Venue: Ystafell Dwyryd, Canolfan gyswllt y Cyngor, Penrhyndeudraeth
Contact: Eirian Roberts 01286 679018
To receive apologies for absence.
Dafydd Edwards (Head of Finance), Arwyn Williams (Ysgol Tryfan), Alan Wyn Jones (Ysgol Nefyn), Richard Derwyn Jones (Ysgol Garndolbenmaen), Eleri Morgan Davies (Ysgol y Gorlan), Neil Foden (Ysgol Friars), Anest Gray Frazer (Diocese), Gwenan Davies Jones (Chair of Primary Headteachers’ Federation), Ellen Williams (Chair of Secondary Headteachers’ Federation), Hefin Owen (Group Accountant – Development) and Ffion Edwards Ellis (Assistant Head of Special Education Needs and Inclusion).
DECLARATION OF PERSONAL INTEREST
To receive any declaration of personal interest.
No declarations of personal interest were received.
To note any items that are a matter of urgency in the view of the Chair for consideration
None to note.
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting held on 23 January 2020.
The Chair signed the minutes of the previous Forum meeting held on 23 January, 2020 as a true record.
MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES
To discuss any matters arising from the minutes.
The ‘Statistical First Release’ – Wales’s School Balances has been sent to the Forum members.
Item 5 - School Balances 31/03/2020 over £50,000 (Primary) or £100,00 (Secondary)
In response to an enquiry, it was noted that no confirmation had been received thus far regarding the legal position in terms of an all-through school. It was further asked if it would be possible to place primary and secondary together for now. It was noted that this was not possible as it was a legal mater rather than the authority’s choice.
It was noted that all Forum members had received a copy of the first statistical statement regarding schools’ reserve funds at 31 March 2019. Attention was drawn to some of the main points, namely:-
· That the total level of reserve funds in Welsh schools was £46m on 31 March 2019, equivalent to £102 per pupil.
· Swansea had the highest level of reserve funds per pupil, namely £251, and Monmouthshire was the lowest, with a deficit of £22 per pupil.
· That 151 primary schools, 77 secondary schools, 8 special schools, 1 nursery school and 10 middle schools in Wales had negative reserve funds equivalent to £29m. The other 1,287 schools had reserve funds greater than 10% of the total expenditure earmarked for them.
It was further noted that Gwynedd was fairly close to the highest in terms of the level of reserve funds per pupil.
In response to a query, it was noted that the main concerns of officers was that schools would go into deficit, and it was very difficult to come out of that position.
Item 7 - School Grants 2020/21
In response to an enquiry, it was noted that no information had been received from GwE regarding use of the Professional Development Grant.
Item 8 - Draft Settlement - Gwynedd Council's Financial Strategy
In response to an enquiry, it was noted that an element of the Transport bid had been funded and it was confirmed that this did not impact school funding anyhow.
It was noted that it was understood that Gwynedd Council Cabinet had decided not to harvest the general savings scheme for schools this year, and it was emphasised that if it was proposed to change this in future, the Forum should be part of that discussion.
In response, it was noted that the situation depended on the Welsh Government settlement to councils. This year’s settlement was better than expected, however, nobody could give any promise for the future and factors such as Brexit, recent floods and Coronavirws would obviously be part of the future discussion. It was agreed that the Forum should be part of the discussion if the situation changed in the future.
Report by Hefin Owen.
Submitted for information – the report of the Group Accountant – Development giving an analysis of the Integration Allocation since establishing the curent funding system in 2015/16.
The Dwyfor / Meirion Area Education Officer noted that the Assistant Head of Special Needs and Inclusion had asked him to report on some points as a result of this item. He explained:-
· That an external survey had been commissioned regarding use of integration funding as part of Phase 2 of the strategic review in the area of Additional Learning Needs and Inclusion (ALN&I).
· The intention at the time was to establish a sub-group that would look at the different methods of devolving integration funding, however, there was a request from the Management Board to undertake a full review of the ALN&I Service across Gwynedd and Anglesey.
· This work had proceeded during the last few weeks. This had already been reported and would be shared with the Strategic Boards.
· That the Assistant Head of Special Educational Needs and Inclusion wished to stress that it was proposed to discuss different options with devolvement, and the sub-group would look at this over the next few weeks.
RESOLVED that the sub-group would look at the different methods of devolvement and would feed back to the next Forum. It was also agreed to share a summary of the independent review of ALN&I across Gwynedd and Anglesey to the primary and secondary consultative groups.
Presentation by Huw Ynyr
It was noted that all Forum members had received a copy of a report prepared jointly by the Assistant Head of Information Technology and the Dwyfor/Meirion Area Education Officer on the Hwb In-Schools Infrastructure Grant. It had not been possible to include the report on the Forum’s agenda, as no final figures had been received from the Welsh Government until the eleventh hour.
Details on the contents of the report were received. It was noted:-
· In July 2019, the Minister for Education announced a funding programme to transform Education Technology in Wales.
· The £50m venture would use the new ‘All-Wales ICT catalogue’ as a medium to assist local authorities to purchase the essential compatible equipment on behalf of their schools.
· In accordance with the scheme’s conditions, it would be local authorities who would serve as the strategic supply partner for the programme and it would be necessary to use finance appropriately to ensure that every school is upgraded in accordance with national standards.
· That Gwynedd has committed to be a link for schools in the county and had agreed to the core principles of standardisation, consistency and most importantly sustainability.
· The grant enabled the Gwynedd schools network to be renewed in order to reach the national standard, by upgrading the wifi network points and cabinets and to install new cables where needed.
· Hardware to upgrade the network had been ordered and installation work would occur over the next two terms.
· As the Council had committed to the sustainability of this equipment, there would be no cost implications to schools when the installed equipment via a grant would come to the end of its lifespan.
· That close to £1.4m of the grant this year had been invested in hardware to upgrade the network.
· That an assessment of the number and condition of existing devices across Gwynedd schools indicated that a wide range of devices were available in schools, however, many had dated.
· That the Education Department’s Digital Education Strategy had set an ambition in terms of the ration of devices to children of 1:4 in foundation phase and 1:1 in key stages 2, 3 and 4, together with a device for each teacher and for many support staff.
· If the ratio of 1:1 in the secondary sector was not maintained then elements of the old system would have to be retained with a significant increase in equipment maintenance costs.
· It was estimated that 13,676 devices were required at a cost of £2,908,205.02. The grant would enable us to purchase these devices.
· Based on the renewal cycle of five years, it will be necessary to find 20% of the cost of these devices each year for the next five years. At the end of the five years a new set of devices would be presented. The costs will be as noted in the following tables:-