The October meeting of Schools Forum was held on the 14th of October. Some issues of interest included:
- Falling Rolls Fund. I have requested the operation of this fund be reviewed in order to ensure that it cannot be used solely to subsidise redundancy costs in a school that, while needing protection in the short term, has no long term plan to return to its existing number of pupils on roll. This was agreed, and will come back to a future meeting.
- Schools Broadband. There was a lot of disquiet expressed about the level of service being provided by schools broadband. Schools broadband suppliers were asked to return with a report on this matter before further de-delegation from maintained schools could be approved.
- School Effectiveness Plus. There was a request by EES for Schools Forum to fund some of the first two years of the new School Effectiveness Plus programme. EPHA was against this move, and so it did not proceed, but was instead referred back for further consultation.
- School Funding Consultation. The changes previously discussed were approved. Very few schools sent in a response. The only question where there was considerable dissent was in EAL funding, however much of this appeared to be based on a misconception of what was being proposed – the LA is proposing to offer schools double the money for half the time, not to cut funding.
- Funding for EPHA was approved, so schools will no longer have to pay local subscriptions.
- School redundancy costs. I noted the LA’s paper on school redundancy costs, but disagreed with the LA’s interpretation of reasonable examples where costs should be allocated to a school in respect of costs incurred for the dismissal or for the purpose of securing the resignation of a member of staff at a maintained school. I emphasised that governors have a responsibility not only to set a balanced budget but to make efficient use of school funds, and the risk of deficit should not be used as an indicator of whether a school or the LA should bear these costs. The LA agreed to look again at this wording.