Agenda and minutes

Leicestershire Schools' Forum - Monday, 6 June 2022 2.00 pm

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

No. Item


Apologies for absence/Substitutions.


Minutes of the Meeting held on 23 March 2022 (previously circulated) pdf icon PDF 296 KB



The minutes of the meeting held on 23 March 2022 were agreed.



2021/22 Schools Budget Outturn pdf icon PDF 357 KB


Jenny introduced the annual report which presents the 2021/2022 Schools Budget outturn position and confirms the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Reserve.


Jenny referred to paragraph 4 which sets out the whole performance of the Children and Family Services Department.  Jenny referred to the schools block, early years block and high needs block as there were significant variances.  Jenny stated that the schools block referred to school growth funding in 2021/22 that would be required in future years; the early years position was created by two issues which were partly additional payments during Covid-19 and a further issue regarding a census return to the DfE for which discussions were still taking place but no agreement had been reached.  Jenny said that the High Needs overspend was nearly £11.4m against an anticipated overspend of £5.6m which was largely due to an increased volume of children with EHCPs and a presentation would be given on the next item sharing the next steps in the local authority to address the issues that are driving that position.


Jenny reported that there were just over 80 maintained schools; their balances showed an increase but until the Consistent Financial Reporting returns from schools were received the balances cannot be split between capital and revenue.  As previously discussed schools balances/reserves were a position at any point in time and does not take into account plans schools may have to use this money in future financial years.  The local authority does not hold reserves information for academies and MAT’s, neither is that easily available.


In terms of the Dedicated Schools Grant Reserve there was a deficit of £24.3M which was the position the DfE would see in the statement of accounts.  Jenny added that this alarming position would potentially increase the DfE’s interest in Leicestershire on the DSG deficit and they had been in contact with Leicestershire to talk about their new programme called Delivering Better Value in SEND but it was unclear what that meant in terms of any support the DfE may give to Leicestershire in order to manage the position or whether this would trigger additional funding.  Jenny said that the potential programme to support the local authority through the Developing Better Value was being discussed with the DfE.


Graham Bett asked where the funding was coming from in terms of the £2.288m for the schools block for new schools.  Jenny explained that this was revenue funding through the DSG and added that within the schools block there are two separate elements; one is the funding that was delegated out to maintained schools and academies for their budget and the other is the revenue coming into the local authority to fund new school growth.  Jenny said that when a new school is opened the local authority had the same funding lag as schools have in terms of changing numbers.  Jenny stated that housing developments are rapidly happening and Leicestershire is opening new schools almost annually and this money funds their budget from September to April and also their pre-opening costs.


Jane Lennie asked if the DFE funded new schools and expansions and out of County Council funding.  Jenny said that the funding comes through the dedicated schools grant that is given to the local authority which is DfE funded.  Jane asked about comparisons to other local authorities in terms of high needs.  Jenny commented that it was difficult to know because there was no national data readily available to show the position within other local authorities.  Jane Lennie asked if local authorities all publish the same budget information.  Jenny stated that they do within each individual  ...  view the full minutes text for item 165.


High Needs Development Programme Update (presentation)


Jane Moore gave a presentation on the current position and future plans on the High Needs Development Programme.


Jane reported that there had been improvements and despite running a programme for a significant period of time there are numerous challenges within the SEND system predominantly around the finances of the high needs block as Jenny reported. 


Jane reported that in order to reduce the in-year deficit the local authority needed to achieve the savings set out in the programme which have not been delivered for various reasons as Jane outlined. 


Jane reported that the current deficit was projected at £63m over the MTFS period of 4 years and if urgent action was not taken this would be more like £84m over the next four years which was a position the local authority cannot be in.  Jane stated that the demand in EHCPs in Leicestershire was rising significantly and had more requests for these plans than most other local authority areas.  Jane said that in addition this year a cohort of pre-school children with additional needs had been identified as requiring specialist school placements possibly as a result of better identifying need early but means an increased number of early years children requiring a specialist school placement and the cumulative deficit continuing to rise.


Jane stated that this was an area she was increasingly concerned about and felt there was a lack of understanding of the fact that Leicestershire was seeing needs grow at a faster rate than the rest of the country.  Jane added this had meant an unprecedented demand on the SENA service, which was something schools are experiencing, and there had been significant challenges around managing staffing levels.  Jane said there was still insufficient specialist provision to meet the new demand entering into the system despite the near 500 additional places put in the system. These have been filled with new demand which has resulted in not being able to keep up with demand in the system and struggling to find places for those children whose needs cannot be met in mainstream.  Jane said the funding had not kept up with demand experienced within the SENA system and although capacity and support had been put in place it was not enough to deal with the challenges being faced.


Jane referred to the slide which outlined that Leicestershire’s EHCPs had grown by 54%, compared to 38% growth across England and 32% for the East Midlands.  Jane said that the EHCP requests from schools and parents are not slowing down and as a result of concerns in the system, increased dissatisfaction with the service understandably had been raised from schools, parents and children in addition to an increase of appeals and complaints.


Jane said that moving forward and in the long term there would be a different approach to leading and managing SEND in Leicestershire.  Jane talked about the resource bases opening in the next academic year and the expansion of all the area special schools including satellite bases in order to provide for places for early years children.  Jane reiterated the change in staff in SENA and there was an action plan for the prioritisation of the backlogs being put in place with work around the internal systems and processes.  In addition, there was a new database for SEND provision and an electronic portal was being introduced to enable parents and schools to input directly into the system.  Jane said that a full review of the programme had been carried out partly because of a lack of progress and the financial position in the high needs block was becoming  ...  view the full minutes text for item 166.


Any other business.



a)         Leadership Changes


Jane updated the meeting about the leadership changes in the Department.  Paula Sumner left at the end of last month and Alison Bradley had been recruited to the Interim Assistant Director post initially for 12 months and underneath Alison there was an interim education structure in place so Justine Roberts had been recruited to replace Alison’s post which is Head of Education, Inclusion and Quality.  Ted Walker was replacing David Atterbury as David is retiring in July and Tom Common remains Head of SEN.


Jane commented that the structure is interim partly because of the Green Paper and the White Paper as need to be in a clearer picture as a local authority of what that will look like but was confident that the interim structure was strong and Alison will lead the system as it was needed to be led especially in this phase of going forward.


b)       Clerk to Schools Forum


          Jane informed the meeting that Karen Brown would be stepping down as Clerk to the Forum to move to another role within the Council. 


c)       Chair of the Schools Forum


          Karen Allen announced that she was retiring and would be stepping down from the role as Chair of the Schools Forum which she had been in since 2016.  Karen asked Forum members to think about and consider this role for the September meeting.  Members thanked Karen for her time on the Forum.



Date of next meeting.


Monday 4 July 2022, 10.00 am via Teams – additional meeting


Thursday 29 September 2022, 2.00 pm via Teams