Agenda and minutes

Leicestershire Schools' Forum - Monday, 27 September 2021 9.00 am

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

No. Item


Apologies for absence/Substitutions.


Apologies were received from Felicity Clarke, Kath Kelly, Julie McBrearty, Claire Allen, Zoe Wortley and Jason Brooks. 


Gareth Williams was substituting for Chris Parkinson as secondary academy headteacher.


Karen Allen welcomed Alison Ruff as the newly appointed Primary Maintained Governor, Jane Lennie as the newly appointed Secondary Maintained Governor and Kelly Dryden as the newly appointed academy special representative.


Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 June 2021 (previously circulated) and matters arising. pdf icon PDF 238 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 17 June 2021 were agreed subject to the following comment to be included under agenda item 2022/23 Schools Block Transfer:


Jane Dawda commented that she understood how difficult it was for the local authority to manage this budget as it was the only budget with no control over; this was the same in schools as there was an increase in need which means that costs are going up and the income does not cover those costs.


Matters Arising

Graham Bett asked if there had been any response yet to the consultation for the potential transfer.  Jenny Lawrence said that she had not checked as it had only been launched on the 20 September and runs until the 18 October.



Fair School Funding pdf icon PDF 309 KB


Jenny introduced the report which provides an update and analysis of the DfE’s proposals on the next stage of the introduction of the National Funding Formula (NFF).


Jenny stated that the consultation is similar to the one in 2017 which was before the National Funding Formula was introduced and for this consultation 10 different areas have been identified where it needs to have more detail and more consultation.  Growth funding and premises funding are areas that are quite difficult within the NFF and there are some issues to resolve before moving to a hard funding formula.  The consultation is proposing that in 2023/2024 it will be a soft formula but are asking for views on whether local authorities should be made to move towards a national funding formula and as it stands Leicestershire does fund by the national funding formula.  The consultation closes on 30 September.


Karen Allen highlighted paragraph 12 which refers to more flexibility for local authorities to vary the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG) and asked what the implications of that were for schools and if Leicestershire had a view of how this flexibility would be used.  Jenny said that the Minimum Funding Guarantee is the element that protects schools at the floor so the higher the Minimum Funding Guarantee the higher the protection for those but as the consultation is missing detail this is difficult to ascertain what it actually means so would need to see the proposals before seeing what that looks like.  Karen Allen commented that when a high needs transfer was discussed last it was the MFG that hindered making it fair and whilst it does protect schools there are situations to that mechanism in different ways.  Jenny agreed and said that the minimum per pupil funding level that affects the transfer will be discussed later on the agenda.


Jane Lennie asked if a response to the consultation would be made.  Jenny said there would but there was not enough detail to be able to understand its meaning and the consultation questions ask for direct answers.  Jane Lennie stated that the high needs should be channelled through every consultation which Jenny said it was.


Schools Forum noted the report.



2022/23 School Funding Settlement pdf icon PDF 153 KB


Jenny introduced the report which presents the high-level detail of Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Settlement and the National Funding Formula (NFF) for 2022/23.


Jenny said that the DfE published in July the indicative NFF allocations for schools but are not complete as they do not include premises funding and are indicative as based on the October 2020 census and the final school budgets will be set on 2020/21 census data.  Jenny said that the funding settlement has changed one or two things in terms of it has added £10k to the sparsity values making a difference to some small schools and there is a 3% increase to the other factors.  Jenny added that the settlement includes a guaranteed increase of 2% per pupil allocation therefore schools with falling rolls may not see a 2% cash increase in their budget.


Jenny stated there are still schools that sit on the funding floor which would continue to be raised with the DfE because without the DfE guaranteeing an increase in funding those schools would be at a cash standstill in their budget.


Jenny stated that the NFF operates with a number of protections, notably the Minimum per Pupil Funding level (MPPL) and the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG).  It remains that local authorities would be funded at the 2020 census and schools at 2021 therefore changes in the census data such as an increase in the number of pupils eligible for FSM may ultimately create an affordability gap which may require amendments to some aspects of the 2022/23 through the minimum funding guarantee.


