Agenda and draft minutes

Bristol Schools Forum - Wednesday, 15th January, 2020 5.00 pm

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

Contact: Corrina Haskins 

Note No. Item




Presented By: Chair


The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.




Forum Standing Business

(a)   Apologies for Absence

(b)   Confirmation meeting is quorate

(c)   Appointment of new members/Resignations: 

New Members:

Emma Richards – Special School Representative

Notification of Vacancies:

·         Two Primary Academy Head;

·         Two Primary Maintained Heads;

·         Two Primary Academy Governors;

·         Two Secondary Academy Heads;

(d)   Declarations of Interest


Presented By: Clerk



  1. Apologies for absence

Apologies for absence were received from:

William Brown (Union Rep, Bristol NEU); Marian Curran (16-19 Partnership); Kris Hristakev (Special Schools Governor); Garry Maher (Diocese of Clifton); Ruth Pickersgill (Secondary Academy Governor) and David Yorath Secondary Academy Governor Rep, Cotham School.


  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:

Emma Richards – Special School Rep, Claremont School.


  1. Notification of Vacancies

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

·         Two Primary Academy Heads

·         Two Primary Maintained Heads

·         Two Primary Academy Governors

·         Two Secondary Academy Heads


  1. Declarations of Interest

Rob Davies asked that it be recorded that he worked part-time for the Primary Heads Association, Bristol (PHAB).




Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 133 KB

(a)   To confirm as a correct record

(b)   Matters arising not covered on agenda

Presented By: Chair

Additional documents:


RESOLVED - that the minutes of 26th November 2019 be confirmed as a correct record, subject to an amendment to request that Forum receive the latest information for 18/19 in relation to the breakdown of teams and income relating to Trading with Schools.


Matters Arising


In response to the actions agreed at the last meeting, it was noted:

Out of Area Placements/Alternative Provision: The information requested at the previous meeting was included in the appendices to agenda item 6, Budget Monitor.

Voting Arrangements: Guidance on which members could vote on specific issues had been included as an attachment to the minutes.

Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG):  This issue would be discussed at the next meeting of the Finance Sub-Group later in the year.

HR Systems iTrent: Chris Pring confirmed that schools had been sent the monthly report, but he was still awaiting the instructions/guidance required to use the information. The Director of Finance undertook to raise this with the Human Resources Manager.



Presentation on Early Years Funding

Presented By: GB


GB gave a presentation on Early Years Funding as follows:

·         3 main areas:

o   How BCC gets funding from Government;

o   How the funding gets passed on to providers;

o   The effect of changes to participation leading to surplus/deficit;

·         The funding in from Government was worked out in a different way to the funding out to providers;

·         Funding in from Government:

o   Means of allocating funding for free early education and childcare for 3 & 4 year olds was universal 15 hours + 30 hours for eligible working parents;

o   This was introduced in 2017 to ensure fair distribution of funding and transparency;

o   For 3 & 4 year olds:

§  Base rate;

§  + Additional needs (Free School Meals; Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and English as an Additional Language);

§  Area costs (which differ in different parts of the country);

o   2 year olds – separate funding arrangement at a regional rate (BCC was the  same as neighbouring LAs)

o   19/20 rates:

§  3 & 4 year olds - £5.69;

§  2 year olds -  £5.43;

o   Census data –

             3-4 year old 9863 PTE pupil numbers;

             2 year old 1210 PTE pupil numbers;

o   Other funding within block:

§  EY Pupil Premium = £299,340 (similar to primary and secondary);

§  Disability Access Fund = £99,630 (this may add to the underspend for this year as forecast at 50% of budget)

§  Maintained Nursery School Supplement £743,670 (BCC was trying to sustain funding at 2016/17 level prior to EYNFF and may seek approval from Schools Forum to use the EY underspend to top up this supplement again this year);

o   Total Block = £36.876m

·         Funding out to providers

o   For 3 & 4 year olds:

§  Universal Base rate

§  95% pass through

§  Additional supplements (up to 10%)

·         Deprivation (mandatory)

·         Quality

·         Emerging SEN

o   For 2 year olds:

§  No pass through requirement and no additional supplements


·         How funding is received and spending calculated:

o   Funding received was based on one Census figure (January) each year, but taken from last Jan (5/12ths) and current Jan (7/12ths) to account for variations in take up;

o   Expenditure was calculated based on 3 x different census points and averaged;

o   Changes in participation levels had a budgetary impact.


In response to questioning, GB confirmed:

  • The number of children referred to those taking up places, not those eligible. 
  • If additional supplements were agreed this would come off the overall funding so children not entitled to supplements would get less.  It was commented that additional supplements may benefit the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children.


Early Years Representatives made the following comments;

  • It was acknowledged that there was a number of eligible children whose families were not taking up places and more work was needed to inform people of their entitlements;
  • Participation in Children Centres had decreased and family awareness of nursery provision had gone down as a consequence;
  • Birth registration data had only been available for 12 months and so the information had not been available to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.



Verbal update from Director: Education and Skills

To include the outcome of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) inspection and implications regarding timescales for improvement.

