Agenda and minutes

Schools Forum - Thursday, 18 January 2018 4.30 pm

Venue: Function Room, Fifth Floor, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell. View directions

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.


Declarations of interest were received and listed below:

·         David Cook, Chairman declared an interest as the Chair of Governors at Bracknell and Wokingham College.

·         Cllr Gareth Barnard declared an interest as a governor of Garth Hill College.


Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 276 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of 7 December 2017.


The minutes of the meeting on 7 December 2017 were approved subject to the following changes:


The following actions were attributed to Paul Clark:

(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)


(Action: School performance data to be brought to Schools Forum to consider the impact of funding on school performance)


Matters arising from the minutes and to be presented at a future meeting of the Forum were:


  • current figures on outstanding school loans for the Forum to consider current risk.


  • school admissions data to understand where there were surplus school places and what the projections were going forward.


  • the SEN Strategy


  • The SEN Resource Unit internal audit report.


  • The number of EHCP requests that were refused



Initial Proposals for Changes to Early Years Funding Arrangements for 3 and 4 year olds pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To receive a report on the initial proposals for changes to early years funding arrangements for 3 and 4 year olds.

Additional documents:


The Schools forum received a report from Cherry Hall, the Strategy and Development Manager (Under 5’s) on the initial proposals for changes to early years funding arrangements for 3 and 4 year olds from April 2018.


The report presented initial proposals for changes to funding arrangements for providers of free early years care for 3 and 4 year olds including how the additional 5.8% increase in funding should be allocated. A provider Steering Group had been established to identify proposals for change which were then presented for comment to all providers through a formal consultation.


The main changes proposed were:

  • Removal of top up funding for flexibility of available hours e.g. holidays and out of normal school hours
  • Reduce top up funding paid to providers based on the qualification held by the lead practitioner in the setting
  • Retain the current amount of funds to be distributed through deprivation but change the weighting of measures being used away from IDACI with more weighting to Early Years Pupil Premium numbers.
  • Update the criteria to be used to allocate funds to providers to support children with SEN and increase the relevant budget.
  • Maximise the amount of funding paid to all providers through the universal core base rate
  • Retain centrally managed budgets at no more than 3% of total funds


The vast majority of respondents agreed with the proposals.


The following responses were made to comments made by members:


  • It was questioned whether additional qualifications were a clear indication of better quality provision and it was confirmed that research supported the view that better qualified staff resulted in better outcomes for the child. It was noted that the qualifications must be relevant to the post


  • It was confirmed that no provider would receive less funding as a result of the changes.


  • It was questioned how children were identified as having additional needs and it was noted that often needs are known from as early as 6 months old where there was a diagnosis of Cerebral palsy or Downs Syndrome. In other cases, an emerging need would be made apparent if the child wasn’t meeting key milestones.




That the vast majority of responses to the consultation proposals on changes to the Bracknell Forest Council Early Years Funding Formulasupported the proposals made by the Council (Annex A, Restricted Annex C and paragraphs 5.11 to 5.13).


The changes to the BF EYFF and summary financial implications anticipated from the proposals on provider hourly funding rates (paragraphs 5.16 and 5.18).




That taking account of the responses from providers, the following changes to the arrangements for funding Early Years services are implemented as set out in the consultation document:

a)     The Bracknell Forest Council Early Years Funding Formula for 3 and 4 year olds should allocate around 94.1% of available funds, as summarised at Table 2.

b)     The budgets to be centrally managed by the council for:

i.              SEN inclusion fund of around 1.4%

ii.            Provider contingency at around 1.5%  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.


Proposals for 2018-19 Schools Block and Central School Services Block Elements of the Schools Budget pdf icon PDF 625 KB

To receive a report on the proposals for 2018-19 schools block and central school services block elements of the schools budget.


The Forum received a report on the final proposals for the 2018-2019 Schools Block and Central School Services block elements of the schools budget that built on the following provisional decisions made at the previous meeting, and in particular:


  • Budget allocations to  schools would aim to replicate the School National Funding Formula (SNFF) as closely as possible
  • The local Minimum Funding Guarantee would be set at the highest permitted rate of +0.5%
  • Maintained schools would continue to contribute £20 per pupil to statutory and regulatory duties.
  • That on-going de-delegated to Council management of permitted budgets.


No new issues had been identified that needed to be considered in the final budget proposals, but a number of relatively minor changes to budget amounts were presented that reflected the most up to date information. To ensure that existing schools received the full £1.7m (2.7%) benefit from the SNFF, £0.4m (approximately half the available balance) was recommended to be drawn down from the New School reserve to fund the additional costs arising from supporting new schools.


