This report outlines the proposals for the Education Budget 2018/19.
The Head of Finance and the Senior Management Accountant were in attendance to present the report and answer Members’ questions on this item.
An overview of the three areas that the Education Budget was split into was provided and consisted of:
- The Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG)
- Capital Expenditure
- Council Services Provision
The Sub-Committee was informed that the DSG allocation funding was split into separate rates for primary and secondary schools and the detailed schools budget would be issued to schools in March 2018 once agreed and finalised by the Department for Education (DFE)
The Sub-Committee was further informed that the DSG allocation for the forthcoming year 2018/19 was £337.82m, a £10.3m increase from the 2017/18 funding. This included additional funding for Early Years, High Needs and Schools Block due to an increase in number of pupils.
The Schools Forum had agreed an hourly rate increase for 3/4 year old funding, with continuous work in that area. There was also ongoing work to address issues of overspend on high needs where there had been significant overspend over the years by many local authorities due to ongoing increase in demand.
To manage overspend in Special Education Needs (SEN), the Council had explored actions to be taken to address issues relating to cost which included the following:
- Early provision of vital resources
- Post 16 provision within the borough, and
- In borough provision of Autistic Spectrum services.
Members expressed their dissatisfaction regarding the low funding allocated to Croydon, which although an outer London borough, shared many of the characteristics of an inner London borough. Officers responded that the raking and allocations were based on historical formula of outer and inner London rates. This was an important issue and lobbying had taken place over a number of years in an attempt to get the government to address the issues and deliver a fairer funding settlement.
In response to Member concerns regarding the impact of exclusions of pupils on the budget and in particular exclusion of pupils attending Academy schools, officers advised that exclusions were being monitored very closely and that both the Council and schools worked hard to avoid permanent exclusions, with negotiations between schools to ensure that pupils at risk retained a place in full time education.
There had however been an increase in exclusions, mainly for children without an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), concerns had been raised with the Schools Commissioner where it had been identified that particular schools had excluded a high number of pupils with SEN to ensure that there were no underlying issues of disparity and unfairness.
Members sought detail on the support being afforded to pupils with SEN by colleges. Officers responded that work was being undertaken with colleges to ensure good provision for pupils, there were however challenges with provision for pupils with significant disabilities and high needs.
Members commented that more needed to be done to promote the specialists schools in the Borough which were providing outstanding services. Officers informed the Sub-Committee that the specialist schools were oversubscribed and this was testament to high level of quality of provision of the establishments.
Officers were thanked for their responses to Members’ questions.
1. That the Sub-Committee noted the impact of pupil exclusions on the budget;
2. The continued disparity between allocation of funding for inner and outer London boroughs be noted; and
3. The Sub-Committee held concerns on the lack of per pupil funding allocation increase to the High Needs block despite the continuous increase in demand faced.