West Berkshire Council

Agenda item

Draft Central Schools Block Budget 2021/22 (Melanie Ellis)

Minutes:

Ian Pearson introduced the report (Agenda Item 11) that set out the budget proposal for services funded from the Central Schools’ Services (CSSB) block of the DSG and to propose measure to enable the budget for this block to be balanced.

The CSSB covered funding allocated to Local Authorities (LAs) to carry out central functions on behalf of pupils in state-funded maintained schools and academies in England. This included special schools, maintained nurseries and pupil referral units.

Ian Pearson referred to the table at the top of page 68 of the agenda. Funding within the CSSB had been reduced year on year over the last three years. A variety of different methods had been used to balance the block over this period of time, including savings against various teams. In 2018/19 the block was balanced by a small transfer from the Early Years and High Needs Blocks. The reason for this transfer was that the CSSB is calculated on pupil numbers, but only the numbers attending primary and secondary schools. However, both nursery and special schools benefitted from some of the services provided by the block. A report would need to be brought back to the next meeting of the Schools’ Forum which included proposals on how to balance the block. Each area would need to be looked at in time for the meeting in January 2021 to see what potential savings could be delivered.

Catie Colston noted from the table at the top of page 68 that the current cost for Education Welfare was higher than it would be in 2021/22, whereas the cost for the Provision of Education Data would increase going into 2021/22. Catie Colston questioned the reasoning behind these figures and whether the balance was right. Regarding the Provision of Education Data whether this was as important as children’s welfare, Ian Pearson responded that he had discussed the matter with the Data Manager to see if costs could be reduced in this area. Data costs fell into two areas, firstly the costs for the contract with Capita to deliver the education data modules and secondly costs relating to staffing. It was possible that the figure for 2021/22 might change in time for the meeting of the Forum in January 2021.

Reverend Mark Bennet raised a question regarding Education Welfare and queried if an aspect of this service would be impacted on by Covid-19. Ian Pearson explained that the Welfare Team were responsible for elected home education, which was an area that had been impacted on by the pandemic. The number of children being educated at home had already increased three fold. If the number of children being home educated continued to rise then there would be an increased pressure on this area.

RESOLVED that the Schools’ Forum noted the report and that a further report with recommendations on how to balance the block would be brought to the next cycle of meetings in January 2021. 

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