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 Marie Corbett, Joanne Graham, Jane Perry, Luigi Leccacorvi, Claire Harrison, Victoria Wainwright, Mark Dale-Emberton, Theresa Davies, Gary Farrelly, Natalie Palmer, Cllr Linda Bird, Cllr Angela Cornforth ,Cllr Gary Dillon and Cllr Mick Hayes.

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 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:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Schools Forum held on 18 January 2018 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

 

3.

Matters Arising

Minutes:

The new Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools introduced himself.

 

The Chair reminded members of the Code of Conduct required at meetings.

 

The Chair advised members that where items required a vote, the relevant group would be shown on the report and would be highlighted at the beginning of each meeting.

 

The Children’s Services Finance Manager updated Schools Forum on the feedback from the funding workshops (changes to budgets and forecasting) which were well attended and feedback was very good.

 

 

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.

Forward Plan 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To note the Forward Plan for reports to be considered in 2018/19

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Children’s Services Finance Manager presented the report.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Schools Forum noted:

 

·               The Forward Plan of reports 2018-19

·               National Funding Formula Review updates as a standing item

·               High Needs Block –review standing item

·               Agenda planning was an ongoing process and additional reports might be required through the year

·               At the request of Schools Forum, the agenda items Capital Strategy and Place Planning were included for all meetings.

 

 

 

6.

Revenue and Capital Balances position for Schools 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 95 KB

To note the content of this report which discusses the Schools Balances position for the financial year ended 31 March 2018.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Noted the content of the report showing the Schools Balances position for the financial year ended 31 March 2018.

 

Approved the variation in accruals accounting effective from 2018/19 closure of accounts process (Maintained Schools only).

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Children’s Services Finance Manager presented the report. She explained that the Department for Education placed a requirement on local authorities to publish the outturn for maintained schools.

 

She continued that current practice around closure of accounts allowed representation of committed spend only if it exceeded £25k. That this distorted the position for schools. The proposal was to review the accruals threshold and reduce it to circa £5-15k to provide a more realistic end of year position.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Schools Forum unanimously agreed the following decision (Voting: Maintained Schools Only)

 

Approved the proposed variation in accruals accounting effective from 2018/19 closure of accounts process. Dependent on modelling undertaken by the Children’s Services Manager.

 

and

 

Noted the content of the report showing the Schools Balances position for the financial year ended 31 March 2018.

 

Noted that whilst there was a small overall increase in surplus of £443k, out of 61 schools, 39 had surpluses of over 5%. 5 schools were in deficit, and 16 schools in a borderline position. 13 schools did not respond to requests for accruals information.

 

Noted that schools were working towards a 3 to 5 year planned budget strategy and remained prudent on spend recognising the scale of unfunded pressures facing schools over the next few years including 2% pay rise in teaching costs, increase in pension costs from 2019/20, inflation and recognition that most schools were now on Minimum Funding Grant.

 

 

 

7.

Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Outturn Position 2017/18 and Update on 2018/19 DSG budget pdf icon PDF 143 KB

To note the contents of the report. In particular to observe that the total of £1.2 m underspend from the 2017/18 outturn position of underspend of £800k on Schools Block, £400k on High Needs Block. There is a further underspend of £2.2m against the provisional Early Years Block.

 

Schools Forum to approve the redistribution of £1.2m underspend predominately to support pressure for high needs in schools.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Approved the proposed redistribution of the Dedicated Schools Grant underspend of £1.2m to Schools based on pupil numbers (Special Schools on a factor of x3).

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Children’s Services Finance Manager presented the report.

 

She highlighted that the Schools Block net underspend related mainly to the timing of rates payments. She added that there was significant pressure on Special Educational Needs due to the 9% pay increase for this level of staff. Schools notified, as soon as practicable, September 2018, of the one off share of lump sum payment due from the redistribution of underspend of £1.2m for SEN.

Action: Children’s Services Finance Manager

 

The Children’s Services Finance Manager continued, that at this stage no decision could be made on the underspend of £2.2m against the Early Years Block. An update report to be brought to the meeting October 2018.

Action: Children’s Services Finance Manager

 

The Children’s Services Finance Manager said that a discussion was required with Children’s Services and the Corporate Service around the processing of Trade Union expenses as they differed. The budget of £91.6k against the overspend of £184k for 2017/18 was unsustainable.

 

A Forum member asked if academies paid in to the TU budget. The Children’s Services Finance Manager responded, no it was only maintained schools whose budget was top-sliced for this expense. The academies had their own TU agreements. The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools added there was a need to ensure the costs were proportionate for all. The Children’s Services Finance Manager would investigate this issue further and report back to Schools Forum.

Action: Children’s Services Finance Manager

 

 

 

 

 

Resolved:

 

That the Schools Forum unanimously approved the proposed redistribution of the Dedicated Schools Grant underspend of £1.2m to Schools based on pupil numbers (Special Schools on a factor of x3). (Voting: All School Members)

 

That the Schools Forum noted:

 

The total of £1.2m underspend from the 2017/18 outturn position of an underspend of £800k on Schools Block and £400k on High Needs Block. That there was a further underspend of £2.2m against the provisional Early Years Block.

 

That within the Schools Block central fund was a provision of £91.6k to fund Trade Union Support. The total cost for this area in 2017/18 was £183.8k. The budget was generated as part of the de-delegation and overspend was not sustainable and required a detailed review. 

 

That the Early Years Block currently showed a net underspend of £2.2m. However, some or all of this might be subject to Department for Education clawback dependent on the final count of places. Funding allocated for 2017/18 was provisional until the final count was returned in Summer 2018 (2018/19 financial year). A Further report presented to Schools Forum in October 2018 to confirm the final Early Years position for 2017/18 to set the 2018/19 budget.

 

That the DSG surplus balance brought forward from 2016/17 was £5.86m. Of this £1.075m would be required to support the additional growth fund requirement for 2018.19. This would leave a revised DSG of £4.311m. Schools Forum had previously agreed the holdback of these funds due to anticipated pressures arising from rates, growth, impact of National Funding Formula on schools and Educational  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Scheme for Financing Schools pdf icon PDF 37 KB

A verbal update on Department for Education Policy.

Decision:

Schools Forum noted the update.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Children’s Services Finance Manager updated the Schools Forum on the scheme for financing schools. She said that the Department for Education had introduced guidance regarding deficit recovery plans. Royal Borough of Greenwich currently managed this as a loan to a school, and if a school academised could recover the monies from the school. This would no longer be permissible. Therefore if a school academised and had a deficit outstanding it would become the responsibility of the Council. The issue was how would this be dealt with – whichever way the cost had to be met from DSG. This was a question of equality and should be shared across all sectors. The Children’s Services Finance Manager was seeking legal guidance and further information and would report to Schools Forum October 2018..

 

Going forward any school that goes in to deficit would be required to attend Schools Forum and explain the reasons why.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools suggested representation to the House of Commons Select Committee as this position was inequitable.

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum noted the Scheme for Financing Schools update.

 

 

 

9.

Academy Conversion Services and Charges from 1 September 2018, including Dispute Resolution pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Agree that the Academy Conversion Services and Charges procedure agreed by Schools Forum in July 2017 will now take effect from September 2018.

 

Agree that schools issued with an academy order by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) on the basis of being judged inadequate by Ofsted are exempted from any charge.

 

Agree to the proposed dispute resolution process, to be implemented in instances where a variation to the fixed fee of £7,000 is being disputed.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed that the Academy Conversion Services and Charges procedure agreed by Schools Forum in July 2017 would take effect from September 2018.

 

Agreed that schools issued with an academy order by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) on the basis of being judged inadequate by Ofsted would be exempted from any charge.

 

Agreed to the proposed dispute resolution process, to be implemented in instances where a variation to the fixed fee of £7000 was disputed.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Assistant Director, Commissioning and Resources presented the report.

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum agreed (Voting: All Schools Members)

For 12, Against 0, Abstentions 2:

 

That the Academy Conversion Services and Charges procedure agreed by Schools Forum in July 2017 would take effect from September 2018.

 

Schools Forum agreed (Voting: All Schools Members)

For 13, Against 0, Abstentions 1:

 

That schools issued with an academy order by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) on the basis of being judged inadequate by Ofsted would be exempted from any charge.

 

Schools Forum agreed (Voting: All Schools Members)

For 12, Against 2, Abstentions 0:

 

That the proposed dispute resolution process, be implemented in instances where a variation to the fixed fee of £7000 was disputed.

 

 

 

10.

School Place Planning and Capital Programme Update pdf icon PDF 86 KB

To note the progress made against the Early Years and School Capital Programmes to date.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Schools Forum noted the report and presentation.

 

 

 

Minutes:

 

The Assistant Director, Commissioning and Resources gave a presentation. She highlighted that the Borough’s basic need allocation for 2020/21 was £Nil. This meant that the ability to meet future need in primary (north/northwest of the borough) and secondary would be reliant on new free schools.

 

She continued that a report to Cabinet 24 July 2018 would ask to agree the programme for delivering additional primary and secondary school places up to 2020/21. This included halting the project to expand Boxgrove School, undertake a consultation to revoke the earlier decision and include a proposal to open a new Designated Specialist Provision at the school.

 

She said that the Special Provision Capital Grant for 2018-21 was £2,518,114 and would create additional special needs places and improve existing facilities.

 

She highlighted the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund (HPCF) that maintained schools through a bidding process were able to apply. The bidding round closed on 4 July 2018. The distribution of funds was dependent on the Cabinet decision.

 

Resolved:

 

That progress made against the Early Years and School Capital Programmes to date be noted.

 

 

11.

Attendance Record pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To note and review representatives’ attendance.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Agreed that, members who had not attended the last three or more meetings, would be written to by the clerk.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Head Teacher Academies Schools Forum representative would consult with the Head Teacher Academies cohort and review the process for electing their membership to the Forum.

Action: Head Teacher Academies representative / Schools Forum Clerk

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum noted the Attendance Record.

 

Agreed that, members who had not attended the last three or more meetings, would be written to by the clerk. That failure to attend the next meeting would result in them being removed as a member of the Schools Forum.

 

 

 

12.

Any Other Business

·        High Needs Review

·        National Funding Formula

·        Ex ESG

·        Meeting with Department for Education – benchmarking and financial health checks

 

 

 

Minutes:

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

 

She said a recruitment process was underway to find an officer to undertake the High Needs Review.

 

She had attended a meeting to discuss the National Funding Formula with the Department for Education. She would formally brief schools in October and November 2018. Further consultation with hospital schools would take place in autumn 2018.

 

She said that the Borough would not be top slicing the Ex ESG.

 

She would discuss the Department for Education benchmarking tool with each school. She had advised DfE of the financial issues in Greenwich, and they had agreed ‘in principle’ to review one/two schools’ finances in the Borough and share best practice. DfE was impressed by the work undertaken so far regarding financial planning and good practice in the borough.

 

The Schools Forum thanked the Children’s Services Finance Manager and her team for their hard work.

 

With regard to Free School Meals, no movement in the FSM number was suggested, and it was not clear if this was a number or a percentage. She added that from 31 March 2022 the protection ceases and this could affect the amount for Pupil Premium. She would provide information to the Forum on how to complete the Census with regard to this.

Action: Children’s Services Finance Manager