Jenny said that in terms of the high needs block Leicestershire continues to sit on the funding floor so receive the minimum increase of 8% per head of population.  Jenny commented that whilst creating specialist provision it was not necessarily generating high needs DSG especially when a provision in a special needs unit is attached to a mainstream school as those schools are reflected in the main school census and not the high needs census.  Jenny added there were issues too in terms of central services including the DSG contribution made to school effectiveness and historic premature retirement costs.  The DfE in the NFF consultation are also proposing changes to the way Leicestershire are funded from 2023/24 onwards.


Jenny added that the high needs settlement does improve but not significantly and certainly not enough to recover the deficit.


Jane Dawda referred to the consultation released at the end of July on the sparsity factor and felt that the DfE actually looked at the comments and had added a tapering scale.  Jenny said that tapering has always been in place and local authorities could adopt it.  In Leicestershire the NFF has been delivered as defined by the DfE without any local changes to any factor.  Jenny added that sparsity however does not provide the financial protection to small rural schools as set out by the DfE. 


Graham referred to paragraph 7 and the way schools are split and asked if more detail could be provided for Schools Forum.  Jenny agreed to filter out the table and circulate.


Graham Bett asked for clarity on paragraph 8 of the report.  Jenny referred to the schools block transfer proposal which has a disproportionate effect across different groups of schools in Leicestershire.  Jenny added that because the minimum per pupil funding level and the minimum funding guarantee overwrite the formula so taking out funding could mean that these protections put it back in again so when discussed at the June Cabinet report Leicestershire put a disapplication request to the Secretary of State to see if  ...  view the full minutes text for item 143.


Presentation on the consultation on the proposed Schools Budget Transfer and de-delegation of funding for Union Facilities


Jane Moore introduced this item and gave an in-depth overview of the high needs budget, the spend of the budget and work undertaken trying to bring the budget back in line.  The presentation would be circulated with the minutes.


Jane shared the most up to date financial position of the high needs block and said that the position of this budget changes frequently as there are a large number of variables within this budget which means it fluctuates frequently and explained that the deficit figure for 2024/25 had changed for a number of reasons which were highlighted.  Jane said that all the projections on budget spend are based on a projected increase in EHCPs, a projected increase in the cost of placements (both in terms of numbers of placements but also unit costs of placements) and the income for the high needs block.  Jane highlighted the funding gap pre savings for the next 4 years if no action was taken.  Jane said that the high needs block DSG the Government provide funding for local authorities to spend on statutory services and are duty bound to pay for through the high needs block.  The High Needs Development plan has been running for a number of years and projections have been to save £18m by the end of the MTFS based on the initiatives in place and included in this is the proposed transfer, demand savings and benefit of building new provision but also making some changes in the way processes are carried out.  In terms of achieving the savings there was still the annual gap of £9m this year, dropping next year but going up again.


Jane said that the Government instructs local authorities what it needs to spend on and set rules on the use of funding including carrying over the deficit and covering it with local authority funding. 


Jane said the expenditure of placements alone exceeds the High Needs block by £8.3m and highlighted the placement costs which are provided over and above already provided for children.  In terms of projected growth, it is assumed there will be some level of growth for both placement numbers and cost and Jane outlined these to the meeting.  Jane highlighted the different types of placement spend and that the local authority has limited choice where children are placed as it has a statutory duty to make a placement based on what comes through on the EHCP.  Local authorities lose the majority of Tribunals and are instructed to place that child in a higher cost provision.  Jane went through other high needs spend on central services and other statutory provision.


Jane talked through the High Needs Development plan savings and what they relate to.  There is also no indication of increased grant post 2022/23.  The HNB Programme is the largest in the local authority with the largest amount of savings against it but is the biggest risk programme the local authority is running. 


Jane outlined the initiatives taking place and the work around these to help deliver the programme.  Jane added that work was being undertaken to look at the assessment process and have introduced a new triage and assessment team that are looking at the thresholds for EHCPs and whether they are met and if not what else could be done.  Jane stated that in Leicestershire there was a disproportionately high number of EHCPs and the increase for these is far greater than that of other local authorities so are having to look in close detail at the thresholds around EHCPs but also what else needs to be done to support children  ...  view the full minutes text for item 144.


Any other business.


There was no further business to discuss.



Date of next meeting.


Monday 15 November at 1.00 pm via Teams.