Agenda and minutes

Schools Forum
Monday, 14th March, 2016 4.00 p.m.

Venue: Civic Suite, Town Hall, Runcorn. View directions

Contact: Ann Jones - Tel: 0151 511 8276 or email: 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies had been received from Lesley Davies, Marjorie Constantine, Richard Collings and Karl Landrum.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 254 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 20 January 2016 were agreed as a correct record.





High Needs Funding - Top Up Funding Levels for 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 379 KB


The Schools Forum received the top-up funding rates for 2016-17.


It was noted that the High Needs Block was under increasing pressure, especially the top-up funding costs.  It was estimated that in 2015-16 the Council would spend approximately £3m more on High Needs provision than was received as the High Needs Grant.


The report presented the funding details for the following:


·       Special Schools – Appendix A showed the 2016-17 top-up values and agreed Banding Criteria;


·       Resource Bases – Appendix B showed the 2016-17 top-up values;


·       Resource Base Service Level Agreements – funding for ASC Outreach and HI Signer SLA’s were currently being reviewed;


·       Pupil Referral Unit – Appendix C showed the 2016-17 top-up values; and


·       Enhanced Provision Funding – the Financial Management Team would circulate details to Head Teachers of pupils in their schools who were eligible for top-up funding each term. 


RESOLVED:  That the report and associated Appendices are noted.





Early Years Funding for 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 105 KB


The Forum received the Additional Notional SEN Funding criteria and allocations for 2016-17 for agreement.


Officers proposed that the funding factors for the maintained sector remain unchanged at – basic per pupil, Deprivation (using IDACI), Lump sum and LA Rates (for nursery schools only).


It was also proposed that they also remain unchanged for the PVI Sector at – basic per pupil, Deprivation (IDACI) and LA rates.


It was noted that the cash values for the funding factors for maintained and PVI settings were still being calculated at the time of writing the report.  These were now available and tabled by Officers at the meeting.


PVI representatives raised concerns over the values per hour and the variations between settings.  This was discussed and it was agreed that they could be reviewed at a local level and that a report would be submitted to the June meeting of the Schools Forum.  In the meantime Members agreed to the approval of the criteria and allocations for 2016-17.


RESOLVED:  That Schools Forum


1)    notes the report;

2)    agrees the funding formula for Maintained Early Years settings; and

3)    agrees the funding formula for the PVI settings.






Early Years Pupil Premium


Forum Members received a presentation from Sharon Williams – the Headteacher of Halton’s Virtual School, on the Early Years Children in Care – Personal Education Plans and Pupil Premium.


The presentation covered the following:


·       Statutory responsibilities for Children in Care (CIC);

·       Personal Education Plans (PEP’s);

·       Halton’s Early Years PEP – developed in partnership with Early Years Providers;

·       Early Years Pupil Premium – Conditions of Grant;

·       Halton’s Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) model;

·       What EYPP could be used for;

·       What EYPP cannot be used for; and

·       How the setting would be paid for.


Sharon advised the Forum that she welcomed feedback from the Schools at any time regarding the completing of Personal Education Plans.  A copy of the presentation is available from the Clerk.


RESOLVED:  That the presentation be noted.


Capital Programme - 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Additional documents:


The Schools Forum received a report that provided a summary of the capital programmes for 2016-17 for the People and Economy Directorate and confirmed capital allocations from the Department for Education.


The Forum was reminded that in February 2015 the Department for Education (DfE) announced the schools capital grant allocations for 2015-16 as well as indicative allocations for the two year period 2016-17 and 2017-18.  In February 2016 the Department confirmed the 2016-17 allocations.  It was noted that by introducing three year allocations, the DfE was enabling those responsible for the school estate to plan effectively and make strategic investment decisions.


Members were referred to the table in paragraph 3.1 of the report which detailed the confirmed funding notified by the DfE for 2016-17.  Paragraph 4.1 of the report provided details of how the School Condition and Capital Expenditure Revenue Account funding would be allocated.  The Capital repairs programme for 2016-17 could be found at Appendix 1 of the report.


RESOLVED:  That the capital funding available for 2016-17 be noted.








Halton Scheme For Financing Schools April 2016 update pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Additional documents:


The Forum was informed of the consultation response and proposed changes to the Halton Scheme for Financing Schools (SFFS) for April 2016.  The Halton SFFS draft version for April 2016 was appended to the report.


It was reported that further to advising the Forum in the January 2016 meeting, a consultation with schools regarding changes to the Halton SFFS had now been conducted.  It was noted that some of the changes were required by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and some were changes that the Finance Officers wished to make in relation to Central Reports and Local Bank Account returns.


Members were advised that following the closure of the consultation, only nine responses were received with only two being from chequebook schools (a summary of responses were given in Appendix A of the report). 


Members were also referred to Appendix B of the report which contained the new wording for the affected sections of the Halton SFFS.  With regards to the request for central reports for non-chequebook schools to be automatically run and emailed, it was confirmed that this could continue subject to successful testing, which was being carried out at the moment.   It was hoped that this could start from 1 May 2016.


The Forum also received an update from officers on the National Fair Funding (NFF) Conference held in London on 8 March 2016.  The information was tabled so it has been attached at the end of the minutes for information, together with appendices A, B, C and D. 


It was agreed by the Forum that a sub-group be set up so that Members could provide a collective response to the public consultations on the NFF.  It was noted that the consultation document would be accessible via the Council’s website and was therefore open for anyone to respond to.  The Forum would be contacted via email once the date of the sub-group meeting had been arranged.


RESOLVED: That Schools Forum


1)    notes the consultation responses;

2)    agrees the changes to the Halton SFFS effective from 1 April 2016;

3)    receives the NFF Conference update documents (appended to the minutes); and

4)    agrees that Halton Schools Forum submit a collective response to the NFF consultations.




