To seek approval to the Start-up and Diseconomy Funding Policy for New and Expanding Schools to be applied in 2019-20.
The Forum considered a report presenting the revised text for the Start-up and Diseconomy Funding Policy for New and Expanding Schools to be applied in 2019-20. This followed on from discussions at the June 2018 Forum meeting where proposed changes to the 2018-19 policy were agreed in principle.
Supporting new and expanding schools in the initial years after they opened, often with relatively low numbers of pupils as housing developments progressed, can require significant amounts of additional financial support over a number of years. It was important to ensure that a clear, fair and transparent funding policy was in place (and was regularly reviewed) that could be applied consistently to all new and expanding schools, placing the minimum financial burden on existing schools. Whilst the policy document set out associated funding rates, it was stressed that these were illustrative, with final values to be agreed each year through the budget setting process.
The new policy was attached as Annex 2 to the report and contained the following three key changes that had been envisaged by the Forum at its previous meeting:
Appendix 3 of the Funding Model set out the forecast revenue impact from new/expanding schools, based on the Council’s updated medium term forecasts. These would of necessity be reviewed each year as part of the Council’s budget setting process.
The Forum also received a summary outcome from the review of school place planning in Bracknell Forest (attached as Annex 4 to the report). The review had examined the reasons why forecasts had not been as accurate as hoped. In particular there had been a failure to react quickly enough to the falling birth rate and a reduced number of children being brought forward from new housing development over the last three years compared to what was expected from previous trends. The summary concluded by setting out some recommendations for changes in the approach of the Council to place planning and provision. It was acknowledged that a number of these would require further detailed consideration, including specific consultation with schools. More accurate forecasts would be a key factor in drawing up the next School Places Plan.
RESOLVED that the updated Start-up and Diseconomy Funding Policy for New and Expanding Schools as set out in Annex 2 be agreed.