Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Children's Centre, Pound Park Nursery, Pound Park Road, Charlton SE7 8AF. View directions

Contact: Kevin Phillips  Email: kevin.phillips@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5145

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Councillor John Fahy and Gabriel Hall, Parent Governor Representative.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Linda Bird declared a personal interest as a governor of Montbelle Primary.

 

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies be noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 November 2014.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

 

 

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panel held on 18 November 2014 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Children's Centres: Update pdf icon PDF 160 KB

The Panel is requested to consider an up-date on the commissioning of children’s centres and the implementation of the new contracts.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director Early Help, Children’s Services introduced and summarised the report.

 

In response to Member questions the Assistant Director Early Help stated that they were unpicking the schools performance data and one of the key issues was the performance of ‘White British’ and those eligible for pupil premium. She also confirmed that it was specifically children from under achieving White British families whose performance was of most concern.

 

The Director of Children’s Services commented that the overall context is that children are performing better at the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile than the national average.

 

In response to a Member question about training courses for parents the Assistant Director Early Help stated that there was a good range of training and NVQ’s currently available and that they were also developing different options. She added that ‘Discover Me’ was a really good programme.

 

In response to a Member question about consistency of performance the Assistant Director Early Help stated that there were four providers for the five areas and that they all had shared priorities. She added that it was difficult to compare their performance as they all had different challenges and it was early days given the contracts only started at the beginning of October.

 

In response to Member questions about childcare contracts in children’s centres, the Assistant Director Early Help stated that contracts had been let by the Local Authority some years ago and that a diverse market was what parents wanted. She added that within the specification the lead provider was responsible for achieving quality targets across childcare within the centre reach areas. She also confirmed that the Nursery at Discovery had been rated as good by Ofsted.

 

The Director of Children’s Services commented that previously the Local Authority had been facing significant budget reductions and that during that time they were determined to keep the Children’s Centres open. That as a result they had not wanted to divert the money to buy out contracts for services and therefore had maintained a range of providers. The strategy for the future would be considered to manage the position on the expiry of the contracts.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick the Assistant Director Early Help stated that the current children’s centres contracts were for three years with a possible two year extension and that they had started on the 1st of October 2014.

 

The Chair commented that it would be good to review the contracts at the halfway point and the Assistant Director Early Help confirmed that there were also quarterly performance reports to provide monitoring information.

 

In response to Member questions the Assistant Director Early Help confirmed that funding was secure for now and that Brookhill Children’s Centre would continue. She also confirmed that underfunded areas were now receiving additional resources and that overall resource allocation was going well.

 

Anne Marshall Head of Children’s Centres also confirmed that they now had additional resources in key areas.

 

Resolved

 

That the report be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Progress Report on Cabinet Member Priorities 2014-15 pdf icon PDF 52 KB

This report provides the Panel with an up-date on the progress made against priorities of the Cabinet Member for 2014-15, agreed at Cabinet on 23 July 2014.

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Children’s Services gave his apologies for the meeting; and, in his absence the item was deferred until the next meeting at the request of the Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick.

 

 

 

 

7.

School Place Planning and Admission Arrangements pdf icon PDF 207 KB

The Panel is asked to consider the key points from the annual report by the Royal Borough of Greenwich to the Schools Adjudicator about admission arrangements (Section 3); an overview of recent trends in planned admissions to primary and secondary schools (Section 4); information about admission appeals (Section 4); and, demand for places at early year’s settings and schools in the Royal Greenwich and the action being taken by the Council (Section 5).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Admissions, Systems and Resilience and the Head of Place Planning & Development introduced and summarised their respective parts of the report.

 

School Admissions

 

In response to a Member question the Head of Admissions, Systems and Resilience confirmed that for those secondary schools that have banding as part of the admission arrangements, appeals are lodged for children across all five ability bands.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Head of Admissions, Systems and Resilience stated that parents who opt to educate their child at home needed to confirm this in writing so that it can be recorded centrally by the ‘Education at Home Officer’ to monitor the child’s progress.

 

In response to a question from the Chair the Assistant Director Inclusion Learning & Achievement confirmed that the ‘Education at Home Officer’ would make appointments for their visits as well as using other intelligence. She added legally that they were not able to inspect unless there was a safeguarding concern. She also confirmed that there were approximately 120 children in the Borough who were taught at home.

 

Councillor Steve Offord commented that it would be interesting to have a fuller briefing on the subject.

 

The Director of Children’s Services commented that she agreed it was a good topic for a future report. She also added that a number of authorities had been judicially reviewed on the matter and that there needed to be a balance between child safety and parental rights.

 

In response to a Member question the Assistant Director Inclusion Learning & Achievement stated that there did not appear to be any trends emerging from the analysis of equalities data on parents who had chosen to educate their children at home.

 

In response to a Member question the Head of Admissions, Systems and Resilience confirmed that advice and guidance on the appeals process is available on the Royal Greenwich website. The advice and guidance can be translated upon request; and, where appropriate, disabled access is provided to enable parents to attend the appeal hearings. The appeals process fulfils a judicial function and the appeals panel and clerk are independent of the local authority. Parents are able to bring their own representative or advocate to support them if they wish. 

 

In response to a Member question the Head of Admissions, Systems and Resilience confirmed that in instances where it is not possible to offer a place at a preference school, the child will be allocated a place at an alternative school that still has vacancies.  For children under the age of eight, the statutory walking limit is two miles. If the school is a greater distance, the parent will be awarded travel assistance to help them get their child to and from school.  This is very rarely the case for planned admissions. 

 

In response to a Member question the Head of Admissions, Systems and Resilience confirmed that the greatest challenge for the local authority is being able to offer local schools to children who apply as in-year admissions after  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

In-depth Scrutiny Item - SEND Reforms pdf icon PDF 93 KB

The Panel is asked to note and comment on the progress made in undertaking this in-depth scrutiny of the SEND Reforms.

 

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick introduced the report and Councillor Linda Bird outlined the work that she had carried out.

 

Councillor Barbara Barwick drew the Panel’s attention to the report’s interim conclusions on page 4 of the appendix. She stated that there was a need for further meetings to hear from young people themselves and that there was no additional funding available for the transition work being done to implement the Education Health and Care Plans.

 

In response to a Member question the Chair stated that it was not a time limited review and that there would be a staggered and stepped approach to this. The Scrutiny Officer also added that some of the work being done on other Panels was more akin to the process of a time limited review.

 

In response to a Member question the Assistant Director Inclusion Learning & Achievement stated that not everyone in a designated special provision (DSP) had a plan and she gave the examples of Thomas Tallis and Correlli.

 

Resolved

 

That the report be noted.

9.

Commissioning discussion - reports scheduled for 24 February and 26 March 2015 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

The Panel is asked to note the work items that are scheduled to be presented to the next meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel scheduled 24 February 2015 and the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel scheduled for 26 March 2015.

The Panel is asked to identify any specific themes or lines of enquiry to be covered by reports on the agenda, in order that these can be commissioned from the report author accordingly.

 

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick introduced and summarised the report.

 

She drew Members attention to the next meeting date on the 24th of February 2015 and also to the planned visit to Broadwalk Children’s home due to take place the following week.

 

Resolved

 

That the report be noted.