Agenda and minutes

Schools Forum
Thursday, 7 December 2017 4.30 pm

Venue: Function Room, Fifth Floor, Easthampstead House, Bracknell

Contact: Emma Young  01344 352269

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interests in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.


Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.


Any Member with an affected Interest in a matter must disclose the interest to the meeting and must not participate in discussion of the matter or vote on the matter unless granted a dispensation by the Monitoring officer or by the Governance and Audit Committee.  There is no requirement to withdraw from the meeting when the interest is only an affected interest, but the Monitoring Officer should be notified of the interest, if not previously notified of it, within 28 days of the meeting.


No declarations of interest were received.


Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 224 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of 19 October 2017


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held 19 October 2017 be approved and signed by the chairman as a correct record.


Arising from the minutes of the last meeting, Paul Clark confirmed that an email was sent to all Head Teachers to update Bursars on the options for calculating the 2018-19 school budgets.


The chairman welcomed new members to the schools forum.



Start up and diseconomy funding for new and expanding Schools pdf icon PDF 429 KB

To receive a report on the start up and diseconomy funding for new and expanding schools


The Forum received a report from Paul Clark to discuss the Start-up and Diseconomy Funding Policy for New and Expanding Schools. This is an annual report on an important policy that can generate significant costs for which the Forum has responsibility for agreeing.


As background to the report, it was noted that the policy needed to comply with DfE Operating Guidance and that current data identified the potential requirement for 6 new schools in the next 5 years, with Binfield Learning Village all through school opening in September 2018. All the new schools were required in response to new house building and are forecast to require £14m of additional funding support. At this point in time the DfE had not confirmed how areas experiencing cost increases from new schools would be funded other than for 2018-19 only, LAs would receive the same amount of money as they included in their 2017-18 budget.


Concerns were raised by Headteacher representatives that the DfE funding allocation was below the actual cost and that in order to meet the new commitment there would need to be a significant reduction to the amount of funds available to distribute to existing schools in the Borough.


(Action: Funding policy for new schools to be revisited in advance every year by Schools Forum in terms of schools placing and numbers so Schools Forum can make a decision on the budgets proposed)


The key component parts of the proposed funding allocation remain unchanged; pre-opening start-up costs; rates at actual; enhanced fixed lump sum; and per class funding. The policy would only apply to basic need pupils and would not cover pupils from outside the area who want to attend due to the popularity of the school. New schools would be moved to the Schools National Funding Formula (SNFF) as soon as possible with schools moving over at 95% capacity for 1 Form Entry (FE) Schools, 90% for 2 FE Schools and 85% for 3 FE and over Schools.


It was noted that the funding for Binfield Learning Village would be capped at 4 classes i.e. 120 pupils and it was confirmed after questions that any additional pupils attending following school admission appeals above the 120 pupil limit would be funded by the Academy.


An initial vote was held to gauge first impressions following the presentation  on the recommended funding policy with the number of votes being 3 approved the policy and 3 rejections.


Forum members highlighted concerns about the cost of a full time Head Teacher when only 120 pupils would be educated in the first year and questioned whether a ‘school share’ arrangement would be possible which had been the case in previous BF school expansions. It was suggested that this wouldn’t be possible as the academies operating new schools were not based in Bracknell and would be unlikely to accept a BFC nominated appointment and there would be significant difficulties in recruiting a high quality Headteacher on a part time basis. A ‘school share’ approach is possible  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


2018-19 Schools Block element of the Schools Budget - initial matters pdf icon PDF 475 KB

To receive an update on the initial matters regarding the Schools Block Element of the Schools budget.

