Agenda item

The Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Management Plan Update including mitigations

Minutes:

CM introduced the report and highlighted to the following:

 

  1. At the end of Q2 there was an in-year deficit of £19.9m with the forecast of a cumulative deficit at the end of the current year of £44.5m.
  2. The DSG Management Plan forecast unmitigated deficit of £128.3million at the end of 2027/28. 
  3. It had been forecast that the upwards projection for EHCPs would level off at the end of the COVID pandemic, however that trend had not materialised so the current projections now reflected continuing increasing cost.
  4. Mitigation plans were being outlined, explored and projected.  If all mitigation plans were adopted it was forecast that the budget could balance by 2027/28 (although the deficit would still remain).
  5. The DfE template provided a useful tool of evidence based strategic planning.

 

DM confirmed that as BCC had been prepared and ready to progress, they had been accelerated into wave/tranche 1 of the Delivering Best Value (DBV) programme.  Officers were determined to keep moving forward and work collaboratively in order to reach sustainability.

 

Cllr Craig expressed her disappointment that BCC had not been allocated to be part of the ‘Safety Valve’ programme given the size of Bristol, the pockets of deprivation and the need for and request for financial assistance.

 

Officers confirmed that all proposed mitigations were in varying stages of development and required further consideration including quality control, equality impact assessments and consultation with key stakeholders.  A communication plan would involve all elements of the Forum membership.

 

RH introduced the mitigation methods outlined within the second report and requested Schools Forum approval to engage and consult the sector on the mitigations for a six week engagement process to November 2022.

 

Some mitigations outlined within the report were existing pieces of work with fully established EQUI.  Others were in development with EQUIs to be progressed as part of the process.  RH outlined the seven key themes (A-G) and in response the following points were raised:

 

Theme B : Non-statutory Top and Early Intervention

-          Schools applied for top up funding and where awarded could be for up to three years after which a review ascertained whether the child could be moved to ordinary provision or required a needs assessment. 

-          Officers planned to ascertain whether the process of Top Up funding has moved away from the original intention as it was not intended to supplement any backlog in the EHCP assessment and provision.

-          Mitigations were specifically linked to the DSG.  The Schools Forum funding previously agreed would provide support for the Early Years sector capacity for early intervention.

 

Theme E : Specialist Place Funding

-          It was agreed that modelling information to provide of the number of children who could be potentially impacted would be important in terms of providing context within engagement information.

 

The Schools Forum confirmed they supported the themes as outlined, with the importance of the consultation highlighting potential impacts.  The Schools Forum asked to be kept aware of the timeframe and methods of communication.

 

The Schools Forum:

a)      Noted the update to the plan

b)      Noted the feedback and comments

c)      Noted the plan will be presented to Schools Forum, High Needs Working Group and Early Years Working Group regularly and at least on a termly basis.

 

Supporting documents: