Agenda and minutes

Leicestershire Schools' Forum - Monday, 28 September 2020 2.00 pm

Contact: Karen Brown (Tel. 0116 305 6340)  Email:

No. Item


Election of Chair and Vice Chair


Karen Allen was elected Chair of the Schools Forum for the 2020/21 academic year.


Chris Parkinson was elected Vice-Chair of the Schools Forum for the 2020/21 academic year.



Apologies for absence/Substitutions.


Apologies were received from Mark Mitchley, Julie McBrearty, Zoe Wortley and Suzanne Uprichard.


Jane Moore introduced Deborah Taylor to the meeting as the new Lead Member for Children and Families.



Membership Update - if you could share the latest position


In terms of membership the primary headteachers positions have been appointed to apart from the primary academy headteacher substitute position which Karen Allen will arrange to be replaced through LPH.


Nominations are awaited from LSH for the academy secondary headteacher vacancies; all Governor vacancies will be run through Governor Development and Support Service and the Early Years nomination is also currently being pursued.


The membership will be circulated with the minutes and members are asked to review the document to ensure it is up to date including contacts.



Minutes of the Meeting held on 12 February 2020 (previously circulated) and matters arising. pdf icon PDF 312 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on Monday 12 February 2020 were agreed.


Matters Arising


Jenny reported that at the last meeting discussion took place regarding the DSG deficit reporting and whether a recovery plan was requested.  Jenny commented there is an update on this which will be highlighted as part of the High Needs Update paper on the agenda.



Financial Transparency in maintained schools - August 2020 Directed Revision document (appendix 1) pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Additional documents:


Jenny Lawrence introduced the report and stated that the content only covers maintained schools and academies are not affected by this at all.  Jenny referred to the Leicestershire Scheme of Financing which sets out the financial relationship to the local authority and its schools and is what conveys the responsibility for the budget to the governing body. In terms of revisions to that document there are two sets of revisions – those that are Secretary of State directed and local authorities have no option other than to adopt these and there are others where there are changes the local authority seek to reflect the way schools are expected to work with the local authority.  There are two sets of changes within this document – one is driven by the document ‘The Financial Transparency of Maintained Schools’ which is a directed revision and the second is a tidy-up of local wording and reflection of current working practices.  The version of the Appendix shows ‘tracked changes’ to make it easier to see the changes because of the size of the document.


Jenny reported that in July 2019 the DFE launched a consultation on financial transparency for maintained schools because it was felt that the arrangements in place for academies were much more robust than those in place for maintained schools.  The results of that consultation took time to come through partially because the DfE wanted to introduce some more stringent audit requirements which would have required local authorities to increase their internal audits of schools significantly which has not been implemented.  There are some changes that mainly relate to reporting but will challenge the way the local authority work with schools moving forward.  Firstly, there are a set of annual returns to the DfE the local authority carries out and the DfE will start publishing the names of authorities that do not meet those deadlines.  There are also two of those returns that as a local authority are reliant on maintained schools giving the information to be able to respond to DfE deadlines and that is in relation to the School Financial Value Standard and the consistent financial reporting returns.  Jenny was currently working on information to go out to schools.  The DfE is also requesting the number of maintained schools that either have suspended budgets or operating under a notice of financial concern.  In addition, they will collect information on amounts recovered following action undertaken from fraud investigations and make it mandatory for maintained schools to submit 3-year budget plans which in Leicestershire 5 years of data is currently collected.  Schools will have some additional reporting requirements in terms of third-party related transactions.  The DfE also want to collect information on the number of deficit recovery plans the local authority are working with.


Jenny stated that the local authority’s statement of accounts publish a number of individuals earning a particular banding rate; this is something individual maintained schools are going to have to publish on their website with a link to the school financial benchmarking information by the DfE.  These changes are being looked at in terms of guidance for schools and will apply to the 2021 financial year.  As a result, two direct revisions have been made to the Scheme For Financing Schools which is set out in paragraph 10 – the first is for maintained schools to submit 3-year budget plans and requirement for maintained schools to submit recovery plans.


Jane Dawda asked about whether schools will be working on 3-year budget or a 5-year budget.  Jenny commented that this is something being looked at as there is concern  ...  view the full minutes text for item 121.


2021/22 School Funding pdf icon PDF 260 KB


Jenny introduced the report which gives Schools Forum an update on the July announcement about 2021/22 and High Needs Funding.


