Dedicated Schools Grant
To provide an update on the High Needs Block spend in 2016/17 and proposed spend for 2017/18.
Members of the Forum received a report setting out the High Needs Block spend in 2016/17 and proposed spend for 2017/18. A copy of the report is attached for information.
[Note: Mrs S Howley joined the meeting]
Points and comments included:
1. Concern was expressed about such a complex report being tabled at the meeting and the limited time available for Forum members to read the information to enable them to make an informed decision on the proposed spend for 2017/18.
2. Chiltern and Ivel Valley schools have not been advised of their placements for next year. The paper does not contain any information to make budgetary decisions on.
3. It was difficult to comment on the proposals being made in the report without the information to base a judgement on.
4. The High Needs Block spend and Early Years funding reports needed to be considered in conjunction to enable synergies to be identified and an informed decision to be made.
5. Concern was expressed about time constraints of when a decision needed to be made about the High Needs Block spend and deadline for the return of special schools budgets.
6. A review funding model needed to be carried out quickly as there was the potential that some schools may not be able to function in 2017-18. The issue of possible redundancies was also a critical element.
7. Paragraph 42 sets out the expectation of using Early Years funding as a contingency. Assumptions cannot be made across the board. All of the proposals being made need to be individually addressed.
8. The Schools Forum powers and responsibilities regulations include the requirement that Schools Forum approve the proposed overspend on central DSG. If the overspend is not approved by Schools Forum, it would become a local authority budget pressure or would be referred to the Secretary of State.
9. The membership of the High Needs Technical Sub Group is too small to make decisions of this magnitude. The decision about the proposed overspend should be considered by Schools Forum rather than debated by the sub-group, although it is recognised that High Needs Block is a local authority decision in consultation with the Schools Forum.
10. Concern was expressed about the proposed removal of the split site element from the top up in special schools and the ACB.
11. An earlier version of this report refers to the diminishing amount of funding for Early Years. Should the principle of propping up one pot from another therefore be used?
12.Funding for special needs was already a concern. Early Years settings are unable to access services from some providers such as the Jigsaw centre as the services are only available from year 1. Where can this support be accessed?
13.It would be useful for paragraph 41 to include a definition the service/team being referred to, the number of children each service supports and the number of out of authority placements to give a notion of the balance of social care requirements, payments and if the figures reflect the proportion of need for these young people.
14.The local authority wrote a letter of support for the permission to open 2 new Free Schools and a minimum of 100 places have been committed to. How can the High Needs Block cover this funding?
1. that the current and additional school numbers (after Easter) for special schools would be sent to the Director of Children’s Services.
2. that an extraordinary meeting of Schools Forum would be arranged to discuss the High Needs Block in conjunction with the Early Years Funding report.
3. that the Director of Children’s Services with the support of the School Improvement Consultant would provide a updated High Needs Block report.
4. that the Head of Early Intervention/Prevention would provide an Early Years Funding report for consideration in conjunction with the High Needs Block report.