Agenda and minutes

Schools Forum
Thursday, 15 March 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.  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.


Keith Grainger and David Cook declared an interest in the High Needs elements of the agenda.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 255 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of 18 January 2018.


Arising from the minutes, the following points were discussed:

  • Page 6 – It was confirmed that the funding policy for new schools would be brought to the Schools Forum at a future meeting. The performance data requested would be presented at the June meeting.
  • Page 7 – it was requested whether the wording of “Vast majority” of responses supported the proposals made to changes to early years funding, could be replaced with the actual percentage in agreement.

(Action: Paul Clark to provide figures. Now confirmed as at least 67%)


  • Page 8 – It was questioned whether future successful appeals to Binfield Learning Village (BLV) would affect funding. It was confirmed that BLV would not receive additional funding from BFC for places over 120 pupils. It was noted that the appeals process could cause turbulence and disruption to other local schools.
  • Appeals information as well as admissions data to date was requested to be included in the school places report that would be presented in June.

(Action Paul Clark)



Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 183 KB

To consider matters arising from the last meeting on 18 January 2018.

Additional documents:


Following the Schools Forum meeting on 20 January 2018, a number of information requests were made and Paul Clark presented a paper with the information updates. It was noted that the School loans information would be a separate item in the meeting.


It was noted that there was a high level of Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) refusals which was both an expensive and time consuming process to go through for schools.  It was questioned whether steps were being taken to reduce that level because of the resources.


Frank Glennon confirmed that for 2016-2017, 55% of requested EHCP’s were agreed. The quality of applications had improved following visits to schools and new guidance which highlighted the necessity for evidencing the need. As a result, 73% of applications had been accepted this year. It was anticipated that next year the levels will return to the national average.


The Forum received a Special Educational Needs and Disability Improvement Strategy 2017 – 2020 which reflected the findings from consultation.


Page 40 noted that there was an ‘action plan to follow’. It was commented that the strategy must have an action plan or the strategy becomes just aspiration. It was confirmed the action plan will be available in the local offer and will be presented to SEN parents group. It would also be made available to Schools Forum for comment.

 (Action Frank Glennon to signpost to Forum members)


Page 42 – It was noted that the name of the specialist SEN provisional Garth Hill College should be changed to – ‘The Rise@GHC’.  

(Action: Frank Glennon to update the name in the strategy document)



BFC Proposals for Early Years funding arrangements for April 2018 pdf icon PDF 160 KB

To receive a report on the proposals for Early years funding arrangements for April 2018.


Cherry Hall presented the proposal for Early Years funding for April 2018 – 2019, this included values which would be attributed to the Bracknell Forest Council Early Years Funding Formula (EYFF). This item was scrutinised in detail at the last meeting of the Schools Forum.


Following receipt of the latest census data, the base rate would now be set at £4.31 per hour per child rather than the previously expected £4.30.


It was confirmed that this base rate would be paid for all hours delivered by providers up to the maximum 30 hours free entitlement of which there are now 776 children.


It was questioned whether children below 2 years old in disadvantaged families received any direct access to provision and it was confirmed that children under 2 years old were supported through Children’s Centres.


RESOLVED that the Forum AGREES:


That the Executive Member:

1.         sets the total initial Dedicated Schools and other grant funded budgets at £7.013m, it incorporates the changes set out in the supporting information, and relevant budgets are therefore updated to those summarised in Annex A

2.         sets the hourly funding rates paid to providers:

a)         for 3 and 4 year olds, at the amounts set out in Table 2 at paragraph 6.9;

b)        for 2 year olds, unchanged from the £5.46 rate currently being paid, which reflects the affordable position as a result of the Department for Education freezing rates paid to LAs at 2017-18 amounts.


In its role of statutory decision maker, that there are appropriate arrangements in place for Early Years provision.





BFC proposals for the 2018-19 High Needs Block elements of the Schools Budget pdf icon PDF 871 KB

To receive a report on proposals for the 2018-19 high needs block elements of the schools budget.


Paul Clark presented a report on the High Needs Block Elements of the Schools Budget for the purpose of reviewing the proposals and receiving comments on whether there are appropriate measures in place for children with SEN. It was confirmed this is an annual consultation with the Schools Forum.


The key messages detailed in the presentation were:

        The funding was intended to deliver education for 0-24 year olds where cost exceeds £10,000 through a “place-plus” approach with 3 separate Elements: 1 = core education funding to £4,000; 2 = additional support funding up to a further £6,000; 3 = top up funding where costs are above £10,000. Whilst most funding for high needs pupils is provided from the High Needs Block, for mainstream schools, Elements 1 and 2 are provided in the main budget and funded from the Schools Block.


It was clarified that for schools with special needs units, Element 1 is funded from the Schools Block with Elements 2 and 3 from the High Needs Block.


It was questioned whether colleges received the same funding and it was confirmed that there were the same 3 elements with the same thresholds, with a national funding formula for colleges managed directly by the Education and Skills Funding Agency providing Element 1, with BFC responsible for funding Elements 2 and 3.


It was confirmed that if a high needs place is not taken up within the course length, the funding would not be clawed back but places could be reviewed next year and revised accordingly.


Further key messages detailed were:

        National reforms would introduce consistency and transparency in the allocation of funds to LAs using a new formula, with up to date proxy measures, but High Needs remained the most complex part of education funding. This would come into affect from April 2018.

        Transitional funding protection would be in place with a “floor” increase in funding in each of the next 2 years of 0.5% per 2-18 year old population. This would mean a minimum guaranteed increase in income.

        Once fully implemented, the new funding formula would result in a £2.46m (15%) reduction in funding to BFC. However, for the final two years of the current spending review period, there would be no significant movement to the new formula.

        Funding Floor factor represents 15% of BFC grant income compared to the LA average of 4% (second largest funding allocation). This demonstrates the importance of the funding protetction to BFC.

        Whilst the amount of grant funding to be allocated to the council has been agreed, two significant adjustments relating to the number of places to be purchased remain at indicative amounts, creating uncertainty in budget setting. Final funding will be confirmed in June 2018.

        Slower progress was being made on the review by BF of High Needs budgets than originally expected in order to link in properly with the Council’s wider Transformation Program.

        Budget proposals were being made on the basis of recent trends,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.


School Loan scheme: responding to government policy change pdf icon PDF 520 KB

To receive a report on the school loan scheme as a response to government policy change.


Paul Clark presented a report on the government intention to amend school loan provisions which will require a consultation with schools to move to a licensed deficit scheme with loans in future only being available to support the purchase of a capital asset. This follows on from the December Schools Forum meeting with the key consideration how the deficit is managed if the school becomes an Academy.


It was noted that loans had been used successfully in BF for a number of years to support schools through short to medium term cash flow difficulties.


The key features of the new loan scheme were:

        Governors would need to be able to demonstrate ability to repay

        Loans were generally granted for a maximum of 3 years

        The value of loans would ordinarily be between 5% and 15% of the annual school budget which were then altered through to the conclusion.

        Loans were generally granted on an interest free basis

        Total loan advances could not exceed 40% of the aggregate surplus balances held by all schools


The changes proposed by DfE to Loan Schemes were:

        New loans would only be permitted for capital related purchases

        Conditions relating to existing loan arrangements would remain unaltered to maturity

        Financial support would be available to schools through a licensed deficits, which operate in a very similar way to loans.


The key issues for BF to be considered by the Schools Forum:

        If 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 would remain with the LAs Schools Budget

        Deficits at converter academies i.e. those that convert by means of an academy order following application by the governing body must repay the deficit

        Loan requests are in danger of exceeding 40% of school balances meaning not all requests could be agreed


It was noted that the next steps would be to consult with schools to propose replacing the invalid loan scheme with an equivalent licensed deficit scheme. At the same time it would be proposed that the surplus balance held by the Council in the Schools Budget from centrally managed services would also be available to support licenced deficit arrangements. Based on the projected year end balance on the centrally managed Schools Budget items, this would release a further £0.440m to support schools.


The Schools Forum will need to commit to funding any deficits that need to be financed from the Schools Budget through the de-delegated school contingency.


It was clarified that agreement was sought from the Forum to undertake a consultation with schools on the changes outlined in the paper.


RESOLVED that the Forum AGREE:


that subject to DfE confirming the anticipated change in criteria to school loan schemes, that a consultation is undertaken with schools to gather views on


1.         replacing the existing Bracknell  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.


Dates of Future Meetings

19 April 2018

20 June 2018


It was advised that the meeting on 19 April 2018 would be cancelled. The next meeting was Thursday 21 June and would be held in the Time Square Council Offices.