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Apologies for Absence
To note any apologies for absence from Members.
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of Interest
To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.
In the interest of openness, the following declarations were made:
Councillor Beanland declared that he was a bursar for a primary school and would leave the meeting before the debate and vote took place for item 6, Schools Funding Formula and Early Years Funding Formula 2022/23. The Chair would allow Councillor Beanland to speak on the item before leaving the meeting.
Assurance was received from the Committee’s legal officer, Deborah Nickson, that school governance was not considered a pecuniary interest for any matters on the agenda as the role of school governor would fall into personal interests and be non-pecuniary. Councillor Bulman, Councillor Edwardes and Councillor Smith therefore declared non-pecuniary interests due to being school governors.
Councillor Hayes declared an interest in respect of items 10 and 11 as he chairs a multi academy trust in Cheshire West and would leave the meeting ahead of discussion or debate on these items.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the previous meeting held on 10 January 2022.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2022 be approved as a correct record.
Public Speaking/Open Session
In accordance with paragraph 2.24 of the Council’s Committee Procedure Rules and Appendix on Public Speaking, set out in the Constitution, a total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to put questions to the committee on any matter relating to this agenda. Each member of the public will be allowed up to two minutes each to speak, and the Chair will have discretion to vary this where they consider it appropriate.
Members of the public wishing to speak are required to provide notice of this at least three clear working days in advance of the meeting.
There were no public speakers.
Covid-19 Schools Update (Verbal Update)
To receive a verbal update on the Covid-19 situation in schools.
Mark Bayley, Acting Director of Education and 14 – 19 Skills, provided an update on the Covid-19 position in schools. Overall the situation was positive with recent data showing the infection rate declining, however high rates still remained in primary and secondary age groups. Challenges remained with staff absences and a number of measures were in place to address this, including movement of staff and combining classes. Pupil attendance in both primary and secondary schools was above the national average and was monitored closely. Attendance was slightly higher in primary schools and a query was raised as to why this was. While this could be attributed to a number of factors, it was agreed that a further breakdown of the information would be provided to the committee. The vaccination rollout continued with good uptake.
That the update be noted.
To approve the schools funding formula and early years funding formula.
Councillor Beanland left the meeting ahead of the debate and vote.
The committee received the report which requested approval of the schools funding formula and early years funding formula following recommendations from the Schools Forum.
Paragraph 3.3 had been removed from the recommendations after publication of the report as this had been subject to approval from the Department for Education which had not been received.
A query was raised regarding the number of maintained schools in a deficit position and it was agreed that this would be provided in a written response.
It was requested that the relevant ward members be informed if schools in their ward would cease to receive funding for rurality.
A query was raised regarding the Council’s disapplication to the Department for Education to reverse the decision of the Schools Forum against the transfer of high needs, and whether there had been delegated authority to officers for this. It was agreed that a written response would be provided.
1. That the Committee approves the following for the adoption of the schools funding formula 2022/23:
(i) The use of a local funding formula that uses the national funding formula factors, uplifted for the Cheshire East area cost adjustment, and with any additional funding being allocated via the basic entitlement factor.
(ii) The use of +0.5% as the minimum funding guarantee percentage. This means that individual school funding levels should increase by +0.5% compared to the 2021/22 levels (subject to the items included in minimum funding guarantee protection) and excluding pupil number changes.
(iii) The Growth Fund at £0.8m.
2. That the Committee approves the following for the adoption of the early years funding formula 2022/23:
(i) The continued use of the current funding formula and agrees to increase the hourly rates by the same percentage increase as the increased funding from the Department for Education.
(ii) The new funding rates. The rates for 2021/22 are shown at Appendix 4 and the proposed rates for 2022/23 are set out at Appendix 5.
(iii) The revised classifications for rurality are introduced from 1 April 2022. Three childcare providers would cease to be classified as Rural and should cease to receive funding for rurality from 1 April 2022.
(iv) Delegated authority to the Director of Prevention and Support to enter into revised contracts with providers in accordance with the Department for Education funding increase.
To receive an update on progress against the Mental Health Spotlight Review completed by Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor Beanland returned to the meeting.
The committee received the report which provided an update on progress made against the recommendations approved in October 2020 as a result of the spotlight review into Children and Families mental wellbeing services.
It was noted that this was an update report and that a full report would be brought to committee at a later date with further detail. A request was made for the full report to tie in with the performance scorecard to understand the impact this work was having and a further request was made for this to include practical examples of the work being done.
A concern was raised about supporting children and young people through the cost of living crisis and it was requested that members are engaged with on a ward level on the strategy for addressing this.
A query was raised regarding which hospitals the Council was receiving data from, whether this included hospitals outside the borough and whether this data related only to self-harm or if it included domestic abuse. A written response would be provided.
A further query was raised in relation to the letter sent by the Leader to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Minister for Education and whether a response had been received. A written response would be provided.
That the report be noted.
To consider the work programme and determine any required amendments.
Consideration was given to the Committee’s work programme.
A request was made for an update report on the Best4Business programme and how it had been delivered and received in schools, including feedback and lessons learned.
A query was raised regarding the performance scorecard and why the presentation format had changed from the previous Excel spreadsheet. It was agreed that the presentation of the data would be looked into for future reports.
That the work programme be noted.
To receive and note the following minutes of sub committees:
Local Authority School Governor Nomination Sub Committee – 15 September 2021
Corporate Parenting Committee – 2 November 2021
That the minutes of the Local Authority School Governor Nomination Sub Committee and the Corporate Parenting Committee be noted.
To consider a report on the new primary school in Nantwich.
Councillor Hayes left the meeting and did not return.
The committee received the report on the new Kingsley Fields primary school in Nantwich.
That committee gives approval to provide authority to the Executive Director of Children’s Services to award a construction contract for the provision of a new one form entry primary school in Nantwich, inclusive of any other agreements associated with or ancillary to the contract.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
This item on the agenda has been withheld from public circulation and deposit pursuant to Section 100(B)(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended on the grounds that the matter may be determined with the press and public excluded. The Committee may decide that the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item pursuant to Section 100(A)4 of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and public interest would not be served in publishing the information.
That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item pursuant to Section 100(A)4 of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and public interest would not be served in publishing the information.
Draft School Specification Document (Kingsley Fields)
To note the draft school specification document for the new primary school in Nantwich, Kingsley Fields.
That the committee note the draft school specification for Kingsley Fields.