Greenwich Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: PDC 1 Waterdale Road SE2 0XT

Contact: Denise Kevern  Email: denise.kevern@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5145

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Chair and Vice Chair 2017-19

Members are requested to elect a Chair and Vice-Chair of the Schools Forum for 2017-2019.

Minutes:

Two nominations were received and seconded for the post of Chair, Steve Harris and David May. The matter was put to the vote and with 13 votes for Steve Harris and 4 votes for David May it was resolved that Steve Harris be elected Chair.

 

Two nominations were received and seconded for the post of Vice-Chair, Gary Farrelly and David May. The matter was put to the vote and with 8 votes for David May and 7 votes for Gary Farrelly it was resolved that David May be elected Vice-Chair.

 

Resolved –

 

That Steve Harris be Chair of The Schools Forum for 2017-2019, and that David May be Vice-Chair of The Schools Forum for 2017-2019.

 

2.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Forum.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Kate Barnes, Joanne Graham, Claire Harrison, Victoria Wainwright, Rachel Harrison, Martyn Patterson, Councillor Olu Babatola and Councillor Allan MacCarthy.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 1 February 2017.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Minutes:

The School Forum noted that Bob Love MBE and Ann Jefferson were present at the meeting.

 

The Schools Forum noted that in respect of Item 6 page 5 paragraph 3 the following was added to the minute. The 2016/17 cycle for NNDR has been met.

 

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Schools Forum held on 1 February 2017 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

 

4.

Matters Arising

Minutes:

·        A review of the Schools Forum’s membership would be undertaken given the move of several schools to Academy since 31 March 2017.

 

·        Page 13 paragraph 2 regarding the 93% of Early Years Funding 2017/18 ring-fenced to providers – More information would be available as the year progresses based on actual spend to enable detailed information to be given to Schools Forum including for example, use of Deprivation.

 

·        Page 16 National Funding Formula – Schools and High Needs National Funding Formula – An update would be delayed as timelines from the Department for Education had slipped due to the General Election.

 

·        Page 17 Growth Funding for Schools – This would be sent out to all schools as soon as possible.

 

·        Page 17 Set up costs for new secondary schools – Further work was required. The item was deferred to a future agenda.

 

A Forum member asked if under Item 5 if the £5.97 was the actual per pupil hourly rate set, to which the Children’s Services Finance Manager replied that no this was what the Local Authority received.

 

 

An Induction and Training session would be convened before the next meeting on 5 October 2017. All Schools Forum members would be invited.

Action: Children’s Services Finance Manager / Committee Officer

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum noted the matters arising.

5.

Declarations of Interest

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

6.

Draft Strategic Plan 2017-18 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To note the Forward Plan for reports to be considered in 2017/18, the National Funding Formula Review Updates as a standing item, the possible need for an extra-ordinary meeting of the Schools Forum dependant on content and timings of feedback from the Department for Education and that Agenda Planning is an ongoing process and additional reports may be required through the year.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Schools Forum noted the report.

 

Two further reports were added to the Forward Plan;

Capital Strategy

Strategic Review of SEN-D (High Needs) incorporating Transport spending.

 

The Constitution of the Schools Forum would be reviewed following the transfer of several schools to academies since 31 March 2017.

Minutes:

Two further reports were added to the Forward Plan;

Capital Strategy

Strategic Review of SEN-D (High Needs) incorporating Transport spending.

 

The Constitution of the Schools Forum would be reviewed following the transfer of several schools to academies since 31 March 2017.

 

Resolved

 

Schools Forum noted;

 

1.         The Forward Plan 2017/18.

 

2.         National Funding Formula Review Update was a standing item

 

3.         Possible need for an extra-ordinary meeting of the Schools Forum dependent on content and timings of feedback from the Department for Education.

 

4.         Agenda Planning is an ongoing process and additional reports may be required through the year.

7.

2016/17 Revenue and Capital Balances position for Schools pdf icon PDF 117 KB

To note the revenue and capital balance position for maintained schools 2016/17.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

The report was noted.

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Children’s Services Finance Manager who highlighted that the overall level of reserves had decreased by £5.395m which as a percentage of the Schools budget was 4% and that overall that schools were using more of their resources. The reduction of funding was therefore stark. She explained that three year budget planning although not essential would be preferable, as it would allow Finance to work more closely with schools.

