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Early years underrepresented on schools forums

Alliance research shows that PVI providers are underrepresented on local authority schools forums
Research has revealed that 70% of schools forums in England have just one representative from the PVI sector for the early years and a further 29% of forums have just two. Only two local councils reported having three or more representatives from the sector on their boards.
The statistics are the result of Freedom of Information requests sent by the Alliance to every local authority in England. The Alliance asked for details on the membership of 125 local authority schools forums, which advise on education funding decisions – including SEN inclusion funding. Forums are required to have at least one representative from the PVI sector and the Alliance’s research has found that 70% of forums only just meet this statutory minimum.
The Alliance found that the average group has 25 members, with most groups only including one representative from the PVI sector. Representatives from the school and academy sector make up an average of 77% of school forum membership, or around 19 members.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said that the findings were “simply unacceptable”. He said: “For far too long, the early years sector has been a secondary consideration when it comes to education policy and this is clearly reflected in the current rules on schools forum membership.”
Nicola Gibson, inclusion manager at the Alliance, added: “Some early years providers have historically found it difficult to  secure SEND top-up funding and unfortunately for many, this remains the case with the new SEN inclusion funds. What’s more, with such an unequal representation on schools forums, providers are often afraid to challenge rejected applications.”