Councillors and committees
Education Commission report
The Forum considered a report about the Education Commission which had been set up to take an independent view as to how the overspend on Education Services in Kingston had occurred and make recommendations on how high quality services can be delivered within the available funding envelope. The Commission’s report (available to view at this link) was considered at the meeting of Kingston Council’s Children’s & Adults’ Care and Education (CACE) Committee on 13 June, the cover report for which meeting is available to view at this link . The CACE Committee had accepted the Commission’s recommendations and endorsed an Action Plan (available to view at this link) to address the issues.
The Commission’s recommendations included the following three recommendations to the Schools Forum:
That the Forum:
i. “Considers the value in expanding membership of sub committees or working groups to cover specialist areas (such as High Needs) in order to broaden the base of the Forum’s work to include collaborative consideration of existing and emerging issues as they relate to the funding environment.
ii. Annually, considers the need and scope for reallocation of funds from the Schools Block into the High Needs Block, in order to make optimum provision for all Kingston children and young people.
iii. Facilitates and supports all schools’ commitment to the recommended whole system approach to the use of the DSG and the application of the DfE recommended levels of balance requirements.”
The Forum was asked to discuss the Commission’s findings and the Council’s action plan and make recommendations.
In relation to the Commission’s first recommendation, the Forum considered that the issues relating to the DSG and High Needs Block were so significant (and so fundamental to the remit of the Forum) that these needed to be regularly considered by the full Forum, rather than by a specialist sub-committee of the Forum, and that there should be no dilution of the consultative status of the Forum. There would continue to be flexibility for members of the Forum to serve on ad hoc working groups such as the working group to review Alternative Provision. (It was noted that Sean Maher from the Forum had served on the Education Commission, and Mike Gascoigne and Emily Newton had served on the SEND Transformation Plan working group.)
In relation to the second recommendation, the Forum considered that the annual consideration of the Schools Budget was a task which the Forum already undertook. The Forum agreed that one additional approach would be for reports to be provided to support the Forum to take an in-depth look at specific budget lines during its regular meetings. However, it was emphasised that the Forum would need high quality executive summaries of the issues as Forum members do not have time to read excessive quantities of lengthy documents for Forum meetings.
In relation to the third recommendation, Forum members confirmed that they were committed to a ‘whole school’ approach to the use of DSG, though this would not necessarily mean that the Forum would automatically agree to transfers to the High Needs Block.