EA and RS April 2016 Update

Update for the April meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

The Association’s Educational Achievement and Resources & Sustainability Policy Committees met in Manchester on Thursday 11 February.

The government had been expected to launch a significant and wide-ranging consultation on a new national schools funding formula in early 2016, but this had not yet happened. The group decided to use this time together to begin to shape some key messages in relation to each of the key funding blocks and the LAs role in supporting schools to improve in order to feed into the Association’s formal response. The DfE has confirmed that regional school commissioners (RSC) will not play a leading role in school improvement, their role will be focused more on intervention. It is unclear how DfE will manage this complex landscape, ensuring individual academy schools and MATs take their responsibility for school improvement seriously and where they do not, who will hold them to account - RSCs and headteacher boards are too remote to fulfill this role.

Attention then turned to the costs incurred by LAs when maintained schools become academies. Several authorities present on the day have introduced, or are looking to introduce, charges to recoup internal costs incurred e.g. legal and HR staff time, in supporting the conversion process given schools receive a grant from the DfE to support the this process. Many local authorities continue to meet these costs directly and this is now having an impact on the delivery of other services to children, young people and their families. Given the government’s desire to speed up the conversion process this could become an even greater cost pressure for LAs in the future. The group felt this issue should remain high on the Association’s agenda.

The group then considered a report published at the end of 2015 by the Public Accounts Committee on the effectiveness of pupil premium spend and discussed the impact this funding is having locally. It was suggested that the impact of pupil premium spend should be assessed on an area basis for a truer picture of return on investment. Members also felt there might be an opportunity to use an element of pupil premium funds at a strategic level to allow for the commissioning of sophisticated specialist services.

The group reviewed the latest draft of a ‘ways of working’ document which seeks to formalise relationships between RSCs and LAs. This document is intended to provide a sense of transparency, particularly for schools, and provides a model on which to open up further dialogue in an increasingly complex landscape. A further draft will be produced following feedback at this meeting. The group also reviewed the near final version of ‘Pillars and Foundations,’ a think piece on the future shape of children’s services, which has been developed by a small working group. The paper has been subject to lots of consultation, debate and has had input from a range of sources. Following the committee meeting, the think piece ‘Pillars and Foundations’ was published and featured in Children and Young People Now. As of 13th April 2016, it has been downloaded from the ADCS website over 11,000 times.

The group then briefly considered several emerging concerns with a view to discussing them in greater detail at future meetings. These included the impact of the national initial teacher training quota system, the attainment of children in care, SEND reforms, fair access protocols and the Association’s biennial Safeguarding Pressures research.

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