Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Committee Room 6 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Jasmine Kassim  Email: jasmine.kassim@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5146

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Gary Parker and Alexander Seadon.  Apologies were also submitted on behalf of Councillor Miranda Williams, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services.

 

Apologies for lateness received from Councillor Linda Bird

 

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 48 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:

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 77 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2015.

 

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 8 October 2015 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Cabinet Member Priorities 2015-16: Progress Report pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To inform the Panel of progress made in relation to the Cabinet Member’s priorities for 2015/16.

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Barwick, reminded the Panel that Councillor Miranda Williams, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services was unable to attend the meeting and had given her apologies.

 

The Panel noted that the Council was facing significant funding reductions and potentially this could impact on all aspects of Children’s Services.  It was recognised that the Council had set the bar very high for achievement and this could be affected.  The Panel asked the Director of Children’s Services to comment on the situation and she said that due to Member commitment and support making social workers redundant would be a last resort and that all expenditure had been scrutinised in order to protect front line services.

 

In response to the Panel’s questions regarding fostering, the Director of Children’s Services commented that as external foster carers were more expensive the Council was shifting the balance to in-house foster carers.  She confirmed that the Council continued to advertise for foster carers both inside and outside the borough and that where applicants were living in a council property her officers would liaise with housing services on accommodation issues, for example options for creating more space.  As far as owner occupiers were concerned the Council could consider funding measures to make properties more suitable.

 

The Panel noted that there was a separate report on the agenda regarding OFSTED inspection outcomes and wished to commend the achievements over the last 14 months.  The Panel asked the Director to communicate its congratulations to Foxfield School for its achievements.

 

The Chair enquired about the Young People’s Council election; the Director of Children’s Services commented that the Electoral Registration Service had done an excellent job in conducting the election in schools and there had been an a good turn out with up to 80% in one school. 

 

Resolved -

 

That the progress in relation to the Cabinet Member’s priorities for 2015-16 be noted.

 

6.

School Admissions 2014-15 pdf icon PDF 112 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; the recent trends in planned admissions to primary and secondary schools; and information about admission appeals.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Admissions, Systems and Resilience (HAS&R) presented the annual report.

 

The HAS&R highlighted the positive impact of the Fair Access Panel which helped to support children and their parents.  Members felt that this was an excellent approach and enquired about the level of co-operation by schools, Members were informed that the relationship was improving year on year.

 

In relation to Panel’s questions regarding fraudulent applications the HAS&R advised that some parents had been found to be using an address which was not their normal residence, in these cases robust checks were carried out, including liaising with Council’s Anti-Fraud Team to ensure appropriate investigations were undertaken. 

 

The Chair, Councillor Barwick, asked how the Council was managing summer born children who were in reception and needed nursery style education, as especially those who are just four years old might find it difficult to sustain a whole day. The  HAS&R said that although all children were entitled to have their children in reception they need not do so until the child was five years old. Parents could ask to have their child educated out of cohort in which case this was considered with input from specialists and requests were considered on individual basis.

 

The Panel was interested in the reasons for the growth in appeals and was advised that although there was an increased cohort in Royal Greenwich schools were also very popular and over subscribed. This had been coupled with an increase in applications from out of borough residents.

 

The Panel noted that the appeal process has to comply with statutory guidance and that everyone has right of appeal; the local authority must make arrangements for an Independent Appeal Panel to hear them.  Preparation of cases could take from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the complexity of the appellants’ case and hearing generally took 30-45 minutes.  In relation to the impact of the Kidbrooke decant, Members were assured that admissions officers worked closely with colleagues in school place planning and housing services; if a place could not be offered within easy distance a referral to the Fair Access Panel could be made.

 

Councillor Linda Bird arrived 7.28 pm

 

Resolved –

 

That the key points from the annual report to the Schools Adjudicator about admission arrangements and the recent trends in planned admissions to primary and secondary schools be noted.

 

7.

Elective Home Education: Annual Report 2014-15 pdf icon PDF 167 KB

The Panel is asked to consider an analysis of the number of children who are educated at home and the reasons why parents/carers chose this form of education and the arrangements for safeguarding these children.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director, Inclusion Learning and Achievement presented the report.

