Agenda and minutes

Schools Forum - Wednesday, 14th December, 2016 9.30 am

Venue: Winnersh Community Hall, Sindlesham, Wokingham, RG41 5DU

Contact: Arabella Yandle, Luciane Bowker  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were submitted from Anne Andrews, James Taylor, John Ogden and Brian Prebble.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Schools Forum Meeting held on 13 July 2016 and the Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Schools Forum held on 21 September 2016.

Additional documents:


The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 13 July 2016 and the Extraordinary Meeting of the Schools Forum held on 21 September 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


None received.


Responses to questions from the Schools Forum Briefing pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To consider responses to the questions raised at the Schools Forum Briefing.  The responses relate to the agenda items below.

Additional documents:


Minutes from the Schools Forum Briefing held on 7 December were noted.  Responses to the questions raised in the Schools Forum Briefing were addressed under the Agenda items to which they referred.


Budget Monitoring pdf icon PDF 349 KB

To receive and consider the Budget Monitoring Report

Additional documents:


The Forum considered a report, presented by the Interim Schools Finance Manager, on Agenda pages 19 to 24 together with clarifications provided on Agenda page 17 as a result of questions at the Schools Forum Briefing. 


The Interim Schools Finance Manager drew the attention of the Forum to columns on Appendix A outlining the differences between the budget and the actual figures in the 2016/17 Budget.   She stated that the figures included in-year adjustments in funding based on revised allocations in the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) for 2015/16 being confirmed after the budget had been finalised (Agenda p 17 point 8), this sum being carried forward to the 2016/17 Budget as agreed at the Forum on 18 May 2016.  Due to this, and a brought forward surplus from General Funding, the reserves going forward were, whilst lower than budgeted, an increase on the June figure to £552k. 


In response to questions as to the likelihood of an injection of funds into next year’s budget following finalisation of allocations in the DSG, the Interim Schools Finance Manager commented that this information was not currently available and that they could therefore not forecast any changes to the DSG for 2016/17. 


The Chair highlighted that the budget had been overspent by over £1 m and indicated a number of lines that were significantly overspent.  These were:


·       1.2.4 Fees for Independent Special Schools

·       1.3.3 Education Out of School

·       1.4.10 Pupil Growth/Infant Class Size

·       1.6.5 Miscellaneous


In response to questions regarding Fees for Independent Special Schools, the Interim Assistant Director of Learning and Achievement stated that the SEN Team had been approached for further information on this.  A paper was circulated for consideration by the Forum containing data relating to the nature and costs of placements in the last year and the Interim Assistant Director of Learning and Achievement suggested that the paper highlighted issues around transition into KS 1 and when moving from KS2 to KS3, particularly in relation to pupils with ASD or SEMH.  He commented that the need to accommodate pupils who would normally have attended Southfield Special School had impacted costs, but indicated that this would be a short term situation and was not expected to impact the 2016/17 Budget to the same degree.  He also clarified that any cost relating to the Academisation of Southfield was being borne by the Council.


Jay Blundell, Headteacher of Foundry College, commented that Foundry College had taken pupils from Southfield Special School and had funded this.


Following discussion, the Chair clarified that the first two lines listed above were responsible the larger proportion of the overspend and that the Schools Forum had less influence over these amounts.


The Forum questioned the amount listed under 1.6.5 Miscellaneous as it exceeded the permitted maximum of 0.1% of the Schools Budget by £168 k.  The Interim Schools Finance Manager circulated a paper detailing a breakdown of this amount, which was attributable to internal recharges. 


Concerns were raised about the overspend in general and about the internal recharges  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

Clarifications pdf icon PDF 412 KB

In response to action point:


·       clarification be provided in the minutes as to whether internal recharges are still being spread throughout the other budget lines as well as being included in Miscellaneous Expenses and extracted from other lines;


The following documents are attached:


1.     Revised Budget Monitoring Report;

2.     Revised Budget Workings including distributed recharges, narrative and S251 line numbering.


In response to action point:


·       clarification be provided in the minutes as to the status of the contingencies budgets listed in the Budget Monitoring Report;


Clarification is to follow



Additional documents:


Financial Pressures Arising from Education Services Grant Removal pdf icon PDF 398 KB

To consider a report outlining the financial pressures arising from the Education Services Grant removal

Additional documents:


The Forum considered a report and presentation on Agenda pages 25 to 38, presented by the Interim Assistant Director of Learning and Achievement, outlining the impact of the removal of the Educational Support Grant (ESG) from April, which would result in a funding gap.  He proceeded to detail a package to meet this funding gap, highlighting proposals to claim a sum of £380 k from the DSG (equating to a portion of the rebased ESG) and to raise £370 k by top slicing the Early Years and Childcare DSG allocation.


He went on to clarify that the top slice, whilst previously unlimited, had now been limited in the regulations to 7%.  He stated that Wokingham Borough Council had not previously laid claim to this top slice and that, following discussion and re-calculation with colleagues, showed a proposed top slice at 4.08% for 2017/2018.  He then informed the Forum that the remaining funding gap of approximately £1.1 m would be partly met by an uplift in the Wokingham borough Council subsidy leading to a final identified funding shortfall of £723 k.


