To provide an update to the Schools Forum on the matters that can now be dealt with in respect of the Schools Block and Central School Services Block elements of the Schools Budget in order for the timely preparation of the 2020-21 budget.
The Forum considered a report which provided an update on the matters that could be dealt with in respect of the SB and Central School Services Block (CSSB) elements of the Schools Budget for the timely preparation of the 2020-21 budget. The Forum was advised that the report had been written with the assumption that the proposal of a 0.5% funding transfer from the 2020-21 SB to the HNB budget would be approved.
Table 4 of the report summarised the initial budget proposals for 2020-21 and an updated funding plan for the key budget issue of diseconomy costs as new schools was summarised in Table 3 of the report.
Relating to the proposed financing and associated budget for the Growth Fund as set out in Table 3, the Forum questioned whether we were statutorily tied to this. The Forum acknowledged that it had previously been agreed by the Forum, but this was not without dissent. It was suggested to bring back the calculation and supporting documents to take a fresh look at it, so long as the Forum would be able to vote on changes. Paul Clark agreed to check the legal status and report back to the Forum in December.
Action: Paul Clark
The proposed amendment to the new school funding policy reflected the thinking that it would be more appropriate for schools to move across to the Bracknell Forest funding formula once they had opened all their pre-16-year-old year groups rather than meet capacity thresholds. The Forum questioned whether that would create a problem with Kings Academy which was not expected to be fully open for several years. Paul Clark advised that it had always been the case that they would stay on the previous formula until pupil numbers were at a relatively high level.
Relating to the criteria for in-year budget allocations to schools experiencing significant growth in pupil numbers, the Forum queried whether the full threshold needed to be met to receive the funding. Paul Clark advised this was the case and was based on the assumption that schools could absorb a certain number of extra pupils without a cost increase but 25 additional pupils (in three and above Form and Entry (FE) schools) would get to the level of needing an extra teacher.
The Forum questioned whether King’s Academy’s commitment to SEN support has been clarified. Rachel Morgan advised that conversations were being had to explore the plan of opening a primary ASC unit. King’s Academy were aware that this was a concern of the Forum. The Forum felt that it was appropriate to scrutinise this.
1. to NOTE:
i. the latest update on the School and Education Spending review and the impact anticipated for BF at this time;
ii. the known options used by other LAs for funding the additional costs arising from new schools, as summarised in Table 2;
iii. the 6.9% increase in per pupil funding, which after meeting the cost of new pressures, schools will on average receive a 5.9% increase; and
iv. that the Minimum Per Pupil Funding values expected by the DfE of £3,750 for primary aged pupils and £5,000 for secondary can be fully financed; and
2. to AGREE:
i. the budget changes for 2020-21, as summarised in Table 4, with particular consideration given to:
a. the revised medium-term funding strategy for meeting the additional cost arising from the Growth Fund (Annex 3);
b. the elements of the 2020-21 Growth Fund (Table 3);
c. the impact of changes in funding to the CSSB; and
d. that the Minimum Funding Guarantee is set at the maximum amount of +1.84%;
ii. the updated text for the Funding Policy for New and Expanded Schools (Annex 1);
iii. on-going central retention by the Council of Central School Services funding for the areas and amounts set out in Annex 4;
iv. the updated criteria for allocating funds to schools experiencing significant in-year increases in pupil numbers be implemented from the October 2019 census (Annex 5); and
v. that options be developed for the December meeting to consider whether amendments should be made to the distribution of funds to schools in order for 1 FE schools to receive increases close to the overall average increase in per pupil funding.
The pressure to support pupils with high needs was removed as a consideration for the budget changes for 2020-21.