Hounslow Council


Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Irene Bowles, 020 8583 2075, Email: irene.bowles@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

68.

Apologies for Absence, Declarations of Interest and Any Other Communications from Members

Decision:

Apologies had been received from Alan Adams, Councillor Tom Bruce, Stephen Davis, Charlotte De Lacey, Sarah Roscoe, Phil Ward, Jackie Willis and John Wright.

 

There were no declarations of interest.

 

Members noted that this would be the last meeting for Marjorie Semple (Principal of West Thames College).  Her place would be taken, with effect from 1 April 2016, by the new Principal, Tracy Aust.

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Alan Adams, Councillor Tom Bruce, Stephen Davis, Charlotte De Lacey, Sarah Roscoe, Phil Ward, Jackie Willis and John Wright.

 

There were no declarations of interest.

 

Members noted that this would be the last meeting for Marjorie Semple (Principal of West Thames College).  Her place would be taken, with effect from 1 April 2016, by the new Principal, Tracy Aust.

 

69.

Minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2016 and matters arising pdf icon PDF 161 KB

Decision:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2016 were agreed as a true and accurate record, and were signed by the Chair.

 

Matters arising:

Item 62 – Vacancy, Primary Maintained School: Roger Shortt advised that he was still seeking nominations for this vacancy.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2016 were agreed as a true and accurate record, and were signed by the Chair.

 

Matters arising:

Item 62 – Vacancy, Primary Maintained School: Roger Shortt advised that he was still seeking nominations for this vacancy.

 

70.

Hub & Spoke Model Update (Merle Abbott) pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Members noted the updated report, as attached to item 8 of the Agenda pack.

 

Minutes:

Merle Abbott reminded members that it had been hoped that the new service would be in place for the beginning of the Summer Term 2016, following the end of the current contract on 31 March 2016.  However, the Department had been advised to advertise for therapists in professional journals.  Adverts, with clear job descriptions, would be placed at the beginning of March 2016, with interviews commencing on 15 April 2016, for two Managers in the first instance, and then remaining posts. 

 

There would now be one leading hub (Lindon Bennett): Strand-on-the-Green would be an additional hub base.  Lindon Bennett’s Headteacher would be the Lead Person, with the Deputy Headteacher at Strand-on-the-Green supporting (including on the interview panels).  A contract would be signed in the near future between the LA and Lindon Bennett School.

 

Merle Abbott advised that there would be a gap in provision; however, some therapists appointed might not have existing permanent contracts, and could therefore start quickly. Each Special School and Centre would be contacted, so that priorities could be discussed, and Agency cover could be discussed if appropriate.  The Department would endeavour to ensure that priority needs were met, whilst keeping costs down.

 

Q: Was this new provision driven by making savings?  Merle Abbott reminded members that the current contractors had informed the Department that they would increase costs by 50% to provide the same level of service.  The new provision would avoid this increase, whilst maximising the number of therapists deployed in schools.

 

Q: Was there enough capacity?  Merle Abbott explained that therapists would be employed on a term-time only basis, and capacity would not change.

 

Members noted the updated report, as attached to item 8 of the Agenda pack.

 

71.

Verbal Update from SEN Task and Finish Group (Michael Marks)

Minutes:

Michael Marks (Director for Education and Early Intervention) advised members that the SEN Task and Finish Group had met in early February 2016, and had focussed on the following issues:

a)    To explore the possibility of a new SEN Free School, similar to the Bolder Academy model. Provision needs to be increased, and an SEN Free School would be one way to achieve this.  The group would like Schools’ Forum to consider setting up a separate working party to contemplate this.

b)    To continue to look at possible SEN funding formula variations. A workshop would be convened to model various options, and a report would be brought to the next Schools’ Forum meeting.  Michael Marks reminded members that it was vital that more children were educated in mainstream settings in the future.

 

Merle Abbott explained the use of Education Support Plans – these were a way to reduce bureaucracy, and enabled the development of plans with SENCOs, to see how mainstream schools could meet individual needs.  A workshop on this would be held at the next SENCOs forum.  This model would enable spend to be robustly monitored year on year, and would give schools quicker access to funding.  When a firm model has been agreed with SENCOs, it would come back to Schools’ Forum.  If implemented, there would be more Educational Psychologist time available for help other than providing statutory assessments.

