Debra Boniface, Finance Manager presented the
Individual School Balances 2018 –
2019 report and highlighted key points. The report provided a
breakdown of the levels of balances held by maintained schools as
at 31 March 2019 and sought to inform Schools’ Forum of the
challenges around schools holding high balances.
It was clarified that schools holding high
excess balances for five or more years were challenged by the
Council and required to provide plans on how that money would be
allocated. If the plans were considered to be robust, they would be
tracked and desktop monitored by Local Authority officers. If the
plans required more information, the plans would be discussed
further with the head teacher of the school. If considered
appropriate, the matter would then be presented to the Arbitration
Panel with a possible view to clawing back the unallocated
It was noted that deficit balances were also
monitored very closely by a sub-group known as Schools in Financial
Risk (SFR). The report provided information on the schools holding
a deficit balance and outlined the current status of each case and
steps taken to manage it.
It was clarified that there were tight
processes in place to ensure that a deficit balance didn’t
continue to grow prior to a school’s conversion to an
academy. It was reported that a dedicated finance team had been
established to provide desktop monitoring to track progress.
It was noted that the data contained within
Appendix 1 showed the balance for each Wolverhampton school over a
period of three academic years. It was clarified that the figures
represented was pre-consistent financial reporting (CFR) validated
It was clarified that a system wide approach
had been adopted to curb growing deficits. It was noted that early
warning was key and the Authority had made great progress into
working and communicating with schools to mitigate risks.
It was noted that the DfE had
introduced the Local Authority Analysis (LAA) Tool which they use
to assign a category to each maintained school from A to G.
The DfE raise challenge to the LA for any school falling into the F
or G category.
It was confirmed that it had
been F and G ratings that had triggered the recent SRMA visits,
although the LA had had the final decision on which schools were
In response to a query regarding schools with
challenging budgets, it was confirmed that support was offered by
In response to a query in respect of
correlation between capping and the funding formula, it was
outlined that a link had not been found as yet but as it was too
early in the introduction of changes to the funding formula and the
complexity of the formula meant that this was difficult to map as
- That the level of balances in
maintained schools as at 31 March 2019 be noted.
- That the approach to challenging
schools around their level of balances and their plans for those
resources be noted.
- That the recommendation for
Schools’ Forum to receive regular updates on the progress and
actions agreed with schools be agreed.