Agenda item

Update to the Staffordshire Scheme for Financing Schools & Procurement Regulations

Minutes:

The Schools Forum received a report from the Director of Children and Families regarding an update to the Staffordshire Scheme for Financing of Schools (SSFS).

 

The Forum heard that the SSFS, Financial Regulations and Procurement Regulations had been reviewed and the following updates had been made:

 

  • A number of sections had been amended to ensure they referred to the correct Director within the Local Authority.

 

  • The list of reasons a Notice of Concern (NoC) would be issued had been amended. The first bullet point would read:
    • “When years two and three of the school’s published multiyear modeller indicate the school cannot operate within their in-year funding, and reserves are not sustainable”.

 

  • Two bullet points stating why a NoC should be issued had been removed, these were:
    • “Revenue Deficits where there is no recovery plan,
    • Failure to set an in year balanced budget by 31st May”.

 

  • Further detail had been provided that stated the actions the authority would take when a governing body failed to comply with a NoC. This would read:
    • “Where a governing body fails to comply with the Notice of Concern, the authority may issue a warning notice to a school, as set out in the ‘Schools causing concern statutory guidance for local authorities and regional directors’. When a school does then not comply with their warning notice, it will become eligible for intervention within the meaning of Part 4 of the Education and Inspections 2006 Act. In this situation, there are a number of statutory powers the local authority may use, these include:
      • the power to require the governing body to enter into arrangements,
      • the power to appoint additional governors,
      • the power to appoint an interim executive board (IEB),
      • the power to suspend the delegated budget”.

 

In response to a concern raised by Steve Swatton regarding the amendment relating to the reason a NoC may be issued, specifically in relation to the multiyear modeller that would be applied to years two and three, it was confirmed that the purpose of the amendment was to allow Entrust to be able to identify schools with an issue so that support be provided sooner. It was highlighted that taking action in Year 1 was almost too late, therefore the amendment would mean that additional time would be made available to allow schools to make appropriate changes that would support them to get out of the deficit.

 

In response to a query from Vicki Lewis asking whether the removal of the two bullet points relating to why a NoC would be issued was an acknowledgement that a lot of schools would start to find themselves in this position, it was clarified that this was a change in the assessment mechanism so it remained consistent with the rest of the Scheme for Financing Schools and the Staffordshire Regulations. It was also explained that any school that found themselves in difficulty, or with a deficit, would need to implement a licensed deficit plan instead of a NoC. As long as a recovery plan was in place there would be no need for a NoC to be issued, but schools would have to demonstrate that they were working towards the plan.

 

Resolved: That the revised Staffordshire Scheme for Financing Schools (SSFS) be approved.

 

Supporting documents: