Schools Forum Constitution 2020/21

The Schools’ Forum is a decision making and consultative body in relation to matters concerning schools’ budgets as defined in the School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2020. The Schools Forum Regulations 2012 govern the composition, constitution and procedures of Schools’ Forums.

This document is divided into 3 sections:

  1. Terms of Reference for the Reading Schools’ Forum
  2. Membership of the Reading Schools’ Forum
  3. Operating Conventions of the Reading Schools’ Forum

Further information, including the Schools’ Forum Operational and Good Practice Guide published by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) can be found on their website.

Terms of reference of the Reading Schools’ Forum

Status of the Schools’ Forum

The Schools’ Forum is established in accordance with Sections 47(1) 47A of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and The Schools Forums (England) Regulations 2012.

Annual Consultation on School Funding

The authority must consult the Schools Forum annually in respect of the authority’s functions relating to school funding including:

  • Changes to the primary and secondary funding formula (only school members plus the early years PVI representative can vote).
  • The allocation of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), including movements between blocks (except for movement from the schools block – see below).
  • Contracts where the LA is entering into a contract to be funded from the schools budget.
  • Funding arrangements for pupils with special educational needs, in particular the places to be commissioned by the LA and schools, and the arrangements for paying top up funding.
  • Funding arrangements for the use of Pupil Referral Units and the education of children otherwise than at school in particular the places to be commissioned by the LA and schools, and the arrangements for paying top up funding.
  • Central spend on children and young people with high needs.
  • Funding arrangements for early year’s provision.
  • Central spend on licences negotiated centrally by the Secretary of State.
  • Administrative arrangements for the allocation of central government grants paid to the schools via the authority.
  • Changes to the Minimum Funding Guarantee and any other changes from the regulations which the local authority intends to submit to the DfE for approval.
  • Any other matter concerning the funding of schools as the Schools’ Forum sees fit.

Annual Decisions on School Funding

School Forum Members must decide (usually annually) on the following proposals made by the LA:

  • Movement of up to 0.5% from the schools block to other blocks.
  • The amount of expenditure the local authority can centrally retain from the school budget, including growth fund, falling rolls fund, admissions service, servicing of schools forum, contributions to responsibilities that local authorities hold for all schools, contributions to combined budgets, prudential borrowing costs, and central spend on early years.
  • The criteria for allocating funding from the growth fund and falling rolls fund.
  • The de-delegation from mainstream maintained schools budgets for allowable central budgets, to be decided by the schools representatives of the relevant phase on behalf of all the schools they represent. This includes the general duties (support services) for maintained schools.
  • Revisions to the authority’s Scheme for Financing Schools.
  • Elects the Chair of Schools’ Forum, and determines the voting procedures.

Membership of the Reading Schools’ Forum

Composition

The Schools’ Forums regulations 2012 state that maintained primary schools, maintained secondary schools, and academies must be broadly proportionately represented on the Schools’ Forum having regard to the total number of registered pupils, though there must be at least one representative for each type of school. There must also be at least one representative of head teachers and one representative of governors among the school members. Schools and academies members must number at least two-thirds of the total membership

Reading Schools’ Forum shall in total comprise of 23 members being 20 school members (including academies) and 3 non-school members. The school members shall be Headteachers, Governors or Early Years representatives drawn from the schools / provisions in the Reading Borough Council Local Authority area. The Primary and Secondary head teacher members may also include representatives of head teachers – senior members of staff, such as School Business Managers.

School Members

The current number of representatives in each phase is as follows:

  1. Maintained Primary Representatives
    7 representatives from primary schools of which at least 1 must be a head teacher and at least 1 is a governor.
  2. Maintained Secondary Representatives
    1 representative from secondary schools.
  3. Maintained Special School Representatives
    1 representative from special schools.
  4. Nursery School Representatives
    2 representatives from the nursery schools.
  5. Academy Primary & Secondary School Representatives
    7 representatives from the academies, of which 2 from the primary sector and 5 from the secondary sector.
  6. Academy Special School Representatives
    1 representative from academy special schools.
  7. Alternative Provision Representatives
    1 representative from the Pupil Referral Unit/Alternative Provision.

Election of Schools Members

The maintained primary school head teacher representatives shall be elected by their Heads Forum.

The maintained primary school governor representatives shall be elected through nominations from and a vote by all governors in the relevant sector.

The maintained secondary school representative shall be decided by the school (there is only one school).

Academy representatives shall be decided by the Academies proprietors.

The special school representatives shall be decided by the relevant schools (there is only one maintained special and one academy special).

The nursery school representative shall be elected by mutual agreement between them.

The pupil referral unit representative shall be decided by the school (there is only one school). 

The Clerk of the Schools’ Forum must make a record of the process by which the constituents of each group elect their nominees to the Schools’ Forum. An election scheme must take into account the following factors:

  • The process for collecting names of those wishing to stand for election.
  • The timescale for notifying all constituents of the election and those standing.
  • The arrangements for dispatching and receiving ballots.
  • The arrangements for counting and publicising the results.
  • Any arrangements for unusual circumstances, such as only one candidate standing in an election or where there is a tie between two or more candidates.
  • Whether existing members can stand for re-election.

If an election does not take place by any date set by the Authority or any such election results in a tie between two or more candidates the Authority will appoint the schools member.

Non-School Members

In addition to the 20 school members a representative of the following groups will have full voting rights within the Schools’ Forum except for voting on the funding formulae where only the Early Years PVI Provider representative can vote:

  • Trade Union
  • Early Years PVI Provider
  • Non school Post 16

The representative will be elected by their group and the record of the appointment process will be held by the Clerk of the Schools’ Forum.

