AH gave a verbal update as follows:
- Acknowledged the current pressure in schools as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic and thanked everyone for attending the meeting;
- Bristol was beginning to see positive cases of Covid 19 in schools and there would be an impact on school budgets in terms of supply cover where teachers were self-isolating;
- Early Years settings/post-16 providers had been particularly affected by the financial implications of Covid 19 as they did not qualify for the additional funding being provided by government;
Alternative Learning Provision Review:
- Work had begun and an independent person had been appointed to run the review which would take place over the next two months;
- A key ambition was to gain a full understanding of how alternative learning and early intervention bases were being used across the city;
- The Forum would be kept updated on the review.
- The bulge in school numbers would peak in Year 7 in September 2021;
- The opening of the new free school, Oasis Temple Quarter, would be delayed as the planning application approved by the Council in August could be called in by the Secretary of State;
- Alternative plans were being worked on for places for Year 7 students in September 2021 and Schools Forum would be updated at future meetings.
Composition of the Schools Forum
- This had been delayed due to other priorities and a report would be brought back in January 2021.
Members expressed concern about the ongoing costs associated with the Covid pandemic, which were continuing to escalate to meet demands e.g. for cleaning and supply cover. DM acknowledged the challenges being faced by schools and undertook to make representations about the ongoing pressures and the lack of additional funding for early years/post 16 providers to the Department for Education/Treasury.
SH undertook to liaise with Nursery Heads with a view to providing information to DM about the financial impact for early years’ providers.
Members also raised a concern that the figures in the census may be affected by lower than usual attendance and limited meal options and that this would have an impact on the grant for next year. DM asked for further information to be provided so she could include this in her representations to government.
In response to a question about what type of virtual learning platform/portals would be used by schools in the event of partial closures, AH confirmed that this was for individual schools to determine, however she acknowledged that more work was required to address the issue of digital poverty across the city and ensure that all children could access virtual learning.
Members questioned how the government “catch up” funding was allocated and AH confirmed that this was allocated directly to schools and it was a formula funding based on the size of the school. In terms of timing, GB undertook to advise when the funding would be processed to schools.
In response to a question about attendance, AH confirmed that this continued to be a high priority and the local authority was working with schools and families to ensure that students were attending school.
RESOLVED that the verbal update be noted.