A Best Practice Review of the Role of Schools Forums

Gill Featherstone, Tami McCrone, David Sims, Clare Southcott

11 May 2012

Executive Summary

The findings from a best practice review of the role of schools forum is now available online. NFER carried out the research for the LGA. It involved a desk review of current models of schools forums, nine case-studies based on 40 telephone interviews with LA officers responsible for the schools forum, forum Chairs, forum members and constituent members.

Key Findings

  • The research evidence indicates that schools forums influence and shape the amount of funding that goes to different educational providers. They were generally perceived to have a strong influence on funding decisions.
  • Schools forums provide a platform for discussion at the strategic level about funding decisions at the local level.
  • Effectiveness was characterised in terms of connected, proactive and child-centered behaviour. This includes effective communication within schools forums with LA staff as well as the wider educational community; full engagement of all members; training to facilitate members to challenge effectively; and an informed understanding of education policy and the broader demands on the LA.
  • In the most proactive schools forums there was clear evidence that the funding formula is developed through consultation, characterised by transparency, continuous negotiation, the sharing of information and members work together to achieve the best outcome for all children and young people.
  • Schools forums valued the contribution of councillors and cabinet members because they provide a council perspective, expert advice, feedback on education issues, information and advice.
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