Substitute Members

Representative groups may nominate permanent substitutes who have sufficient experience and knowledge of schools funding to attend meetings.

and/or

A stand-in substitute who attends as a full voting member if a headteacher or permanent substitute is unavailable. Stand-in substitutes may attend some meetings as an observer to gain an insight into the work of the Forum.

The clerk must be notified in writing 24 hours before the start of the meeting that a substitution will be required. Substitute members will have full voting rights when taking the place of the substantive member for whom they are the designated substitute.

Participation of Observers

Observers shall be invited to attend Forum meetings. Observers may participate in the debate but will not have voting rights should any business of the Forum require a vote. The following groups shall be asked if they would like to nominate an observer (and a named substitute) to the Forum:

  • The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

Council Officers and Elected Members

Officers may attend and speak at the Schools’ Forum meetings in an advisory capacity only. The following or their representatives will be invited to attend the Forum meetings:

  • Director of Education or their representative
  • Head of Finance or their representative
  • Lead Member for Education
  • Any person invited by the Schools’ Forum to provide financial or technical advice

Terms of Office

The term of office for members of the Forum is three years. The same members can be reappointed providing they are re-elected by the group that they represent. This also applies to any permanent substitutes.

As well as the term of office coming to an end, a schools member ceases to be a member of the Schools’ Forum if he or she resigns from the Forum, giving at least one month’s written notice, or no longer occupies the office which he or she was nominated to represent. An election should be held within the outgoing members electing group to nominate a successor. The Clerk will then inform the Forum members of the result of the election within one month.

If a change in membership representation (e.g. due to proportionality) requires a reduction in members from a particular group, that group will mutually decide between them which member(s) will step down. The member(s) stepping down will be welcome to continue to attend as a substitute/observer.

Review of the Membership

Membership will be a standing item on the agenda for each meeting of the Schools’ Forum, to review the current list of members which will include which group they represent and their term of office.

The proportionality of the membership will be reviewed annually (in June/July) so that elections if required can be held by the end of the summer term ready for the new academic year.

Operating conventions of the Reading Schools Forum

Ordinary Meetings

An ordinary meeting of the Schools’ Forum shall be held, at a minimum, four times a year.

Administration of Meetings

Meetings of the Schools’ Forum shall be convened by the Local Authority, who will arrange the clerking and recording of meetings. The cycle of annual meetings are based on the financial year. All the meeting dates for the next financial year are set by the end of March every year.

Items for consideration by the Schools’ Forum shall be submitted to the Clerk no later than 10 working days prior to the meeting. The agenda and working papers should be circulated a week in advance of the meeting date.  Every effort should be made to circulate minutes to Forum members within 10 working days of the meeting.

The Chair and Vice Chair

The Chair and Vice-Chair shall be elected from within the membership of the Schools Forum (but may not be either an elected member or an officer of the local authority).

Quorum

The Schools’ Forum shall be quorate if at least 40% of the total membership is present (this excludes observers and vacancies). If the Schools’ Forum is not quorate the meeting can proceed and the members present can give advice to the local authority, but the authority is not obliged to take that advice into consideration. Decisions on the schools budgets may not be taken unless 40% of the school members are present.

Voting

Each member shall only have one vote. Voting shall be by show of hands. If there are equal numbers of votes for and against, the Chair will have a second or casting vote. There will be no restriction on how the Chair chooses to exercise a casting vote.

When the vote is on the schools funding formula only the schools members and the Early Years PVI Representative are eligible to vote.

Sub-Committees and Working Groups

The Schools’ Forum may have sub-committees or working groups. The Schools’ Forum shall receive reports from the sub-committees or working groups to approve formally.

Declaration of Interest

Any member of the Schools’ Forum who has an interest in any proposal beyond the generality of the group that they represent or in which they might have a personal or prejudicial interest shall declare the interest at the beginning of the relevant item. The member can explain any issues to the meeting and then must leave the meeting until the item has finished. The member cannot vote on that item.

Where it is clear that a decision in which a member has an interest is likely to arise at a particular meeting, the meeting concerned may invite a substitute member (with no interest to declare) in accordance with the constitution to attend the meeting in their place.

Elected members are subject to the governance of the Council’s Code of Conduct.

Status of Reports

All report authors will be responsible for informing the clerk in advance of the status of reports to be included in the agenda i.e. confidential or non-confidential.

Expenses

The Local Authority shall maintain a budget for the reimbursement of all reasonable expenses relating to the operation of the Forum and charge these expenses to the Schools Budget. The Local Authority shall reimburse expenses of members of the Schools’ Forum when members submit appropriate claims, in connection with attendance at the meetings. Supply cover should only be claimed when it has been necessary to employ a supply cover teacher to enable the Headteacher to attend the Forum.

Interpretation of the Constitution

The Chair or person residing at the meeting shall be the final arbiter regarding the interpretation of the Schools’ Forum’s constitution. The constitution shall be interpreted in conjunction with the relevant provisions contained in the legislation relating to the Schools’ Forum’s proceedings. The requirements of legislation will prevail in the event of there being any inconsistency between the legislation and the constitution.

Amendment of the Constitution

With the exception of matters subject to legislative provision or approval by the authority, the Schools’ Forum may vary its constitution by a simple majority vote by the members provided that prior notice of the nature of the proposed variation is made and included on the agenda for the meeting.

Publicity relating to the Schools Forum

The Schools Forum is a public meeting and the Local Authority is responsible for putting the Schools’ Forum papers, minutes and decisions promptly on the Reading Borough Council website and generally draw schools attention to forthcoming Schools’ Forum meetings and agendas and the minutes of Schools’ Forum discussions.