Agenda item

De-delegation of Maintained Primary School Budgets 2019/20 & 2020/21

(To receive a report from Mark Popplewell, Head of Finance, Children's Services, which seeks approval from the maintained primary school representatives' of the Schools' Forum to the Local Authority's (LA) proposals for de-delegation of certain budgets in 2019/20 and 2020/21)


Consideration was given to a report from Mark Popplewell, Head of Finance, Children's Services, which sought approval from the maintained primary school representatives' of the Forum to the (LA's) proposals for the de-delegation of certain budgets in 2019/20 and 2020/21.


The Forum was advised that the government's decision to implement a new funding formula in 2018/19 still allowed for the de-delegation arrangements for maintained schools to continue.  Details of the key features of the arrangements were shown on pages 21 and 22 of the report presented.


The Forum was reminded that for 2018/19 maintained schools had agreed to de-delegate funding for contingency relating to schools in financial difficulty (namely termination of redundancy costs, consultant headteachers and school intervention); and for ethnic minority and traveller education team.


It was noted that no funds had been de-delegated for maintained secondary schools.


The report highlighted that the cumulative underspends at 31 March 2017 was £0.853m.  The report further advised the agreement made at the 4 October 2017 meeting was to adjust the 2018/19 charges to reduce the level of underspend; details of which were shown at points 1 to 4 on page 22 of the report presented.


The Forum was advised that the cumulative underspend reported at 31 March 2018 was £0.608m.  The Forum was advised further that at the year-end the LA had made a decision to move consultant headteacher costs of £0.260m from the de-delegation budget to core Council funding, which had increased the de-delegation cumulative underspend from £0.348m to £0.608m.  This decision had been made to allow additional time-limited investment into school improvement activities over the next three years through additional school advisor support to maintained schools.


It was reported that in 2017/18 the expenditure incurred for termination of employment costs had been £0.264m for maintained primary schools, which had been £0.014m over the 2017/18 agreed budget level and higher than what had been expected.  It was reported further that the budget for 2018/19 had been reduced to £0.150m therefore; there was a financial risk of this budget overspending, if activity remained at a similar level to the previous year.


The proposals for 2019/20 and 2020/21 were detailed on page 23 of the report.  It was highlighted that the charges for 2019/20 would revert back to the required 2019/20 baseline amounts per pupil for the de-delegation budgets (as outlined in the October 2017 Schools Forum De-delegation budget report). 


The report detailed that the per pupil rates would be set at:


·         Contingency                                                                                     £27.00 per pupil

·         Ethnic Minority and Traveller Education Team              £5.55 per pupil


Which would finance:


·         Termination of employment costs                                     £0.250m

·         Consultant Headteachers                                                  £0.291m

·         Exceptional unforeseen costs                                           £0.380m

·         Ethnic Minority and Traveller Education Team              £0.189m


The Forum noted that the figures shown were indicative and were based on the October 2017 census; and 34,106 maintained primary pupils.  Information relating to the current services was detailed in Appendix A to the report.


It was highlighted that for 2019/20 the termination of employment budget for schools in financial difficulties would revert back to the 2017/18 budget amount of £0.250m, as a result of the expenditure incurred in that year.  The Forum was advised that the national funding formula had increased the overall level of funding received by Lincolnshire mainstream schools in 2018/19, however, due to the demand-led nature of the termination of employment budget, a level of prudence needed to be applied.


The Forum noted that the government had updated guidance following the introduction of the School Improvement Grant to enable Schools' Forums to agree to de-delegate funding for additional school improvement activities for maintained schools.  It was noted further that the LA was proposing to use the addition to the de-delegation guidance as an opportunity to consider whether there were alternative approaches to providing support to Lincolnshire's most vulnerable maintained primary schools to improve education standards and resilience within schools.


During a short discussion, the following points were raised:-


·         One member of the Forum expressed thanks to the level of intervention received; and advised that the support had been extremely helpful and welcomed;

·         Clarification was given that if schools were not in financial difficulty then schools would have to contribute from their main budget;

·         A question was asked as to what percentage of Consultant Headteachers were deployed.  It was felt that this was useful information for the Schools' Forum to know.  It was highlighted that the posts were used to support and mentor all new acting Headteachers, of maintained schools, in Lincolnshire;

·         One question raised was if there was a stand-alone Academy, who they could turn to.  The Forum was advised that that the LA could not fund the help, but if there was a local school nearby the LA would help broker support arrangements.  Confirmation was given that there was no capacity for Academies to buy in to the support.  The support was for maintained schools only.  It was highlighted that Academies could if they wished operate a similar model to the LA.  Officers confirmed that for the coming year maintained schools would be contacted to see what improvement provision was needed going forward.  It was noted that the Forum would receive an update on what the alternative provision might be for 2019/20;

·         Some concern was expressed to the increased contingency rate of £27.00.  The Forum attention was brought to what the Forum had agreed at their 4 October 2017 meeting (as detailed on page 22 of the report presented) when it had been agreed that the easiest way to return unspent funds to maintained primary schools was to adjust the LA's proposed charges downwards for the following year.  The LA could no longer apply that approach from 2019/20;

·         Some concern was expressed relating to the increase in redundancy costs and whether the amount of intervention was being monitored.  The Forum was advised that intervention was monitored; and that there were robust policies in place to ensure that they remained sustainable; and that a staffing restructure was a measure to  prevent a school going into a deficit position;

·         One member felt that maintained schools needed to have a clear communication of the reasons for the increased per pupil figures in the proposals for 2019/20 and 2020/21; and

·         An explanation was provided concerning the Intervention Funding budget; details of which were shown on page 29 of the report presented.




That support be given from the maintained primary schools representatives on the Lincolnshire Schools' Forum to the proposals for de-delegation of the budgets for the period 2019/20, and 2020/21 (in principle) as set out in the report presented and detailed above.

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