School Funding 2018/19 Consultation Results
To receive the above report.
James Norris, Head of Finance (AFC) outlined the above titled report. Members were reminded that at the Schools Forum meeting held on the 27th September 2018 that it was agreed that a consultation would be undertaken on the principles relating to a number of formula factors that would impact on the Schools Budget allocation, funding formula for 2019/2020 and migration towards the National Funding Formula. It had been agreed that consultation with schools would strive for minimum volatility for the financial year 2019/2020. Members were informed that model 1 was focussed on targeting funding towards local priorities of deprivation whilst model 2 prioritised continued migration towards NFF rates. Key points of the consultation results were outlined as follows:
· Strong support for the principle of reduced volatility in funding by not migrating fully to NFF unit rates in 2019-2020, (78% of schools shared this viewpoint and had 63% weighted pupils.
· Clear support for the principle of targeting funding to the local priorities of Deprivation and Inclusion. The targeted approach was supported by 72% of schools (74% weighted pupils)
· Responses had shown continued support for the current level of funding through the primary low prior attainment being maintained in order to minimise volatility with 83% of schools (78% weighted pupils)
· Model 2 had been the preferred model of choice by 61% of schools, all of which were in the primary sector, representing 38% of pupils. One primary and all six secondary schools preference was for model 1 (62% weighted pupils)
· The majority of schools 89% (72% weighted pupils) agreed that the minimum per pupil factors be retained at the 2018-19 level in order to protect volatility and distribute the funding direct to the main formula factors.
It was outlined that comments from schools (outlined in the written report) indicated a preference for Model 1 which allocated resources in line with deprivation and inclusion measures. It was highlighted however that more schools had chosen model 2 as their preference which appeared to be related to the lump sum factor. There had also been a split response to whether any “headroom” funding resulted from the final settlement to be allocated to Low Prior attainment. There had been 44% responses in favour of this treatment of “headroom” and 44% against (35% and 57% weighted pupils respectively). It was reported that by sector primary schools responded with 50% in favour compared with 33% of secondary schools. There had been a similar mixed response to whether an amount of “headroom” funding resulting from the final settlement should be allocated to AWPU. There had been 56% responses in favour of this treatment of “headroom” and 39% against (62% and 35% weighted pupils respectively)
After extensive debate about the different options, Forum voted on the models and a majority supported Model 1 – the principle based model. The Director of Children’s Services indicated that the local authority would follow this guidance from the Forum when making their decision.
At the conclusion of the discussion, members of the forum discussed whether the data sets shown could positively identify the school or provide further details for the schools to self-identify. It was noted that schools should be directed by principle as opposed to naming individual schools.
RESOLVED; That the forum noted the recommendation to adopt model 2 and guided the LA that model 1 is preferred. The forum noted and supported the proposal that any headroom would be distributed equally between Low Prior attainment and AWPU and approved the annual growth Fund allocation.
It was recommended by the Director of Children’s Services and the Head of Finance (AFC) that an element of the Growth Fund headroom be used to support the significant financial pressures currently being experience by Cheapside Church of England Primary School following their recent school expansion. Members were informed that the school had to expand from 16 to 30 places across all year groups simultaneously thus increasing the schools capacity from four vertically grouped classes to a 7 class single year group primary one phase. The school had worked proactively and had been fully staffed from September 2017 with all seven classes in place to meet the incremental demand of places. The forum were told that pupil numbers had been much higher than expected, beginning with 108 at the end of July 2017 and that currently they were at 190 with 20 spaces present. It was outlined that the current deficit position of the school was £210,000 for 2018/19. It was highlighted that based on the current and indicative future pupils number projections the school had forecasted that the total deficit could rise to £250,000 before the school numbers stabilised and when budgets were balanced. It was reported that the deficit balance was a risk to the school’s block and that it was recommended that the headroom in the growth fund be used to create a ring fenced reserve for the Cheapside expansion which could be used to make negate the elements of deficit which related directly to the unusual and sudden expansion of the school. It was noted that the funding would be ring fenced for up to five years with an agreed contribution between the school, their governing body and the Local Authority on an annual basis.
Members were informed that the Growth fund of £426,000 was good news and that the total potential of the growth fund was approximately £800,000. Members had sympathy for the school and the amounting pressures and were supportive of the recommendation to approve the funding to be delegated as managed budget to Cheapside Primary School.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY; That the forum approved the allocation of a reserved fund to support Cheapside school’s “all at once” expansion.