Greenwich Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes.

Venue: PDC Waterdale Road London SE2 0XT

Contact: Denise Kevern  Email: denise.kevern@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5145

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Forum.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Joanne Graham, Douglas Greig, Meic Griffiths, Martyn Patterson, Councillor Mick Hayes and Councillor David Gardner.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2018.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Minutes:

The Schools Forum noted the following amendments to the minutes.

 

Item 7 last paragraph, second sentence was amended to read:

 

With regard to Trade Union costs, it was noted that some academies had agreed to pay towards support and needed to be invoiced by Royal Greenwich, and some academies had not signed up to the process. This needed further review by Children’s Services.

 

Item 8 second paragraph was amended to read:

 

In the unlikely scenario that a school, on academisation, transferred with a deficit position, there would be a requirement for the school representatives to attend Schools Forum to demonstrate what actions were taken to avoid the deficit and provide accountability.

 

Item 12 paragraph 4 was amended to read:

 

She said that the Borough had to date, managed the delivery of ex ESG services without top slicing schools budgets. Most local authorities had top sliced the schools (maintained) funding to meet the shortfall.

 

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Schools Forum held on 12 July 2018 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

 

3.

Matters Arising

Minutes:

Item 6 - The modelling of the variation in accruals accounting effective from 2018/19 was ongoing.

 

Item 7 – The £1.2m was allocated as part of the September allocations to schools.

 

Item 7 – Count date was January.

 

Item 7 – The TU budget was being reviewed and the outcome would be reported back to Schools Forum. An Academy representative raised concerns around the value of the TU levels compared with Kent. The Director of Children’s Services stated that the variation in part was that Kent had around 600 schools so the spread would be different. Royal Greenwich to review TU budget and allocation for 2019/20.

 

Item 11 – The Academy Head Teacher election process was under review and would be supported by the Clerk to the Forum.

 

Item 12 – Clarification was required on how the census needed to be completed for FSM numbers in light of changes to the Universal Credit provision.

4.

Declarations of Interest

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

5.

Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) 2018-19 Projected Outturn Position pdf icon PDF 106 KB

To note the updated Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) 2018/19 position and the projected outturn position using 6 months of data.

 

To note the DSG will continue to be adjusted for on-going Academisation. The DSG will however benefit from the change in status of those schools converting to Academy in the form of charitable rate relief against Non Domestic Rates.

 

To approve the allocation of £1.6m from DSG reserves for Early Years as outlined in section 3.4 of this report.

Decision:

 

Approved the allocation of £1.6m from Dedicated Schools Grant reserves for Early Years to be split 3 ways as follows:

 

·               To Support Nursery Schools towards a sustainable position and approved the application of this resource (£530k) to the Director of Children’s Services in partnership with Nursery Schools Heads.

 

·               To support Primary Schools by dividing the monies (£530k) equally between the schools.

 

·               To support the revenue costs of a new Specialist provision (£530k).

Minutes:

The Children’s Services Finance Manager presented the report.

 

She explained that the High Needs Block was still a potential risk with overspend of circa £400k. This projected overspend was despite the transfer of £1m from Schools Block. Therefore, the pressure was more likely to be £1.4m. It was still early days from a forecasting perspective. The meeting in December would receive a further update. The key reason for the overspend, funding was not increasing at the same pace as pressures arising from factors such as, increasing numbers and price inflation (including pay award circa 8%). Whilst the Department for Education has recognised the pressure of the pay award on the main school block, it has not recognised it on the High Needs Block for this level of staff.

 

She continued that for the Early Years Block, so far, only data for the summer term had been noted. A natural underspend was expected, arising from deprivation and contingency. For 2017/18, the Early Years Block had a final underspend of £1.6m. The proposal was to split the monies three ways. A third to be delegated to the Director of Children’s Services to work with nurseries towards a sustainable position, which would be reported back to Schools Forum, and a third to support the revenue costs of a new specialist provision.

 

The Schools Forum were asked to agree how the final third should be utilised to assist primary schools with Early Years provision. It was agreed, that this could not be used for staff costs, as it was a one-off payment so would not be sustainable.

 

Following discussion by the Schools Forum, three options were suggested;

·               Divide equally between the schools, approximately £10k per school

·               Consider future planned maintenance versus need

·               To support bids for primary early years projects

 

A member said that a detailed projection would be useful, as a split amongst all schools would not be a large amount of money. Another added that it could be used for focussed spend, for example IT and that schools would need autonomy to prioritise for their school.

