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Council and Democracy

Agenda item

De-delegation 2020-21

To consider the attached report of the Assistant Director of Finance / Assistant Director of Education.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the Assistant Director of Finance and Assistant Director of Education, which provided additional information to that provided in the previous School’s Forum report presented on 26 November 2019.  This report included the potential implications of the decision not to de-delegate Trade Union Support and was in response to a request made by the Secondary Sector to defer their vote on the de-delegated services to allow consultation with wider stakeholder colleagues.

 

Consideration was given to a point raised at the last meeting with regard to Special Schools and their position in the voting process for de-delegation.  It was explained that operational guidance suggests that Special Schools and the Pupil Referral Service are not part of the voting process but can buy back in the same way that Academies can.  The members of the Forum, therefore, considered whether Maintained Special Schools and the Pupil Referral Service wanted to be part of the de-delegation vote and therefore agree that their School’s Forum representatives make the annual decision and buy back on behalf of the sector, and whether the Schools’ Forum members agree to this amendment to the current voting process.

 

Following a request from members of the Forum with regard to financial efficiency and the role of Trade Unions, an overview of the roles and responsibilities of Trade Union Support was provided.  It was explained that Tameside schools have for many years had access to Trade Union Support through a Service Level Agreement arrangement that recognises the main Trade Unions and professional associations that support the various public sector employee groups across the whole school workforce.

 

Furthermore, it was made clear that this support provides schools with centrally co-ordinated Trade Union services to support schools’ and leaders’ statutory obligations. In particular, it was explained that this provides schools, school leaders and Governing Bodies with support and expertise in employment related matters, helping to resolve workplace issues early on and providing a significant and positive contribution to school leaders with their management of change and the implementation of policies and procedures.

 

It was explained that local Trade Union representatives undertake a variety of roles in collective bargaining and working with school leaders and managers, communicating with union members, liaising with relevant Trade Unions at regional and national level and greatly assisting in the handling of individual matters concerning school based employees.  The positive benefits for school leaders, employees and union members were outlined, including:

 

  • Time and resources directed solely to Tameside schools’ priorities with less competing and conflicting demands
  • Progression of employee relations issues within schools undertaken and concluded in a timely manner
  • Full knowledge and understanding of local needs and pressures
  • Progression of school employment procedure review and implementation undertaken more speedily
  • The development of effective, collaborative working relationships to enable smoother progression of school based organisational matters, such as school staffing re-organisation and health and safety matters
  • Locally based resulting in easier access and speedier responses to requests for service
  • Direct access to senior officers within the Council’s Children’s Services Directorate, acting as mandate and lobbyist for school leaders/school based staff and school related matter.

 

In contrast, the implications of not de-delegating Trade Union support were outlined, including potential delays in accessing support, which would negatively impact timely resolutions to workplace issues, progression of employment policies and practices for school leaders.  It was also suggested that it would be highly likely that any support available would not have full knowledge and understanding of a school’s local needs.  Furthermore, any meetings that may require attendance from a variety of Trade Unions will become more problematic logistically to arrange at a regional level.

 

Consideration was then given to the financial implications of Trade Union Support.  It was outlined that, year on year, the number of local Trade Union officers and associated expenditure is reviewed by the Local Authority to ensure that the provision continues to deliver excellent services whilst achieving good value for money.  The support offered to schools for 2020-21 will be just over 3 full-time officers covering all teaching and non-teaching staff across the whole Tameside area.  Their performance is overseen and directed by the senior council officers; ensuring work is targeted and directed to where local needs for schools are best met.

 

In terms of funding Trade Union support, the total cost of Service Level Agreements for schools for 2020-21, including staffing costs and associated overhead running costs is £174K.  The de-delegation rate for this support is £6.47 per child and Secondary Maintained Schools were asked to vote on this.

 

It was explained that, assuming none of the Maintained Primary Schools buy in and Secondary Maintained Schools de-delegate whilst Academies who purchased for 2019-20 (both sectors) continue to buy in, there would be a short fall in cost recovery of approximately £82K.  Alternatively, it was made clear that, should Secondary Maintained Schools not de-delegate and Academies who had previously purchased for 2019-20 (both sectors) continue to buy in, there would be a short fall in cost recovery of approximately £120K.  It was also outlined that a buy-back option would be available to the Primary Sector on the same basis as de-delegation.

 

It was further explained that the short fall in the recovery of costs for the Council would result in the need for a significant review of the facilities afforded through the Facilitates Agreement, which may result in a reduction in offer being made available at the present time and for the future.

 

With regard to contingency, it was stated that, in 2019-20, Mainstream Secondary Maintained Schools voted to de-delegate the budget for contingency.  This budget had been established to support those schools facing a deficit budget position to support the Dedicated Schools Grant against any future pressures where schools are closing or are forced to convert to an Academy leaving a deficit balance.  The members of the Forum acknowledged that, whilst schools are facing financial pressures, it is prudent to establish a contingency budget to protect future pressures against the Dedicated School Grant, which will affect all schools.  It was explained that the aim of this would be to create a contingency fund of approximately £159K.  It was also noted that, to date, there have been no requests made to access the contingency fund for 2019-20.  With this in mind, the fund will be carried forward into 2020-21.

 

RESOLVED

(i)            That de-delegation for Trade Union support for Secondary Maintained Schools be approved

(ii)          That de-delegation for Secondary Maintained Schools to the Contingency fund be approved

(iii)         That the amendment to the current voting process be agreed to include Special Schools and Pupil Referral Service with regard to  future annual decisions on de-delegation

 

 

Supporting documents: