Agenda and draft minutes

Bristol Schools Forum
Tuesday, 26th November, 2019 5.00 pm

Venue: The Writing Room - City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR. View directions

Contact: Corrina Haskins 

Items
Note No. Item

A

1.

Welcome

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

 

A

2.

Forum standing business

(a)  Apologies for Absence

(b)  Confirmation meeting is quorate

(c)  Appointment of new members/Resignations: 

New Members:

William Brown - NEU

Rob Davies – Nursery School Governor

Ruth Pickersgill – Secondary Academy Governor

Steph Williams – Primary Academy Head (from Jan 20)

(d)  Notification of Vacancies:

·         One Primary Academy Head;

·         Three Primary Maintained Heads;

·         Two Primary Academy Governors;

·         Two Secondary Academy Heads.

(e)  Declarations of Interest

 

Presented By: Clerk

Minutes:

  1. Apologies for absence

Apologies for absence were received from Marian Curran (16-19 Partnership), Patricia Dodds (Primary Academy Governor, Fishponds Academy), Peter Evans (Special School Head Rep, KnowleDGE), Cllr Anna Keen (Cabinet Member for Education and Skills), Aileen Morrison (Pupil Referral Unit Rep, St Matthias Park) and Samantha Packer (Private Voluntary Independent Early Years)

 

  1. Quorate

The Chair confirmed the meeting was quorate.

 

  1. Resignations

There were no resignations to report.

 

  1. Appointment of New Members

The following new Members were welcomed:

William Brown NEU

Rob Davies – Nursery School Governor

Ruth Pickersgill – Secondary Academy Governor

Stephanie Williams – Primary Academy Head (from January 2020)

 

  1. Notification of Vacancies

The Clerk advised of the following Schools Forum Vacancies which would be advertised through the Heads/Governors Bulletins:

·         One Primary Academy Head

·         Three Primary Maintained Heads

·         Two Primary Academy Governors

·         Two Secondary Academy Heads

 

  1. Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interests.

 

A

3.

Minutes of the previous meeting - 25th September 2019 pdf icon PDF 197 KB

(a)  To confirm as a correct record

(b)  Matters arising not covered on agenda

 

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

RESOLVED - that the minutes be confirmed as a correct record.

 

Matters Arising

Hope School: The Chair reported that he and the Vice-Chairs would keep the issue under review and report back as necessary.

Recruitment: Members were asked to publicise the Schools Forum vacancies.

Place Planning: Members were advised that this would be included on the agenda for a future meeting.

Financial Transparency: GB confirmed the response to consultation had been submitted with no changes.

 

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4.

Update from Director: Education and Skills pdf icon PDF 946 KB

Presented By: Alison Hurley

Minutes:

It was agreed that, in view of the links with item 6 in terms of the strategic allocation of resources, the update from the Director: Education and Skills would be considered alongside that item.

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5.

Dedicated School Grant (DSG) Budget Monitor 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Presented By: Graham Booth

Minutes:

GB introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

·         There had been little movement since the last monitor report;

·         There was a forecast underspend in the Early Years Block and overspend in the High Needs Block;

·         The Early Years underspend included the forecast to spend the additional resources as detailed at the previous meeting;

·         There were emerging pressures in High Needs and the overspend was likely to increase in the next period;

·         Schools Forum was asked to take a view on transferring funds from the Early Years Block to the High Needs Block as part of the DSG 2020/21 (minute number 6).

 

RESOLVED – that the latest in-year 2019/20 position for the overall DSG be noted.

 

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6.

Draft proposals for the use of DSG 20/21 pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Presented By: Graham Booth

Minutes:

GB introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

  • In relation to DSG for 2020/21, the Department for Education (DfE) and Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) had made a number of announcements with indicative figures for most of the blocks (with the exception of the Early Years Block) but this had stopped due to the pre-election period;
  • Based on this information, indicative figures for 2020/21 were set out in Table 1 of the report including:
    • Schools Block: there was a substantial increase of £8.2m;
    • Central services: there was a reduction of £200k due to ESFA unwinding some of its historic commitments such as prudential borrowing and utilising it elsewhere;
    • High Needs: there was a significant increase in funding of £6.6m although it was predicted that this block would be under pressure again and even with a modest increase in cost pressure of 1.8% the budget would still be in an adverse position.  The first call on the funding would be paying back the advance funding from the current year;
  • These figures were indicative and would change once the October census figures were available in December;
  • Along with the indicative figures, Government guidance and regulations had also been released, most of the regulations were the same but there were some restrictions to moving between blocks; 
  • In view on the pressure on the High Needs block, Forum would be asked to consider whether to transfer money from the other blocks.

