You are here: Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Jonathan Moore  0207 527 3308

Items
No. Item

55.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

None.

56.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None.

57.

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.

58.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 22 November 2018 be agreed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

59.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Councillor Graham, who had been appointed to the Committee at the December meeting of the Council.

 

The Chair noted that Councillor Caluori would be standing down as the Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families at the end of February 2019. The Chair thanked Councillor Caluori for his work and his commitment to Islington’s young people.

 

The Chair advised that Councillor Caluori had written to all members advising of actions that would be implemented immediately in response to the Committee’s review of Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusion from School. Islington Council would provide more comprehensive information on independent sources of support available to parents and carers on its website and in the initial letter which is sent to parents and carers informing them of their child’s permanent exclusion from school; the council would facilitate Islington Law Centre providing free parent workshops on the exclusions process; and Islington Law Centre had also agreed to hold monthly drop-in sessions, at no cost to the council, for parents and carers seeking independent advice on issues arising from their child’s exclusion. The Committee welcomed these actions and was pleased that the scrutiny review was leading to positive service developments.

 

A member noted that the Committee had received evidence from three male head teachers at the previous meeting and commented that it would be helpful for the Committee to receive evidence from a more diverse range of witnesses in future.

60.

Items for Call In (if any)

Minutes:

None.

61.

Public Questions

For members of the public to ask questions relating to any subject on the meeting agenda under Procedure Rule 70.5. Alternatively, the Chair may opt to accept questions from the public during the discussion on each agenda item.

Minutes:

None.

62.

Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusion from School - Evidence and Conclusions pdf icon PDF 71 KB

a)    New River College Ofsted Report
 

b)    Concluding Discussion

Additional documents:

Minutes:

a)    New River College Ofsted Report

 

The Committee noted the report and was pleased that the pupil referral unit had been rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted.

 

b)    Concluding Discussion

 

Candy Holder, Head of Pupil Services, introduced the paper and summarised the evidence received during the review. The Committee discussed the evidence received and shared their thoughts on possible conclusions of the review.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The most common reason for exclusion was persistent disruptive behaviour.

·         Disadvantaged pupils, pupils with special educational needs, and BAME pupils were more likely to be excluded.

·         The Committee noted the important role that governors play in the exclusion process and in shaping a school’s ethos and behaviour policy. It was suggested that further work was needed to empower school governors to act on exclusion issues. 

·         It was queried if school behaviour policies were able to adequately address persistent disruptive behaviour. The Committee had not reviewed school behaviour policies as it was not responsible for scrutinising the activities of individual schools, however it was suggested that a peer review of behaviour policies and how they are implemented could be useful for some schools. The council could support the development of attendance and behaviour partnerships in which schools are able to share learning and best practice.

·         It was suggested that increased transparency around the costs of exclusion, both financial and personal, could be useful to head teachers, governors, and parents.

·         The Committee commented on the difficulty of targeting CAMHS and other interventions commissioned by the local authority when the service was delivered on a traded basis. Further work may be needed to engage with schools on the benefits of such services.

·         It was commented that the significant variation in the exclusion rates of the borough’s schools was a fairness and equalities issue; pupils living in one area of the borough were far more likely to be excluded than those in other areas.

·         The London Borough of Hackney had adopted a good practice guide titled ‘no need to exclude’ which sought to focus schools on the alternatives to exclusion. It was suggested that adopting similar guidance with clear messages around reducing exclusion could be useful.

·         It was commented that the pressure to achieve high levels of attainment, and the cost of keeping disruptive pupils in mainstream school, could be ‘perverse incentives’ to exclude in some instances. It was commented that this was a national issue which could not be solved at borough-level, however it might be appropriate to lobby central government on this issue. Officers commented that the Timpson Review had been asked to examine this particular issue.

·         It was commented that zero tolerance behaviour policies tended to result in pupils being punished through exclusion. However, members commented that exclusion was not an effective form of punishment.

·         Only 2% of head teachers nationally felt that they had sufficient resources for pupils with special educational needs.

·         It was suggested that school league tables incentivised schools to compete rather than work in collaboration.

·         It was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

The Effectiveness of Islington's Free School Meals Policy pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Minutes:

The report was introduced by Tania Townsend, Partnership Development and Strategy Manager; Deirdre Vimpany, Contract Manager; Marjon Willers, Specialist Dietician; and Debbie Stevenson, Deputy Head of Finance for the Children, Employment and Skills directorate.