 

Luigi Leccacorvi thanked the Children Services Finance Manager for the good quality of the templates provided for budget planning.

 

A Forum member said that briefing sessions were held with the Trade Unions on a monthly basis. Clarity was requested as to what could be shared by schools and governing bodies.

Action: Director of Children’s Services

 

The Forum requested an update on funds lodged with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and if the budget movement had affected the balances. The Children’s Services Finance Manager stated that schools had to provide evidence of what they were cutting regarding lodged funds.

Action: Children Services Finance Manager

 

Resolved:

 

That the 2016/17 Revenue and Capital Balance position for Schools report was noted.

8.

2016/17 Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Outturn Position and Update on 2017/18 DSG budget. pdf icon PDF 149 KB

To note the contents of this report in particular to observe that the 2016/17 outturn position is an overspend of £2m largely arising from the in- year charges for National Non Domestic Rates (NNDR) and an £0.9m increase in growth fund. 

Additional documents:

Decision:

The report was noted.

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Children’s Services Finance Manager who told the Forum that the 2016/17 outturn position was an overspend of £2m which largely arose from the in-year charges for Non Domestic rates, £1.6m of the increase related to Thomas Tallis backdated costs, and an £0.9m increase in growth fund.

 

The rates increase was due to the growing number of schools which had expanded and growth fund was exceeded because of the need for more school places. Royal Greenwich was a local authority with increasing pupil numbers. She added that all blocks were spending to near enough to allocations.

 

The Children’s Services Finance Manager said that reserves had reduced and there was not a proposal to allocate any further resources. She continued that the impact of the National Funding Formula was unknown to date and reserves were being held at present. The Schools budget would be re-evaluated on a school by school basis.

 

The Children’s Services Finance Manager concluded that a report providing an in year update on the Dedicated Schools Grant would be presented to the October 2017 meeting and would include the rates forecast position and the updated growth fund.

 

She concluded that allocations from the Department for Education were at the mid-point and that funding per pupil spend was considered as part of the Local Schools Funding Formula, but rates costs and then Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) would have to be allocated first.

 

Resolved:

 

That the 2016/17 Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Outturn Position and Update on 2017/18 DSG budget was noted.

9.

Apprenticeship Levy pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Note the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.

 

Schools Forum is asked to approve the allocation of funding to those schools listed in Appendix A from Contingency –De-delegated Budget.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Schools forum approved the allocation of funding to those schools listed in Appendix A from Contingency De-delegated Budget.

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Children’s Services Finance Manager who explained that the report was based on March 2017 figures and that academies did not fall within the scope for assistance from Royal Borough of Greenwich. The aim was to use the Apprenticeship Levy as flexibly as possible to ensure that a school’s needs were met. Schools should endeavour to maximise the use of apprenticeship programmes where possible to ensure that they get the maximum benefit possible to offset some of the costs that they were incurring. Children’s Services offered various support and courses for schools to consider to maximise this agenda.

 

The Maintained school members voted and agreed unanimously to the allocation of funding to the schools listed in Appendix A from Contingency De-delegated Budget.

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum approved the allocation of funding to those schools listed in Appendix A from Contingency De-delegated Budget.

10.

National Funding Formula -Consultation Responses pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Note the responses made by the Royal Borough of Greenwich in respect of the National Funding Formula Schools and High Needs -Second Consultation (Appendix A).

Additional documents:

Decision:

The report was noted.

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Children’s Services Finance Manager who highlighted that once the outcomes were announced, which was expected in October 2017, schools would be contacted.

 

Resolved:

 

The National Funding Formula – Consultation Responses report was noted.

11.

Scheme for Financing Schools -Revision 2017. pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Schools Forum is asked to support the amendments detailed in the report . The Department for Education’s regulations require that following approval from Schools Forum a consultation takes place with all maintained schools.  The results of this consultation to be presented to the next meeting of the Schools Forum (October 2017).

