Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Priory House, Monks Walk, Shefford

Contact: Sharon Griffin  0300 300 5066

No. Item


Chairman's Announcements and Communications

To receive any announcements from the Chairman and any matters of communication.



Members of the Forum were advised the following:


Ms J Mudd, Ivel Valley School, Mr J Selmes, Weatherfield School, Mr P Green, the Academy of Central Bedfordshire, and Mr P Selmet, Weatherfield Academy Special School were attending today’s meeting as observers.


Mr R Watson, Stratton Upper School had stood down from the Forum.  Mr O Button, Queensbury Academy, was welcomed to the meeting as the Upper School Academy Head Teacher representative.






Schools Forum powers and responsibilities pdf icon PDF 342 KB

To note the Schools Forum powers and responsibilities summary document issued by the Education Funding Agency (copy attached).



The Forum received a report setting out the Schools Forum powers and

responsibilities which had been re-issued by the Education Funding Agency in

December 2016.




the Schools Forum powers and responsibilities report.




Dedicated Schools Grant pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To provide an update on the High Needs Block spend in 2016/17 and proposed spend for 2017/18.

Additional documents:



Members of the Forum received a report setting out the High Needs Block spend for 2016/17 and proposed spend for 2017/18.


Points and comments included:


1.    Work had taken place to look at aligning spend to the most appropriate budget heading (High Needs Block or Early Years Block). 

2.    The High Needs Block is a difficult budget to manage in any local authority and presents the most challenges due to pressures and resources. There are pressures on every budget line and historically there has been an overspend in the High Needs Block partly to do with financial pressures and partly with the way the spend is monitored and coded. The monitoring procedure needs to be sharpened including a more rigorous approach of tracking budgets line by line, evidence behind funding decisions, and for the spend coded against each service to be looked at in further detail.

3.    There is further work to be done around ways to increase the efficiency of the system in future, the streamlining of processes and the provision of metrics.

4.    As part of the transformation process the restructure of Children’s Services includes a review of the SEND service and the possibility of bringing the 3 teams together to increase capacity and the move towards the provision of more seamless support.

5.    The Early Years team support pre-school early years education and care settings on a wide range of issues; the Centrally Funded team provide advise to settings as SENDCOs. There is room for rationalisation going forward.

6.    Paragraph 9 – the proposal does not include an increase in the thresholds for assessment and there will not be a cap on the number of children with new EHC Plans. The number of children will be monitored to ensure the proposed savings are made which can be reported back to the Schools Forum.

7.    High Needs Post 16 (paragraph 14) – the local authority used to receive Dedicated School Grant (DSG) separately for post 16 and pre 16 pupils. The High Needs Block is now received as a single payment. 

8.    DSG contribution towards Central Overheads (paragraph 18) – the regulations around DSG allow an element of overhead costs to be used towards the funding of costs such as HR and Legal costs. This process will be flagged as a Council pressure and can be reviewed going forward.

9.    The reality is that once a child reaches statutory school age, the previous provision is no longer available. Discussions need to take place with Early Years settings and providers about how support can be provided to meet the needs of the children.

10. The rationale behind the historic charging of Early Years to the High Needs Block is that the team were originally funded through the Sure Start grant to support Private, Voluntary and Independent providers (PVIs) and special needs.

11. The rationalising of costs needs looked as part of the process of balancing a budget.

12. Members of Schools Forum previously expressed concern about monies in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.


Early Years Funding 2017/18



Members of the Forum received a report setting out the Early Years Funding for 2017/18.


The Chairman advised that the Early Years Funding 2017/18 report would be accepted under Special Urgency rules as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as this report needed to be considered in conjunction with the High Needs Block report in order for members of the Forum to make an informed decision on the funding proposals.


Points and comments included:


1.    The Early Years National Funding Formula comes into effect from April 2017.

2.    Following discussion at the January meeting of Schools Forum, a short consultation has been carried out with Early Years providers from all sectors on the basis of Model 4 as the recommended operating model moving forward.

3.    Model 4 is not affordable in 2017/2018 following the transfers of costs of some High Need features to the Early Years Block.

4.    Very little information has been received from the DfE on modelling for the Disability Access Fund.

5.    The original report aimed to close the gaps between school settings and PVI’s via the continuation of the old formula.

6.    Concern was reiterated about the base rate being equalised in 2019 and the associated financial pressures on Early Years providers.

7.    There is further work to be done around the support provided to settings and children and the passporting of funds in order to avoid duplication.




1.    that the existing model of funding for Early Years will be continued for 2017/18 was noted.


2.    that a full review of Special Needs and Inclusion spend will be carried out in the Early Years as part of the bigger review of High Needs spend.


3.    that the Early Years SEND linked funding strands would be defined as part of the review.


4.    that the remaining balance in the Contingency Fund would be confirmed after the financial year end.




Date of the Next Meeting

Monday 12 June 2017, 3pm, Priory House, Monks Walk, Shefford.



Monday 12 June, 3pm, Priory House, Monks Walk, Shefford.