Agenda and minutes

Children & Young People Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 30 January 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Meeting Room G3-G4, Addenbrooke House, Ironmasters Way, Telford

Contact: Kieran Robinson  01952 382061

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None.

2.

Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 585 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2019 be confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

3.

Travel Assistance Policy and Transport Review Consultation

Heather Loveridge (Director for Education and Skills), Sarah Bass (Commissioning, Procurement and Brokerage), Liz Smith (School Performance and Development), and Simon Wellman (SEND 0-25) will be in attendance for this item.

 

The associated Cabinet report can be viewed at https://democracy.telford.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=1134&MId=1179&Ver=4

Minutes:

Members received an overview of the Council’s proposed travel assistance policies and its transport review consultation. Officers described the consultation process and informed the Members of the consultation timetable. The Commissioning, Procurement & Brokerage Service Delivery Manager set out the rationale behind timetabling of the two consultations; explaining the split of school and post-16 SEND. Both phases of the consultation were to follow the same process with the addition of an ‘easy read’ version of the consultation for the second phase. The ‘easy read’ version was aimed specifically at My Options clients.

 

The Commissioning, Procurement & Brokerage Service Delivery Manager subsequently laid out the next steps for the policies once the consultation had closed. Feedback for both phases would be unified and considered together to create a single proposal to present to Cabinet in the spring.

 

Members asked a number of questions as follows:-

 

Page 9 of the policy, stated that the cut-off date for applications for the new school year was 30 June. With there being a lot of movement into the area thanks to new housing developments, how would the policy work for new movers?

This date was for the existing around 1,500 children in the area and if their applications were received on time, their eligibility could be checked and a place on the routes could be sourced in time for the start of the new school year in September. After that deadline, no guarantee to get transport in place could be made although efforts would be made to provide transport assistance.

 

What about children who move in year? What was the process?

Applications were accepted throughout the year outside of the normal admissions round but it was acknowledged that this could be better clarified in the policy.

 

The new policy specifically removed the application of assistance, for parents who opted to send their children to faith schools. Had the Council considered the effect of the policy on the attendance at faith schools and the anticipated reduction in cost to transport provision?

Parents were free to express a preference for any school but the local authority did not have to provide transport if it was not their nearest school.  The Council had found that the policy to provide transport to faith schools was advantageous to a specific group of parents over and above others. However, the Council was still obliged to provide support to those on low income.

 

 

It was noted that discrimination regulations included religion as a protected characteristic.

There was nothing stopping parents applying to faith schools for a place for their child. A faith school was a preference, and one that they were entitled to, but the responsibility for transport remained with the parent.

 

It was noted that Holy Trinity Academy was the only secondary faith school in the area but it had a tight catchment area.  It also allocated 60% of school places to faith applicants. How many children would be effected by this policy?

In common with other local faith schools, Holy Trinity Academy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Educational Attainment

To receive the presentation of Heather Loveridge (Director for Education and Skills).

Minutes:

The Director for Education and Skills gave a presentation on educational attainment in the Borough. The Director presented the latest educational attainment statistics to the Committee, the Director set out attainment across the Key Stages and contrasted this with the national average. The Director followed this up with an update on the Councils work to improve on the set of results presented, setting out the actions that had been taken. These included a round table held with key partners and a strategic partnership between head teachers and chief executives. The role of the Local Authority Quality Assurance Officer in monitoring school performance was also set out for the Committee. 

 

                        Members asked a number of questions as follows:-

 

More than half of the Boroughs secondary schools were over the national average for ‘Attainment 8’; was there any data on the ones that weren’t so good, for example around the relationship with feeder primaries?

Some schools performed better in certain subject areas. Some schools had had a difficult time but were now seeing improvement. It was possible to say, with some confidence, that a number of secondary schools would get good results for the current year as considerable progress had been seen. Some schools had issues but were receiving support, sometimes from outside of the Borough.

 

What was the Council doing to support academies in the Borough?

Academies were outside the remit of the Council but if there were concerns. The Chief Executives of the academy trusts would be approached initially due to the good relationships that existed.  If this was not effective the regional School Commissioner could be approached and asked if the school is receiving support, and if they were satisfied with the support they were receiving.  The Council had a responsibility to all children of the Borough no matter which school they attended.

 

Are children with SEND identified early enough?

There were three SEND coordinators at the Council, together with a whole infrastructure around early support for SEND.  Most individuals with a plan were identified at an early age. Ofsted, Three years ago, Ofsted rated the Council’s SEND provision as good.

 

KS2 children were often very stressed about exams, then they moved on to high school and were re-examined to check their KS2 results. Did the Council have a role in alleviating the pressure children might feel? Has there been any discussion at national level about stopping KS2 exams or making any changes?

The Committee had been advised that on the contrary, the government were bringing in more testing at this level as opposed to taking them away. There was pressure on pupils but schools were encouraged to offer a broader curriculum with cultural capital such as encouraging music. Schools were still ultimately judged on performance and this was difficult. Heads were under pressure to get good results but equally many heads would say the most important thing was to offer a good education and opportunities that pupils wouldn’t have otherwise. Many heads did not want children to feel  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Work Programme 2019/20 to 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 674 KB

Minutes:

AGREED – Members of the Committee agreed the Work Programme.

6.

Chair's Update

Minutes:

The Chair noted that a timetable for future meetings was being worked on.