Agenda and minutes

Leicestershire Schools' Forum - Thursday, 17 June 2021 1.00 pm

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

No. Item


Apologies for absence/Substitutions.


Apologies were received from Liam Powell, Julie McBrearty, Chris Swan, Troy Jenkinson, Zoe Wortley and Lisa Craddock.  There were no substitutions.



Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 February 2021 (previously circulated) and matters arising. pdf icon PDF 313 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on Monday 8 February 2021 were agreed.


Matters Arising – Trade Union Facilities

Jenny Lawrence stated that a discussion had taken place today at DNCC regarding trade union facilities.  A consultation will take place in the autumn term with maintained schools alongside other school funding issues to get a view on whether maintained schools wish to support de-delegation which would inform what any scheme may look like


2020/21 Schools Budget Out-turn pdf icon PDF 361 KB


Jenny introduced the report which presents the 2020/21 Schools Budget outturn position and confirms the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Reserve.


Jenny referred to paragraph 4 in the report which outlines a challenging year with significant high needs overspend and the local authority block overspend.  These are two consistent issues one of which is high needs and the other in relation to social care both of which have significant transformation projects looking at their current working format.  Jenny added that of the DSG deficit of £17.5m high needs accounts for £17.5m of the deficit which is offset against a surplus from the schools block which is mainstream school growth funding allocated to the local authority that will be needed as new schools open in future years.  Jenny stated that schools block cannot be used for high needs therefore the commissioning of new places in terms of specialist provision contributes to the deficit.


Jenny referred to paragraphs 11-15 which will be discussed on the next agenda item.  Paragraph 14 refers to the Dedicated Schools Grant ‘Safety Valve’ Agreements and further information has become available from the ESFA about how they are working which Jenny reported to the meeting.


Jane Dawda referred to the tables in paragraph 4/5 and queried the early years block which was £-109 but also asked if there was a reason for the difference in the high needs block which was £10,387 in paragraph 4 but 10,634 in paragraph 5 and the schools block as it is £-3,139 in paragraph 4 but in paragraph 5 it is as £2,923.  Jenny stated that paragraph 4 is the overall financial position and paragraph 5 highlights the significant overspends in the service areas that sit behind them so there will be other minor areas of service that affect the numbers.


Jane Dawda queried paragraph 14 in terms of the Dedicated Schools Grant ‘Safety Valve’ Agreement as it mentions those Local Authorities  who have received the funding as their deficits were in excess of 10% and asked if Leicestershire would be considered for any extra funding.  Jenny stated that these are local authorities where their overall dedicated schools grant was higher than 10% and it is 1.8% in Leicestershire so would not be considered currently by the DfE.  Jenny added that there is no public information about the criteria on why those 5 authorities gained that funding and no national information on DSG balances for local authorities.  It was suggested to the DfE making some benchmarking information available but confirmation of this has not been received.  There may be information available when the 2022/23 funding arrangements are released in July but that is yet to be seen.


Carolyn Lewis commented on how useful the report was and raised a query on paragraph 7 and asked if there was a picture of maintained schools in terms of school balances.  Jenny said that paragraph 6 states that indications are that maintained school balances have risen by £1.7m and if that position is replicated across academies that is suggesting an increase in balances of around £8m across the board.  Jenny said that interestingly colleagues in other local authorities are also reporting that position despite the challenges of last year and therefore may ultimately give some schools issues around the Covid emergency fund in terms of it being clawed back.


Kath Kelly asked in terms of academies and whether or not that picture is replicated is it not possible to draw down the financial position from the financial reports.  Jenny said that this is difficult as it can only be found in published Statements of Accounts for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 136.


2022/23 Schools Block Transfer pdf icon PDF 378 KB


Jane introduced the report which confirms the local authority intention to develop a methodology for a potential transfer of 0.5% of the Schools Block to the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools Block for consultation with Schools in September for decision by Schools Forum in November.


Jane explained that Schools Forum had received regular updates on the financial position of the High Needs Block and the programme worked on which was developed in 2017.  Jane explained that the High Needs element of the Dedicated Schools Grant was the only source of funding to the local authority to meet the needs of children and young people’s special educational need and as a result of conversations locally and nationally the level of funding that is being given to all local authorities is insufficient to meet not just the growing needs but the range of responsibilities that were given to local authorities and schools and other organisations as a result  of SEND Reform back in 2014.  There are significant concerns for all authorities and the associated deficits that are held by the local authority as a result of them having to manage that external grant.  The local authority has been projecting a high needs deficit since 2017 and revise the projection on an annual basis based on a number of factors. 


The projection has been revised to include the most recent data on demand and costs and the cumulative deficit has now increased by £13.8m in 2024/25 since November with the deficit over a four year period of £43m despite the delivery of £24m in revenue savings.  Jane said the local authority has to hold that deficit so have to set aside other revenue offset against the deficit and the increase will require further savings in the Council’s budget of £13m and is the most significant financial challenge the Council is facing.  


Jane highlighted that the financial plan has included a proposed transfer of 0.5% of the schools block into the high needs for 2022/23.  The local authority’s intention is to seek a transfer was confirmed at the Schools Forum meeting on 8 February 2021.  The recommendation in the report was to seek representation from school groups to form a working group to deliver those proposals for the proposed transfer but following the meeting letters were received from LPH and LSH which stated that they did not consider engagement in a working group would be appropriate or productive.  Jane said that the working groups did not and will not take place, but the local authority have continued to work through what the transfer could look like. 


A report will be presented to Cabinet on 22 June 2021 which gives an update on the high needs development plan including the update on the current projected deficit and also sets out the proposal for the 0.5% schools block transfer and the consultation in the autumn term with schools.  Cabinet are asked to consider if an application should be made to the Secretary of State should the Schools Forum refuse the request. 


Jane said that in November 2019 Cabinet was presented with a report to determine whether to pursue a funding transfer of 0.5% and at that meeting it was proposed that a transfer was not pursued and part of that agreement was to work collectively to develop some additional proposals to bridge the funding gap but did not rule out a future transfer request if necessary.  Cabinet agreed not to progress with that transfer and work was carried out to co-produce further work to impact on savings.


Jane said that in the absence of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 137.


Any other business.


Discussion took place on convening a working party or perhaps a workshop to share the high needs development plan and to understand the local authority’s projections and assumptions.


It was noted that this meeting was David Thomas’ last meeting as academy governor representative.  Karen Allen thanked David for his hard work and commitment over the years and wished him well for the future.



Date of next meeting.

Monday 6 September 2021, 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm


Monday 6 September 2021, 2.00 pm via Teams

Monday 15 November 2021, 1.00 pm via Teams

Wednesday 19 January 2022, 2.00 pm via Teams

Wednesday 22 February 2022, 2.00 pm via Teams