The Forum received the Schools Block Funding Formula for 2018-19. It was reported that the Schools Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant was to fund pupils in mainstream primary and secondary schools. From April 2018 it would be ring-fenced and must be devolved to schools via a funding formula.
The report discussed the impact of the High Needs transfer (if agreed); the impact of the former Education Services Grant de-delegation; and premature retirement costs. Information was provided on the consultation carried out with maintained schools and academies; the consultation document was appended to the report at Appendix A. Appended at Appendix B were the consultation responses.
A summary of the responses was provided in the report with regards to the three funding formula options presented in Appendix A. In conclusion it was clear that the majority of schools who responded to the consultation indicated a wish to move straight to the National Funding Formula (NFF) with transitional protection for 2018-19. By moving to the NFF with transitional protection for 2018-19, Halton would remain on the NFF for 2019-2020, probably with transitional protection again, as it was unlikely that sufficient funding would be received to implement the full NFF until April 2020, when it was expected to be wholly funded.
The information was considered and discussed by the Forum, which was asked to make a decision on which funding formula they wanted to use for 2018-19. Officers put forward the option that was not voted for by schools; that an interim funding formula is used to ease the transition, which would lower the level of funding reductions to schools losing funding. This could only be funded by not supporting the higher levels of increases in funding to schools receiving more funding. It was noted that in Halton the majority of schools should be receiving more funding under the NFF than seeing reductions.
After further debate the Forum voted for the third option, to use an interim funding formula for 2018-19, as discussed above.
It was noted that a final decision on which funding formula to use for 2018-19 would be made by the Executive Board on 16 November 2017, after which schools would be notified of the decision.
The Forum also discussed the funding of the premature retirement costs (previously funded by the ESG) as a decision was required as to whether this could be de-delegated from schools for 2018-19, subject to final pupil numbers based on the October 2017 census data. Members appreciated the efforts made by Officers to reduce the cost per pupil from £38.70 to £20.77; however the consensus of the Forum was that this was still unacceptable. Members suggested using budget Reserves to fund the costs (£268,000) and although the impacts of using this were questioned and discussed, the Forum agreed to fund the retirement costs using Reserves.
RESOLVED: That Schools Forum
1) note the report;
2) agree that an interim funding formula be used for the mainstream primary and secondary funding formula for 2018-19; and
3) agree that the premature retirement costs be met using budget Reserves.