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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 4, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Moore  0207 527 3308

Items
No. Item

109.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Nick Ward.

110.

Declarations of Interest

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a) Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b)  Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d) Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f)   Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

Minutes:

Councillor Kaya Comer-Schwartz declared a personal interest in Item B2, Engagement with and the Consistency of Early Years Provision, as her child was registered at an Islington children’s centre.

111.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None.

112.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Minutes:

The Chair proposed the following addition to minute 107: ‘…It was thought that relationships between schools and providers could improve, however the school did not consider this to be a matter for the council. In particular, it was commented that greater partnership work between schools and providers in monitoring attendance and outcomes could be beneficial. Otherwise, it was suggested that some schools could consider pupils on alternative provision to be “out of sight, out of mind”.

 

RESOLVED:
That the minutes of the meeting held on 2 February 2016 be confirmed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them, subject to the following addition at minute 107: ‘In particular, it was commented that greater partnership work between schools and providers in monitoring attendance and outcomes could be beneficial. Otherwise, it was suggested that some schools could consider pupils on alternative provision to be “out of sight, out of mind”.’

113.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair advised of the intention to hold scrutiny visits to The Boxing Academy and City and Islington College on 18 and 22 March.

114.

Items for Call In (if any)

Minutes:

None.

115.

Public Questions

Minutes:

None.

116.

Executive Member Questions pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children and Families, introduced his paper on the latest developments in Children’s Services.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         Councillor Caluori explained that Mount Carmel Catholic Girls’ School was to become a mixed sex non-denominational academy. It was reported that staff, the school’s leadership team and pupils were generally engaged with the transition. Staff would transfer to the new academy under TUPE arrangements. Some parents were displeased with the decision of the catholic diocese, which was due to an over-supply of catholic girls’ places in north London and the school running a financial deficit. The Executive Member was not aware which provider would be sponsoring the academy, however advised that the council was engaging with the Regional Commissioner to ensure that an appropriate provider was selected. It was clarified that the council remained opposed to academy schools, however was prohibited from opening a new school and acknowledged the reasons for the transition. The council was keen for the academy provider to be fully engaged in the Islington community of schools.

·         Mary Clement noted her regret that Mount Carmel would not retain its catholic status and queried if other options had been explored, such as becoming a mixed sex school, however noted the possible impact this could have on St Aloysius’ College. Whilst Councillor Caluori could not speak on behalf of the diocese, it was commented that the school was significantly under-enrolled and only around 35% of Mount Carmel pupils were catholic. Pupils would be supported during the transition.

·         Councillor Nick Wayne queried if the Regional Commissioner’s choice of academy provider could have an impact on other local schools and if the transition could lead to the creation of a multi-academy trust with City of London Academy. In response, it was advised that no decision had yet been made and although the result could be that one provider operated two academies in the borough, the council was not aware that the City of London Academy had ambitions to expand to Mount Carmel. The Executive Member noted the government intention for all schools to transition to academies, however commented that it was unlikely for the Regional Commissioner to recommend transition while Islington schools continued to perform well. It was suggested that developing the independence of the community of schools could assist in allaying any concerns of the commissioner.

·         The Chair queried how the CSE awareness project detailed in the paper submitted would be monitored and evaluated. In response the importance of evaluation was recognised, however it was noted the project was in the early stages of development and evaluation methods were yet to be agreed. Child Safeguarding Boards had a responsibility to communicate the risk of CSE and there was a need to raise awareness of the risks posed by peer to peer and gang related CSE. It was suggested that the council could monitor any increase in the number of CSE disclosures following the completion of the project.

·         The Committee praised the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 116.

117.

Alternative Provision: Witness Evidence pdf icon PDF 244 KB

(a)  Evidence from witnesses

(b)  Key Stage 4 Alternative Provision Report 2014-16 (Briefing Notes 3 and 4)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)  Evidence from witnesses

 

The Committee received evidence from John d’Abbro OBE, Head Teacher of the New Rush Hall Group, a provider of alternative provision in the London Borough of Redbridge.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         John d’Abbro was the Head of the New Rush Hall Group and also sat on the Mayor of London’s advisory panel on education.

·         The New Rush Hall Group was a soft federation of education settings which included an all-ages special school, a behaviour support outreach team, three pupil referral units, an adolescent psychiatric unit and an early years provision which received multi-agency support.

·         The Committee noted the context of the Group’s work; Redbridge was a changing and fast growing borough which had sought to achieve economies of scale by pooling their resources and services into the Group. This enabled the Group to provide a comprehensive and joined-up service for children with behavioural and medical difficulties and their families.

·         The Group worked with children from ages 4 to 16. Comprehensive support was provided to all pupils.  Those with emotional and social difficulties were able to access therapists.

·         Pupils achieved good outcomes, both academically and personally. A low number went on to become NEET, a low number were in custody or prison, and it was considered that New Rush Hall pupils had fewer emotional breakdowns than would otherwise be expected.   

·         Mr d’Abbro commented on Islington’s target to reduce the number of children in alternative provision. Whilst the ambition to reduce the number of children in need of alternative provision was supported, it was emphasised that any reduction should be based on need, otherwise children could remain disengaged in mainstream education. Although some would argue for the closure of specialist schools and the need for re-integration into mainstream education, Mr d’Abbro appreciated that mainstream education was not suitable for all.

·         Whilst it could be considered that the Group’s pupil referral units were below capacity; Mr d’Abbro suggested that the 75% occupancy rate indicated an encouraging level of churn. It was explained a number of pupils were able to resume their studies in mainstream education after receiving support from the Group; and the PRUs did not retain pupils unnecessarily.

·         Although Mr d’Abbro recognised that pupil referral units and alternative provision were costly forms of education, it was commented that they were able to save money in the long term by reducing the demand for specialist, high-dependency services such as residential care.

·         It was explained that many pupils attending the Brookside School for pupils with mental health issues had social and emotional difficulties. The majority of Brookside pupils were girls, whereas the majority of pupils in the PRUs were boys. It was suggested that young women tended to internalise problems which then presented as mental health issues, whereas troubled young men more often exhibited challenging behaviour. It was thought this was a problem for society as a whole, as the invisibility and stigma of mental health issues could result in female pupils not accessing appropriate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 117.

118.

Engagement with and the Consistency of Early Years Provision pdf icon PDF 232 KB

Minutes:

Penny Kenway, Head of Early Years and Childcare, introduced the report which provided an overview of the quality and usage of early years provision.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The Committee noted that outcomes data was not directly correlated to data for quality and reach; as outcomes data related to children aged 5 and the majority of early years services were accessed by children aged 3 and 4.

·         The Committee noted that engagement with children’s centres was lower for families involved with Children’s Social Care and queried if this was acceptable. In response, it was advised that around 70-75% of families engaged with social care were also engaged with children’s centres, as opposed to 93% of the overall population. It was commented that this was a relatively small cohort and a small number of families not engaging with children’s centres could significantly impact the figures. Registration with children’s centres was voluntary and it was reported that some families disengaged, only to register again at a later date.

·         Islington was below the national average for the number of children achieving a good level of development by the end of their reception year and it was queried if these children tended to catch up at a later date. In response, it was advised that the majority of children caught up, however some Turkish children continued to underachieve later on. The service was concerned by this and was engaging with the Turkish community to improve access to integrated reviews.

·         The number of Black Caribbean children achieving a ‘good level of development’ was below the overall average. The number of Somali and Bangladeshi children achieving a ‘good level of development’ was also below average. It was commented that Somali and Bangladeshi children often did not have English as their first language and this could be a contributing factor.

·         Members with young children reported that they had not received regular information about the services and activities available. Officers commented that this would be followed up.

·         It was noted that neither the Department for Education nor Ofsted had an agreed definition of sustained participation and this was not helpful when compiling statistics.  It was commented that sustained participation did not necessarily indicate the impact of early years services, although a higher impact would be expected from a greater number of visits.

·         It was suggested that communication and language skills, particularly speech, was the key to improving childhood development. It was commented that new teachers were increasingly skilled in supporting language development.

·         Members expressed concerns that the number of children achieving the expected level in Literacy and Maths was below the national average, however acknowledged the difficulties of assessing these skills in children aged 5.

·         The service was pleased that child development in the prime areas of personal, social and emotional development, communication and language and physical development were around the national average given the level of deprivation in the borough. 

·         Concern was expressed that the number of Islington children achieving the expected  ...  view the full minutes text for item 118.

119.

Review of Work Programme pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Minutes:

It was noted that the Committee was to visit two alternative provision providers in March and had also requested to visit the New Rush Hall Group.

 

Members indicated that an opportunity to review the evidence received and form conclusions would be welcomed prior to agreeing draft recommendations. It was proposed that a concluding discussion be had at the April meeting and draft recommendations be considered in May. It was requested that members submit suggested recommendations to the Chair in order to facilitate drafting.

 

It was thought that the number of items to be considered in April would not allow for detailed consideration of the items and for this reason it was suggested to dispense with the Youth Crime Update and Executive Member Questions items. It was suggested that the report on the educational attainment of BME children be submitted for information only and any comments of the Committee would be reported back to officers outside of the meeting.