Agenda and minutes

Education Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 9 September 2020 10.30 am, NEW

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Deborah Miller, Tel: 07920 084239  Email:

Link: videolink to the meeting

No. Item


Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments


An apology for absence was received from Councillor Ted Fenton (Councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles).


Minutes pdf icon PDF 394 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 24 June 2020 (ESC4) and to receive information arising from them.


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 24 June 2020 were approved and signed as an accurate record of the Meeting, subject to the following amendments:


Minute 14/20, page 3, paragraph 3 substitute “one Education services” with “one Education service”,


Minute 14/20, page 5, paragraph 3 substitute “ ever bodies business” with “everybody’s business”.


Minute 16/20, page 9, paragraph 7 substitute “Ryan Academy” with “Orion Academy”.


Minute 16/20, page 9, paragraph 7, substitute “did escalate further up the schools” with “did not escalate further up the schools”.


Matters Arising:


In relation to Matters Arising  in the Minutes (Minute 6/20) and the Chairman’s request for a meeting with the Cabinet Member for Education & Cultural Services to discuss the government interactive tool information and average progress of pupils which impacted on the most deprived wards; this meeting had not taken place but was expected to take place before the substantive meeting.


In relation to Minute 14/20 on discussion on IT equipment for schools and that the Chairman had requested that officers provide information to the Committee on what IT had been awarded, Members were informed that a this had been answered in the form of a question at Council on 8 September 2020. It was requested that Members (including Donald McEwan and Carole Thomson) received the follow up reply which had been requested at the meeting.


In relation to Minute 16/20, page 8, reference was made to the question which was asked at Council on 8 September 2020, regarding BME exclusions and it was requested if the response could be circulated to Members of the Committee (including Donald McEwan and Carole Thomson).






Changes to SEND High Needs Top Up Funding Arrangements for 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Report by the Director of Children’s Services (ESC5) REPORT TO FOLLOW


On 15 September 2020, Cabinet will consider a report on SEND High Needs Funding and will be recommended to approve a one-off change to the funding formula for top up payments for secondary schools for the academic year 2020/21. The SEND High Needs Funding report and proposals will be published on 7 September 2020.


The Education Scrutiny Committee is invited to consider the information and proposals contained in the report and comment upon them. These comments will be published as an addendum to the SEND High Needs Funding report and taken into consideration by Cabinet in approving the recommendation at the meeting on 15 September 2020.



The Chairman expressed his disappointment that the report for this item was only distributed to Members the evening before. In addition, the report expected had been for a Strategic Plan, not the report which had been prepared.


Mr Kevin Gordon, Director for Childrens Services commented that it was unacceptable that the papers had been distributed the night before and he explained that this was due to changes in the leadership team.


Reference was made to a decision which had been made by the Schools Forum in 2019 which was the reason the new leadership team was bring this report before Members. He acknowledged that the report was not a wider Strategic report but that was because there was much more work to be carried out in relation to SEND. Detailed discussions were required with schools and parents and there were detailed work required on budgetary pressures.


Ms Hayley Good, Deputy Director of Education introduced the report which outlined the current method of SEND High Needs top-up funding within Early Years settings and mainstream Primary and Secondary schools in Oxfordshire.


The report also included details of  how a one-off transfer of Dedicated Schools Grant could be used for an increase in top-up funding for 2020/21 which  would help support schools to better meet the needs of pupils and students but highlighted that there would be an ongoing impact to the High Needs Block budget overspend from 2021/22 onwards if it were to be maintained.


In relation to Early Years, reference was made to a decision of the Schools Forum in November 2019, where approval was to the recommendation from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) to transfer one-off funding of £370,000 for three and four year old providers from the 2018-19 Early Years Block DSG underspend. The use of Dedicated Schools Grant reserves for this purpose was agreed in the Council’s budget for the academic year 2020/21 only.


Members were informed that there would be an ongoing impact to the High Needs Block budget overspend from 2021/22 onwards if it were maintained.


In relation to mainstream Primary and Secondary schools, in January 2020, after the National Funding Formula unit rates had been implemented in full for all schools, the Schools Forum had agreed the OCC recommendation to move the balance of the unallocated funding to the High Needs Block to allocate directly to Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) budgets in schools to specifically support High Needs students.


£1,300,000 was moved from the Schools Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant to the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant to support a one-off, one-year only SEND top-up funding increase for mainstream Primary and Secondary schools. It was noted that there would be an ongoing impact to the High Needs Block budget from 2021/22 onwards if it were maintained.


Details of how top-up funding currently works was detailed in paragraph 6 of the report.


The Committee was informed that a one-off transfer of the unallocated £370,000 from the Early Years Block of the Dedicated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/20