2 Introduction to the Compact In response to the changing nature of the education landscape, the idea took shape during 2010 and the Compact was formally launched in 2011 It was created from a desire amongst schools and academies to work together for children, particularly the most vulnerable, recognising common ground and the need for a forum for debate It is a significant partnership involving schools, academies, early years providers and the Local Authority, led by schools, on behalf of education providers in Somerset It is the main body for consulting on, shaping and directing policies and service provision in relation to schools, as well as determining evidence based priorities to inform resource decisions at Cabinet, Schools Forum and individual establishments. Each year the Compact Executive sets aside time to look at totality of resources for education provision for the forward year
The Role of the Compact Executive Act as a Joint Strategic Commissioning Partnership (commissioning fixed term and on-going support and professional services); Act as an Educational Outcomes Programme Board (co-ordinating, directing and overseeing the delivery of key projects and activities that aim to improve educational outcomes); Providing system leadership and communicating a clear education vision for Somerset; Contributing to the development of educational policy and strategy and facilitating the implementation thereof; Promoting and facilitating collaboration between education providers in Somerset; Promote equality and access to excellent educational opportunities, especially for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. The Compact Executive sets aside time to look at totality of resources for education provision to ensure that ambition and strategy is matched with adequate funding.
The Compact Executive agreed the following statement on 3 December: The CYP Compact recognises the immediate and future budget pressures and in navigating this time of austerity have agreed a set of principles to act as our moral compass in our decision making: 1.The most vulnerable in our county need continued investment and a recognition that these cost will rise in the future. 2.Early investment in children and young people is essential in determining their futures and as such should be both protected and prioritised 3.Given the holistic nature of interventions, all agencies/sectors need to make contributions to provision. 4.SCC staffing and leadership must be organised in a way to deliver outstanding support and service. This will involve new, creative and innovative models of delivery. 5.Acting responsibly as a children’s commissioner, any reduction in funding needs to take account of the capacity required to deliver statutory responsibilities to a high standard, to plan strategically and respond effectively to recent OfSTED inspection. 6.A saving in the medium to longer term may require a short term investment. 7.Any proposed reduction in funding for services for children and their families must be accompanied by a rigorous assessment of the impact of the intended cuts and full, timely and appropriate consultation.
The most vulnerable in our county need continued investment and a recognition that these cost will rise in the future. Connect the response to the recent Multi-remit OfSTED Inspection to the decisions about resources, particularly for the vulnerable and disadvantaged; The government has allocated additional funding to address the “new burdens” related to the SEND Reforms, allowing for investment in joint commissioning, assessment, planning, casework and monitoring; Whilst the Compact and the Forum took the decision to withdraw DSG funding from support for EHE pupils, there remains considerable concern about the educational outcomes for this group. However, as the LA has little power to intervene, other than in respect of safeguarding, the scope for effective engagement is limited; There was support to maintain key elements of existing support for schools and EY settings for the main vulnerable groups whilst a piece of commissioning work is undertaken, led by the new Virtual Headteacher.
Early investment in children and young people is essential in determining their futures and as such should be both protected and prioritised In addition to funding the EY sector sufficiently to provide a core of quality early years education, the additional needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children must be recognised and appropriate support put in place, to avoid missing an important opportunity to close gaps; The work of the PFSA is widely recognised as key to school’s capacity to engage in early help but the distribution of resource must be reviewed to match current and future need and recognition of management cost needs to be built into the funding package; Any review of thresholds for EHC Plans needs to go hand in hand with an understanding of the arrangements for those at tier 2 and 3, below the thresholds (eg pupils with needs but not top-up, pupils with top-up but not a Plan); The early identification of SEN in very young children is important and the capacity of Area SEY SENCos will need to be kept under review.
Given the holistic nature of interventions, all agencies/sectors need to make contributions to provision The SEND Reforms provide an opportunity to “develop a dynamic triangle between education, health and care” provision, requiring joint commissioning, assessment and placement as well as sharing of cost with integrity; Capacity for commissioning as well as assessment, planning and casework is required across health and care services, not just education and must cover the full 0 to 25 age range;
SCC staffing and leadership must be organised in a way to deliver outstanding support and service. This will involve new, creative and innovative models of delivery. Effective leadership during a period of austerity is essential, with concern about capacity at present; A strategic direction and shared ambition is required to ensure outcome-enhancing coherence across the sector raising Achievement Plans, including the development of appropriate services within SSE and the harnessing of expertise in schools and EY settings; There is scope to learn from the Progression Project (primary/secondary) to develop an EYFS RAP that addresses readiness for school and closes gaps in outcomes at the end of the Foundation Stage; Explore if there is a the role SSE can play, together with a subsidised subscription approach, to sustain high quality support for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme in schools; Creative shared use of school and SCC vehicles should be explored to identify scope for efficiency savings; The risks and costs associated with loss of ICT coherence need to be clear for the LA and for schools and academies.
