Please note this is part of an ongoing dialogue to inform the service review process and is not a consultation.
The continuing review of education services will seek to address the shift in balance between the council’s ability to spend on service provision and the role of schools in commissioning services, alongside the need to tackle historic high levels of spending in some areas of the education service.
The budget allocated to the education service covers both:
Statutory services, that is those we are legally required to provide or to ensure that they are provided by someone else, and
Discretionary services, that is services which the council may choose to provide or pay for over and above the duty placed on us legally.
In both cases there are some services we are allowed to charge for (whether to an individual or a school) and others that we are not.
All this presents us with choices, albeit difficult ones, but we must consider all the choices open to us to meet council priorities.
The Government have made it clear that a key aim of the recent changes to funding arrangements is to increase decisions made by schools through reducing the amount of funding provided to the council specifically for schools (Direct Schools Grant) that can be held by the council. This means the schools have more direct control on how they spend their money.
This means the council will have less ability to provide extra-curricular activities within schools and we will have to work differently with schools and parents if these services are to continue. Part of the Direct Schools Grant is funding provided by the Government to the council for children and young people with ‘high needs’. This includes funding for children and young people up to the age of 25 years with the most severe and complex special educational needs, and excluded children and young people.
Despite this changing environment, and the shift of funding from councils to schools, we are still legally required to ensure that several services are delivered.
Some services that we currently offer such as the Outdoor Learning Service and the city learning centres are not statutory and for them to continue we need to maximise the income they make.
Although there are clear links between the social care and education services parts of the budget, it was decided to restrict this initial review to education services, because of the on-going work to deliver the improvement necessary in our children’s social care services.