 

In response to questions about the reason for the Early Years underspend it was clarified that:

·         funding was based on censuses throughout the year and income was based on 2 whereas expenditure was based on 4 and therefore falling rolls would generate a surplus;

·         There would be a presentation on the Early Years block at the next meeting of the Schools Forum.

 

In response to a question about the emerging pressures in Out of Area Placements and Alternative Provision (AP), GB clarified that some of these pressures were starting in year e.g. the termination of the contract by provider, Catch 22.  He undertook to provide Forum with additional information in relation to AP expenditure.

 

Concern was expressed that the surplus in Early Years did not reflect the situation on the ground and a more strategic piece of work was required relating to encouraging families to take up their free entitlement of education for two year olds which was particularly low in areas of high deprivation and for families with English as an additional language.  It was noted that an increasing number of children were entering Early Years with High Needs and investment at this age, including the training of staff to meet complex needs, would take the pressure off funding in later years.

 

At this point in the meeting, the Chair asked AH to give an update on the strategic overview for education which addressed some of the points raised by Members.

 

Strategic Overview of Education

AH circulated a report which followed on from the presentation at the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

Actions: GB

De

7.

De-delegation pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Presented By: Graham Booth

Minutes:

The Chair reminded Members that on those representing maintained primary and secondary schools could vote on de-delegation, and confirmed those present as: Primary: Chris Pring; Christine Townsend and Cedric Sanguignol and Secondary: Karen Brown and Simon Shaw.  It was clarified that de-delegation did not include maintained nursery schools or special schools.

 

A concern was expressed that nursery schools were disadvantaged by not being able to claim for maternity cover, especially as a larger percentage of nursery school staff were young women.

 

GB confirmed that a de-delegation consultation had been carried out, the results of which were detailed in the report.

 

Concern was expressed that there was a £400k underspend, but no set of accounts to identify the area of underspend.  It was clarified that this was partly due to the schools in difficulty area of de-delegation and would be carried over as in previous years.  GB undertook to provide the information in the future outturn reports to allow regular monitoring. 

 

It was agreed that the issue of schools in difficulty needed looking at strategically as part of a place planning exercise to see if schools with falling rolls could use capacity to meet other education demands.

 

In response to questions relating to maternity insurance cover, it was noted that it was a pooled pot of money that was carried forward year on year and Trading with Schools (TwS) responded to claims with an assurance from schools that the money was used for the proper purpose.  AM undertook to look into why this had increased and report back to Schools Forum.

 

William Brown addressed Members on behalf of Trade Unions to emphasis the benefits of de- delegation in relation to trade union facility time and asked Members to support the proposals.

 

On voting for the recommendations in the report, maintained primary school representatives of Schools Forum agreed unanimously to all areas of delegation with the exception of “Schools in financial difficulty” (1 in favour 2 against).  Maintained secondary school representatives agreed unanimously to all areas of de-delegation.

 

RESOLVED

 

(1)   that maintained primary school representatives of Schools Forum agree to de-delegation of the following services at the amounts per pupil indicated in Table 1 for 2020-21:

a)      Employee and Premises Insurance (unanimous);

b)      Assessment of eligibility for free school meals (unanimous);

c)      Maternity supply cover (unanimous);

d)      Trade Union facility time (unanimous);

e)      Education psychology (unanimous).

 

 

(2)   that maintained secondary school representatives of Schools Forum agree to de-delegation of the following services at the amounts per pupil indicated in Table 1 for 2020-21:

a)      Employee and Premises Insurance (unanimous);

b)      Assessment of eligibility for free school meals (unanimous);

c)      Maternity supply cover (unanimous);

d)      Trade Union facility time (unanimous);

e)      Health and Safety Roving Reps (unanimous);

f)       Education psychology (unanimous).

 

Di

8.

Schools Block 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 192 KB

Presented By: Graham Booth

Additional documents:

Minutes:

TY introduced the report and confirmed that these were was not the final data; the position would be made clearer by the ESFA in December/January which would allow Schools Forum to take a decision at the January meeting.   

 

Funding Formula Proposals

The Forum noted that the Finance Sub-Group had looked at different options in detail and recommended:

(1)   a Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) of +0.5% to allow all schools/academies to gain to some degree, whilst allowing the greatest amount to be targeted to local priorities;

(2)   the proportion of funding allocated on AEN factors should increase, either by using the NFF or by changing the weightings in the local formula.

 

The following comments were raised by Forum Members:

·         Concern was expressed about the presentation of the information; there had been an error in the original report which stated that the lump sum was included (subsequently clarified by an updated report) and a large number of spreadsheets which were difficult to read.  It was noted that the Finance Sub-Group had looked into the options in great detail and it was not possible to do that at the wider Forum meetings;

·         The financial information needed to be accessible to educational professionals;

·         If agreed, would the Council need to submit a disapplication?  As the proposal was to meet set a positive MFG of 0.5%, there would not be a need to submit a disapplication.

 

There was a vote on the following funding formula proposals to go out to consultation with schools/academies before a final decision in January:

(1)   a Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) of +0.5% to allow all schools to gain to some degree, whilst allowing the greatest amount to be targeted to local priorities; (10 in favour, 0 against - CARRIED)

(2)   consulting on both the below options with the preferred option being either:

(a)   to uplift only the 2019/20 AEN per-pupil factor unit values, preserving the AWPU and Lump Sum as they are (1 in favour -  NOT CARRIED) or

(b)   use all the NFF unit values as a starting point and uplifting all to use the available funding (7 in favour - CARRIED)

 

It was agreed that further guidance was required on what members could vote on what issues and changes to the constitution made if necessary.

 

RESOLVED that schools/academies be consulted on the following proposals:

(1)   a Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) of +0.5% to allow all schools to gain to some degree, whilst allowing the greatest amount to be targeted to local priorities;

(2)   the following options:

(a)   uplift only the 2019/20 AEN per-pupil factor unit values, preserving the AWPU and Lump Sum as they are;

(b)   use all the NFF unit values as a starting point and uplifting all to use the available funding;

(3)   Schools/Academies be advised that the initial view of the Forum was that 2 (b) “use all the NFF unit values as a starting point and uplifting all to use the available funding” was the preferred option.

 

Growth Fund

The Chair advised Forum Members  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

Actions: Clerk Finance Sub-Group

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9.

Trading with Schools Annual Report pdf icon PDF 5 MB

Minutes:

Ali Mannering (Trading with Schools Manager, Bristol City Council) drew members attention to the Annual Trading with Schools Report April 2018-19 and highlighted the following:

  • The report demonstrated the outstanding work of TwS colleagues and the strength of customer relations;
  • TwS had 187 loyal customers;
  • Financial achievements: traded income generated 69% of annual turnover;
  • What went well: coping with the challenge of ongoing change by looking at delivery models, processes and new systems: meeting statutory demands;
  • What could have been better: increased use of customer feedback and utilising customer events; achieving key performance indicators; increased use of the Dean Field Study Centre;
  • What next: preparing the catalogue of services for 2021 to include new services including a translation service and fleet service; utilise technology and improve the website.

 

Members asked the following questions and AM answered as follows:

Can we get breakdown of teams and income?

This information was available last year and could be included in future years.

 

What happens to the surplus, does it go back to schools?

It doesn’t go directly to schools but goes to the general fund and therefore supports children within the city.

 

Was the profit as high as the Council wanted it to be?

It was short of the forecast, the Council agreed to reduce the profit target when as it was clear that it would not be met.

 

How are you trading against the forecast this year?

TwS is on track and in line with the same time last year, but a significant amount of trading is required to meet the target.

 

Does the figures in the table on page 5 of the report relate to the number of schools buying services over and above?

Yes, apart from the NQT induction which refers to the number of teachers rather than schools.

 

In relation to the 3,600 penalty notices issued by TwS, what impact has that had on attendance?  Where does the money go?

Attendance was a complex area and it was difficult to say if there was a direct impact.  The income from penalty notices funded the administration of the service.

 

The number of 518 children who were electively home educated was concerning.  What can the Local Authority do to discourage home education?

AH acknowledged that this was a wide and complex area that would be included in the wider strategy for Education.

 

RESOLVED – that the report be noted.

 

Actions: AM

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10.

HR System: iTrent pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Minutes:

Mark Williams, (Human Resource Manager, Bristol City Council) gave an update on the new Council payroll system, iTrent.  He acknowledged that it had been a difficult transition and there had been issues for schools during the first three months of the financial year.  In response to a question about whether any lessons had been learnt around procurement he confirmed that procurement had not been the issue, problems were due to a lack of communication and managing expectations. 

 

CP questioned whether the automated monthly report from iTrent had been sent to schools and undertook to look into this and report back to the next meeting.

 

The Chair drew Members attention to the need for schools to complete payroll reconciliations on a monthly basis to ensure that they were aware of under or over payments and adjust the monthly budget monitor accordingly.

 

RESOLVED – that the report be noted.

 

Actions: CP

11.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

There was no other Business.