PART I – OPEN ITEMS
28/20. Declarations of Interest
- A. Allen declared a Standing Interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.
- R. Heath declared a Standing Interest as an employee of Harper Adams University.
29/20. Matters Arising
30/20. Chair’s Announcements
The Chair welcomed G. Mills to the meeting.
31/20. Financial Risks to College – Update (Confidential Appendix – Agenda Item 6)
The Board received a confidential report (previously circulated electronically) setting out a revised Financial Forecast outturn based on the currently known impact on the College’s finances as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic and associated College closure from 20 March 2020.
The revised forecast considered each income line in turn, assessing the possible income at risk and the current estimated likelihood of impacts arising as a RAG rating.
- The forecast cost reductions modelled were aggressive and had been based on the assumption that the College’s normal operations would not resume in Academic Year 2019-20. At this stage, however, it was unclear as to whether this assumption would hold true or not. Some of the forecast in-year cost savings reflected deferral of expenditure rather than a permanent saving and these would impact the 2020-21 financial position.
- The Board acknowledged that the revised forecast outturn provided a positive case rather than a worst case projection in that, if the College was to re-open at some point in summer 2020, then full cost-savings would not be realised.
- Significant risks remained in this forecast outturn – in particular regarding apprenticeships.
- 16 – 19 grant funding payments would continue as planned, with no clawback likely. Adult Education Budget payments were continuing on profile. The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and Devolved authorities had indicated that they would continue to pay on profile as long as the College demonstrated best endeavours to continue delivery and to start new learning. However, there were limited assurances to date that they would not claw back under delivery in January 2021;
- With Apprentices currently mostly unable to attend their workplaces and also unable to attend College the ability to continue to earn apprenticeship funding was at risk. The College was continuing to support apprentices remotely with the theoretical aspects of their training; however supporting the practical elements was more challenging;
- High needs student funding Element 2 (E2) was allocated and paid by the ESFA in the same way as 16-19 funding and not at risk. Due to the pandemic, the nature and type of support delivered to high needs students was likely to change while these students studied online. Shropshire Council had provided assurances that, as long as the College continued to provide best endeavours to support High Needs learners through online learning, it would honour the existing contract values in the present circumstances.
- Funding relating to contracts with schools and others for provision of teaching was likely to be affected, as the closedown of schools was likely to prevent all but the ongoing Erasmus work to develop augmented reality learning in youth offender institutions.
- Regarding Lettings, Catering and other income, in all cases it was unlikely that there would be further income generation from these activities during the academic year. However, there would be some corresponding savings. All future Letting and Catering income had been removed from the forecast.
- Forecast Pay Costs had been adjusted downwards.
The FD provided verbal updates as follows –
- Regarding Apprenticeships, the estimated impact this year, had been arrived at by removing any expected income from new starts, removing on programme income from subcontracted activity, removing all apprenticeship achievement funding forecast for this year and allowing for 10% of the College’s own current on programme funding to be lost over the remainder of the year. However, these assumptions remained very high level estimates at present.
- There were likely direct costs savings associated with reduced income in Catering, Transport and reduced subcontractor costs.
- The College continued to enjoy a positive and supportive relationship with its Bank and had been offered the option of an overdraft facility. Whilst Bank Covenants were at risk as a result of lost income arising from current the Coronavirus emergency, at present, it was considered likely that the Bank would agree to amend or adjust existing covenants in light of the current situation.
The F&BO Committee Chair questioned how the ongoing closure on the College would affect the 2020 – 2021 Budget and going forward. The FD confirmed that the High Level Budget would need to be reviewed, as well as the risks to next year’s planning.
The Board thanked the FD for providing the analysis and acknowledged that, going forward, it would receive further regular reports on the College’s financial resilience, particularly the impact on cash flow and income streams.
Resolved: That the report of the Principal/CEO be noted.
