Agenda item

Agenda item

High Needs Block - Final 2017/18

To update the Schools Forum on the final 2017/18 budget, the final outturn position for the High Needs Block and next steps.



The Forum received an update on the final 2017/18 budget, the final outturn position for the High Needs Block and the next steps.


Points and comments included:


1.    The final outturn position figures are very close to those given at the March meeting of Schools Forum. Monthly monitoring of expenditure and methodology has been introduced to report on spend and to control costs. The effect of the higher monitoring procedures will be reported on at the September meeting of the Schools Forum.


2.    The profile spends for April 2017 is detailed in the report.  April expenditure is fairly low and is below profile and this is also the same for May. The figures for May are within the profile of budgets allocated. The figures for May, June, July and August will be reported at the September meeting of Schools Forum.


3.    Following on from the discussion about the commissioning of school places at the Academy of Central Bedfordshire (ACB) at the March meeting of Schools Forum, the School Organisation team has undertaken a capacity assessment for special schools to understand the site and constraints in terms of accommodating pupil numbers. An assessment will also take place of the process required to set the admission number and provide a programme for the earliest intervention which will include the need to consult.


4.    Four of the current commissioning contracts are coming to an end in 2018.  From September 2017 the framework of commissioning contracts going forward will be defined which will include impact statements of commissioning work. The reporting on deliverables has been very much processes based.


5.    The High Needs Contingency is reported as £311,172 for April 2017 in comparison to £67k in March 2017.


6.    The Jigsaw contract will be brought back in-house due to the capacity of the Hawthorn Park School.  Discussions are taking place whether this provision will continue from the existing site.


7.     Concern was expressed that the Early Years contract has been extended beyond 2018.


8.    The local authority vision is a published document.  Part of the purpose of the review is to look at the nett flow of CBC pupils requiring special school places and to update the Central Bedfordshire Council School Places and Planning document which is 3 years old. Modelling has been predicated on CBC continuing to accept other pupils from outside the local authority.


9.    Central provision from other local authorities needs to be looked at as there could be good reason other local authorities are transferring their children into Central Bedfordshire. Currently Central Bedfordshire Council seems to be absorbing a disproportionate amount of out of county children into the school system. An independent survey of SEND schools has been commissioned to look at site capacity and constraints.The results of the survey will be reported at the Technical Sub Group meeting.


10.A large piece of work has already taken place about the vision of special school places. How will the outcome of this piece of work be presented?


11.When school places are allocated it needs to be taken into account that special schools such as Ivel Valley and Chiltern do not have Pupil Allocated Numbers (PAN) and the knock on effects of the school being unable to refuse an out of county placement if named on a statement. Guidance would be welcomed.


12.It would be helpful to know more details about the commissioned contracts such as how many there are and how the division across all providers, clarification of what the £40k outturn for Therapies covers and a breakdown of what the High Needs Block covers into mainstream and special schools


13.Regular monitoring of the budgets needs to take place and with reporting from the High Needs Technical Sub Group for at least a year.  Could part of the School Forum budget be used for the provision of clerking support for the High Needs Technical Sub Group meetings?


14.The budget for the Jigsaw contract was originally £450k whereas the forecast for 2017/18 is £477,331.  Where is the saving?


15.There needs to be an audit process in place to show the value for money of the services being commissioned and the impact on the lives of the children the services are being commissioned.


16.Page 42, paragraph 30 refers to Special Schools banding values to be re-visited and reported back on. Consultation needs to take place with special school leaders about the banding values.


17.Work was done on banding last year by Fiona Ridgeway, Senior Support Officers and a variety of data was produced following a benchmarking exercise with other local authorities which unfortunately was not progressed.


18.The figure of 6 band 3 students at Weatherfield shown in Appendix 3 of the report is incorrect as the school believes there are currently twelve band 3 students at the school. Six students are recorded in Panel minutes.


19.In the spirit of fairness, openness and equality, transparency would be welcomed in the form of the local authority publishing the number of students admitted to a school under the Fair Access protocol (FAP).




1.     that the final outturn for the 2016/17 centrally retained High Needs Block was noted.


2.     that the proposed format for the monitoring expenditure in 2017/18 was noted and appending action plan for controlling costs was agreed.


3.     that because of the timing of the June meeting, only expenditure in the month of April was included and that the reporting methodology for 2017/18 was approved.


4.     that the results of the independent survey of SEND schools would be shared with the relevant head teachers prior of the SEND meeting.


5.     that the number of pupils admitted to schools in Central Bedfordshire under the Fair Access Protocol (FAP) would be reported back to Schools Forum.


6.     that the profile spend for May, June, July and August will be reported at the September meeting of Schools Forum which will include an update on the effect of the tighter monitoring procedures.



Supporting documents: