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Apologies for Absence/Substitute Members
To receive apologies for absence and to note the attendance of any substitute members.
The Chair welcomed Sue Butler from Plus Three Nurseries to the Forum who was replacing Michelle Tuddenham. Neil Davies had resigned from the Forum and the position was to be filled by Jo Lagares.
A Headteacher from an Academy had expressed an interest in joining the Forum and there was a vacancy for an Academy School representative. The Headteacher had been given Paul Clark’s contact details who would follow up.
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.
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of 19 November 2020.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Forum on 19 November 2020 be approved as a correct record.
Arising from minute 157, Paul Clark advised that he had not yet completed the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Management Template. However, the Council was complying with Department for Education (DfE) expectations and there was no deadline from the DfE for submission. Paul Clark was planning to ask a couple of members to assist in agreeing what presentation format of the Management template would be useful for members and the Chair suggested that some members of Sub-Group could assist.
Arising from minute 159, Paul Clark explained that the motion outlined in the minutes had been submitted to the DfE in draft form. The Forum was asked to ratify that comment.
RESOLVED to RATIFY the submission that:
“The Schools Forum strongly supports the representations that Bracknell Forest Council is making to the DfE to continue this mode of funding which has already provided benefit for the pupils in Bracknell Forest Schools”.
To approve updated terms of reference for the Schools Forum Sub-Group which is working with the local authority to quantify the current pressures on the high needs budget and identify solutions.
The Forum considered a report which updated on the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Schools Forum Sub-Group. This group was set up to work with the Local Authority (the LA) to quantify the current pressures on the high needs budget and identify solutions.
The Forum asked whether all the comments made by the Forum were integrated into the TOR. Kashif Nawaz confirmed that all comments were incorporated. There were some matters arising relating to procedural functionality and resourcing of the group which would be discussed with the Chair of the Sub-Group.
RESOLVED to APPROVE:
1. the terms of reference set out in Appendix 1 of the report; and
2. the appointment of Jenny Baker, Headteacher of Kennel Lane School as the Chair of the Sub-Group from 1 January 2021 to 31 August 2022.
To present updated proposals for the 2021-22 Schools Block and Central Schools Services Block elements of the Schools Budget.
The Forum considered a report which presented updated proposals for the 2021-22 Schools Block (SB) and Central Schools Services Block (CSSB) elements of the Schools Budget. Associated decisions needed to be agreed at this meeting to ensure progress was made in meeting the 21 January 2021 statutory deadline for agreeing the budgets.
Paul Clark explained that most decisions had already been taken but the Forum was now able to consider the provisional data from the October 2020 school census and centrally managed budgets. There had not been many changes and it was still forecast that there would be around a £0.400m shortfall in the budget available for schools with proposals managing the previously reported £0.080m shortfall in centrally managed budgets set out in the report.
There had been an average increase in eligibility for free school meals (FSM) of 17%. This created an unfunded budget pressure for 2021-22 of £0.094m but was likely to be just for one year as the 2022-23 DSG funding rates would include the new numbers. It was expected that the entitlements and costs could reduce as the economy recovers.
The report set out proposals to manage the budget gap and alleviate local pressures which was complicated by the outstanding decision awaited from the secretary of state in use of council funds to support school budgets through the agreed medium term funding strategy. If the secretary of state refused, another option was a temporary funding swap with the £20 per pupil contribution to LA statutory education related duties.
In terms of the additional £0.094m pressure from additional FSM eligibility, Paul Clark advised that it was appropriate to use Reserves to fund this, as it was only a one-year pressure.
Table 2 of the report showed that, after all proposed funding options were applied, there was an expected SB funding shortfall of £68,000. Paul Clark explained that this could change once the DfE provides the final data set, but no significant differences were expected. To meet the £68,000 shortfall, the Forum was also asked to consider top-slicing National Funding Formula (NFF) rates. However, due to the number of schools on the protected Minimum Per Pupil Funding (MPPF) values, the burden of financing that would be met by only 21 of the 36 BF schools which meant that to recover the same amount of funding as in 2020-21, the rate of deduction was likely to need to be around twice the amount.
The Forum asked whether the data wash would work in BF schools’ favour or against. Paul Clark replied that there was not any consistency with that. However, Paul did not think there would be any significant changes.
The Chair queried whether there was likely to be any comeback from the DfE for doing the switch with the £20 contribution. Paul Clark clarified that it was a local arrangement and the council would not need DfE permission to do that; the council had the power to make that decision.
1. to AGREE
i that the final ... view the full minutes text for item 165.
Dates of Future Meetings
The next meeting of the Forum is scheduled for 4.30pm on 14 January 2020.
The next meeting of the Forum would be held at 4.30pm on 14 January 2021.
Kashif Nawaz had sent out revised dates for the Schools Forum Sub-Group.