Schools Forum: December 2016
The December meeting of Essex Schools Forum was held last week. The following issue may be of particular interest to readers of this blog. The schools block funding item was postponed due to the the DfE not yet having released national consultation responses on the national funding formula.
Schools Contribution towards Capital Maintenance
Readers of this blog will know that as a result of my intervention at a previous meeting, the £6k school contribution towards capital expenditure was changed to a per pupil amount of £40 per pupil, making the mechanism more equitable for small schools. At this meeting the LA proposed to raise this to £80 per pupil for those schools “not meeting their minimum maintenance requirements.” The idea would be that in order to qualify for £40 rather than £80, schools would need to show that they had done their best to keep their premises in a good state of repair, following a schedule of works outlined as an accompanying paper. I did not feel I could support this proposal, as £80 per pupil contribution is enough to bankrupt many small schools in Essex at the moment. Instead, I proposed that the LA consider a “carrot” rather than a “stick” approach to ensuring that schools follow a regular maintenance schedule. However, the vote on this matter was 4-2 in favour of the LA proposal (low numbers because only maintained schools are affected and hence could vote.) I did, however, secure the commitment of Schools Forum to review the efficacy of the proposal in terms of the number of such capital spends, to see whether this declines as hoped for, and to consider alternative “carrot” proposals. For now, the main thing that maintained schools need to do is to be aware of the list of maintenance tasks they should be undertaking, and ensure they have evidence against this list. The LA will circulate to all schools in due course. Schools Forum agreed to put back the implementation date from April 2017 to September 2017 to allow schools to understand the implications.