 

The Children’s Finance Manager reiterated that the funds had to be spent specifically on Early Years.

 

A member queried if the best use was to target the funds at specific schools that would give a larger pot of money to undertake strategic sustainability work.

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum approved the allocation of £1.6m from Dedicated Schools Grant reserves for Early Years to be split 3 ways as follows:

 

·               To Support Nursery Schools towards a sustainable position and approved the application of this resource (£530k) to the Director of Children’s Services in partnership with Nursery Schools Heads.

Agreed: 13    Abstention: 1

 

·               To support Primary Schools by dividing the monies (£530k) equally between the schools.

Agreed: 10    Against: 4 – who supported using for future planned maintenance

 

·               To support the revenue costs of a new Specialist provision (£530k)

Agreed: Unanimously

 

 

6.

The National Funding Formulae for Schools and High Needs pdf icon PDF 473 KB

To note the content of this report.

 

To agree:

 

Schools Block – To reconvene the Schools Forum Working Group, to consider options should the Growth and Rates funding impact on overall affordability of the Schools Block.

 

High Needs Block - In principle a transfer of £1m (0.5%) to the High Needs Block to meet the current pressure demand levels on the HNB.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed that the existing Schools Forum Working Group be reconvened, to consider options should the Growth and Rates funding impact on overall affordability of the Schools Block. Theresa Davies, Academy Governor representative be added to the group.

 

Agreed in principle, to the transfer of £1m i.e. up to the 0.5% to the High Needs Block.

 

Minutes:

The Children’s Services Finance Manager presented the report and gave an overview of the content. She highlighted that overall funding per pupil for both primary and secondary had increased.

 

Pressures from Rates and Growth Fund would consume the increase. Caution was therefore required.

 

The soft formula was expected to continue until 2020/21. Both rates and growth could potentially increase pressure on Minimum Funding Guarantee.

 

She said that in relation to the High Needs Block a potential overspend of £1.5m was expected. The pay award to teachers had been recognised but not for lower level staff. This had been raised with London Councils. She asked that the Schools Forum noted that only 0.5% could be transferred to the High Needs Block, any higher amount would need to be approved by the Department for Education.

 

She continued with regard to the Central Services Block, that a query had been raised with the Department for Education for an amendment for PFI delegation.

 

A Forum member highlighted that Halley Academy was shown as Corelli College. The Children’s Services Finance Manager would contact the Department for Education for amendment.

Action: Children’s Services Finance Manager

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum noted the report.

 

That the Schools Forum (all schools members) unanimously agreed that the existing Schools Forum Working Group be reconvened, to consider options should the Growth and Rates funding impact on overall affordability of the Schools Block. That, Theresa Davies be added to the group.

 

That the Schools Forum (all school members) agreed unanimously in principle, to the transfer of circa £1m i.e. the equivalent of 0.5% to the High Needs Block.

7.

Scheme for financing schools Loans update pdf icon PDF 32 KB

A verbal update on the scheme will be provided.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Children’s Services Finance Manager gave a verbal update. She explained that legal advice had been sought, but the Department for Education stance remained. The matter had been raised with both London Councils and Department for Education. The key issue was the inequality that the burden of transfer should fall on maintained schools.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Schools Forum noted the verbal update.

8.

High Needs Review pdf icon PDF 30 KB

A verbal update will be provided.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Senior Assistant Director Inclusion Learning and Achievement gave a verbal update. She said the London-wide position was similar. Royal Borough of Greenwich were seeking a specialist consultant to review the High Needs Block and an update would be provided to Schools Forum. The key issue was that the review was a requirement for all local authorities, for this reason, it was proving difficult to resource someone with the correct skill set. The authority remained hopeful that candidates would become available as other local authorities completed their reviews.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Schools Forum noted the verbal update.

 

 

9.

Pilot working with the Department for Education and Schools pdf icon PDF 30 KB

A verbal update will be provided.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Children’s Services Finance Manager, the Chair and Luigi Leccacorvi gave a verbal update.

 

The Children’s Services Finance Manager explained that after discussion with the Department for Education, a five day consultancy for the review of budgets was offered. The Department for Education said that Royal Borough of Greenwich provided good support to their schools and were satisfied that schools were undertaking strong financial management, in particular with strategic planning offered by three year budget planning. Three maintained schools were identified to participate, James Wolfe Primary School, Christ Church Shooters Hill Primary School and Plumstead Manor Secondary School.

 

The Chair said that the process had been useful and he had had a further follow-up meeting with the Department for Education. Overall, the ability to understand the Department for Education perspective and direction of travel was useful. To have the ability to have a challenge style discussion was also welcomed.

 

The process was however far from perfect, including the tight timescales and some of the interpretations offered by the consultants.

 

The three headteachers, the Senior Assistant Director for Learning, Inclusion and Achievement and the Children’s Services Finance Manager were due to meet to discuss how this information could be used.

 

Provision of an update report to Schools Forum.

Action: Children’s Services Finance Manager

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum noted the verbal update.

10.

School Place Planning and Capital Programme 2018/19- 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 592 KB

To note the demand for places at Royal Greenwich schools and post 16 provision, and the action being taken by the Council.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Admissions, Place Planning, Systems and Resilience presented the report.  It was highlighted that there had been a slight drop in the number of pupils in the planned primary 2018 cohort but that this was temporary.  The demand for primary places would steadily increase over the medium to longer term, particularly in the west and north-west of the borough. Primary in-year admission patterns were under constant review to ensure that there were a sufficient number of school places within reasonable travelling distance. With regard to projects for the September 2018 intake, Plumcroft Primary School (Vincent Road) was now open and two additional classes introduced at Invicta (Deptford) Primary School.

 

In relation to the planned secondary 2018 cohort, some resident children could not be offered a secondary place on National Offer Day. Several reasons were identified; the International Academy Greenwich has needed to continue operating in temporary accommodation longer than envisaged and had to reduce their intake from 125 to 75 pupils. Leigh Academy Blackheath, a new free school had to offer places outside the co-ordinated admissions process, which meant some children had initially received two offers. An additional factor was the growing popularity of Royal Greenwich schools, with our residents and those living in other boroughs. The Greenwich Judgement means that all applicants, regardless of residency, need to be treated equally. With regard to school projects for the September 2018 intake, Plumstead Manor has had works undertaken to accommodate the school’s first intake of boys, Eltham Hill has had some modifications to improve curriculum delivery and St Mary Magdalene CE provided with some additional classrooms on its temporary site pending its move to its permanent site on Greenwich Peninsula. Secondary in-year admission was being kept under review and there was currently sufficient capacity to meet demand.

 

It was concluded that there was an increase in the demand for SEND places, especially ASD. An Expression of Interest for an all-through free SEND provision to include Post 16 provision has been submitted to the Department for Education. The outcome will be announced in January 2019.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum noted the demand for places in Royal Greenwich schools and post 16 provision, and the action being taken by the Council.

11.

Attendance Record pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To note and review representative’s attendance.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum noted the attendance record.

 

Any Other Business

 

The Children’s Services Finance Manager provided the following updates.

 

Teachers Pay Grant and Teacher’s Pension scheme – An expected increase of 23% to be funded by the Department for Education for next year, but what happens after this. At present, it appears that any funding support was transitional and met from the Department for Education not the Treasury. This was a potential risk that schools needed to be aware of, and needed to be mindful of when setting their budgets.

 

The Chair requested that an officer from Human Resources report to Schools Forum at the next meeting to update on the above items and also to update and clarify on teacher’s statutory maternity pay.

Action: Human Resources / Children’s Services

 

Schools Forum had tasked the Children’s Services Finance Manager to progress lobbying to Department for Education with regard to funding issues. The Children’s Services Finance Manager advised, in addition to the meetings of the working group, further discussions had taken place with other local authorities. Followed by detailed discussion at London Councils and with the Department for Education. Expectation was that the meeting with London Councils would inform the lobbying for the spending review.

 

Key areas included pressures arising from;

·               Unfunded pay awards

·               Unfunded pension increases

·               Effect of MFG on Schools budget

·               Fall out of ESG, yet continued expectation of service

·               SEN pressures from both increasing pupil numbers as well as severity of need. Associated cost pressure including Transportation costs.

·               Rates on lagged number (yet transition protection would fall out)

·               Growth Fund being on new method that does not provide sufficient funding – recognition that £20m has been removed from London Councils

·               Staff retention issues for London

·               Concern that a lack of funding would impact on school improvements / educational outcomes

·               The pressure to spend within the lower funding envelope and still deliver a good service.

 

The Schools Forum thanked the Children’s Services Finance Manager who was leaving the Council, for all her hard work and her championing of the borough’s schools with the budget process.

 

The Chair requested an introductory meeting with the new Finance Manager and the Senior Assistant Director Inclusion Learning and Achievement.

Action: Children’s Services / Finance