Acting responsibly as a children’s commissioner, any reduction in funding needs to take account of the capacity required to deliver statutory responsibilities to a high standard, to plan strategically and respond effectively to recent OfSTED inspection. Cost pressures faced by front-line education providers must be respected in formula allocations to maintain the integrity of the activity-led approach and ensure that funding allows for financially and educationally viable provision; As far as is possible, the planned real terms cuts in Early Years funding should be reconsidered and reversed; The areas of improvement identified through the multi-remit inspection cannot be addressed if the full MTFP reduction is made in school and EY improvement capacity; Statutory duties in relation to commissioning post-16 (universal, vulnerable and complex need) are insufficiently resourced leading to a lack of clear strategy and inconsistent deployment of resources
A saving in the medium to longer term may require a short term investment. Building capacity within Somerset for ASD, SEMH and SPLD to reduce out-county reliance will need capital and revenue investment as well as creative and collaborative strategic planning; Building capacity will also require clarity over the expectations and role of mainstream and special schools to address the continuum of special needs; The establishment of Somerset Total Communication as a fully traded service may require some continuation of core funding to facilitate transition; Business process re-engineering in respect of Early Years entitlement and payment processes would yield medium term savings but requires short-term investment in ICT systems and staff training;
Any proposed reduction in funding for services for children and their families must be accompanied by a rigorous assessment of the impact of the intended cuts and full, timely and appropriate consultation. Savings in home to school transport and road safety arrangements require full consultation with particular focus on the impact on vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, as well as the impact on schools of any changes in patterns of parental preference; The implications of “full cost recovery” within DSG funded services and for prices charged by SSE needs to be fully explained, and be consistent with approach taken when determining formula and top-up funding – this avoids overhead recovery having unintended consequences for education provision or services for children and their families;
Recommendations in relation to the LA Medium Term Financial Plan: A reduction of commissioning capacity and a reduction and restructuring of early years training could increase the risk of insufficient quality early years places throughout the county. The County Council is urged to consider the combined effect of this reduction together with any real terms cut in formula funding for the Early years sector and the potential risk to statutory duties. The local authority’s ability to respond to the areas for improvement highlighted in the recent Multi-remit Inspection as well as the capacity to commission high quality education provision with vision and a focus on cost-effectiveness may be compromised by a further significant reduction in school and early years improvement budgets. The essential requirement is the ability to know education providers across the full age range, from early years through to post 16,and to co-ordinate, support and monitor the effectiveness of individual and sector strategies to raise achievement. The Compact maintains a strong commitment to providing support for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and supported a proposal to sustain existing provision whilst a full commissioning exercise is undertaken. This will allow the LA budget to withdraw from funding for support services without a damaging impact on children and young people. A coherence offer of core and traded services for schools and early years through SSE can be developed for 2016/17.
Recommendations in relation to the LA decisions about the Schools Budget The principles of full cost recovery and an activity led funding approach should be consistently applied across the full Schools Budget, to ensure sufficient funding for the intended activity and recognition of overhead and support costs.. This is as relevant for front-line formula funding as it is for centrally held budgets. The implications of this approach are: –Recognition of inflationary pressures (eg 1% pay award) –A review of the impact of the planned real terms cut in the Early years formula –Recognition of the full cost of meeting the needs of High Needs pupils in the most cost-effective way Consideration should be given to making effective use of DSG Reserves to support “invest to save” proposals that facilitate the transformation of SEN provision, responding to changing need and improving cost-effectiveness. Similarly, the transitional costs of developing “closing the gap” services for vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils could be a call on reserves.
Recommendations in relation to the Schools Forum decisions about the Schools Budget: Early Years central retention (requires approval by Early Years representatives): Contingency (level dependent on eventual level of real terms cut); Support for collaboration through clusters and networks to improve outcomes, close gaps, develop links between Primary Schools and Early Years and ensure all children are ready for school; Support for collaboration and cross-phase working through the Compact and the Executive Officer team; Vulnerable Learner (non-SEN) support for settings, with provision funded on a sustainable and cost-effective basis (avoid annual contracts on a financial year basis) Some elements of the above are currently provided for within a central element of the Schools Block and some are funded from reserves. The proposal above regularises the arrangements for the Early Years sector.
Recommendations in relation to the Schools Forum decisions about the Schools Budget: Schools Block central retention (requires approval by school and academy representatives): Transfer Early Years Cluster development funding from the EY RAP (and into EY central retention) and reconfigure remainder as an early Years Foundation Stage RAP, led by the primary and early years sectors, with a focus on progression through transition and “readiness for school”; Recognise inflationary pressures (at 1%) and any correction to overheads charges within Combined Budgets; Commit £126,900 to secure ongoing support for vulnerable groups (minority ethnic groups and children and young people with English as an Additional Language) whilst a full commissioning exercise is undertaken; Support changes to the PFSA budget to allow for the funding package to be updated to cover management costs and for a review of capacity and distribution; Reduce Curriculum Enrichment and Development funding from £250,000 to £200,000; Consider coherence and targeting of support for post-16 vulnerable learners. Manage funding for preventative intervention through SPG and ensure focus on closing gaps at all key stages. Planning assumption: no change in Combined Budgets total at this stage
Next steps: The Director of Children’s Services and the Lead Member for Children and Families will review the feedback and this will inform County Council Medium Term Financial Plan and Schools Budget decisions; The Strategic Commissioners for Education (Places and Outcomes) will review the feedback and make proposals for central retention of Dedicated Schools Grant to the Schools Forum in January.