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Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies were received from Councillor Janet Burgess, Mary Clement and Zaleera Wallace.


Declaration of Substitute Members

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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.

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Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 63 KB

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That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 May 2021 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.


Chair's Report

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The Chair referenced:-


1)   the recent report of the Education Select Committee which identified the underperformance of children from low income white families and the possible reasons for this;

2)   420,000 more children in England had become eligible for free school meals since the start of the first lockdown. The Chair stated that government funding would be based on aged data rather than this figure;

3)   Education Policy Institute (EPI) evidence showed disruption to schools had widened the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The Social Mobility Foundation Survey of 1,500 disadvantaged families indicated that there was a lack of confidence in the grades these pupils would get this year and 52% lacked confidence among these families in their ability to appeal. The EPI were of the view that pupils in their final year of sixth form should be able to repeat the year.



That the Chair’s report be noted.



Items for Call In (if any)

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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.


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The Chair stated that any public questions would be taken during the relevant agenda item.


Membership, Terms of Reference and Dates of Meetings pdf icon PDF 217 KB

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The Chair reminded members that due to the 2022 local elections, there would only be eight Committee meetings and that the date of the July 2021 meeting had been changed with the meeting now scheduled to take place on 20 July.



That the membership appointed by Annual Council on 20 May 2021, terms of reference and dates of meetings of the Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee for the municipal year 2021/22 be noted.


Scrutiny Topic and Draft Work Programme pdf icon PDF 257 KB

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The Chair suggested that Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) could be the scrutiny topic for the year.


In the discussion the following points were made:

·         The Chair advised the Committee that although it was expected that an Ofsted inspection of SEND would be undertaken, choosing this topic for a scrutiny review could be valuable. It was recognised that the inspection would impact on officers’ time and so it was anticipated that some of the evidence gathering for the scrutiny review would not involve officers.

·         An officer advised that in addition to the expected Ofsted Inspection, an internal review of SEND was taking place and the scrutiny review could possibly align with this. The review was looking at provision, funding, changing needs, rising numbers and inclusion in schools.

·         The Chair asked members to contact her with any ideas about how to focus the scrutiny review.



That SEND be the scrutiny review topic for 2021/2022.


Quarter 4 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 470 KB

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·         In a response to a member’s question about the increase in applications for free school meals, an officer advised that this was likely to result in a 6% increase in free school meals which was above the national trend although there was an increase across local authorities. This could level off as the economy recovered.

·         In response to a member’s question about young people being triaged away from the criminal justice system, an officer advised that triaging took place where low level, non-violent offences had taken place if a young person was referred by the police. Work took place with each young person, focusing on their needs and providing support to prevent escalation. Afterwards some were referred on to agencies who could provide continued support.

·         A member asked why there had not been a rise in domestic abuse offences as would be expected during lockdown. An officer stated that although the number of offences had not risen, the complexity and severity levels had increased. The council had become more responsive and had continued to invest. The police now had the best performance on domestic abuse sanctions and detections in the Metropolitan Police Service. Since January 2021, a multi-agency domestic abuse daily safeguarding meeting had taken place.

·         In response to members’ questions about the stability of placements for looked after children, an officer stated that during the pandemic, there was not a rise in the number of children entering care, but more children stayed in care due to the court proceedings backlog. This was a national problem and London was short of 500 places which meant local authorities had to compete for places. Placement planning work was taking place regionally. COVID had made it harder to undertake matching. To match young people to the right placement, work took place sub-regionally. This meant the council did not have to compete for places and could hopefully find the right placement first time. An officer stated that six companies provided 90% of independent fostering places. Work was taking place with the other 10% of providers to ask them which families could support children and from the list provided, matching could take place. Commissioning work took place with the most complex cases and work took place sub-regionally to help children step down from secure settings. Islington had agreed to invest in a secure unit in London as there currently was not one. Work was taking place on interventions that could reduce some children entering care i.e. specialists working intensively with families.

·         A member of the public asked about what was being done to support those who were not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) and why the Basket of Indicators had no Corporate Indicator for the section entitled “Delivering an inclusive economy, supporting people into work and financial independence and helping them with the cost of living”. An officer advised that the percentage of increase in NEETs in Islington was lower than the London average. In some cases the risk of becoming NEET could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 258.


Annual Report Back on the Equalities in Educational Outcomes Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 934 KB

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·         A member referred to Recommendation 13 and asked which cultural groups were included. The officer advised that schools were being asked to look at the curriculum through a multi-coloured lens.

·         In response to a member’s question about how Trailblazer sites would work, the officer stated that the Health and Wellbeing Team worked to ensure there was dedicated mental health support in schools with a focus on individuals and ensuring mental health was at the forefront.

·         A member asked to what extent digital resources were integrated. The officer advised that home learning had been useful in the inclusive curriculum. Parents had felt supported and had valued the resources provided. Some of the resources had already been refreshed i.e. Year 5 work so pupils could prepare for Year 6.

·         A co-optee stated that she had attended the Governors Equalities and Unconscious Bias training referred to in Recommendation 1 and these had been useful. She asked about the Parent Voice Forum and was advised that this was a new group which met at least every half term. Work was taking place to increase the diversity of the group. The forum brought groups together and the local authority could hear about parents’ views on successes and potential improvements and provide support to parents.

·         A member stated that schools could opt in or out of curriculum suggestions and asked how the council could encourage them. An officer replied that schools could choose their curriculum and how to teach it and although this was not in the local authority’s control, the local authority engaged in discussions with schools. It was important for the council and schools to have an engaging relationship and work in partnership to find solutions.

·         In response to a member’s question about the “scaffolding up” approach, the officer advised that this had replaced the “differentiating down” approach that had been in place previously. There were clear steps in removing adult support and modelling so a child could reach steps independently. “Whole class reading” had been introduced as part of this.

·         In response to a member’s question about schools mapping their local communities, the officer stated that the Fairer Together Partnership was engaging with schools and was planning to share data with schools so they were clearer about their communities and changing demographics.

·         In response to a member’s question about who was receiving the tutoring that was funded by the Department for Education, the officer advised that when the Department for Education had issued funding, the local authority provided advice to schools and schools had submitted their plans. This was on track in Autumn 2020, however the last lockdown slowed progress. Demand for tutors was greater than supply and therefore many schools struggled to get an external tutor and instead had used in-house resources.

·         A member asked about work to improve diversity on school governing bodies and was advised that a survey had been undertaken and was being analysed. Once ready it would be shared with the People Directorate and governors. It was the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 259.