Agenda item

Surrey Schools & Early Years Funding 2020-21

The funding of all Surrey schools (including academies) and of the free entitlement to early years nursery provision are provided from the council’s allocation of Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). Each local authority is required to consult on and maintain local formula arrangements to allocate DSG.

 

This report sets out the recommended funding formula for Surrey schools in 2020/21 and also proposes the principles to be adopted in the funding of early years in 2020/21.

 

[The decisions on this item can be called in by the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee]

 

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

That the proposals set out in Annex 3 to the submitted report be approved, namely that:

 

1.     an appeal be lodged with the Secretary of State for Education to overturn the decision of the Schools Forum and permit the transfer of 0.5% of the schools block (estimated at £3.3 million) to support high needs SEND (Special Education Needs & Disabilities).

2.     the transition to the National Funding Formula (NFF) progresses at a steady rate to an estimated 92.5% of published 2020/21 NFF values.

3.     the council implement the DfE’s recommended Minimum Per Pupil Level in full.

4.     the Schools Forum’s formula recommendations for Schools and early years funding as set out in Annex 3 of the submitted report be approved.

5.     the cost of additional Special Education Needs (SEN) funding for inclusive schools be contained within £0.9 million per year. To achieve this, authority was delegated to the Director of Education, Lifelong Learning & Culture in consultation with the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning to approve amendments to the schools and early years additional SEN funding and notional SEN funding formula, following discussion with Schools Forum in December.

6.   authority be delegated to the Director of Education, Lifelong Learning & Culture in consultation with the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning to approve amendments to the schools and early years formulae as appropriate following receipt of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) settlement and Department for Education (DfE) pupil data in December 2019. This was to ensure that total allocations to schools under this formula remain affordable within the council’s DSG settlement.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

To comply with DfE regulations requiring formal council approval of the local funding formula for Surrey’s primary and secondary schools.

 

[The decisions on this item can be called in by the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee]

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning introduced a report that set out the recommended funding formula for Surrey schools in 2020/21 and proposed the principles to be adopted in the funding of early years in 2020/21 and explained that the local authority was required to consult on and maintain local formula arrangements to allocated the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). 

 

She explained how the Schools Forum, a statutory body, must be consulted on the allocation of DSG and that they had rejected the proposal to transfer funding to the High Needs Block (HNB) which provides some funding for children with Special Education Needs. 

 

The consultation response rate from the schools forum was lower than last year possibly because the consultation period was shorter following delays by the Department for Education (DfE) in publishing funding levels. She had circulated a presentation given by the representative head teacher for the secondary phase to the Forum.  Reflections on this presentation had been considered in the re-drafted Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA).  She described the Forum’s two main concerns which the cabinet should give due regard to along with the responses to the consultation before considering the recommendations.

The Cabinet Member clarified that assumptions were made for planning purposes and were subject to annual consultation.  The Forum had agreed that there was no inaccuracy in the submission and in future a protocol would be developed with the Forum for next year’s funding consultation.  There had been discussion around whether the council was receiving significant additional funding in respect of the HNB.   She stated that £12.2m was not significant in the context of the current deficit of £18m carried forward from 2018/19 and pressures forecast that outweighed this sum (£29m). This information was shared with the Forum.

 

The updated EIA relates to the impact of transferring £3.3M from DSG to HNB. It was not possible to ascertain what impact this proposal may have because schools control their own budgets and will make individual decisions as to how the allocated budget will be spent.  It was possible that schools would be able to redistribute resources so that there was no discernible impact at all.

 

The possibility of the council funding the Special Education Needs & Disabilities (SEND) deficit had been discounted for two main reasons.  Firstly, the council had already budgeted for a contribution to an offsetting reserve to match the cumulative HNB deficit.  There was no room in the budget for any further support to SEND.  The intention was that SEND spend would reduce to grant levels over three years, so the budgeted contribution to the reserve could then be used for other purposes.  Secondly, the direction from the DfE had indicated that the intention was for councils not to used general fund resources to fund DSG deficits.

 

The Leader confirmed that the Council would continue to lobby for SEND funding.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the proposals set out in Annex 3 to the submitted report be approved, namely that:

 

1.     An appeal be lodged with the Secretary of State for Education to overturn the decision of the Schools Forum and permit the transfer of 0.5% of the schools block (estimated at £3.3 million) to support high needs SEND (Special Education Needs & Disabilities).

2.     The transition to the National Funding Formula (NFF) progresses at a steady rate to an estimated 92.5% of published 2020/21 NFF values.

3.     The council implement the DfE’s recommended Minimum Per Pupil Level in full.

4.     the Schools Forum’s formula recommendations for Schools and early years funding as set out in Annex 3 of the submitted report be approved.

5.     the cost of additional Special Education Needs (SEN) funding for inclusive schools be contained within £0.9 million per year. To achieve this, authority was delegated to the Director of Education, Lifelong Learning & Culture in consultation with the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning to approve amendments to the schools and early years additional SEN funding and notional SEN funding formula, following discussion with Schools Forum in December.

6.   authority be delegated to the Director of Education, Lifelong Learning & Culture in consultation with the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning to approve amendments to the schools and early years formulae as appropriate following receipt of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) settlement and Department for Education (DfE) pupil data in December 2019. This was to ensure that total allocations to schools under this formula remain affordable within the council’s DSG settlement.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

To comply with DfE regulations requiring formal council approval of the local funding formula for Surrey’s primary and secondary schools.

Supporting documents: