Having asked a number of questions about the above, it seems only fair to share on of the responses and a further query raised after the material released under FOI surfaced.
What follows is their reply dated 21 December from someonee called Louise. Note her reply to Q5 which omits the savings figure of £675k that appeared from the FOI.
I have no idea who Louise is by the way.
I hope you are well.
Thank you for your queries and your patience with our response.
I have included your original queries, in bold, in our response.
1. What were the actual school roles in 2001 and in 2021? It looks like 13,000 and 10,010 respectively but please confirm.
The census figures are
2. What was the total education department spend in 2001 and again in 2021?
Argyll and Bute Council does not hold the information on the spend for 2001 as the new ledger only started in 2005-06. As an alternative we have provided the spend that was included under Community Services Education for 2005-6. We have excluded hostels from the 2005-6 figures as they will not be in the 2020-21 figures as they now sit within the Health and Social Partnership – Social Work Budget.
The figures from the ledger are the Net Controllable spend, however there may have been changes in services provided over the years.
Net Education Spend 2005-06 – £66,095,804
Net Education Spend 2020-21 – £87,387,878
We would also suggest that the budget books published on the Council website may be of assistance as they are prepared based on SERCOP. The budget books are available from 2013-14. The link is: https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/council-and-government/budget-books
3. Will a Head of School be paid the same as the existing Head Teacher, for a given size of school roll?
The Head of School posts will be job sized using the national SNCT approved job sizing toolkit. Appendix 2.1 – SNCT Handbook
This job sizing toolkit is used to determine the salary for all promoted posts in school. The job sizing is also approved by Argyll and Bute’s Local Association Secretary for the EIS.
4. Will the legal status of a school under the new structure be exactly the same as an existing school now? Or will the legal “school” be the group of schools under the Executive Head Teacher?
The legal status will be the same as now. Schools will retain their name, SEED number and uniform therefore maintaining their unique school identities.
5. What are you plans, in summary, for saving money to ensure the falling rolls match the expected fall in funding?
This question appears to be in respect of the Council’s approach to delivering revenue budget savings. At present, the Council’s budget planning process is undertaken on an annual basis and the approach has been varied. For example, there have been years where all Council services have been given a percentage figure to deliver in terms of savings, and in other years a different methodology has been applied.
As part of the wider Education Change Programme, there are some specific projects which have the potential to deliver efficiencies/savings including; streamlining the Central Education Management Team, schools generating additional income, and a review of Early Years Central Team, and these are currently being explored. Further detail can be found within the reports presented to Community Services Committee in June 2021. Education Change Programme.pdf (argyll-bute.gov.uk) .
Please get back in touch if you have any further queries.
I replied to her on 8 June as follows and will publish her reply of and when I get it:
Louise, you may be aware that a recent FOI provided us with additional information on these proposals. That FOI reference was 13486.
On your response to question 4, and referencing the documents released by this FOI, I am at a loss as to how the legal status of a school can remain the same. These documents talked about the “ complete management “functions being undertaken at the central school in a cluster; there is reference to the smaller schools being “ remote classrooms ”; they state that there will be no clerical staff at the smaller schools and that the current head teachers will be heads of school, presumably paid at a lower rate on the scale. If this is still the case, there is an enormous practical change to the status of the smaller schools. The cynical might conclude that this is an attempt to change the actual status of a school without breaching the legislation. Have you a view on this please?
On your response to question 5, the same FOI tells us that the starting point in late 2019 for this project was an anticipated saving of £675k. There are other documents which tell us that “ cashable savings “ are still expected right up to May this year. Can I ask 2 questions as a result. The 1st is why were these savings not made public before? The 2nd is what is the current savings figure given than 2+ years have elapsed since the project brief was written?