Presented By: AH


The Director of Education and Skills, AH, gave an update as follows:

  • The Joint Ofsted/Care Quality Commission (CQC) Inspection of the Special Education Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) service had taken place in October and the publication of the outcome had been delayed due to the General Election;
  • The results of the Inspection had now been made public and the report highlighted 5 areas of concern:
    • 2 of the concerns related to the timeliness of Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP);
    • The underachievement of children with SEND in Bristol;
    • Engagement and relationships between the SEND service and parents/carers;
    • Leadership;
  • The report also acknowledged that recent changes had been made to the service, but these had not been embedded and so impact of the changes could not be demonstrated;
  • BCC was working with the Health Authority to draft a “Written Statement of Action”, a high level strategic plan to address the 5 areas of concern and this would be backed up by a detailed action plan;
  • She had met with the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss timelines for improvements and BCC had 3 months to submit the plan;
  • In view of the Council elections, the plan needed to be submitted by 23 March at the latest and Ofsted/CQC would have 10 days to say if the plan was fit for purpose;
  • BCC could not publish the plan until it had been agreed by Ofsted/CQC, although the Council was able to share the work through co-production opportunities;
  • Once the plan was agreed, BCC had 18 months to deliver against the milestones before a re-inspection in October 2021;
  • Co-production was key to the process to ensure:
    • the plan was owned across the city;
    • actions were fit for purpose;
    • plan was embedded and would bring about sustainable change.
  • The route for co-production was:
    • tapping into parent/carer forums and looking at how this could be developed;
    • working with colleagues in schools, including Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) to ensure schools get a voice in the Written Statement;
    • attending Governor meetings/Forums.
  • The BCC People Scrutiny Commission would be meeting on 3 February to do a deep dive exercise and the outcome of this would be captured in the Written Statement;
  • Progress would be monitored by the Children Improvement Board and BCC Scrutiny;
  • There would also be a deep dive in relation to data cleansing to ensure an accurate baseline to demonstrate progress by creating a full data dashboard for SEND;
  • In terms of next steps, there was a need to make sure the Education Transformation Programme aligned with the Written Statement of Action.


Schools Forum considered how it could participate in the process and the following comments were raised:

  • Early Years representatives had close contact with families and this connection was often lost as children got older and families were less visible to education providers.  Early Years providers were able to identify where public bodies could work closer together to support SEND children and their families;
  • As the role of Forum related to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



Dedicated School Grant (DSG) Budget Monitor 2019/20 P8 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Presented By: GB


BCC Finance Partner, GB, introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

o   The report detailed the latest Budget Monitor position as at November 2019;

o   The Budget position was monitored every month and reported to Forum every two months;

o   The position had improved between Period 7 and Period 8;

o   There had been an increase in top up funding in Alternative Provision (AP) and other placements;

o   In response to a request at the previous meeting, the figures relating to AP had been broken down and this was detailed in Appendix 2;

o   There was still an underlying underspend in the Early Years Block;

o   There had been a change in forecast between Period 6 and Period 8 to reflect the decision taken at the last meeting;

o   BCC may need to ask Forum for approval to use the underspend to top up nursery supplement at a future meeting.


In response to questions, GB/AH responded:

o   GB would clarify whether there was twice as many places at Woodstock to reflect the 100% increase and report back to the next meeting;

o   The BFA contract had been recouped and the funding associated with Catch 22 was before the closure of that provider as of 1 November;

o   CLF had taken over from Catch 22;

o   There had been an increase in places and GB would confirm the exact number along with the requested information relating to cost per place; information on the places required; whether there was spot purchasing of providers outside those listed in the table;

o   There were 5 listed Pupil Referral Units, even though Meriton had closed it still had a DfE number associated with it which triggered data;

o   The review of the Hospital Education Service had been paused and would be picked up as part of the wider review of AP.


Forum Members also made the following comments:

o   There had been a large increase in AP costs and some of these children may be better placed in special schools.  AH agreed that there needed to be a single strategy and the Written Statement of Action would address it in a holistic way;

o   The categorisation of PRUs and AP in the report was out of date – Bristol Free School was not a PRU; St Mathias was AP, the difference being PRU was where a student would be sent for an initial assessment and AP would be the alternative to mainstream provision;

o   In view of the likeliness of the free school programme being rolled out further, BCC needed to talk to providers about AP need.  AH confirmed that discussions had taken place, but it was difficult to discuss in detail until the need had been identified;

o   The nature of education was such that there was a transitory population going through the education system and so flexibility and adaptability was essential.


