We are writing to you jointly as Chair of Schools Forum and Director of Children's Services for Somerset County Council.
You will be aware, given your involvement in Schools Forum, that we were planning to launch a second consultation with Headteachers and School Leaders across Somerset this week seeking their views about how we might reduce £1.174m of expenditure from the DSG next year by March 2021.
We had scheduled an extraordinary meeting of the Schools Forum on 25th March to consider this feedback and make a decision.
In light of events globally, nationally and locally related to Covid-19 and after discussion we feel that now is not the best time for the Forum to be consulting and making this decision given new and pressing priorities. It is generally accepted that we are likely to experience disruption to our daily lives as a result of the virus and our priority must be on our schools and on the continuation of key services. As such, any consultation and decision making about the future of the DSG and the recovery plan will be pushed back into the next academic year to avoid any unnecessary potential disruption to all partners in our educational landscape.
The result of this decision is that the DSG recovery plan will slip by a few months, however, given the uncertainty of where we are, we felt that providing schools leaders with certainty about their budgets and PRU services now would be welcomed and helpful.
To confirm that for the next financial year (up to March 2021) Schools will not be asked to make a financial contribution to the cost of non-statutory work currently paid for out of the DSG which includes PRU outreach work. The suggested figures as modelled in the previous consultation will not be deducted from school budgets. Similarly, PRU leaders should work on the basis that they will be funded as at present, from the DSG, to provide the non-statutory services of partnership places and outreach support.
The planned Schools Forum on the 25th March will now not go ahead.
Julian and Peter