 

The following main points were made in the discussion:

 

·         The Health and Care Scrutiny Committee had previously reviewed the council’s Universal Free School Meals Policy and found it to be successful. The policy worked to provide Islington’s children with nutritious meals and helped to reduce inequalities.

·         The policy was a key part of the council’s commitment to help residents with the cost of living. In Islington 14,000 young people were at risk of food poverty. Work carried out by the Fair Futures Commission identified that both low and medium income households struggled with the cost of living in Islington.

·         Officers commented on the challenge of implementing the policy in 2009/10; it was explained that some school funding mechanisms operate on the basis of how many pupils are eligible for free school meals under the nationally funded scheme and schools and the local authority did not want to lose this eligibility data. The solution to this was to have every parent apply for free school meals. This allowed the council to assess every child’s eligibility for the national scheme. This approach resulted in an increase in the number of young people identified as being eligible for free school meals, which reduced the cost of funding the council’s universal scheme.  

·         Parents were asked to apply for free school meals in reception and again when their child reached Year 7. This was carried out through an online system.

·         Schools understood the importance of maximising the government funding available for the scheme and worked hard to ensure that all parents applied for free school meals.

·         The council’s school meals catering contractor was Caterlink. Caterlink had been awarded the contract foe 2018-23, with the option to extend for a further two years. The contract was based on enhanced food standards that surpassed the national minimum.

·         Food was required to be fresh and Soil Association certified.

·         School meals were varied throughout the week and reflected the diversity of young people’s cultural backgrounds. There were options for a range of dietary needs.

·         When the policy was implemented, work was required to refurbish some school kitchens. Islington Council assisted with procurement and financing the refurbishment in some instances.

·         School meals were healthier than the average packed lunch. Officers commented on the importance of children’s nutrition. In particular, iron intake was crucial to support cognitive function.

·         School meals introduced young people to fruits and vegetables they may not eat at home. It was reported that beetroot was particularly popular in Islington schools.

·         Four maintained primary schools were outside of the council’s school meals contact. It was advised that these schools were required to meet rigorous standards and officers worked closely with environmental health to ensure that these standards were met.  In response to a question, it was advised that some schools were outside  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Quarterly Review of Children's Services Performance (Q2 2018/19) pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by Carmel Littleton, Corporate Director of Children, Employment and Skills; and Laura Eden, Director of Youth and Communities.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The number of new entrants to the criminal justice system had decreased, however the rate of reoffending had increased. It was commented that there was a small but significant cohort of young people who were very entrenched in criminal behaviours.

·         The number of custodial sentences for young people was higher than the previous year. Officers had reviewed all of the sentences given and agreed that they were appropriate given the seriousness of the offences, which were generally violent. 

·         In response to a question, it was advised that black males were over represented in the criminal justice system. It was advised that the Youth Justice Management Board would be carrying out a project on disproportionality and addressing discrimination of black males.

·         It was queried if the young offenders had previously been excluded from school. In response, officers could not confirm if the young offenders currently in the system had been excluded or not, but pupils in mainstream school were less likely to offend than those in pupil referral units.

·         Officers commented on the increase in the number of young people missing from care. The council was working closely with the Police and received a weekly update on all cases. It was advised that most young people who went missing from care kept in touch with a parent or professional.

·         In response to a question, it was advised that the most common age for a young person to go missing from care was at 16 or 17 years old. The council was working with foster carers and other care providers on when it was appropriate and necessary to report a young person as missing; it was reported that some young people had previously been reported as missing when they were simply late home.

·         Officers commented that persistent absence from primary school was an issue in nine schools. It was a long-term issue in three of those. It was reported that some persistent absence was attributable to health issues and officers were working with health colleagues on such cases. In other instances, it was necessary to make a referral to early help services.

·         It was reported that the primary schools with high levels of persistent absence generally did not issue fines to parents for non-attendance.

·         A new attendance tracking tool had been developed and would be implemented by schools.

·         The Committee received an update on the work to narrow the gap in attainment between Black-Caribbean pupils and the remainder of the cohort. It was advised that efforts to close the gap had been stepped up, a plan with clear priorities had been developed, and meetings were being held every half term. Equalities would be the theme of the upcoming head teachers conference. Officers had arranged training sessions on cultural bias for head teachers, deputy heads and other school staff.

 

It was agreed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.

65.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Minutes:

Noted.