 

She highlighted the fact that while education is compulsory, parents have the right to educate their children at home and officers work hard to establish a good relationship with parent and checks were carried out regarding any safeguarding concerns.

 

The Panel was concerned that through non- school attendance it would be difficult to identify whether a child was vulnerable and to monitor their progress.  The Assistant Director said that schools provided a great deal of information about the child’s circumstances when they were withdrawn from school, this informed home visits and helped the officer to form a positive non-threatening relationship with parents. In addition an information pack was provided to parents to assist them in home educating their children including contacts for groups and details of resources available.

 

A member of the Panel asked whether Elective Home Education could be used by parents to get the school they really wanted by taking them out of their current school and requesting their preferred school.  The Assistant Director advised that it was likely that the preferred school would be oversubscribed therefore a referral would be made to the Fair Access Panel.

 

The Panel was concerned to note that 60% of those educated at home were known to social care.

 

Resolved –

 

That the issues relating to Elective Home Education be noted and the Panel’s appreciation of the good work being undertaken to ensure the best outcomes for children.

 

8.

Education Standards 2014-15 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

The Panel is requested to consider an analysisof educationalperformanceduring the2014/15academicyear, including a summaryofthequalityofeducationoffered, as judged by Ofsted inspections; Borough and cluster level summary ofoutcomesachieved by children and young peopleateach keystage; and an analysisof the performanceofvulnerablegroups.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director Inclusion Learning and Achievement presented the report with the aid of PowerPoint presentation.

 

Attendance and Exclusions Slides – The Assistant Director informed the Panel that a great deal of work was being undertaken to reduce persistent absence rates and fixed term exclusions.  Work was taking place with secondary schools particularly regarding behaviour management.

 

The Panel enquired whether the Council had a role regarding children excluded from schools for which it is not responsible.  In response it was stated that the Council continued to have responsibility, however, was good relationships were maintained with all schools and the aim was to minimse permanent exclusions.

 

The Panel noted that although the Royal Borough was second worst performing in London, around 20 children had been permanently excluded in the last year which was low compared with other local authorities.

 

Early Years Foundation Stage Slides – The Head of Early Years Foundation Stage and Primary Standards Service said that white British children were considered to be a vulnerable group and this was a consistent theme.  The Panel expressed its appreciation of the significant achievement of schools and noted that this had been the outcome of the Council’s commitment to early years education.

 

The Panel enquired whether there could be a correlation between the take up of provision for vulnerable two-year olds and issues concerning attainment of white British children and was informed that those not taking up provision were not predominantly white and overall there was extremely good take up. Research was being undertaken to look at the outcomes at Key Stage 1 and what happened in early years to ascertain any links.

 

Key Stage 1 Slides – The Head of Early Years Foundation Stage and Primary Standards Service highlighted that the Royal Borough was 6th this year which was a significant improved on the position in the previous year which was 16th.

 

Key Stage 2 Slides – The Head of Early Years Foundation Stage and Primary Standards Service commented that Royal Greenwich schools were outperforming London and were 4th nationally.  She advised the Panel that this was the last time the data could be presented in this way as there would be a new assessment framework.

 

The Head of Early Years Foundation Stage and Primary Standards Service advised that officers were looking in forensic detail at the performance of Key Stage 2 children for whom the pupil premium is received and whether there  was any gap in achievement compared with children to whom the pupil premium does not apply.

 

The Assistant Director Inclusion, Learning and Achievement drew the Panel’s attention to two publications regarding the continuity of learning from primary to secondary school: Missing Talent (The Sutton Trust 2015) and The Wasted Years?  (OFSTED 2015).  The Director emphasised that secondary schools were partnering with outstanding primaries to promote innovative practice and head teachers were working together.

 

Key Stage 4 Secondary Slides – The Head of Secondary Standards Service commented that poorer outcomes were the result of changes to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Commissioning Future Reports pdf icon PDF 42 KB

The Panel is asked to note the work items that are scheduled to be presented to the meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel on 13 January 2016 and the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel on 26 January 2016.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members noted the work items scheduled for forthcoming meetings as set out in the report and that the meeting set for 26 January 2016 had been re-arranged for 28 January 2016 in order to facilitate a special meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

         Resolved –

 

         That the report be noted