Additional costs expected from new schools remain a significant cost pressure risk in BF moving forward and the DfE had very recently requested volunteer LAs interested in working on a national funding model to consider a long term funding solution to attend workshops. BFC has expressed interest in contributing to this development.


It was also confirmed that all key data had now been provided by DfE for 2018- 2019 budgets which has resulted in an additional £1.992m funding. This is made up of £1.728m from the impact of the SNFF – a 2.7% increase in core funding compared to 2017-18 funding - and £0.264m from increased pupil numbers.


However, DfE identified an error on the numbers of pupils eligible to a free school meal (FSM) that had previously been supplied to LAs to calculate budgets, which required the re-issuing of the data and the recalculation of individual school budgets. This was released after the publication of this report and required revised versions of Annexes 1, 2 and 4 of the report to be issued at the meeting. It was confirmed that there was no overall financial impact from the updated data but the distribution of funds between schools had change as a result of the corrected FSM data.



The following responses were made to comments from members:


  • It was acknowledged that although the financial settlement for schools was better this year, there were still considerable challenges for schools as cost pressures are starting to rise.


  • It was confirmed that no new information had been provided by DfE regarding funding for 2019-2020.


  • The position on school places at Binfield Learning Village (BLV) was clarified as 120 Year 7 funded places available from September 2018 to be followed by 150 in September 2019. There would be one primary school class of 30 pupils from September 2019. Only places needed to meet basic need would be funded by the council. There would be no funding for parental preference.



Local Authority Budget Proposals for 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 351 KB

To receive an update on the local authority budget proposals for 2018-19.


As part of the council’s consultation process, the Forum received a report on the Local Authority Budget proposals for 2018-2019 with a particular focus on the Children, Young People and Learning (CYPL) Department.


It was reported that the Council continues to face significant reductions in government grants, most notably the Revenue Support Grant (down £2.6m) and the New Homes Bonus Grant (down £2m) whilst at the same time experiencing rising costs through general inflation as well as significant demographic pressures, most notably impacting on social care  support arrangements.


As well as looking to generate efficiency savings, the council continues to implement significant changes through the Transformation Programme, with proposals in the 2018-19 budget for aggregate cost reductions of £6.4m. Other savings of £2.9m are proposed as well as pressures of £5.3m.


In respect of proposals relating to CYPL Department, £0.827m of net savings were identified in the Council’s Commitment Budget and this included £1.165m of savings through the Transformation Programme, mostly relating to social care costs and arrangements for senior leadership.


Concerns were raised about how this would be possible as currently children’s social care workers were struggling with capacity and there was a lack of staff to do preventative work with families. It was reported that an extra 4 social workers were being recruited to ease pressure through the Family Safeguarding Model that was being funded by a DfE grant. It was also confirmed that the savings in social care were coming from improved commissioning and not reductions to staffing numbers.


In respect of the Family Safeguarding Model, it was reported that earlier work by Herefordshire Council had resulted in a 34% reduction in children going into care. Members commented that thresholds were different in every local authority and it was questioned whether Bracknell Forest would be able to replicate those results. It was confirmed that the programme would be subject to external review to establish outcomes and impact, but the model had proved a success elsewhere.


Further concerns were expressed by members in respect of making savings on edge of care services. These services are seen as important in schools as helping to keep families together and the positive impact this has on families.


In a further update, the Executive Member for CYPL commented that over the next two years, the Adults, Health and Housing would be combined with Children’s, Young People and Learning to create a new ‘People’ directorate. This would create economies by having a shared senior leadership team and reduced number of heads of service whilst maintaining operational staff. The appointments below Director level were expected by the end of February 2018 with a timetable to merge both departments over the next 18 months to 2 years..


Concerns were raised about the effect of the CYPL transformation on outcomes for young people and an itemised budget and further information on the areas identified was requested to further understand the programme.

(Action: Paul Clark)



A clarification was provided in respect of the proposed saving on Educational  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.


Schools Forum - Operational and Good Practise Guide pdf icon PDF 183 KB

To advise the Forum of the latest Schools Forum – Operational and Good Practice Guide, that was published in September 2017 by the Department for Education.

Additional documents:


The Forum were asked to note the latest Schools Forum – Operational and Good Practice Guide, that was published in September 2017 by the Department for Education and to accept the revised constitution for the Forum that updated on how to deal with declarations of interest in light of the latest advice from the DfE.





Dates of Future Meetings

15 March 2018

19 April 2018

20 June 2018




The dates of future meetings would be:

15 March 2018

19 April 2018

20 June 2018