To consider a report on the 2019/20 Schools Block Budget.
Lynne Samuel tabled a paper which was circulated to Members.
The Chairman stated that Schools Forum had received a presentation in December with the options around the 19/20 Schools Block Budget. Schools Forum was informed, at that meeting, that the DfE had decided on the way that all-through schools were to be funded, which was to assume that the ratio of primary and secondary pupils was fixed. However, the Wokingham experience with its one all-through school was that the ratio of primary and secondary pupils was not the same. The Task and Finish Group was asked to look at different models, with the intention of spreading the burdens of a recalculated allocation evenly across all schools in the Borough, regardless of the phase they were in. Officers had presented a model (within the DfE toolkit of models) with such a revised allocation to the Task and Finish Group. However, this model seemed to heavily penalise three schools in the Borough (as would the other available models), and it had not been possible to incorporate the necessary changes to spread the burden more evenly across all schools. With this background, the initial Budget which was proposed to Schools Forum in December was considered the most appropriate model for the 19/20 allocation.
During the discussion of the item the following points were made:
· Derren Gray stated that three schools were still adversely affected by the proposed Budget, and one school in particular was being penalised by the per pupil funding system; he wished it to be recorded that Schools Forum had asked that individual schools should not be penalised by the funding system;
· The Chairman stated that the Council would write to the DfE indicating that the system they proposed for all-through schools was not appropriate;
· Ginny Rhodes pointed out that Schools Forum had requested different models to be presented. The Chairman stated that the different models that the finance team had tested had shown similar outcomes;
· Derren Gray stated that Schools Forum had resolved that a consultation with schools would be carried out, and questioned if it was legal for Officers not to comply with a Schools Forum request;
· The Chairman stated that Schools Forum could decide not to approve the proposed Budget and request a consultation before the Budget submission, even if this resulted in a late submission;
· Derren Gray stated that he had concerns over the process;
· John Bayes pointed out that the rules that governed Schools Forums and stipulated the decision making process were complex;
· Paul Doherty stated that if Schools Forum asked for a consultation this would be supported by the Local Authority;
· It was pointed out that a delay in the submission could adversely affect all schools in relation to their planning and decision making.
After a robust discussion, Schools Forum was asked to vote, through a show of hands, and make a decision in respect to the submission of the proposed Budget. The result of the vote was as follows:
· 2 votes against
· 8 votes in favour
· 10 abstentions (approximately)
RESOLVED That the 2019/20 Schools Block Budget be approved for submission.