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




Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 170 KB

Presented By: GB


GB introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

  • The Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) had released the actual allocations on 19 December and the funding levels under Block movements were now based on actual figures rather than the estimates provided at the previous meeting;
  • Schools were consulted on the funding formula after the last meeting of Schools Forum and consultation responses were included in Appendix 1 of the report.  The response rate was 25% of schools, which was low, but of those that responded there was support for an option using NFF values and 0.5% MFG;
  • the final allocations from Government were contained in Table 1 of the report;
  • due to the change in pupil numbers generated by the October census, there had been a small reduction in the allocation for Bristol Primary Schools and an increase for Secondary Schools;
  • Central Services Block: the funding for historic commitments had been reduced by 20% leaving £0.333m for Prudential borrowing which had ended for Bristol in 17/18 and so it was proposed to transfer this amount to the High Needs Block;
  • High Needs Block: this was the largest percentage increase in funding and would take the funding to the level of the current years projected spend but would not allow the advance funding from 19/20 to be repaid in 20/21.  This would not affect future funding;
  • In relation to Education Transformation Programme funding agreed at the previous meeting, the details of how this would be spent would be set out following the approval of the Written Statement of Action;
  • Schools Block: this would be covered in the next item, set out below;
  • Early Years: there had been a small change with the rate for 2 year olds increased by 8p and it was proposed that the whole rate be passed to providers.


In seeking clarification in relation to the figures relating to School Admissions, Members asked that the information be presented in a consistent manner year on year to allow comparisons to be made.


Forum Members raised the following comments:

  • It was disappointing that only 25% of schools responded to the consultation and was difficult to believe that Heads were apathetic in relation to school funding.  Further thought may be needed about how to engage Heads and ensure they were aware of the importance of the consultation;
  • There should be some feedback to schools who did respond and this may also encourage the engagement of schools with the Forum;
  • Concern was expressed about the continuing pressure on the High Needs Budget, especially in view of the outcome of the Ofsted Inspection and questions were asked about how the provision could be improved without an increase in funding.  AH responded that the process of the Written Statement of Action would allow an evaluation of the SEND landscape of the city and the expectations of schools and settings;
  • Councils were running out of options to fund SEND, there was less opportunity to transfer between the different blocks  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Schools Block 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 37 KB

Additional documents:


Finance Officer, TY, introduced the report and explained the three different options for applying the funding formula for mainstream schools and academies for 2020/21 (all with a minimum funding guarantee of +0.5%:

Option 1 – using the 2019-20 formula unit values as the starting point;

Option 2 – using the NFF unit values as the starting point, including the NFF lump sum value;

Option 3 – using the NFF unit values as the starting point, but keeping the lump sum at £125,000.


He reported that:

o   consultation responses from schools supported an option based on the NFF being the starting point;

o   all schools would see an increase in per-pupil funding in 2020/21 even though there was a variance depending on which option;

o   falling rolls were not protected and that was the only issue as unit values for pupils were increasing;

o   Two disapplications had been lodged but no decisions had been received. In the case of the Steiner School which was proposing to go from being a through school to a Primary School, it was likely a decision wouldn’t be taken on the funding until confirmation of the closure of the secondary part of the school. 


In response to a request for Schools Forum to receive the underlying figures, it was agreed that anyone requiring this level of information could be provided with it on request.


In voting for the options, the Clerk advised that members representing maintained schools, academies and Private Voluntary and Independent Nurseries (PVI) could vote on the funding formula and therefore 14 members present were eligible to vote.


On voting on whether to support an option based on NFF (options 2 and 3) - 14 in favour and 0 against


On voting for option 2  (2 in favour – not carried)

On voting for option 3 (11 in favour, 2 against 1 abstention)




(1)   that the following formula model be agreed as the preferred model for 2020/21 mainstream funding formula:

·         Option 3: using the NFF unit values as the starting point and keeping the lump sum at £125,000 and minimum funding guarantee of +0.5%.

(2)   that the preferred proposed arrangements for the 2020/21 mainstream funding formula, including the amount set aside for the Growth Fund be endorsed.




Schools Forum Constitution and Composition pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Presented By: Chair



The Chair clarified that the only amendment to the Constitution was a change to the balance between Local Authority and Academy primary schools to reflect 2019 pupil numbers and that the number of vacancies on the Schools Forum had been adjusted accordingly.


The following comments were raised relating to the composition:

·         The figures were not correct for the number of secondary maintained students and needed amending, although it was acknowledged that this did not make a difference to representation on the Forum;

·         A concern was expressed that there was an over representation of Faith School representatives on the Forum giving rise to a concern that not all Members had an “equal voice”.  However it was also noted that the Diocese represented both Primary and Secondary schools;

·         It was noted that as long as there was one maintained school in the local authority area, this sector had to be represented on the Forum in accordance with regulations and guidance;

·         There may be a need to review the number of Heads/Governors from each sector to reflect pupil numbers and address the issue of filling vacancies;

·         The membership could include more representatives from SEND in view of the ongoing pressures on the High Needs budget;

·         It was clarified that Heads could be represented by another member of staff in accordance with regulations and guidance.


It was noted that it was a matter for the Local Authority to decide on the composition of the Forum and the Director of Education and Skills undertook to review this while having regard to the issues raised by Forum Members and consultating with the wider Education community.



(1)   that the changed to the constitution to reflect the membership and pupil numbers be noted;

(2)   that the Director of Education and Skills look at the composition of the Schools Forum with view to reporting back to a future meeting.