Members of the Forum representing Early Years raised concerns that a top slice would result in a net loss of income due to the reduction in other areas of their funding and asked for clarification as to whether the claw back of the Early Years Contingency referred to in Agenda Item 11 would be ring-fenced for Early Years provision.


In response to questions from the Forum, it was clarified that the sum referred to in the report as DSG claimed back to replace the ESG did in fact represent a proposal that the projected increase in pupil funding of £15 per capita which was being paid for by the removal of the ESG be redirected to cover the cost of the functions that had traditionally been covered by the ESG.


In response to questions, the Interim Assistant Director of Learning and Achievement clarified that the final decision as to any redirection of this increase was that of the Forum itself and individual schools. 


The Forum put forward a suggestion that the model for buying of services from the Council be changed to one where individual schools could choose what services to buy in.  This was felt to be particularly important for academies that were part of a trust as they paid a fee to the trusts for similar services and felt they would be being charged twice for some services and were not able to access the open market.  The Interim Assistant Director of Learning and Achievement commented that there were elements of the services provided by Wokingham Borough Council that were not recharged to academies when they bought in a particular service.  He stated that the Council would need to carry out a lot of investigative work about potential levels of buyback to be able to set up an alternative model.  Liz Meek, Head of Addington School, commented on the concept of a buy in model, stating that there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


In response to this action point:

·       clarification be provided in the minutes as to the number of pupils on role and the figure of £380 k and how the sum of £15 per capita was reached;


Wokingham Borough Council NOR = 25,500.  £15/pupil was the information provided by DfE therefore, 15 x 25,500 = £382k.


In response to this action point:

  • clarification would be provided in the minutes on the figure allocated to premature retirement and redundancies referred to during the Briefing on 7 December;


This figure is the continuing revenue contribution to the retirement fund originating from Berkshire CC, for funding of teachers pensions having left under those conditions, administered by RBWM for the county unitaries.



Draft 2017/18 Budget pdf icon PDF 385 KB

To consider a draft report giving details of the 2017/18 budget

Additional documents:


The Forum considered a report, presented by the Interim Schools Finance Manager, on Agenda pages 39 to 46 outlining the indicative School Budget in advance of the Dedicated Schools Grant settlement.  She stated that, to date, the DSG settlement had not been confirmed, but that the projections would be updated when this was received.  The attention of the Forum was drawn to an amended Schools Budget that had now been reconciled.


The Chair clarified that the income figures were based on current pupil numbers and the current year’s income level and that this would change when the DSG settlement was confirmed.  He highlighted a number of expenditure streams that had changed significantly.  They were the same ones as those listed in the minutes for Agenda item 11, but with the addition of Provision for Pupils with SEN and the Pupil Premium.


Reference was made to the issues surrounding contingencies and recharges that had been discussed as part of Agenda item 11.


Actions:  that


·       the Interim Schools Finance Manager present a report at the Schools Forum on 18 January 2017 including a narrative for each line that has changed explaining why and incorporating the detail referred to in Agenda item 11; and

·       the SEN Team Manager to present a report on 18 January 2017, as a part of the report in the Forward Plan, outlining where the sum allocated to fees for pupils at independent special schools and abroad is going and what the risks are for the future and the trends over time.




De-delegation report pdf icon PDF 17 KB

To receive and consider the De-delegation Report


The Forum considered a report, presented by the Interim Schools Finance Manager, on Agenda pages 47 to 48.  She clarified that the Behaviour Support Services referred to on page 47 applied to primary schools only.


The Forum commented on the fact that the rates paid by schools was the same no matter the size of the school and that this meant that for a small primary school the per capita cost was a lot higher than for a large primary or a secondary school.  The Forum was reminded that a set payment was a decision that had been agreed by the Forum historically but it was acknowledged that this needed to be looked at again. 


Actions:  that an analysis of fixed and variable costs be presented to the Schools Forum at the meeting on 18 January 2017 so that schools are able to make an informed decision as to whether to return to a per capita funding basis.





Exceptional Need spend pdf icon PDF 294 KB

To consider a report on the Exceptional Need Spend


The Forum considered a report and presentation on Agenda pages 49 to 53, presented by the Interim Assistant Director of Learning and Achievement.  He stated that, following a decision to reduce this amount by £50 k for the year 2016/17, the current budget had incurred an overspend and he asked that the Forum agree to reinstate the £50 k for the 2017/18 budget, giving a total of £200 k.


Resolved: that the Exceptional Need Funding be increased to £200 k for the year 2017/18.




Forward Programme

To consider the Forums work programme for the remainder of the municipal year.


To follow.


In the light of discussion at today’s meeting, the Forum considered and noted the Forward Programme of work and dates of future meetings.  An updated forward plan is attached to the minutes.