Venue: Boardroom - Time Square, Market Street, Bracknell, RG12 1JD. View directions
Contact: Derek Morgan 01344 352044
Apologies for Absence/Substitute Members
To receive apologies for absence and to note the attendance of any substitute members.
There were no Substitute Members.
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.
Peter Floyd, Martin Gocke and Keith Grainger declared an affected interest in respect of Item 5 (2020/21 Budget Proposals for the High Needs Block).
Neil Davies and Debbie Smith declared an affected interest in respect of Item 7 (2020/21 Proposals for the Local Authority Budget).
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of 21 December 2019.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Forum held on 16 December 2019 be approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
Arising from minute 128, Rachel Morgan updated that Chris Taylor had identified 15 schools with at least 10% surplus places at some point in the next 5 years which he would be contacting and offering to work with. Chris Taylor had worked with four of those schools already. The Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) Finance team would provide the schools with a high-level summary of their potential income over the period.
Also arising from minute 128, Rachel Morgan updated that the place planning strategy was due to be presented to the Executive on 28 January 2020 and, if approved, a detailed action plan would be shared.
Also arising from minute 128, Rachel Morgan advised that a list of schools most affected by the predicted period of financial turbulence would be presented in the next meeting of the Forum.
Action: Chris Taylor
Also arising from minute 128, Rachel Morgan explained that a meeting with primary schools in the north of the Borough had been considered but that most schools appeared to prefer an individual response. It was suggested that they would carry on liaising with schools on an individual basis but would report on collective issues as the Heads’ Briefing.
Arising from minute 129, Paul Clark advised that a questionnaire had been circulated to other local authorities to establish a benchmark for the test of reasonableness in relation to allocation of funding and would report on any findings in the next meeting of the Forum.
Action: Paul Clark
To receive the minutes of the High Needs Block Sub Group on 5 December 2019.
The Forum received and considered the minutes of the High Needs Block Sub Group held on 5 December 2019.
To seek comments on the detailed budget proposals for the High Needs Block element of the Schools Budget and to take a small number of decisions in line with the statutory funding framework.
The Forum considered a report which sought comments on the detailed budget proposals for the High Needs Block (HNB) element of the Schools Budget presented by the Council. There were also a small number of decisions for the Forum to take
in line with the statutory funding framework.
Kashif Nawaz summarised the developments as set out in paragraph 6.3 of the report and highlighted the new in-school special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provisions. Kashif Nawaz explained that the SEND commissioning plan was to work with the HNB Sub Group to develop an action plan alongside key stakeholders. Kashif Nawaz was confident that the action plan would help relieve pressures although more work was needed to get to a balanced budget.
In relation to paragraph 6.3.3 of the report, the Peter Floyd, Special School Representative, clarified that Kennel Lane School (KLS) had 196 children on roll with two more in transition.
The Forum discussed the new in-school SEN provisions as headteacher representatives had little knowledge of their objectives. Taking the first project on the schedule, Harmanswater in-school SEN provision, it was queried whether this was designed to reduce Education Health Care Plans (EHCP). Kashif Nawaz confirmed that it was trying to reduce the demand of EHCPs. The Forum then questioned how this could be measured in terms of seeing whether the money spent has reduced pressures. Kashif Nawaz explained that the projects could not be looked at in isolation but instead should be looked at as a whole. However, this project was specifically aiming to reduce the use of Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) as a primary need, as SEMH in certain cases could be better met within mainstream provision albeit with additional support. The SEND Commissioning Strategy would be reviewed after two years and it was expected that any impact would be seen at that point.
The Forum enquired whether the details of the projects would be available to the public. Kashif Nawaz advised that it was published on the SEND Local Offer:
The Forum queried how schools were chosen for these projects. Kashif Nawaz explained that all schools were invited to bid, and applications were presented to the Council’s Departmental Managers Team (DMT) to make a decision against the criteria. In the first year there were a significant number of applications and four schools met the criteria. In the second year only two made a bid and were both successful. Bids were now open for the third year. Paul Clark clarified that the projects outlined in the report were not the only projects approved as the ones funded from a different budget were outside the scope of this report.
The Forum asked what outcomes were expected. Kashif Nawaz advised that the strategy was aiming to adopt a whole system approach. Schools would be encouraged to tap into the Early Help resources. The expectation was that development would happen alongside provision via a range of Panels and Hubs.
The Forum queried whether progress of the new in-school SEND ... view the full minutes text for item 135.
To present final proposals from the Council for the 2020-21 Schools Block and Central Schools Services Block elements of the Schools Budget.
The Forum considered a report which presented final proposals from the Council for the 2020-21 Schools Block and Central Schools Services Block elements of the Schools Budget. These proposals have built on previous decisions of the Forum together with the release by the Department for Education (DfE) of the key data that must be used to calculate school budgets.