Additional documents:

Decision:

1.         Schools Forum supported the following recommended changes to the Scheme for Financing Schools (SfFS) Appendix A as follows:

 

Scheme for Financing Schools – Submission of Budget plans (SFS ref 2.3)

 

Revised wording:

 

“Each Governing Body is required to submit a budget plan to the Royal Borough by the 30th June.  The budget plan should show the schools intentions for expenditure and income focusing on providing a balanced budget position for the “current year”, and illustrative positions for the subsequent two financial years”.

 

“The detail for the two subsequent years, can only be considered to facilitate due diligence and longer term planning and provide a sound basis for discussion between the School/Governing body and the Royal Greenwich.  Unless a School is in a Deficit Recovery Plan when the longer term planning process is more formalised (section 4.8 for more detail).

 

“The format of the budget plan will be determined by Royal Greenwich and will reflect the Consistent Financial Reporting Framework (CFR).  Detailed guidance on the completion of the budget plan will be in the Schools Finance Manual.” 

 

“Schools must incorporate their surplus/deficit from previous years and recognise that surplus balances should only be committed towards short term expenditure needs.  Addressing any deficits from prior years must be the first consideration.”

 

“The Schools annual budget plan must be approved by the Governing Body or a committee of the Governing Body.”

 

“Royal Greenwich may determine that a revised budget needs to be submitted during the financial year.  This should be in agreement with the school and where possible following intervals of 3 months”.

 

“The Royal Borough will supply schools with an annual budget statement by the 28th February in line with DFE requirements”. 

 

“The Royal Borough will supply schools with any expenditure information that it holds which is deemed appropriate to enable a school to set their budget.”      

 

Scheme for Financing Schools – Frequency of Instalments (SFS ref 3.1)

 

Revised wording:

 

“…budget shares, estimated pupil led spend (e.g top up) and indicative grant allocations are issued as cash advance and instalments of these will be referred to as cash advances”.

 

“Cash advances will be made as follows

 

April           Cash advance equivalent to 5 months based on the Schools Funding Statement position to cover April to August.  This statement includes some aspects of funding that are estimated for example High Needs Top up, Early Years Funding and some indicative grants e.g. Pupil Premium.       

 

September  Cash Advance equivalent to 4 Months to cover September to December, with increase or decrease to reflect actual for those areas previously funded on estimate.  Where appropriate adjustments for confirmed announcements on grants.

 

January        Cash Advance equivalent 2 Months to cover January to February, with increase or decrease to reflect actual for those areas previously funded on estimate.  Where appropriate adjustments for confirmed announcements on grants.

 

March          Cash Advance for March (Final payment) and any known adjustments.

 

Scheme for Financing Schools – Framework for Managing Deficits (SFS ref 4.8)

 

Revised wording:

 

A Governing Body  ...  view the full decision text for item 11.

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Children’s Services Finance Manager who explained that the proposed changes to the Scheme for Financing Schools were either as a result of reports recently brought to Schools Forum (amendments one and two) or were a need for clarification (amendments three and four).

 

Amendment one would formalise the production of three year budget plans being shared with the Governing Body and the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Schools would only have to submit the current year as a balance budget and the subsequent two years would be a working estimate. Budget Plans were to be submitted by the 30 June of each year where previously it was 31 May. This was agreed by Schools Forum in February 2017.

 

Amendment two to move from ten monthly payments to four in April, September, January and March was agreed at the Schools Forum in February 2017.

 

Amendment three regarding the Framework for Managing Deficits was to ensure clarity on the role of Governing Body’s and Royal Greenwich.

 

Amendment four was to ensure the formal nature of the loan arrangement be recognised and to clarify and make the policy more defined.

 

Resolved:

 

1.         That Schools Forum supported the following recommended changes to the Scheme for Financing Schools (SfFS) Appendix A as follows:

 

Scheme for Financing Schools – Submission of Budget plans (SFS ref 2.3)

 

Revised wording:

 

“Each Governing Body is required to submit a budget plan to the Royal Borough by the 30th June.  The budget plan should show the schools intentions for expenditure and income focusing on providing a balanced budget position for the “current year”, and illustrative positions for the subsequent two financial years”.

 

“The detail for the two subsequent years, can only be considered to facilitate due diligence and longer term planning and provide a sound basis for discussion between the School/Governing body and the Royal Greenwich.  Unless a School is in a Deficit Recovery Plan when the longer term planning process is more formalised (section 4.8 for more detail).