Jenny reminded the meeting that 2020/21 is the first of the three-year settlement from the DFE but although a 3-year settlement the detail has only been given of the annual settlement every year.  The DfE published in July the national funding formula tables for all schools across England. Jenny said it was important to note those are indicative allocations and are not the budgets the schools will receive in 2021/22.  Jenny added that the published figures are based on the October 2019 school census and the final settlement will be made on the October 2020 settlement.  Jenny explained that whilst the allocations will change for schools the amounts that they fix for the local authority will not change.  These tables do not include the premises funding that is allocated on the top of the national funding formula as this is done at local authority level.  Jenny reported that there has been no change to structure of the NFF but two technical changes have been implemented in terms of mainstreaming the funding for the teachers’ pay and pension grants in 2021/22 and to do that in terms of maintained schools that has been enacted from a further increase in the minimum per pupil funding level and thought needs to be given to what this means in terms of special schools because there is not an automatic route to feed that through the formula.  Secondly, the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) data has been updated for 2019 which is a slight concern as there has been some turbulence in school budgets from those changes in the past but are currently awaiting the detailed data at school level from the DfE to assess this.  Jenny added that any impact from this will be mitigated by the minimum per pupil funding level.  The DfE has confirmed their intention to work towards a hard NFF and that is where schools’ allocations will be calculated by the DfE and not local authorities – a consultation is awaited on this and how the premises funding that is currently outside the NFF will work through this.


Overall, there is a 2% minimum increase per pupil and it is important to note that it is per pupil and may not necessarily feed its way through to 2% cash increase in schools budgets and the values within the formula factors have increased by 3% - the funding values are included in Appendix 1 that come with the NFF for the next financial year.


Jenny referred to the table in paragraph 8 sets out the information where all schools sit within the bands of that increase.  The concern is the number of schools sitting on that minimum per pupil increase of 2%.  Jenny stated this was an issue for those schools because had there been no guaranteed minimum increase of 2% per pupil 95 schools across Leicestershire would not have seen an increase in their budgets for 2021/22.  The DfE are mentioning a change in the way they recognise sparsity – this may come out in the consultation.  Jenny explained that the sparsity element of the formula is stated by the DfE as recognising the additional costs that small schools have – in Leicestershire however only 16 primaries and 1 secondary school have the sparsity element within their funding with most small rural schools not eligible for funding from this factor.


The minimum per pupil funding levels are set out in paragraph 10 and these rates are fixed nationally.  There  ...  view the full minutes text for item 122.


High Needs Update pdf icon PDF 640 KB


Jane Moore introduced the report which sets out the current position regarding the High Needs Development Plan and the current financial forecast. The report sets out the systematic issues within the SEND environment and the growing recognition and the financial position being a symptom of that rather than a pure financial management issue.


Jane explained that paragraph 4 and onwards outlines the national concerns there are around the high needs spend and SEND system.  Jane stated that there is no single reason for the high need’s deficit which an issue nationally and local authorities across the region are having difficulties with their high needs budget.  The problem is wider than just a financial issue as there are some systematic issues that are also contributing towards the deficit and funding pressures.


Jane referred to paragraph 8 and in terms of the high needs section of the Dedicated Schools Block the NFF for the high needs formula was introduced in 2013 and the way in which the settlement has been set up is detailed in paragraph 8 with the distribution figures for the 2021/22 settlement.  For 2020/21 expenditure is 14% in excess of the grant.  The formulaic allocation that is undertaken around the high needs block reflects the expected incidence of SEND rather than the numbers of pupils supported and their individual needs.  The DfE Benchmarking data compares expenditure and DSG allocations, it shows Leicestershire is below its statistical neighbours in terms of need but higher on both expenditure and the number of Education Health and Care Plans.  Jane added that this is currently being looked at why this is the case.  Some of the position is due to relying on independent provision which has been discussed previously and the high needs plan is partly trying to address this.


Paragraph 11’s chart compares the SEND revenue expenditure to the performance against other County Councils.  In terms of performance Leicestershire is currently rated second but in terms of expenditure Leicestershire is 18.  In relation to demand for EHCP’s it is continuing to grow nationally and locally.  The SEN2 data identifies a significant growth in 2015/16 until SEND reform – there is a sharp uplift in 2016 and towards 2015 around the number of the EHCP’s in the system.  This pattern is seen nationally as well as locally in Leicestershire and are similar to those increases particularly in 2019 where regional colleagues were seeing a decrease.  In January 2020 Leicestershire’s EHCP’s had risen to 4,751 and this has increased to about 5,000 – about an annual growth rate of 12.5% and in terms of growth for the previous year it was a 19.5% increase.  This is higher than the regional and national and are therefore looking at why this is the case for Leicestershire. 


In terms of provision, as a result of capital investment of £30m the placement mix is beginning to change so the number of pupils with higher cost placements is no longer growing and pupils are having their needs met within mainstream schools or units attached to mainstream schools.  It is forecast that the number of pupils in independent provision will continue to fall as new local provision is being built.


Jane explained that parental expectations have a significant impact on the type of placement specified within the EHCP and parents have the right to express a preference.  Parents are continuing to go to Tribunal and the outcomes may result in the local authority being overruled.


In terms of the 2020/21 provision Jane explained how the DSG ring-fenced grant worked.  At the end of 2019/20 there was an overall deficit of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 123.


Any other business.


There was no further business.


Date of next meeting.


Thursday 3 December 2020 at 2.00 pm