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Agenda and minutes

Contact: Jonathan Moore  0207 527 3308

Items
No. Item

120.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

None.

121.

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:

None.

122.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None.

123.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 227 KB

Minutes:


RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 3 March 2016 be confirmed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

124.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

None.

125.

Items for Call In (if any)

Minutes:

None.

126.

Public Questions

Minutes:

None.

127.

Education in Islington 2015: Annual Report pdf icon PDF 168 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lauren Pang, Head of Information and Performance, and Mark Taylor, Director of Learning and Schools, presented the report which provided an overview of education performance in 2015.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The council compared education performance against Inner London and national averages. The report indicated strong overall performance and a high quality of education provision. All secondary schools were judged as good or better by Ofsted and all primary and secondary schools were above national floor standards.

·         It was noted that the percentage of pupils achieving five or more A* to C grade GCSEs including English and Maths had dropped by two percentage points compared to the previous year, however this measure varied significantly between schools. 

·         Islington schools were 6th best in the country for the proportion of disadvantaged pupils achieving five or more A* to C grade GCSEs including English and Maths. It was noted that ‘disadvantage’ was defined by the Department for Education as including pupils eligible for free school meals,  who had been looked after, or who had been adopted from care.

·         There had been a continued improvement in attendance and overall levels of absence had reduced, however persistent primary school absence was above the national average.

·         Following an enquiry on the work to halve the rate of NEETs to 2.2%, it was advised that the council had achieved this by re-focusing its service on the basics of supporting the young people most in need at the right time. 

·         The Committee commented that the rate of primary exclusions was above Inner London and England averages. It was advised that as Islington had a relatively small population for an education authority and therefore exclusions had a significant impact on the borough’s overall exclusion rate. Some pupils had been excluded from multiple primary schools.

·         Members queried the varying performance levels of local schools. Officers commented that although schools did have different cohorts, they were not sufficiently different to explain variations in performance. It was suggested that changes in school leadership had impacted on the performance of some schools. It was also noted that the quality of school support mechanisms was not consistent and the council was monitoring this to ensure that pupils were accessing the most effective interventions. 

·         The Committee commented on the decrease in GCSE performance at Highbury Grove School and queried if the reported £200,000 shortfall in the school’s finances could lead to redundancies. In response, the Executive Member advised that this was a matter for the school’s governing body, however it was understood that the school’s finances had been affected by pension and national insurance changes and the council was liaising with the school and unions to ensure a coordinated and balanced approach. Officers advised that other schools may experience the same difficulties, however noted that this could not excuse a decrease in performance.

·         It was queried if the council would consider taking a political position on compulsory redundancies in schools. In response, it was advised that the council had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 127.

128.

Information Item: The Educational Attainment of BME Children pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The Committee queried if there was an explanation of why mathematics results appeared to vary depending upon ethnic background and in particular the attainment levels of Black Caribbean pupils. It was advised that officers would look into the details further and report back to members.

·         Members noted the relatively higher attainment of Somali and Bangladeshi pupils. It was commented that some local mosques provided supplementary Maths and English classes to children and there was a lack of such community-led education for children of other ethnicities. Members considered if the council should work with the voluntary sector to support community-led supplementary education for children from certain ethnic backgrounds. It was queried if the appointment of ‘Community Champions’ would be effective.

·         It was queried if more could be done to raise awareness of demographic achievement trends among parents and if strategies which reflected the particular needs of different ethnic groups were required.

·         Members commented on the need to approach such issues tactfully and queried the best way in which to have difficult conversations on demographic trends with parents.

·         Members commented that the council’s general approach to attainment was to raise standards universally, however it was queried if this was sufficient to improve the attainment of pupils from all backgrounds.

·         The Committee queried if pupil attainment changed at the onset of puberty and requested that the data be analysed by gender as well as ethnicity.

 

RESOLVED:
That further analysis of attainment by ethnicity and gender be circulated to members.
 

129.

Alternative Provision: Notes of Scrutiny Visits and Concluding Discussion pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)  Notes of Scrutiny Visits

 

 It was commented that the visits had been useful and it was particularly valuable to speak with pupils about their experiences.

 

(b)  Concluding Discussion

 

The Committee had a concluding discussion on the evidence received through the Alternative Provision scrutiny. The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The Committee considered which pupils should be in alternative provision and if alternative provision was being utilised properly. It was commented that although some provisions provided niche education to pupils with a particular set of needs, there was a concern that some schools were too ready to take pupils out of mainstream education and refer them to provisions with an insufficient focus on academic attainment.

·         It was suggested that increasing the involvement of schools in the referral process would introduce an element of peer review. It was thought that this could reduce the number of pupils referred to alternative provision.

·         Members noted that schools were responsible for referring pupils to alternative provision and did not have to make use of the council’s service. It was queried how schools could be incentivised to keep low performing and disruptive pupils in mainstream education.

·         The Committee considered the evidence that several alternative provision pupils had learning needs identified after referral and suggested that a standardised and comprehensive method of assessment was required to identify the needs of pupils. It was noted that this would also assist in improving the quality of data held by the council. Officers commented that the council would not be able to specify the type of assessments carried out by all providers and there was not sufficient resources for the council to carry out such assessments in-house. Members suggested that such referrals could be carried out by schools prior to referral.

·         Members considered the appropriateness of functional skills qualifications and the availability of GCSEs to alternative provision pupils. It was thought that some providers excessively focused on pupil expectations as opposed to aspirations and this could be to the detriment of some pupils. A discussion was had on if the purpose of alternative provision was to provide alternative qualifications or to provide mainstream qualifications in an alternative setting. It was concluded that functional skills were generally not as valued as GCSEs and that all pupils should have the opportunity to study for GCSEs. It was suggested that the council should set the target of all children achieving at least a Grade C in GCSE English and Maths.

·         The Committee noted the vulnerabilities of alternative provision pupils. It was commented that some pupils required mentoring and emotional support, some required educational support due to their learning needs, and others would benefit from programmes to inspire them and raise their aspirations. It was commented that some pupils did not appreciate the importance of education and further work was required to help these pupils identify appropriate pathways. Targeted interventions such as the ‘Achievement for All’ project were considered to be best practice.

·         Members considered the role of early help  ...  view the full minutes text for item 129.

130.

Review of Work Programme pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Minutes:

Noted.