The future of education services in Birmingham

By on 25/06/2013 in Cllr Jones, Leader, News, Service Reviews

Birmingham City Council today published a green paper looking at the future of Education Services across the city.

The council is facing a big challenge, having to cut the part of the budget we can control by half over seven years. In the past we have often made changes to improve our services and to get better value for money. But we now face cuts in government funding on a scale that has never been seen before.

We will need to make big changes to balance the books in the years ahead. These changes will have an impact on everyone in the city, so we want to discuss them with you before going ahead.

The key question we are seeking to answer is:

How can we continue to provide essential services to residents and guide the city through such difficult times, whilst supporting greater fairness and future prosperity?

Key messages

  • With more schools transferring to academy status we need to review the role of the local authority in relation to schools so that it matches modern day needs.
  • As money is switched from councils to schools we will have less ability to provide extra services within schools. But, crucially we will still be held to account for school improvement and we have other statutory responsibilities that will continue.
  • We are setting up the Birmingham Education Partnership that will work with all schools in the city, sharing expertise between schools and with partners such as universities and businesses.
  • Within this we are looking at creating a trading arm (a wholly owned company of Birmingham City Council) around specific school functions such as school and governor support.
  • There are also a number of other services that can be delivered by other organisations such as admissions and appeals, home to school transport, school meals and special education needs assessments.
  • We will also be looking to personalise our services to the most vulnerable children and young people, giving children and their parents more choice whilst reducing costs.
  • Combined with savings in overheads and management costs we have already identified that these could provide savings of at least £20m per year.
  • Academies and free schools are currently buying into council services so there is a clear need and recognition of the quality of some of our services.
  • If schools want to receive all of the services they currently receive they will have to contribute more towards the full cost.
  • We retain responsibility to ensure every child has a school place. With changing demographics we need an integrated planning process to reduce issues around surplus places in some parts of the city, but shortfalls in others.

Background to the review

The gross expenditure of the Children's and Family Services Directorate is £1.2bn. Of that £816m comprises the Direct Schools Grant; £268m is related to education services, and £162m to children's social care.

The budget allocated to the education service covers discretionary as well as statutory services which therefore presents us with choices, albeit difficult choices; in order to ensure services to meet council priorities we must consider all the choices open to us.

By September this year we expect 55% of secondary, and 31% of primary schools to have converted to academy status. As this trend continues the funding the council will receive from central government will continue to reduce as it is transferred directly to schools, and more power is delegated to all schools.

The council has started to look into how the £268m education services spend matches the current demand and needs of children and young people, and what impact the switch to academies and free schools will have.

Included in the £268m are the following areas:

Service area Net Budget

(£m rounded)

Type of service
Home to School Transport 16.4 Statutory; chargeable but not currently generating income
Special Educational Needs & Disability 14.1 Statutory
Services for children in care 2.6 Statutory
Admissions & Placements 3.5 Statutory; chargeable but generating only a small income
Schools Setting and Improvement 2.4 Statutory
Early Years Provision (childcare and nurseries) 69.8 Statutory
Access to Education 8.1 Non statutory
Outdoor Learning Service 0.3 Non statutory; chargeable.
Education Welfare 1.4 Statutory; chargeable
Commissioning various services including children in care, short breaks and teenage mothers 5.2 Statutory
Strategic leadership, education and commissioning 1.7 Management costs
Strategic Management 2.5 Management costs
Business Support 21.5 Management costs

Send us your Comments

Email: servicereviews@birmingham.gov.uk

Text: 07786 200 403 – Simply start a new message with the word 'Budget' followed by a space (if you miss out a space your message will be lost), then add your comment. Please note you will not get a receipt for this message. Mesages sent via this service will cost your usual network rate per message and are anonymous unless you put your name in the message.

Write to: Service Reviews, Room 221, Council House, B1 1BB.

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  1. bob adams says:

    How much is spent on transport for school transport for the disabled,is there a check if the family get the hire rate of DLA and is it being used for a Motability Vehicle,if it is then as the vehicle is for the childs needs then they should be transported to school by it not taxi`s or buses,and the parents not useing it for work/shopping,this could save a couple of thou a year

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