of action. One area she had looked at was work that could be done in local schools to keep children locally. The ratio in and out of the Borough was reasonable but a lot of that was for independent paid for provision.


EHC Plan numbers had been rising nationally and the Borough was in line with the national average. As expected post 18 EHC Plan levels were rising the quickest due to EHC Plans now lasting till the pupil reached 25 years of age, whereas Statements of Education Need only went up to the age of 18 years, so the Borough would start to see lower rates of EHC Plans as the older pupils reached 25.


Table two showed some of the maintained schools special reduced as post 16 went on to special colleges; the Royal Borough EHC Plan population had less than one third in maintained schools with elected home education numbers quite high, so the Borough had assigned an officer to check the primary need of those pupils, and if they could still learn but had left school, they would try and find a suitable placement for them.


Kevin McDaniel, Director of Children’s Services stated off-rolling was not a significant issue in the Royal Borough and it was all about finding the right placement for those young people. Chris Tomes stated that at his school, there were some parents that tended to off-roll at the end of year eight or nine and that the numbers were higher than at other local schools. Alison Crossick confirmed that was being looked into.


Alison  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.