Early years funding: Schools Forum

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Schools Forum?

Each local authority has a Schools Forum which looks at specific issues to do with schools, education and early years. They look at budgets, consultations and proposals. They also make decisions regarding funding that local authorities receive from central government for education through the Designated Schools Grant (DSG). There is no set size for a Schools Forum but all aspects of education must be represented. Representatives are voted in and each LA is responsible for providing terms of office. Non-school members (including early years representatives) may make up no more than a third of the total membership.

Who sits on a Schools Forum?

Schools Forums can have representatives from local schools, specialist provision, pupil referral units (PRUs), academies, relevant unions, post 16 education and early years. Early years reps should include a PVI provider. There will also be council officers attending and who support the running of the Schools Forum.

Who can go to a Schools Forum meeting?

Anyone can attend a Schools Forum meeting as they are public meetings. Information and an agenda should be freely available ahead of each meeting. Minutes should be easily available following each meeting. There may be some elements that are not public and the Chairperson of the meeting will make a decision on these.

However, unless you are a member or representative on the Forum you will not get the chance to say anything, just listen. If you want to ask your local PVI representative to say something on your behalf, you will need to find out who that is via your LA’s Schools Forum officer.

What decisions do Schools Forums take?

Schools Forums look at budgets, consultations and proposals. They also make decisions regarding funding (DSG).  Although they are generally a consultative body, they can have some decision making powers. This includes funding for early years expenditure.

However, if the Schools Forum votes to reject the proposals, the council can apply to the Secretary of State to overturn a decision.

How can I find out who my local representative is?

Go to your local council website and search for Schools Forum. Schools Forums are all run differently but they should have a Schools Forum officer you can contact. This should include an email and or contact number.

Or you can look on the Schools Forum page at the agendas and minutes. It should detail all the meeting attendees including those who are representing early years and PVI providers.

How regularly do Schools Forums meet?

Each LA is different but they must meet at least four times a year.

How can I become a member of the Schools Forum?

Contact your local Schools Forum officer for more details. Check to see if there is already at least one representative from the PVI sector on the forum.

Some Schools Forums decide to also have working groups focussing on specific areas – eg. an early years reference group – so it may be possible to join those if they exist. These don’t make decisions but can look at proposals and give their feedback.

What does it entail?

Being consulted on and making decisions on local funding matters that have a real effect on nurseries, schools and colleges. Going to the majority of meetings.

When joining a Schools Forum, ask for appropriate induction materials which should include its constitution, terms of office, copies of previous meeting minutes and the programme of meetings.

Find out more details about Schools Forums on the Gov.uk website.