Agenda and minutes

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No. Item



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mike Wallace and Sarah Cottle. Martin Tinsley, Chairman, sent his apologies, and the Vice Chairman was in the Chair for the meeting.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To receive any Declarations of Interest.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting.


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2020 be approved.


Budget Monitoring and Forecast 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To consider the attached report.


James Norris, Head of Finance, introduced the report to Members, which provided a financial update for the financial year 2020/21. There were variances within the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and the projected deficit position.


Progress had been made on the Deficit Recovery Plan (DRP), to be submitted to the Department for Education (DfE). This was because of the deficit balance at the end of last year and projected forward for the end of this financial year. Regular monitoring was being undertaken, with unchanged variances within the Schools Block. There was an underspend of £450,000 due to lower commitments against the Growth Fund than initially planned. There was an underspend of £52,000 in the Central Schools Block due to staffing vacancies and reformation of teams. There was a forecast underspend of £100,000 in the Early Years Block due to the clawback mechanism from the last financial year. It was projected that underspend could be completely dissolved, with an update in the next Schools Forum. There was an overspend of £810,000 in the High Needs Block (HNB) due to Pupil Top Up and direct support packages, and the forecast was largely based on the 2019/20 outturn. An update would be given in future monitoring reports.


The DSG budget showed an overall overspend of £208,000 at the end of March 2021. Previous years showed additional costs from the HNB in the second half of the year, estimated to be £70,000. The overspend position would therefore be £278,000, should the additional costs materialise. There was a cumulative carried forward deficit between £1.233 – £1.303 million, which represented just over 1% of the overall budget allocation. Authorities with a deficit, regardless of the percentage, had to submit a DRP to the DfE, which was being drafted by officers. All options were being explored to address the deficit and bring it back to a balanced position. Some options included, but were not limited to:


·         Improving the commissioning arrangement by ensuring annual reviews were undertaken at schools, with a focus of financial impact.

·         Increase the funding contribution from partners.

·         Reviewing the local Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Sufficiency strategy.

·         Hold inflation to a minimum.

·         Continue to promote the independence and use of the local offer to young people.

·         Seek approval for a block transfer, by moving funding from the Schools Block to the HNB as a last resort.

Kevin McDaniel, Director of Children’s Services, said the situation of the HNB was a national phenomenon around the education system due to the pressure on the funding mechanisms for children with additional needs. The borough was working around the inclusion agenda over the last few years, with the adoption of an inclusion charter and peer-led process of inclusion to ensure schools were providing good services to young people with needs. The challenge was ensuring funding was in the right area. Whilst an increase in money was due to come into the budget next year, this would not solve the problem alone. Systemic changes needed to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Provisional Dedicated Schools Grant & and Schools Formula 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Consider the attached report.


James Norris introduced the report to Members, sharing the provisional settlement for 2021/22 and proposed changes to the Schools Formula, with a view to receive input to the proposed models through a consultation. Previous consultations had a response rate of just over 30% and the Local Authority was keen to increase participation. A presentation was shown that explained the terminology used in the report and was to be shared with all schools to increase consultation response rates. The presentation stated the following:


In July 2020 all local authorities received the provisional grant allocations for the DSG, including the Schools, High Needs and Central School Services Blocks. The Early Years Block’s indicative grant was to be sent to authorities later in 2020 and reviewed in 2021 to reflect the January census.


The table presented compared the current year DSG allocations to the provisional allocations for 2021/22. The funding to be allocated to schools had increased due to the grants rolled into the Schools Block for teachers pay and pension. These were previously outside the formula and were paid to schools in-year. The grants of over £4 million would be delegated in primary and secondary schools by the borough’s Schools Formula. In January and April 2021, further budget reports would be circulated to the Forum, detailing budget allocations of the HNB, Central Services and Early Years Block.


Provisional DSG notifications allowed local authorities time to consider changes to the Schools Formula and the distribution of the rolling grants. The current school funding available totalled £97.9 million, based on October 2019’s census. The funding would be allocated to all primary and secondary schools, maintained and academies. For 2021/22, the borough produced two financial models for consideration.


The Schools Formula included two guarantees, including the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) and Minimum Per Pupil Level (MPPL). These protected per pupil funding per school from significant changes year on year (YOY). These could override the local Schools Formula and top-up the individual school’s budget. The operational guidance detailed ranges that could be applied for the MFG from 2021/22, which ranged from 0.5% up to 2%. The MPPL was set for primary Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils.


Local authorities were required to set a pre-16 MFG to protect schools from excessive YOY changes. The authority was able to set the MFG up to 2%, known as an MFG top-up, which was not a cash guarantee between years, but rather pupil protection. Business rates and lump sum were excluded from the MFG calculation. In the current year, the borough had set the MFG at 0.5%. The proposed models showed an increase in the MFG as 1.3% in Model 1 and 1.25% in Model 2.


The MPPL was a compulsory matter and the factors that made the MPPL were pupil led, therefore premises costs and the growth fund were not part of the formula. For primary schools, the MPPL would ensure that each pupil’s funding would be £4,180. The lump sum was taken together and divided by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



All future meetings to be held on the following dates (at 2pm):


·         21 January 2021

·         22 April 2021


All future meetings to be held on the following dates (at 2pm):


·         21 January 2021

·         22 April 2021