Greenwich Council

Agenda 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.

Agreement of Chair and Vice Chair

Schools Forum to agree that Steve Harris presides as Chair and David May as Vice-Chair for the duration of this meeting.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Schools Forum noted that Royal Borough of Greenwich Legal Services had agreed that pending the agreement of the amended Constitution, the current Schools Forum membership would remain until the new provision was in place.

 

Schools Forum agreed that Steve Harris would remain as Chair and David May as Vice-Chair during this period.

 

The Director of Children’s services advised that consultation on the Constitution would take place in September 2019, a report would be brought to School Forum October 2019 and was scheduled for November’s Cabinet for agreement.

 

Schools Forum agreed that the School’s Forum Clerk would undertake an election process to fill the Academy Headteacher vacancies and Children’s Services would consult with the Schools Partnership to fill the two Primary Community Headteacher vacancies for the October 2019 meeting.

 

 

 

2.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Forum.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Nick Edwards, Joanne Graham, Joanne Howcroft-Scott, Luigi Leccacorvi, David May, Claire Harrison, Victoria Wainwright, Jo Marchant, Theresa Davies, Paul Drake, Susan Skidmore, Meic Griffiths, Roy Moore, Councillor Linda Bird and Councillor Christine May.

 

Schools Forum noted that Jane Perry has retired.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 January 2019.

 

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 16 January 2019 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

 

4.

Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 1 MB

London Councils – SEND Summit (For Information)

Minutes:

Item 7 Any Other Business

 

GS Plus charging more for Universal Free School Meals – The Community Partnership wrote to the Director of Children’s Services. She said that legal costs for procurement were covered by Royal Borough of Greenwich as part of a collective. Finance were working with the Community Partnership regarding school’s catering procurement and a future agenda item would be provided to update the Forum.

 

Schools Forum noted the London Councils presentation entitled ‘Children’s Services Finance Survey Initial Findings – High Needs’.

 

The Director of Children’s Services advised that a business case was being drafted for a new special school in the borough. A report would come to Cabinet in September 2019 asking for funding to be held for this build.

 

The Schools Forum noted that there has been a rise in complexity of need. If the borough was unable to provide the necessary support, places were found at Designated Specialist Provision out of borough. A Forum member highlighted that nurseries were picking up ASD traits much sooner than previously but there was a lack of places for these children. The Director added that London Treasurers had also highlighted the issues with High Needs funding.

 

A Forum member suggested that case studies might be useful.

5.

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:

Councillor Gary Dillon declared that he was Chair of GS Plus.

 

Resolved:

 

That Schools Forum noted Councillor Dillon’s declaration.

6.

Forward Plan of reports for 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Schools Forum is asked to note the Forward Plan for reports to be considered in 2019/20.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Finance Advisor.

 

The following additions were made to the Forward Plan.

 

Progress Report for Catering Procurement           16 October 2019

Scheme for Financing Schools- Update                   17 December 2019

Progress Report for Catering Procurement           17 December 2019

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum noted the Forward Plan.

 

7.

Revenue and Capital Balances position for Schools 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To note the content of this report which discusses the Schools Balances position for the financial year ended 31 March 2019.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Finance Advisor who advised an increase in surplus of £1,954k. 45 schools had surpluses over 5%, 5 were in deficit and 11 in a borderline position. Schools who had increased their reserves, were still struggling to budget for next year. Pressures included a 2% pay rise in teaching costs, an increase of 7.12% in pension costs from September 2019 plus inflation increase. Schools would not receive grant until March 2020 so it was prudent to budget for a 1% increase.

 

Schools Forum agreed that it was hard to argue that the borough was underfunded overall, but it showed that schools were being very prudent and looking to cut-back. However, this was not sustainable and the future was fairly bleak.

 

The Schools Forum noted that if the pension grant was not forthcoming, schools would have to fund this themselves.

 

Schools Forum requested that the trajectory needed to be analysed for the three year budget plan. That it was not clear how much of the reserved funding was already committed for each school. How many schools with planned expansions had surplus. Schools with over 15% surplus how much of this was already committed.

Action : Finance Advisor

 

A Forum member suggested we may be able to learn from other boroughs. Other models of practice could be explored or collaboration with other boroughs. The impact on staff well-being should also be considered.

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum noted the report.

 

 

 

8.

Dedicated Schools Grant Outturn Position 2018/19 and Update on 2019/20 Dedicated Schools Grant Budget 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To note the contents of this report. In particular to observe that the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) overspent by £2.59m in 2018/19.

 

 

 

Minutes:

Schools Forum noted the amended Table 1, tabled at the meeting.

 

The Finance Advisor presented the report. He highlighted that Dedicated Schools Grant was overspent by £2.59m in 2018/19. Schools Block by £1.07m and £3.20m on the High Needs Block. Central Block was underspent by 0.84m and provisional Early Years Block by £0.84m. The Early Years Block might be subject to Department for Education clawback dependent on the final count of places in Summer 2019.

 

The Finance Advisor asked the Schools Forum to consider only re-issuing funds at the end of the year. The Director of Children’s Services said that each school had to have a valid plan how their surplus was spent. Each case had to be considered individually and any surplus of DSG should be subject to a bidding mechanism as to how it should be spent. Review of surplus balances would be added to the December 2019 agenda. The Finance Officer would also check if Schools Forum has the power to take this decision.

Action: Finance Advisor

 

The overspend was due to growth and Rates (NDR) and this could be an issue going forward. The Finance Officer would check with the Council’s Rates Department.

Action: Finance Advisor

 

The Director of Children’s Services would review the Trade Union costs with Human Resources as it was not sustainable. There was currently an overspend of £44k.

Action: Director of Children’s Services

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum noted the report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.

National Funding Formula - Verbal Update

A verbal update will be provided.

 

 

 

Minutes:

A verbal update was provided by the Finance Advisor who advised that the date of the next spending review was not known. The soft formula would be used next year but there was a need to move to the hard formula. There was an assumption that the Teacher’s Pay Grant would be included in the main funding formula but this was still under discussion. There was a consultation out at the moment regarding the High Needs Block, this had expanded to look at the overspend. London Councils had advised the Department for Education to allocate SEN funding.

 

The Finance Advisor would circulate highlighted notes from London Councils.

Action: Finance Advisor

 

The Finance Advisor would check the nursery support for post July 2020.

Action: Finance Advisor

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum noted the verbal update.

 

Any Other Business

 

Schools Forum asked that future meetings be held in the Town Hall Committee Rooms where possible.

Action: Schools Forum Clerk