Agenda item

High Needs Block

·         Safety Valve

·         Mainstream top-up funding review (Peter Gray commission)


Verbal Update


Jo-Anne Sanders / John Bartlett


High Needs Block    


6.1 Safety Valve


Jo-Anne Sanders updated the meeting as follows.

  The enhanced monitoring deadline of 30th September was met. An updated management plan has been submitted.

  We have had several conversations with DfE Advisors and have built a positive relationship. We have been advised to tell the whole story on slides within our presentations.

The main point and key messages being portrayed are:

  Our programme is realistic, deliverable, and financially sustainable.

  It includes elements such as block transfers and firm Council commitments which are looked on favourably by DfE.

  It includes systematic approaches with key partners.

  It includes firm evidence of long-term commitment going back to 2018.

  It demonstrates confidence in our consistency and capacity.

  The modelling demonstrates a zero in-budget deficit in year 4, one year ahead of schedule.

  To date £28m has been committed or spent in major capital investment - for the next version of the Council Plan this will be higher still.

  We have not changed the commitment to a £10.75m contribution included in the plan, but the profile has changed to be more back-loaded.

  Importantly - we are not asking for additional funding from DfE, at this time.

  We have included a number of internal and external factors and risks to make it even more robust.

  If we are successful in applying for an AP Free School this will realise even higher benefits than the basic plan.

  The plan is highly deliverable and we have explained how delivery will be achieved.

  It includes both EY and Post-16 benefits being achieved by 2024/25.


Details of the Plan can be viewed within the Cabinet reports within the Kirklees site.


Next steps include a discussion with schools not in the block fund. DfE will be carrying out meetings during w/c 9th and w/c 16th October, and following this a review submission will take place.


Q: When will we hear the decision on the Free School?

A: We are expecting an autumn decision but the decision could be as soon as later this month.


Q: Would DfE be more challenging if we were asking for more money?

A: No question. Other LA's who have safety valves in place have asked for more money. Strong feedback we have had from connected people is that they will disadvantage their position by doing so. Our levers have always been the Free School and the outcomes.

There is also the potential for more capital funding for SEND.


Q: You said we aim to be balanced by year 4 where are we on this journey at present?

A: The current year is year 2 so in 2025/26.


Q: Can we expect another three years of funding at £2.6m?

A: Yes. This year funding is at £2.1m, and confirmed for the next three at £2.6m per year. DfE funding in those three years is to be £7.8m, the Council's commitment £10.75m but back loaded.


Q: Does that make the total funding commitment £33.5m including these two?

A: Yes, correct.


Q: Are decisions imminent?

A: Yes final decisions should be confirmed soon.


Q: Does it impact whether we remain in the safety valve or not?

A: Yes it does, if we are pushed out of the safety valve it will probably warrant an emergency meeting to discuss. We have to assume from what we know that we will stay in.


Q: What impact would there be if there is a change of Government?

A: It could change but current planning is based on a legal document so whilst the situation is potentially fluid, a change of Government would not result in any quick changes taking place.


Q: If decisions on this are imminent should we wait for a few weeks rather than rush out the memo on the possible £4k?

RESOLVED: That the email should include reference to it being subject to the decision on safety valve, and an emphasis that the decision is not known yet.


6.2 Mainstream Funding Top-up Review (Peter Gray)


Jo-Anne Sanders updated the meeting.

  Five HT activities have taken place.

  Outcomes have been fed back to Councillors and Portfolio Holders.

  SENDCO and School Governors have also been consulted.

  A task and finish meeting is to take place on October 24th.

  Comms will be published shortly after completion of the task and finish.

  The whole process is expected to be completed by the end of February 2024.

  We were delighted to receive over 40 expressions of interest to get involved in the task and finish group.


Q: Will you split the 40 plus group into two sub groups?

A: Doing so would be very difficult to service properly on top of the other activities being undertaken. Much more likely that there will be a reference group and possibly several task and finish groups reporting into it.

The groups will need very clear briefs, targets, and timescales to meet. I expect to provide regular updates for the group between now and the end of February.

RESOLVED: That progress to become a standing item on subsequent agendas.


Thanks were expressed to those who had volunteered their time to become involved in this important activity.