Agenda item

High Needs Block (standing item)

High Needs Block (standing item)

·         Safety Valve

·         Mainstream top-up finding review


Verbal update from Jo-Anne Sanders and John Bartlett


High Needs Block


(a)   Safety Valve Monitoring Update


Jo-Anne Sanders and John Barlett updated the meeting.


·         The meeting with the DfE has been postponed by two weeks. This was a joint decision.

·         Meetings have been held with DfE advisors.

·         We do need to factor in adverse movements on forecasts.

·         Adverse impacts are due to.

-       Impact of EHCP backlogs. Where plans are agreed we backdate payments to the compliance date.

-       SEND costs are £1m higher than expected. This is demand driven from children in Early Years.

-       Out of area costs have increased by £0.4m.

·         Overall, the increase in the deficit is forecast to be £6.4m. This results in a total in year deficit forecast of £13m (when added to the previous forecast in year deficit of £6.6m).


Q. Will this impact on the LA staying in the Safety Valve programme?

A. We do not know at this stage. We are trying to be honest and continue to work with DfE advisors.


Q. Is there any update on the decision on the AP free school?

A. There is still no news but we have assumed that this will be approved. The DfE advisor is being very supportive.


Q. Do we know why the AP Free School decision is being delayed?

A. It is a ministerial decision and due diligence has to take place.


Q. Will the addition of another year in the Safety Valve Programme impact on individual schools?

A. Potentially.


Q. How much in year contribution were we expecting from Safety Valve funding?

A. £4m. If we do not get this the total in year forecast deficit will increase to £17m.


(b)   Mainstream top-up funding review


Jo-Anne Sanders updated the meeting.


·         The Task and Finnish group have continued to meet.

·         Cluster proposals are being considered. Proposals consider location and the sharing of expertise.

·         The initial proposal has 18 clusters. The Task and Finnish group will feedback on the proposals for clusters.

·         The Biggest cluster is Shelley Pyramid.

·         The cluster proposals will be considered at the Task and Finnish group meeting next week.


Q. Who will lead each cluster?

A. We do have options. Clusters may be led by a nominated SENCO. Clusters may feed into area leads. Infrastructure will need to be put in place.


Q. Will there be £18m funding for the 18 clusters?

A. We do currently spend £18m and we need to understand how clusters could better use this funding. Support would be in place to wrap around the clusters.


Q. When do we expect the Cluster proposal to come to Schools Forum?

A. We will have another update at the next Schools Forum meeting.


Q. Will a September start work with the financial year?

A. We could make this work with adjustments. We do need time to put roles and infrastructure in place.


ACTION: A high level plan for clusters to be shared at a Schools Forum meeting on in the new year (Feb / March 2024).


It was noted by the Chair that a lot of good work is going on.


(c)   SEND – The Big Plan


The Big Plan was shown on screen for the meeting.


Jo-Anne Sanders updated the meeting.


·         The SEND Strategy has now been refreshed to make it more accessible.

·         There were a lot of stakeholders engaged in the process.

·         The focus was Demand, Compliance and Sufficiency provision in the system.

·         There is a road map for key deliverables.

·         Wording has been simplified to be understandable.

·         A glossary will be put together by the ‘Our Voice’ team.

·         We will share The Big Plan with all stakeholders including schools and governors.


ACTION: The Big Plan to be circulated to all.