 

Q: Members who have been involved in the Bolder Academy bid are well aware of the expertise and time required, and questioned whether the Special School Headteachers would have the time to do this. Had consideration been given to approach an external group to work with Headteachers?  Had the DfE been asked if any suitable sponsors might be available?  Michael Marks reminded members that he had suggested that the LA look at whether a new Special School was needed to address the Borough’s specific issues and  challenges – he was not stating that there should be one. Challenges would continue to come in the SEN arena, with decreasing budgets, schools block reduction, etc.

 

Q: Was it in the remit of Schools’ Forum to reduce expenditure where there were significant reserves: should top-up funding be given?  Michael Marks reminded members that Schools’ Forum should monitor and control the overall budget to track expenditure and avoid deficit.  Shabana Kausar reported that the Schools’ Forum Forward Plan had an item in May 2016 looking at schools’ balances.  She would work with Chrissie Elam, Merle Abbott and other officers to monitor the budget expenditure in the new financial year.  KPIs would be used to report regularly and effectively.

 

Q:  There had been much work carried out to identify needs over the last eighteen months.  It was a data exercise to build a snapshot of needs, that should not be a huge task.  Michael Marks explained that Merle Abbott has information, especially in respect of out-of-borough placements; children often had complex needs; Merle Abbott reported that this discussion went hand-in-hand with the culture  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71.

72.

Revised DSG allocation for 2016/17, including update on Early Years (Shabana Kausar) pdf icon PDF 248 KB

Report to follow (estimated publication date: Thursday 18 February)

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that:

a)    The 2016/17 provisional DSG funding shortfall, as set out in Section 6 of the report attached to item 3 of the Agenda pack, be noted, including the identified in-year saving options;

b)    No additional growth funding will be approved until the relevant Officer has submitted a mitigation plan to Schools’ Forum to review each funding pressure;

c)    The 2016/17 budget, outlined under 6.1 of the report, be recommended for approval to the Lead Member.

Members voted unanimously to agree the above.

Minutes:

ShabanaKausar apologised for the late distribution of papers; members noted that key changes since the last meeting were:

Ø  Up to date position on the shortfall in DSG

Ø  Final LBH return to the EFA

Ø  Update on SEN funded places

Ø  Impact of the January 2016 census on the Early Years budget

Ø  £277K increase (1.5%) in the High Needs Block funding.

 

ShabanaKausar led members through her presentation (attached as a Supplementary Report to Item 3 on the Agenda pack).

The 2016/17 DSG figures are net of:

·         £50 per pupil AWPU cut (only £1m released due to MFG trigger

·         £0.6m FSM lost funding (may also have led to MFG trigger in some schools)

 

MFG has increased by £1.6m to £2.6m.

 

a)    Early Years Block Funding

ShabanaKausar and Chrissie Elam would look again at the Early Years Block Funding between now and May 2016; with this area, budgets are uncertain until the June following the end of the financial year (FY) – ie June 2016 for 2015/16 FY.  Members noted that the January 2016 census showed an increase in numbers of 7.7% in Early Years from 2015 to 2016, most of which have been in PVI settings.

 

Early Years Pupil Premium

Figures for this are, as yet, unknown, so 2016/17 has been based on 2015/16 numbers.  There is an anticipated shortfall of £650K, dependent on numbers.

 

Two sessions had been held with Early Years providers in Early February 2016 to present an overview of proposed actions, including a 1½% cut in hourly rates.  Providers had been advised that this had not been an easy decision to reach.  Financial mitigation was limited; the funding formula needed to be reviewed.  An incremental year-on-year reduction of the hourly rate could be agreed, but sustainability of this approach could be an issue.

 

Prior to the Summer break 2016, the funding formula for Early Years provision in schools would be reviewed in order to:

a) Fund the provision in line with EFA guidance;

b) To establish an equitable and sustainable funding formula, taking into account the overall funding streams for the school compared with a PVI setting.

 

A separate report will be brought back to discuss options with Schools Forum.

 

Members noted that there had been very few successful cases to disapply MFG.  They agreed that all options needed to be reviewed in terms of the funding formula.  Consideration of applying to disapply MFG could only be a last resort.

 

b)   High Needs Block Funding

The budget requirement for 2016/17 is £40.8m – base budget of £37.9m plus unapproved growth of £2.87m.  £2.9m is currently unfunded.