Paul Clark highlighted that the recommendations for the proposals to be presented to the Executive Member needed to be resolved at this meeting as they were required ahead of the 21 January deadline for submitting to the DfE the actual Funding Formula for Schools to be used in 2020-21.
Paul Clark explained that the most notable change since the last report related to the additional educational needs (AEN) data. Primary schools had a general reduction in AEN measures whereas secondary schools had a general increase in AEN measures. There was very little change in the overall amount of resources available to schools although the change in AEN measures resulted in a different distribution.
1. in its role as the representative body of schools and other providers of education and childcare, the Forum REQUESTS that the Executive Member AGREES the following for the 2020-21 Schools Budget:
a. that in accordance with Table 1 of the report, the budgeted amount of Dedicated Schools Block Grant be set at:
i. £74.850m for the Schools Block; and
ii. £1.084m for the Central School Services Block;
b. that the council contributes £0.253m funding to diseconomy costs at new schools;
c. the decisions previously agreed by the Forum, as summarised in paragraph 6.7 of the report;
d. that the factors in the BF Funding Formula for Schools and their relative values are set at the maximum affordable level of 99.8% of the values used by the DfE (Annex 5 of the report);
e. that other Schools Block related grants be reset to the amounts anticipated in 2020-21; and
f. that the resulting DfE pro forma template of the 2020-21 BF Funding Formula for Schools, as set out in Annex 6 be submitted by the 21 January deadline; and
2. as decision maker:
a. that the arrangements in place for the administration of central government grants are appropriate; and
b. the financing and budgets for the Growth Fund are as set in Annex 1 of the report.
Councillor Barnard confirmed that he agreed with the Forum’s request to the Executive Member outlined above.
To present for comment a summary of the Council’s budget proposals for 2020/21 with a particular focus on the impact expected on the People Directorate.
The Forum considered a report which presented for comment a summary of the Council’s budget proposals for 2020/21 with a particular focus on the impact expected on the People Directorate, as agreed by the Executive on 17 December 2019. Comments received would be submitted to the Executive on 11
February 2020 alongside any impact from the announcement of the Finance Settlement. This would allow the Executive to determine its final budget package and recommend the
appropriate Council Tax level to Council, which was due to formally approve the 2020/21 budget and Council Tax on 26 February 2020.
Paul Clark explained that there were five main streams of the revenue budget: the commitment budget, new spending requirements, available cost reductions, inflation provision and income. Table 4 of the report outlined a summary of proposals and predicted a total expenditure of £81.787m in 2020/21. It was estimated that the Council could anticipate income of up to -£79.210m, leaving a potential shortfall of approximately £2.577m. The Council would decide on how to manage the shortfall in February 2020 in the light of the financial settlement and results of this consultation and could choose to adopt any or all of the following approaches to bridge the remaining gap: an increase in Council Tax, an appropriate contribution from the Council’s revenue reserves, and identifying further expenditure reductions.
The Forum expressed that it was difficult to comment on the budget without all the detail and asked Rachel Morgan if there were any pressures affecting schools. Rachel Morgan explained that the biggest issue for Education and Learning was incorporating the Education Centre with the Open Learning Centre. However, schools would not be directly affected by most of the reviews. Councillor Barnard added that the Council was continuing to support Childrens Centres, youth work and Early Help.
The Forum queried the implications of transformation pressure on the revenue budget (as per Annex B of the report). Paul Clark explained that this related to the Children’s Services Transformation programme which was part of the plan to reduce the council’s budget gap and had identified initiatives around the cost of social care placements. However, the plans were not fully achievable within the timescale needed so this was now reversed out of the budget with more work now underway to progress and to bring forward new proposals to 2021-22. Paul Clark confirmed that most of the pressures arise from Childrens Social Care and that there were huge pressures from new young people being placed in the Borough.
Paul Clark advised that the proposed capital programme for 2020/21 was mostly focused on maintenance of assets and a number of school improvement projects. Paul Clark explained the proposals as set out in Annex D of the report.
The Forum commented that the report included a mixture of descriptions written by officers and bids written by Headteachers, leading to stylistic differences. Paul Clark explained that the report was already in the public domain so couldn’t be changed but this would ... view the full minutes text for item 137.
Dates of Future Meetings
The next meeting of the Forum will be held at 4.30pm on Thursday 19 March 2020.
The next meeting of the Forum was due to be held on Thursday 19 March 2020 commencing at 4:30pm. However, it came to light that this date clashed with the Headteacher Conference which would affect member attendance; therefore, the meeting on 19 March 2020 was cancelled. At the request of the Chairman, the need for a March meeting would be considered nearer the time and, if a meeting were to be required, an alternative date would be proposed.
Action: Paul Clark / Martin Gocke