32/20 Post Inspection Action Plan Steering Committee – Draft Terms of Reference (Appendix – Agenda Item 4)
Further to Board Min. No. 16/20, it was confirmed that all governors had been provided with an opportunity to review the Draft Terms, which had been previously circulated electronically. The Chair explained that the ESFA had indicated that it could only provide a rough estimate of when it would review the submitted Terms on receipt (on 22 April 2020), in light of the current lockdown.
Having reviewed the Draft Terms and it having been confirmed by the Chair that –
- all governors had been given the opportunity prior to the meeting to review and comment on the Draft Terms; and
- all present were in agreement, it was
Resolved: That the Terms of Reference of the Post Inspection Action Plan Steering Committee be submitted to the Education and Skills Funding Agency as the Board’s proposed oversight arrangements for the Post Inspection Action Plan.
ACTION: Terms to be submitted to ESFA on 22 April 2020.
33/20. Shrewsbury Colleges Group Draft Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) (Appendix – Agenda Item 5)
Further to Board Min. No. 16/20, it was confirmed that all governors had been provided with an opportunity to review and ask questions through the Chair on the Draft PIAP, which had been previously circulated electronically. The Chair then invited those governors to present their questions to the meeting.
In response to a question from a governor on why some of the actions in the PIAP had more than one ‘owner’, it was AGREED to amend the Draft PIAP to identify one ‘owner’ each action, where possible, to secure accountability and effective progress.
In response to a challenge from a governor that the Draft PIAP could include more reference to the additional external assurances it had secured with respect to the College’s safeguarding practices, it was AGREED to expand the First Recommendation, Sixth Bullet Point of the Draft PIAP to include more specific reference to the Independent Audit on the College’s safeguarding practices.
In response to a question from the Staff Governor (Academic, London Road) on the arrangements for additional external staff training to develop the skills and confidence of relevant staff on how and when to constructively challenge students or others on site conducted in January 2020, it was confirmed by the GVP – HR&D that 102 staff had attended the open session provided with 70 attending as mandatory, due to the nature of their role at the College. On asking if the training could be expanded further, it was suggested that this be considered at the first meeting of the PIAP Steering Group.
It was observed by the Staff Governor (Academic London Road) that the tone of the recommendations in Action 2 could reflect the developmental nature of the PIAP by, for example, taking the opportunity to include examples to demonstrate openness. The Principal/CEO replied the PIAP had been produced for the ESFA, which had already been provided with a copy of the Independent Safeguarding Audit into the College’s safeguarding practices; however, he was open to suggestions to improve. It was suggested that the College’s Whistleblowing Procedures could be re-signposted to all staff.
In response to a question from the Staff Governor (Support Staff), it was confirmed by the GVP – CS&BD that members of the public could visit the Futures Building Café on the London Road Campus. Whilst the facility was not part of the College, all visitors to the site, including the Futures Building, were subject to a clear signing-in procedure. All visitors to the site were required to sign in and, any person on the site not wearing a badge would be approached and taken to the appropriate sign-in area.
In response to a question from a governor, the Chair confirmed that -
- the PIAP Steering Committee would determine its on-going meeting schedule at its first meeting;
- the Minutes of the PIAP Steering Committee would be circulated to all governors; and
- that the Committee would assess the impact of the College’s risk environment on the PIAP as part of its deliberations.
Having reviewed the Draft PIAP and it having been confirmed by the Chair that –
- all governors had been given the opportunity prior to the meeting to review and comment on the Draft PIAP and all questions had been asked; and
- all present were in agreement, it was
Resolved: That the Shrewsbury Colleges Group Draft Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) be submitted to the Education and Skills Funding Agency as the Board’s proposed response to the issues identified, subject to the following amendments:
- to identify, where possible, one ‘owner’ per action;
- First Recommendation, Sixth Bullet Point of the Draft PIAP be expanded to include more specific reference to the Independent Audit on the College’s safeguarding practices.
ACTION: PIAP to be submitted to ESFA on 22 April 2020.
34/20. Date of Next Meeting
Scheduled Meeting – 06 July 2020. Location: To be confirmed.
The meeting concluded at 6.20 p.m.