Additional documents:


Paul Clark reported to the schools forum on the key issues to consider at this stage of the budget setting process for 2018-19 including the responses received from schools through the recent financial consultation exercise. The key points were:

  • Responses from schools showed clear support to:
    • Moving as close to the SNFF as possible
    • The MFG should be set at the highest permitted amount i.e. 0%.
    • Continue ongoing de-delegation of permitted services (note the council would no longer request this in respect of SIMS licenses)
    • Continue the £20 per pupil contribution from maintained schools to LA education related statutory and regulatory duties
    • Schools amalgamating that close to form a new primary school should retain any aggregate surplus balance
  • Subsequent to last meeting and the issuing of the financial consultation with schools, the DfE would now allow LAs to implement an MFG rate of up to +0.5%. This would assist LAs in matching the SNFF although other difficulties remain to prevent a perfect match.
  • Taking account of estimated levels of income, the LA proposed the following initial budget changes for 2018-19:
    • +£0.325m for additional pupils
    • +£0.512m diseconomy funding for new schools
    • -£0.102m adjustments to business rates
    • +£1.264m balance is “new” money that can be used to offset cost increases e.g. pay price inflation, pension changes, impact of the Living Wage


The next steps would be to distribute the indicative 2018-019 budgets to schools by 15 December, using BFC pupil data and the preliminary decisions taken by the Forum. Then calculations would be updated in light of data from the DfE which is expected during the week commencing 11 December 2017. The final recommendations would then be made by the Forum on 18 January and its recommendations would be endorsed by the Executive Member and DfE notified for the 19 January deadline.





That in accordance with the majority views of schools as expressed through responses to the financial consultation, that:


1.    The allocation of additional funds to schools should be through Option 1, aim for a close fit to the 2018-19 SNFF allocation for each school;

2.    The cost of meeting the MFG will be via an equal proportionate deduction from all schools experiencing a funding gain;

3.    That taking account of the additional funding to be provided through the Pupil Premium, that funding for Looked After Children is removed from the BF funding formula.


On going central retention by the Council of Schools Block and Central School Services funding for the services set out in Annex 2.


The provisional budget changes for 2018-19, as set out in Table 2, and that indicative budgets are sent to schools this term, based on these decisions.


That taking account of the recent revision by the DfE to allow for LAs to closer match the allocations from the SNFF in their local funding formula, that the MFG is set at the highest affordable rate, at the same proportional increase most schools can expect, which currently indicates an MFG rate of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.


DfE Consultation: Changes to the criteria for agreeing loan schemes pdf icon PDF 495 KB

To receive an update on the Department of Education Consultation on changes to the criteria for agreeing loan schemes.


Paul Clark presented a report on the consultation regarding changes to the criteria for agreeing loan schemes.


The key points from this discussion were:

  • DfE will only allow new loans for capital related purchases and not to cover short term recurrent funding difficulties
  • Conditions relating to existing loan arrangements will remain unaltered to maturity
  • Financial support to schools to move to licensed deficits (subject to suitable scheme being developed)
  • The key issue to be aware of was confirmed as where a school converts to an academy with a deficit and it is eligible for intervention, and underperforming schools which the Secretary of State judges are not strong enough to become an academy without a strong sponsor, the deficit remains with the LAs Schools Budget


It was commented by Forum members that a number of Bracknell Forest Schools were performing poorly and therefore at risk of being forced to convert to an Academy and where relevant schools had loans, these could not be recovered, presenting a financial cost to the Schools Budget.


(Action: Paul Clark to present the Forum with current figures on outstanding loans for the Forum to consider current risk)


There were no comments from the Forum regarding the consultation as key decisions had already been made by Government.



RESOLVED that the Forum NOTED:


  1. That the proposals contained in the DfE consultation on the implementation of the changes to the criteria for agreeing loan schemes;


  1. That the Forum decided that they would not be sending a consultation response


  1.  That the licensed deficit will be reviewed and a report presented to the Schools Forum in the new year.



Any Other Business


The chairman encouraged forum members to put forward agenda items for future meetings.


The next meeting date of 22 March currently clashed with the Head teachers conference and it was proposed that the meeting would be brought forward to accommodate this.

(Action: Paul Clark to propose new date)


Dates of Future Meetings

18 January 2018

22 March 2018

19 April 2018


The date of the next meetings will be as follows:

18 January 2018

15 March 2018

19 April 2018