 

c)    Overview

There is an estimated DSG funding shortfall of £3.83m; estimated savings of £2.7m have been identified, but there is still a shortfall, which is not sustainable.  Officers will continue to try and identify further savings, and will bring possible mitigation plans to the next meeting. 

 

ShabanaKausar informed members that a report would be taken to Cabinet explaining the DSG to Lead  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.

73.

Schools' Forum Forward Plan (Shabana Kausar) pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Decision:

Resolved that:

a)    The Forward Plan, as attached to Item 4 of the Agenda pack, was approved.

b)    The Forward Plan will be a standing item on future Schools’ Forum agendas.

Members voted unanimously to agree the above.

Minutes:

Resolved that:

a)    The Forward Plan, as attached to Item 4 of the Agenda pack, was approved.

b)    The Forward Plan will be a standing item on future Schools’ Forum agendas.

Members voted unanimously to agree the above.

74.

School Block Funding Formula Review (Shabana Kausar) pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Decision:

Resolved that:

a)     The Terms of Reference for a new school funding formula task and finish group (attached to Item 5 of the Agenda pack) be agreed, together with timelines;

b)    Membership of the group was agreed as follows:

Ø  Maintained Primary School Representative – Roger Shortt to identify representative

Ø  Maintained Secondary School Representative – Mike Nicholls (The Heathland School)

Ø  Academy Primary School Representative – Mel Tatters (Westbrook Primary School)

Ø  Academy Secondary School Representative – Marais Leenders (Brentford School for Girls)

Ø  Local Authority Finance Lead – Shabana Kausar

Ø  Director of Education and Early Intervention – Michael Marks

Ø  Other Local Authority Senior Leadership Team representative – to be confirmed.

Members voted unanimously to agree the above.

Minutes:

Members noted the report (attached to item 5 of the Agenda pack) and resolved that:

a)     The Terms of Reference for a new school funding formula task and finish group (attached to Item 5 of the Agenda pack) be agreed, together with timelines;

b)    Membership of the group was agreed as follows:

Ø  Maintained Primary School Representative – Roger Shortt to identify representative

Ø  Maintained Secondary School Representative – Mike Nicholls (The Heathland School)

Ø  Academy Primary School Representative – Mel Tatters (Westbrook Primary School)

Ø  Academy Secondary School Representative – Marais Leenders (Brentford School for Girls)

Ø  Local Authority Finance Lead – Shabana Kausar

Ø  Director of Education and Early Intervention – Michael Marks

Ø  Other Local Authority Senior Leadership Team representative – to be confirmed.

Members voted unanimously to agree the above.

 

Shabana Kausar would convene the first meeting in due course.

75.

School Buy-Back Service Upcoming Changes (Shabana Kausar) pdf icon PDF 155 KB

Decision:

The following changes were noted:

a)     Provision of Schools’ Bursary Services:

i)             That the Council had decided to cease to provide a bursary service to schools by 31 August

2016;

ii)            That affected schools will need to have alternative arrangements in place by 31 August 2016;

iii)           That the Council will procure interim cover from an external specialist provider to cover the current bursary support vacancy to the end of the summer term 2016.

b)    Occupational health and employee counselling services:

That the Council has decided to outsource these services during 2016/17.

Minutes:

The following changes were noted:

a)     Provision of Schools’ Bursary Services:

i)             That the Council had decided to cease to provide a bursary service to schools by 31 August

2016;

ii)            That affected schools will need to have alternative arrangements in place by 31 August 2016;

iii)           That the Council will procure interim cover from an external specialist provider to cover the current bursary support vacancy to the end of the summer term 2016.

b)    Occupational health and employee counselling services:

That the Council has decided to outsource these services during 2016/17.

 

76.

Date of Next Meeting - 9 May 2016

The next meeting of the Schools forum will be held on 9 May 2016, at 6pm, in the Council Chamber, Civic Centre.

Decision:

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 9 May 2016 at 6pm, in the Council Chamber, Civic Centre.

 

Members noted that this was the last meeting for Marjorie Semple, Principal of West Thames College, prior to her retirement.  The Chair, on behalf of members, thanked her for all her input to Schools’ Forum, and wished her well for the future.

Minutes:

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 9 May 2016 at 6pm, in the Council Chamber, Civic Centre.

 

Members noted that this was the last meeting for Marjorie Semple, Principal of West Thames College, prior to her retirement.  The Chair, on behalf of members, thanked her for all her input to Schools’ Forum, and wished her well for the future.