 

“The format of the budget plan will be determined by Royal Greenwich and will reflect the Consistent Financial Reporting Framework (CFR).  Detailed guidance on the completion of the budget plan will be in the Schools Finance Manual.” 

 

“Schools must incorporate their surplus/deficit from previous years and recognise that surplus balances should only be committed towards short term expenditure needs.  Addressing any deficits from prior years must be the first consideration.”

 

“The Schools annual budget plan must be approved by the Governing Body or a committee of the Governing Body.”

 

“Royal Greenwich may determine that a revised budget needs to be submitted during the financial year.  This should be in agreement with the school and where possible following intervals of 3 months”.

 

“The Royal Borough will supply schools with an annual budget statement by the 28th February in line with DFE requirements”. 

 

“The Royal Borough will supply schools with any expenditure information that it holds which is deemed appropriate to enable a school to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Charging Academies for Conversion pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Approve the proposal for charging schools for academy conversions to come into effect for schools converting from the 2017/18 academic year onwards.

 

In consequence of this agree to Annex D of the Scheme of School Financing to be amended as set out in Paragraph 4.7.

Decision:

Schools Forum approved ‘in principle’ the proposal for charging schools for academy conversions to come into effect for schools converting from the 2017/18 academic year onwards with the proviso of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) being developed which would be agreed by the Schools Forum.

 

Schools Forum agreed to Annex D of the Scheme of School Financing being amended as follows;

 

Annex D  - Circumstances in which the budget share of a school may be charged without the expressed consent of the governing body

 

C21 add ‘Agreed charges or aminimum of £7000 from each school converting to Academy status, to facilitate the Academy Conversion process

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Assistant Director, Commissioning and Resources who gave an overview of the report and highlighted section 4.3 which detailed the work required to transfer an individual school from maintained to academy and the main processes undertaken by the Local Authority. She added that the Local Authority had absorbed the costs to date but this was no longer viable and the Borough sought to seek a contribution from all schools converting on or after 1 September 2017. The proposed charge was £7000 per school and this would be reviewed annually. There would be a serious impact on school place planning and capital projects, as well as business as usual if this was not agreed.

 

In response to questions from the Forum the Assistant Director, Commissioning and Resources explained that external legal costs alone were up to £6k per conversion and the Borough also had to absorb other costs, and the ability to absorb any such costs had been further frustrated by the significant reduction in the Education Services Grant.

 

A Forum member highlighted delayed conversions during 2016/17 because they had not been agreed with RBG in advance and said that a Service Level Agreement needed to be in place to outline penalties if the Borough delayed a conversion. The Assistant Director replied that the Borough also incurred costs when a school delayed.

 

Another Forum member thought that £7k was good Value for Money.

 

A further comment was made regarding the lead in time and that it would be fairer to make this longer. The Assistant Director said that this would impact no matter when the start date was set.

 

Finally, a member questioned the £70 per hour fee for Voluntary Assisted and Foundation schools and queried if the amount should be limited.

 

The maintained school members voted and agreed by 9 votes to 1 to agree the proposal ‘in principle’ and that a Service Level Agreement should be developed for agreement by the Schools Forum.

 

Resolved:

 

Schools Forum approved ‘in principle’ the proposal for charging schools for academy conversions to come into effect for schools converting from the 2017/18 academic year onwards with the proviso of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) being developed which would be agreed by the Schools Forum.

 

Schools Forum agreed to Annex D of the Scheme of School Financing being amended as follows;

 

Annex D  - Circumstances in which the budget share of a school may be charged without the expressed consent of the governing body

 

C21 add ‘Agreed charges or a minimum of £7000 from each school converting to Academy status, to facilitate the Academy Conversion process.

 

Schools Forum requested that it be noted on each agenda item who could vote on that item.

Action: Children’s Services Finance Manager

13.

Attendance Report pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To advise the Forum of attendance at the meetings of the Forum.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The report was noted.

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

1.         That the report advising the Forum of attendance at the meetings was noted.

 

2.         That any member who did not attend for three consecutive meetings may be asked to step down and a replacement sought.