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Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillors Burgess, Caluori and Ozdemir.
Declaration of Substitute Members
There were no declarations of substitute members.
Declarations of Interest
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This applies to all members
present at the meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
The Chair stated that answers to questions raised at the December meeting had been sent to members. If there were any queries about the responses, members could contact the Democratic Services Officer.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 26 January 2021 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.
The Chair reported that she had just attended a meeting about how Covid-19 had affected young people. There had been good representation from young people, including the Young Mayor. The points raised mirrored the evidence submitted to the committee.
The chair thanked members and officers for their contributions towards the scrutiny recommendations.
Items for Call In (if any)
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.
The Chair presented the foreword and recommendations.
In the presentation, the following points were made:
· The committee had heard that COVID-19 had increased anxiety particularly in babies and parents; it had had the largest impact on the most disadvantaged and parents had had a greater role in supporting learning with many also juggling work. No family had escaped the impacts of COVID-19.
· Building partnerships beyond Islington was important.
· The recommendations had been divided into sections, namely Mental Health and Wellbeing, Learning and Pedagogy, Funding, Communications and Developments post-COVID.
· Opportunities for post-16 year olds and vulnerable post-24 year olds had diminished dramatically in the economic climate and addressing their needs was vital.
· Staff who had been dealing with bereavement in schools and settings could suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, too.
· Islington was densely populated and had a low percentage of green spaces so the recommendation to ensure parks were child and play friendly would benefit families.
· The Department for Education (DfE) had provided fewer Chromebooks than expected.
· Some families struggled with home schooling as English was their second language, they had poor literacy or did not have the necessary skills.
· Headteachers considered that undertaking interactive remote learning had increased teachers’ skills and blended learning could be used in the future.
· Many children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) did not thrive under a regime of online learning and schools had responded by providing paper copies of work and having pupils continue in school.
· The council had lost income during the pandemic and more government funding was required. The recommendations sought to develop wider partnerships to campaign for more funding. There was a need to sustain Bright Start and independent/voluntary nurseries, too, were at risk.
· Input into levelling up for the most disadvantaged was required.
· Some anxiety had been caused by sudden changes of plan e.g. in relation to school closures. Alerting people as far in advance as possible would help to reduce anxiety.
· Resetting the education system to put well-being at the centre was encouraged. It was important to give children and young people experiences with less pressure and more enjoyment. COVID-19 could be used as a vehicle for reassessing the education system and providing more creative and sporting opportunities as well as reducing assessment pressure.
That the recommendations be noted.
Councillor Ngongo presented the Executive Member update. She thanked officers for their assistance and outlined her priorities as follows:
- To help to support families. Islington Council had bought 100 books for each of the Mother Tongue Supplementary Schools.
- To have a youth platform to bring young people together and discuss their needs. The first meeting had been held and had been well attended. The meetings would take place monthly and the young people would decide the topic for each meeting.
- To have a platform for parents to enable the council to work with them. The first meeting would be held in April and committee members could attend.
- To reduce school exclusions. Councillor Ngongo thanked officers for their work on this.
Councillor Ngongo advised that officers had worked in collaboration to support the family of the boy tragically murdered in Hillrise ward.
Councillor Ngongo responded to the submitted questions as follows:
The recent report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman - Careless: Helping to Improve Council Services to Children in Care sets out a number of areas of poor practice by councils in dealing with looked after and care experienced children and young people. They identified complaints in a number of areas such as failure to consult or inform children and young people about key events affecting them, care planning, placement stability, contact arrangements, children leaving care and accommodation for 16/17 year olds.
Alongside this, the Secretary of State has just announced that it will be illegal
from September for councils to put children under the age of 16 into
accommodation that was not regulated by Ofsted. This does not protect 17 year olds.
Can the Executive Member confirm that Islington Council has not been guilty of any of the poor practice as described in the Ombudsman's report and that it does not use unregulated homes for its 16 and 17 year olds?
Councillor Ngongo stated that the council did not use unregulated homes for under 16s. Unregulated homes were only used in the very short term where there was no other option. In 2020/21, this provision was not used at all. The council’s priority was the safety of young people and when this provision was used safety plans were in place and OFSTED had to be contacted in writing to scrutinise the placement.
In recent reports, both to the Children's Services Scrutiny Committee and to Policy and Performance, we have heard about the rise in domestic violence cases against women and their children during the pandemic. Can the Executive Member give us an update on the figures for the past half term of lockdown and a breakdown of the different communities affected?
Councillor Ngongo stated that in the year up to February 2021, there were 2,528 reported cases compared to 2,516 in the previous year. The council supported these families and in January 2021 meetings looking at domestic abuse and actions had been set up and these would continue. The ... view the full minutes text for item 237.
Officers from Children’s Services presented the Quarter 3 2020/21 Performance Report.
In the presentation, the following points were made:
· The percentage of young people triaged that were diverted away from the criminal justice system and the number of first-time entrants into the Youth Justice System had exceeded the target figures.
· The percentage of repeat young offenders was lower than most London boroughs.
· There had not been many custodial sentences. Most of these sentences were given to Black and minority ethnic young people and work was taking place with the local magistrates court to address this. Magistrates were provided with a paragraph to consider before sentencing which reminded them of the overrepresentation of BAME people given custodial sentences. There had been successes with the local court but this was more difficult with other courts as there was not the same relationship.
· A member asked whether county lines was still a problem and an officer advised that there were still organised crime groups exploiting children and, although this was more of an issue in rural areas particularly in lockdown, it was still a problem in urban areas. The council was working with partners to address this.
· Data analysis showed the overrepresentation of referrals of Black and mixed heritage ethnic groups. This was being submitted to the Islington Safeguarding Children Board for partners to consider and investigate further.
· Re-referrals to Children’s Social Care within the previous 12 months had increased. Some re-referrals were happening more quickly as the intervention during the first lockdown was not as intensive or robust due to the pandemic, therefore families were more likely to require further intervention.
· Placement stability i.e. the proportion of looked after children with three or more placements over the course of a year was 8.4% in Quarter 3 last year but was now 9.4%. This was still below the London Average. Work was taking place to try and improve this and stabilise children in their placements.
· Long term placement stability had decreased and was below the London average. There were more children in care and more in court proceedings.
· The number of looked after children had increased partly due to the number of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) being higher than in other boroughs and delays in court proceedings also contributed.
· Attendance at early years settings of 2 year olds was 70% in the autumn term. This was the highest it had been. However take up could rise and fall very quickly and there was a need for continued focus.
· Approximately 3,500 3-4 year olds attended early years settings in Quarter 3 which was lower than the pre-COVID level of attendance. Although attendance of 3-4 year olds was non-statutory, attendance impacted upon educational outcomes throughout a child’s school life.
· The figures for supporting 16 and 17 year olds to stay in education, employment or training were better than in the last two years. Most support could not take place face-to-face and relationships had been built over the phone or using video conferencing. Many parents ... view the full minutes text for item 238.
Anthony Doudle and Jeff Cole, Heads of School Improvement presented the report on Assessment Support for School 2021.
In the presentation and discussion the following main points were made:
· All Early Years Foundation Stage and Primary assessments were cancelled in 2020.
· Education settings were required to complete an annual report to parents/carers.
· There was no publication of any school data as it had not been validated and there were no comparative data sets. Schools had used their data internally to identify priorities, develop catch-up plans and inform teaching and learning priorities.
· This year there would be a similar situation as schools were in lockdown from January to March 2021.
· The two year old progress check was a statutory assessment that should be carried out unless a provider was affected by Coronavirus restrictions. It was observation based and was important as it was often the first indication of children who required more support. Outcomes from the progress check were not reported to the local authority.
· The Early Years Foundation Stage profile at age five would not be mandatory again this year. The DfE guidance expected schools to use their “best endeavours” to carry out the assessment and provide information to parents and to Year 1 teachers.
· The service would assist schools to moderate data and would facilitate non-statutory small assessment cluster groups during the summer term. There would be a focus on specific underperforming groups.
· Primary assessments between April and July 2021 had been cancelled. There would be no data from Key Stage 1 teacher assessments and no SATs assessments at Year 6. The phonics screening check was partially undertaken in December but the June part was cancelled. The Year 4 multiplication check had been delayed for another year.
· Schools should continue using assessment to inform teaching, to enable them to give information to parents on their child’s attainment in their statutory annual report and to support the transition of Key Stage 2 pupils to secondary school.
· The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) strongly encouraged schools to use past test papers in their assessment of pupils. The local authority would be providing guidance on which papers to use for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The local authority would also be supporting schools to administer the phonics check to those pupils who did not reach the threshold or were absent during the window due to illness or self-isolation.
· A non-statutory moderation event for primary schools could take place if permitted and this would meet public health requirements. Schools would be invited when pupils were on the borderline between Working Towards the Expected Standard/Expected/Greater Depth. There would be a focus on White UK disadvantaged and Black Caribbean pupils.
· The 2021 GCSEs had been cancelled. Last year 12,600 had taken part in the consultation on replacing exams and 1,939 of these were from students. This year there had been more than 94,700 responses to the consultation. This was the biggest response to a DfE consultation ever: 46,918 of these responses were from ... view the full minutes text for item 239.
Alan Caton, Independent Chair and Scrutineer of the Islington Safeguarding Children Board (ISCB), presented the Annual Report.
In the presentation and discussion the following main points were made:
· The report was a new style of report based on the first year working under the new safeguarding arrangements whereby the Metropolitan Police Service, the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Local Authority were jointly responsible for safeguarding. They worked collaboratively and challenged one another.
· Much good work was undertaken in Islington.
· Work would be undertaken to engage even better with schools. An education sub-group had been set up to ensure that all schools, colleges and other educational settings could be fully involved in the new safeguarding arrangements.
· A number of child safeguarding practice reviews had taken place. It was important to learn from them and improve systems to improve outcomes. Actions were embedded into front line practice.
· Work had taken place to ensure the voices of children and young people were heard in relation to the services they received.
· Work would continue to address neglect, harm suffered to children who lived where domestic violence took place, or where there was mental ill-health or substance misuse.
· Work would continue with young people at risk of being involved in serious violence, gangs and/or criminal exploitation.
· The key messages on Pages 71-72 of the report were highlighted.
· There were disproportionate funding contributions with the local authority paying more and the police paying less. Negotiations would be taking place as contributions should be equal across the three lead organisations.
· In response to a question from a member of the public about alcohol and drug misuse of parents and how this was dealt with, an officer advised that an assessment of the young person’s safety took place and, where appropriate, plans were put in place to improve parenting. One to one and group interventions could take place. The PSHE curriculum in schools was being updated to improve knowledge and understanding so that young people could become more empowered.
· Emerging threats included domestic violence, the impacts of lockdown and elective home education.
· The Chair commented positively on the new format and requested that it would be useful in future to have a glossary included with the report.
Alan Caton was thanked for his report.
1) That the report be noted.
2) That the key messages on pages 71-72 of the report be noted.