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Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies were received from Jon Stansfield


Declaration of Substitute Members

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There were no declarations of substitute members.


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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There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 533 KB

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That the minutes of the meeting held on 25th April 2023, and the minutes of the meeting held on 12th June 2023, both 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 had attended sessions set up for all of the Council’s scrutiny chairs to attend. In those sessions, one of the key points raised was that Committee meetings should have regular attendance from relevant senior officers, should be held in such a manner that all are assured that they will be treated respectfully and that where possible, questions should be directed to the Executive Member. Additionally, there should be feedback after each meeting where required.


Another item raised out of these sessions was publicity on the communications/publicity of the work of the scrutiny committee. Positive feedback was received for the Committee’s 2022-23 report into Making Children Visible, and the Chair will be writing to all the parties that gave evidence with a copy of the report.


The Executive Member for Children, Young People & Families thanked the Committee for their hard work on the 2022-23 scrutiny review.


The point was also made that scrutiny meetings should be democratic, and that Committee members should consider inviting delegations to attend. 


The Chair referenced a story circulating in the news highlighting that families were projected to pay on average, £943 per child for childcare this summer, as well as highlighting the lack of childcare for families of SEND children. The Chair noted that in the context of this, it was good to see the work that was taking place locally in Islington to address the provision of affordable childcare.


External Attendees (if any)

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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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Scrutiny Initiation Document (SID) & Introductory presentation pdf icon PDF 219 KB

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Further to the production and circulation of the Scrutiny Initiation Document (SID) for this year’s (2023-24) scrutiny review into The Children’s Workforce, Recruiting, Retaining and Growing Talent in Islington, a presentation was delivered to the Committee. In the following discussion, the following points were raised:

·       The SID focussed on recruitment and retention of the children’s workforce in its various forms, and how the Council grows its talent.

·       Nationally, the Children’s Workforce was really varied, comprising multiple professions and services. Most of these services come into contact with young people at different stages.

·       The core children’s workforce consisted of those working directly with children and young people, such as social workers, teachers and CAMHS workers, often with statutory responsibilities. There were limited budgets and capacity in these services, leading to complications and pressures in service delivery. It was essential that these services were adequately equipped to provide the preventative service they were designed for. Social workers and teachers played an essential role in the development of children and young people but were not the only aspect.

·       The wider children’s workforce complemented the core children’s workforce, in a more universal capacity and also had a focus on early intervention. This included support staff, developing connections with families, children, and other outreach beyond statutory interventions.

·       Pastoral support staff, nurses, and employment coaches were examples of staff that helped young people with transition into adulthood.

·       Children and young people should receive the necessary support to access all the opportunities in life. Nationally there had been an erosion of services that meet these needs such as early help and youth work. Early years support was crucial in the development of a child, so that they could reach attainment later on school ready, but this sector needed long-term sustainable funding to realise the benefits. Nationally it was vital this section workforce was addressed to address capacity issues.

·       The government continued to invest in new routes into social work. However, despite the investment, significant challenges remain in retention. Social work occurs in challenging environments with lack of resources and increasing demand leading to high levels of stress and departures.

·       The role of the family social worker has changed considerably, with challenges that could not be met by social workers alone.

·       Real-term cuts to local authority budgets and funding gaps had an impact on the support provided to families. Most local authorities were already overspending on Children’s Services.

·       Teacher sufficiency remained a problem.

·       There needed to be a national drive to recruit occupational, speech and language therapists.

·       National Youth Agency estimated that there were 3000 youth practitioners working without qualification.

·       Youth Offending Services teams have had a demonstrable, positive impact on and were part of a targeted approach to helping families.

·       Progression was cited as a key point to consider – locally, that meant looking at workers in the sector progressing into senior leadership roles. Traditionally, said senior leadership roles skewed against particular ethnic groups whereas communities were becoming more diverse.

·       It was suggested that Committee members could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 125.


School Reorganisation pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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Officers delivered a presentation to the Committee on School Organisation. Key points highlighted in the discussion included:

·       In October 2022, the Executive approved several big plans that drove the borough’s educational outcomes.

·       Educational excellence would be driven through the education plan.

·       It was also an ambition to have inclusive, welcoming schools as set out in SEND strategy.

·       There were significant challenges, namely that there were too few children for too many places.

·       The school organisation plan was about reconfiguring schools to better reflect school numbers.

·       One of the plans going through was the asset management strategy, in which the Council considered the use of the actual buildings that remained, across several departments.

·       An increasing number of the borough’s schools was struggling financially, but the problem was not unique to Islington. Central Government funded schools on a per child value, and each vacant place represented a loss in income to the school. Other pressures not budgeted for included maintenance and wage cost increases.

·       Islington’s deficit would be worse were it not for surpluses at some schools.

·       There had been a sharp decline in pupil numbers in the past two years particularly, with the context including cost of living, low birth rates, families moving out of London, and housing.

·       There were 430 spare places, across reception classes, equating to 14 forms of entry.

·       The plan was being implemented in phases. Phase 1 included the amalgamation of two in south of the borough, Copenhagen Primary and Vittoria Primary. The plan also included the removal of six and a half forms of entry borough-wide, but due to the decision made regarding Pooles Park Primary School, this had reduced to 5.5.

·       The decline in pupil numbers were projected to become more acute. The Council planned for primary school places by dividing borough into six planning areas, in line with Department for Education (DfE) policy. The Barnsbury planning area was the most impacted (south).

·       Data informing decision making was obtained from a number of sources which included birth data, the Greater London Authority (GLA), the Office for National Statistics (2021 census), and other Council services.

·       The guidance says that surplus should between 5 and 10%.

·       DfE guidance, which the Council has to operate within, had a presumption to not close schools, and fully address other options to address surplus capacity before moving to closure. This included looking at reducing admission numbers and merging schools through federation, and only when all have been exhausted can closure be considered.

·       The quality of education, parental preference, and financial viability; whether the school was a faith school or the only school in the community, were all taken into consideration. In the case of faith schools, the diocese can also propose closure, in addition to the local authority.

·       Academies and free schools are their own admission authorities. Their expansion plans can affect local authority planning.

·       In the amalgamation of Vittoria and Copenhagen Primary Schools, the service first had to conduct an informal consultation for four weeks, which was extended to ensure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 126.


Quarter 4 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 562 KB

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In the discussion of the report, the following points were raised:

·       Attendance remained a key priority for the council, but the data demonstrated it was still quite an acute problem. Factors could include issues at home, and holidays during term time, among others, and work was needed to understand the issues driving the situation.

·       There was a lag in the reporting of suspensions in the report against the live data, which had showed improvement in the attendance figures.

·       Every single school in Islington was RAG rated (risk assessed).

·       The approach officers were taking was on how to support individuals from a multi-agency perspective. The Department for Education (DfE) had a positive response to Islington’s approach and adopted a mostly hands-off approach with Islington, due to the robust procedures already in-place.

·       All schools were rated good or outstanding, except one which required improvement.

·       The Council was not encouraged to make direct comparisons because the assessment framework had changed.

·       Take up of the two-year old offer had improved, but because the report data was for Quarter Four, there was not comparative data for the current, improved position.


Officers to provide the Committee with further analysis to give reassurance on how and when attendance penalties are being used, and who they are being used against.



Officers to provide the Committee with provisional, live data on suspensions.



Officers to provide the Committee with information on which secondary school Ofsted ratings.



Work Programme 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 190 KB

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Members requested a one-off presentation on attendance be added to the 2023-24 work programme.



The Chair to work with officers to find a suitable date on the work programme for the presentation on attendance.



That the 2023-24 work programme be noted.