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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Moore  0207 527 3308

Items
No. Item

89.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Ngongo.

90.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None.

91.

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.

92.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted that it was queried at the previous meeting when the Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families would be attending meetings of the Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee to answer questions from the committee and members of the public. It was advised that this matter was to be dealt with under Item B5, Scrutiny Topics and Work Programme 2019/20.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 30 April 2019 be agreed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

93.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair advised that committee members had informally discussed scrutiny topics and the work programme for 2019/20 and a number of suggestions had been made. These would be considered further under Item B5.

94.

Items for Call In (if any)

Minutes:

None.

95.

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:

A member of the public asked if the Council was assured that Islington schools were GDPR compliant. In response, officers advised that all local authority schools had received relevant training and data protection was taken very seriously by governing bodies and school leadership teams. It was advised that further details would be supplied in a written response.

 

A member of the public asked if Islington Council would be submitting bids to the Mayor’s Youth Fund, noting that previously the council had not directly applied for funding, but had supported bids for other organisations operating in Islington. Officers advised that a written response would be sent.

96.

Membership, Terms of Reference, Dates of Meetings pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the membership of the Committee, the terms of reference and the dates of meetings for the municipal year 2019/20 be noted.

97.

Executive Member Annual Presentation

Minutes:

Councillor Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, presented to the Committee on her priorities for the 2019/20 municipal year.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The Executive Member’s three priorities for the year were: continual educational improvement, preventing the criminal exploitation of children and keeping Islington’s children safe.

·         51% of the borough’s primary schools were above the national and Inner-London average.

·         69% of pupils achieved the combined requirements for reading, writing and maths. The Inner-London average was 71% and the Executive Member wanted Islington’s young people to exceed this figure.

·         The Executive Member was concerned that Islington had one of the highest rates of primary school absence in the country. It was commented that this could be an indicator of wider issues such as unemployment and poor health outcomes. Addressing absence was a priority for Children’s Services as absence from school entrenched disadvantage. It was particularly concerning that neighbouring boroughs did not experience the same issues. Targeted work was underway with parents, school leaders and governing bodies to improve attendance.

·         The Executive Member welcomed the Committee’s review of exclusion from school and advised that the Executive would respond to the committee’s recommendations in due course.

·         The Executive Member was pleased with the progress made by pupils with special educational needs and learning disabilities (SEND), however expressed frustration with the lack of national funding for support services. Officers were reviewing Islington’s offer to pupils with emotional needs. The Executive Member was also keen to improve provision for SEND pupils at post-16.

·         The Executive Member was pleased with the quality of the borough’s early years’ provision but was concerned by the level of engagement, as the attendance of two-year olds was below target. A communications strategy was being developed to promote engagement.

·         Islington schools performed well in terms of the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, however there was a gap in attainment for Black Caribbean pupils and White British pupils eligible for free school meals.

·         The Committee noted the progress with the council’s cultural enrichment programme, ’11 by 11’ which sought to give pupils 11 cultural experiences by age 11, and the World of Work programme, which would give pupils 100 hours’ work-related by age 16.

·         County lines was an ongoing London-wide and national issue. At the end of March 2019, 20 children had been identified as being at risk of county lines. The Executive Member emphasised the importance of working with partners across London and beyond to support vulnerable young people.

·         The number of safeguarding referrals had decreased over the previous year and the Executive Member was challenging the reasons for this.

·         The Executive Member welcomed that there had been a reduction in the number of child protection plans. It was suggested that this was a result of the council’s family-centred approach.

·         The Committee noted the work underway to support victims of domestic violence and prevent violence against women and girls. The IRIS project worked with GPs to help them identify and support victims of domestic  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.

98.

Update on the Timpson Review of School Exclusion pdf icon PDF 534 KB

Minutes:

Candy Holder, Head of Pupil Services, introduced the update on the Timpson Review of School Exclusion. It was advised that the report of the review had been published and included 30 recommendations which the government had accepted in principle.

 

It was noted that many of the recommendations and findings were consistent with the committee’s own review of exclusion from school.

 

The Committee noted that the Timpson Review had not made conclusions on the reasons why particular demographic groups were disproportionately affected by exclusion. The Committee believed this to be a missed opportunity and was disappointed that the report did not address equalities issues in a satisfactory way.

 

The Committee expressed concern that the report did not condemn zero-tolerance approaches, which the committee thought could result in a high number of exclusions.

99.

The role of Islington's supplementary schools pdf icon PDF 173 KB

Minutes:

Jeff Cole, Head of School Improvement (Secondary), and Abed Moftizadeh, Community Learning Consultant, introduced the report which set out the role of mother tongue and supplementary schools in the borough.

 

The Committee noted that, following intense cost pressures on schools, the Schools Forum had decided to cease the funding of such schools from March 2019. Islington Council had worked to identify small amounts of interim funding for the 2019/20 year. Organisations were being signposted to alternative sources of funding. 

 

The Committee expressed regret at the cuts to funding for such services. It was recognised that school budgets had been cut by central government and this resulted in the Schools Forum having to reassess and prioritise all spending. Officers also noted that schools had increasingly limited discretion in how they spent their funding as the number of ring-fenced funds had increased in recent years. 

 

A member of the public asked if Islington’s supplementary schools had been quality assessed. In response it was advised that the council’s Community Learning Consultant was an assessor and the majority of the supplementary schools were rated ‘bronze’ on the national framework.

 

A member of the public asked if a resident impact assessment had been completed before the Schools Forum decided to end its funding of supplementary schools. In response, it was advised that ‘resident impact assessments’ are an Islington Council process and the Schools Forum is independent of the council. However, the Schools Forum did take equalities issues seriously.

 

Supplementary schools were generally run by a small number of dedicated volunteers and it was recognised that a decrease in funding would be difficult for them. It was commented that a significant amount of supplementary school funding was spent on expenses for volunteers.

 

It was suggested that Islington Council may be able to offer supplementary schools non-financial support, such as access to facilities and resources.

 

The Committee queried how the educational outcomes of pupils attending supplementary schools could be assessed. It was noted that one supplementary school was registered as a GCSE exam centre and supported pupils in sitting exams, particularly in mother tongue languages not offered by mainstream schools.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

100.

Scrutiny Topics and Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Minutes:

The Committee agreed that its main review topic for 2019/20 would focus on educational equalities and attainment. In particular, the Committee would focus on the attainment gap experienced by Black Caribbean and White Working Class pupils.

 

The Committee wished for the review to include the relationship between demographic factors, such as protected characteristics, special educational needs and deprivation, and attainment and progress. The Committee would be keen to talk to young people, parents and community leaders as part of the review.

 

The Committee considered its proposed work plan for 2019/20. The following main comments were made:

 

·         It was requested that the number of teenage pregnancies be included in the quarterly performance report.

·         The Committee requested an additional report providing an overview of mental health provision in schools.

·         It was agreed that the focus of the February meeting would be on Post-16 Education, Employment and Training. In particular, the committee wished to review the attainment of school 6th forms and colleges, the range of courses available and any related equalities issues. It was requested that the Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report be rescheduled to accommodate additional time for the consideration of the post-16 item.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)            That educational equalities and attainment be selected as the main scrutiny topic for 2019/20;

(ii)           That the proposed work programme be agreed, subject to the amendments proposed above.