Report of Corporate Director for People
Nick Lee, Director of Education, presented the report, and stated the following:
a) the Department for Education confirmed in January 2022 that the grant payment to local authorities, which funds the provision of school improvement services to local authority maintained schools, would reduce by 50% in 2022/23, and be removed entirely in 2023/24. In Nottingham, this grant formed part of the overall grant payment agreed with the Nottingham Schools Trust (NST), who are commissioned by Nottingham City Council to deliver school improvement services to the remaining local authority maintained schools;
b) to mitigate the adverse impact on the provision of school improvement services to maintained schools, the Department for Education had now approved local authorities seeking de-delegation approval via a Schools Forum decision for the equivalent funding from maintained schools budget share;
c) accordingly, the report set out the background, rationale for seeking the approval and financial contribution required by maintained primary schoolsto fund the grant reduction in the financial year 2022/23;
d) the NST had established a strong school improvement offer based upon a combination of peer-led school to school improvement, a full range of curriculum subject network groups, comprehensive CPD opportunities for all levels of staff, leadership development programmes and induction support for new leaders, and the allocation to all member schools of a highly skilled and experienced School Improvement Advisor;
e) the outcomes for Nottingham maintained primary schools, in terms of Key Stage performance metrics and Ofsted grade judgements since the establishment of the NST, has fully demonstrated the positive impact of this model. Maintaining the financial security that underpins this model is of benefit to all maintained primary schools;
f) the reduction and subsequent total removal of a significant element of the grant funding available to the NST to deliver this model would severely weaken the offer available to member schools, particularly in terms of the ability to deploy high quality school improvement advisors.
During discussion, the following was stated:
g) Unions were in agreement with the proposals and considered continuation was important. However, they did consider that the lack of reference in the written report to potential adverse crime and disorder and equalities impacts was an oversight as the impact of quality school improvement in the primary phase is important in securing successful transition for children moving from primary to secondary phase;
h) it was a shame that the DfE are cutting the funding as it works well;
i) Head Teachers in the NST were all in agreement that the system is good and is value for money;
j) as The Nottingham Nursery is funded differently, it is not able to de-delegate funding; alongside LA maintained special schools, the Hospital Home Learning Centre or the three single academy trust schools that are NST members. Separate arrangements for the invoicing of school improvement services delivered by the NST will be arranged directly by the NST for these schools.
(1) to approve, in respect of maintained mainstream primary schools, the de-delegation of funding to mitigate the reduction in the School Improvement, monitoring and brokerage grant received by Nottingham City Council, at a rate of £5.21 per pupil to ensure that Nottingham Schools Trust can maintain the agreed level of school improvement support established though its current grant agreement;
(2) to note that the total funding to be de-delegated by the budget for maintained mainstream primary schools for the financial year 2022-23 will be £0.058m.