United Utilities Water Charges


The Forum was advised that Officers had attended a North West (NW) Regional meeting of Finance Officers where the water charges for schools in the regions were again discussed.  Currently schools in the North West paid approximately £16m per year more than schools in the South East region, even though there were a similar number of schools and pupils in both regions. 


Members were advised that the water market was reforming from April 2017 but 95% of the charges would still be set by United Utilities.  It was noted that the DEFRA survey last year had a response from 85 NW schools and which had now raised the Government’s attention with the issue. 


The Forum was advised that a colleague in Sefton Council had prepared a template letter for schools, Local Authorities and Schools Forums etc to write to DEFRA when the next consultation opens.  This would be circulated as soon as it was received.  Officers recommended that within the National Funding Formula consultation and High Needs Formula consultation that comments be included about the additional costs incurred by schools in the NW region.  The hope was that schools be reclassified as community groups so they will only be required to pay £135 per year for surface drainage.


RESOVLED:  That the update be noted.


Nurture Provision


The Forum was informed of the National Nurturing School Award which was a new programme available for schools to learn how to develop a nurturing environment to support children and young people so that they could develop skills, make friends and deal more calmly with the challenges they may face in life.


It was reported that this new stakeholder programme allowed schools to develop and embed a nurturing culture that enhanced stakeholder attachment and engagement.  The programme had been developed and was administered by The Nurture Group Network, the world’s leading centre for culture in education and awarding body of the Certificate in Theory and Practice of Nurture Groups, the nationally recognised qualification for running a nurture group in schools.


The Forum was advised of the benefits of the Programme to the pupils; parents; teachers; schools and communities.  The nurturing principles were based on valuing not only the pupils but also staff and parents, and seeking to understand and respect them as unique individuals, placing their personal development as the highest priority. 


Officers advised that with regards to commitments needed from schools for the Programme; the following was required:


·       At least one member of staff needed to attend the training for ‘the theory and practice of nurture groups’

·       two members of staff must attend the initial two day training event (one of those being from the Senior Leadership Team);

·       These two people needed to be identified early and remain unchanged throughout the period of time;

·       One member of staff from the two day training was to lead the school through the work needed to become a nurturing school, create the evidence and submit the information to the nurture group network;

·       At least one of those staff attends the full days meetings with the consultant and other schools, throughout the year (this was a commitment from the school to release the staff when required);

·       To allow staff to implement changes that were necessary to ensure a nurturing school award; and

·       Undertake day one visit from the Consultant to begin assessing the developments needed, before the two day training event, looking at the six principles of nurture.


It was noted that the training would be available for all secondary schools including secondary special schools, and the 3 nursery schools.  The training would be split into two groups; (1) secondary schools and (2) special schools and nurseries, with two active days support for each school.  In addition, key staff within the Local Authority would receive the Boxall training.


With regards to funding it was noted that this could be accommodated within £155,180 agreed by Schools Forum on 16 March 2016.


RESOLVED:  Schools Forum agrees to fund the proposed National Schools Nurturing Award from £155,180 allocated.





Next Year's Meeting Dates pdf icon PDF 10 KB


The Forum was presented with next year’s meeting dates as follows:


·       22 June 2016 at 4pm

·       10 October 2016 at 4pm

·       23 January 2017 at 4pm

·       22 March 2017 at 4pm




Update from the National Fair Funding Conference, London - Tuesday 8 March 2016


Below are the headlines of the proposals as per the consultation announced Monday 7th March 2016 and additional comments from the conference. 


The proposals cover the Schools Budget, High Needs Budget and the New Central Schools budget.  The Early Years budget will be circulated shortly, with no indication of the timescale.


The Schools Block budget will be ring-fenced and LA’s will be required to spend the whole of this block on Schools – primary and secondary.  The ability to move monies between the blocks is being removed.  Appendix 1 shows the proposed factors for the National Funding Formula while Appendix B shows the provisional data sources for each factor.  It should be noted that the LAC factor and mobility factor will NOT appear in the National Funding Formula from 2019-20 and the Post-16 factor (not used in Halton) will be removed from 2017-18.


To allow for this and in recognition of failings of the S.251 Budget return, each LA will be asked to identify the baseline of spend within each of the new blocks based on the 2016-17 budget.  Where we have earmarked some reserves to support budgetary requirements, these reserves will NOT be taken into account for the baseline.  The baseline will total the DSG allocation for the year and exclude any carry forward amounts being used to meet shortfalls.


The Central Schools budget will be made up of the current Schools Block central spend and the Education Services Grant.  The central spend within the High Needs and the Early Years blocks of the DSG will remain within those sectors.  The general funding rate of the ESG will disappear, but it is not completely clear when that will occur as the DfE recognise that the 2016/17 reduction can be met by “efficiencies”, but the rest cannot and the DfE are seeking views on the statutory duties that could be removed or reformed.  The DfE will be consulting on a proposal to retain some of their maintained schools’ DSG to cover the statutory duties LA’s carry out for schools, which will over time diminish as more and more schools convert to academies.  One of the main areas that the DfE are proposing to remove is School Improvement.  Schools and academies will continue to be allowed to buy into LA services by way of SLA’s. 


It is likely that there will be transitional arrangements, probably like an MFG, for the Central Spend block.  Each of the blocks will have different transitional arrangements with High Needs being 5 years, while it may appear that the Schools Block could go beyond the 2 years to the NFF introduction in 2019/20.


There will also be MFG’s for each of the blocks that will build up into an MFG for each LA.    The DfE have stated that there is a finite budget so if MFG amounts exceed that amount they will have to be funded by capping any gains.    There is currently a requirement that the cap on gains cannot exceed the total MFG.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.