Agenda item

Matters arising

Minutes:

Update to Minute 5 of the 13 July 2023 meeting, relating to the Membership Update and Meeting Attendance Review.

 

During the discussion of this item it had been highlighted that Judy Wyman had been unwell for some time and had had to spend time in hospital. A get-well card had been sent to Judy by the Chair of the Forum, and it was reported that Judy had been discharged from Hospital before Christmas and was on the road to recovery.

 

Update to Minute 23 of the 09 November 2023 meeting relating to the High Needs Block Update and 0.5% Funding Switch Request.

 

The Forum was informed that following the decision of Schools Forum Members to not support the 0.5% transfer request from the Schools Block to the High Needs Block, the Local Authority (LA) had submitted a disapplication request to the Secretary of State through the Education and Skills Funding Agency, to make a final decision on the application to make this switch. On Friday 12 January 2024 the LA had been notified that the application had been successful.

 

In response to a question from Steve Barr asking if the notification received had highlighted why the decision had been made, it was confirmed that the notification had only stated that the request had been granted. It was agreed that a letter would be sent to the Secretary of State, through the Education and Skills Funding Agency, to request additional information that explained why the decision to support the LA’s disapplication request had been made on this occasion.

 

Post meeting note

Following the meeting the members of the Forum were contacted and asked to provide the Chair with any specific information they wished to be included in the letter to the Secretary of State. Steve Barr asked for the following questions to be included:

 

  • As in previous years, Staffordshire Schools Forum rejected the LA's request to move 0.5% from the schools block to high needs in November.  Schools Forum has never agreed to this request in the past, and the SoS/minister has always supported that decision.
  • The letter dated 12th January 2024 does not explain satisfactorily why the response this year has been different and Schools Forum members would appreciate some detail on the rationale behind that decision.
  • The letter refers to the LA's "detailed management plan" and acknowledges that Schools Forum did not approve the request, but there has been no request from ESFA/DfE to Schools Forum to submit the reasons behind Forum's rejection of the LA's proposal.  It seems unjust to base a decision on a detailed submission by one party, whilst simply noting the result of a vote by the other party, without exploring the arguments behind this vote.
  • The point that Schools Forum are "supportive of the broader actions of the management plan" is irrelevant.  Members gave this careful consideration before coming to their decision and they are the ones with local knowledge.  There is no direct link between the two issues.

 

Resolved: That a letter be sent by the Schools Forum Chair to the Secretary of State, through the Education and Skills Funding Agency, to request additional information that explained why the decision to support the LA’s disapplication request had been made.