Agenda and minutes

Children and Education Policy and Accountability Committee
Monday, 24th April, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Courtyard Room - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  020 8753 2063

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 249 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 27 February 2017.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 February 2017 were approved as an accurate record and were signed by the Chair.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Elaine Chumnery.

 

Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Marcus Ginn.

3.

Declarations of Interest

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.

 

At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter.  The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.

 

Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.

 

Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Audit, Pensions and Standards Committee. 

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

4.

Public Questions

To invite questions from members of the public.

 

Anyone is welcome to come and ask questions without giving notice but if you have complex questions you can submit them in advance to ensure a more detailed answer. Contact: david.abbott@lbhf.gov.uk

 

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

5.

Skills for Young People pdf icon PDF 281 KB

This report outlines the ways that the council aims to provide young people with the necessary skills and opportunities for sustainable employment.

Minutes:

Correction: Under 3.1 of the report, the national average figure should be 7.1 percent not 3.4 percent as shown in the printed agenda.

 

Will Parsons (Commissioning and Transformation Lead) presented the report which provided an overview of the current participation rates for young people not in employment, education, or training (NEET), the current NEET panel process, its links with partner organisations involved and referral routes for young people. The report also highlighted the range of opportunities offered through the Virtual School and Workzone that aimed to provide young people with the necessary skills and opportunities for sustainable employment.

 

The Chair welcomed Hiba Al Moosawi (Youth Mayor) and Cas Bradbeer (Deputy Youth Mayor) to the meeting and asked them to share their experiences and ideas for improving young people’s access to work experience in the borough.

 

Cas Bradbeer addressed the committee about the obstacles faced when trying to access work experience. Pursuing an interest in social work they enquired about the possibility of doing work experience with social services in the borough but was turned away due to concerns around confidentiality. They persisted and did get to shadow senior social workers in the department, an experience they found to be hugely educational, but they worried that this type of allowance was only given because of personal connections they had made - when these opportunities should be available to everyone. Other members of the Youth Council reported similar issues in other sectors - either no work experience was offered at all or it was very competitive.

 

Hiba Al Moosawi informed the committee that the topic of work experience was one of her key manifesto pledges – she felt it was important to educate young people about the need for work experience and how to access it. Many young people weren’t aware how important it was for employers and not having it restricted young people’s career opportunities.

 

Councillor Caroline Ffiske asked when the requirement to be in education, employment or training ended. Ian Heggs (Director for Education) said the requirement was to 18 years old.

 

Councillor Marcus Ginn asked who was legally responsible for ensuring young people were in education, training, or employment. Ian Heggs responded that it was the local authority’s responsibility to provide young people with support and access to opportunities – though there were no legal consequences.

 

Matt Jenkins noted that, while it was good that NEET figures in the borough were low, it would be helpful to understand more about the quality of the placements. For example, if a young person was in training, was it useful to them in their future careers or were they simply being used as low-wage labour? He asked what more H&F could do to make high quality work experience opportunities available. Ian Heggs replied by saying the council did provide a work experience service to schools that offered a programme of opportunities. There was also a bespoke work experience package for special schools.

 

Steve Miley (Director for Family Services), referring to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Executive Director's Update pdf icon PDF 565 KB

This report provides a brief overview of recent developments in the Children’s Services department.

Minutes:

Steve Miley presented the report and highlighted section 4.4 – where the Leader of the Council and one of H&F’s care leavers discussed the council tax exemption for care leavers on the Victoria Derbyshire Show. He noted that the care leaver who joined the Leader wanted a career in the media so, to support her, the head of the virtual school spent the weekend preparing her for her appearance.

 

The Chair noted the disappointing Ofsted result, ‘requires improvement’, from William Morris and asked officers to update the committee on the school’s progress. Ian Heggs replied that the school was very disappointed, the result was largely because of last year’s education outcomes and there had been significant progress this year. The school’s leadership were putting the necessary plans in place and had the full support of the Governing Body. The Council was supporting them to set up a school improvement board and was facilitating a partnership arrangement with Fulham College Boys – an outstanding local school. The Chair requested visits to the schools that had recently been inspected by Ofsted.

 

Councillor Caroline Ffiske noted that The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council had served notice on the tri-borough arrangements, and asked for an update on the position for Children’s Services. Ian Heggs responded that, under the terms of the agreement, the current arrangements would stay in place until April 2018 - unless there was agreement by all boroughs. Councillor Sue Fennimore said the new Interim Chief Executive, Kim Dero, was looking at options now and more information would be provided as the plans progressed.

 

Nadia Taylor asked why the tri-borough arrangements were ending. Councillor Fennimore said H&F had many concerns – particularly around badly commissioned services (SEN passenger transport, BT managed services etc.) and ultimately the savings and efficiencies that were promised didn’t materialise.

 

Steve Miley noted that for Family Services around 80 percent of functions were already delivered locally within H&F so the impact would be relatively minimal. He added that leaving the tri-borough didn’t mean stopping joint services – where there was added-value they would continue to share with other local authorities.

 

Councillor Marcus Ginn, in reference to 4.2 of the report, noted that the council had offered to take an additional 100 Dubs children and asked if that number could be accommodated in the borough. Steve Miley responded that based on previous cohorts around one third could be accommodated within the borough and two thirds outside. Asylum seekers tended not to have local links so it was considered more appropriate to place them out of borough. He added that taking an additional 100 children would be subject to full-cost recovery from central government.

 

Nadia Taylor asked what the total cost per child would be. Steve Miley said the cost was variable, dependent on the placement, but the department estimated that each child would cost £50,000 per year. The problem with the current funding from central government was that it was banded  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Cabinet Member Update

The Cabinet Member will give a short verbal update on their activities since the previous meeting.

Minutes:

Councillor Sue Fennimore (Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Acting Cabinet Member for Children and Education) said this would be her last meeting as acting cabinet member – Councillor Sue Macmillan had started a phased return from maternity leave and would be back in post from 2 May.

 

Councillor Fennimore highlighted the following visits and events:

·         She visited St. Mary’s Primary School and noted it was a ‘wonderful’ school with happy children.

·         She attended an event at Wendell Park Primary School for International Women's Day. 14 women from a range of backgrounds and careers talked to the pupils about what they wanted to be when they were younger and their current professions.

·         She noted that the bespoke, disabled children’s resource centre at Queens Manor had received planning permission and works were on schedule. The centre was being co-designed with parents.

·         She chaired H&F’s Children's Parliament day on the environment. She said it was inspiring to see young people from across the borough speak so passionately about their commitment to protecting their environment.

·         She hosted a lunch and learn event for staff about autism.

·         Along with the Leader, she accompanied one of H&F’s care leavers on Victoria Derbyshire’s television programme to discuss the council’s policy to exempt all care leavers from council tax. Care leavers said this had already made a significant impact – helping them to manage their finances.

8.

School Organisation and Investment Strategy 2017 pdf icon PDF 290 KB

This is an annual report that sets out how the Council will ensure a sufficiency of school places in the borough.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ian Heggs (Director for Education) and Alan Wharton (Head of Asset Strategy) presented the report. Alan Wharton noted that the projections were much the same as those presented in the previous revision in April 2016. There remained a sufficiency of primary school places for the next ten years but further secondary places would be required by 2021. The impact of the numerous developments in the borough would be closely monitored and incorporated into the next revision of the report.

 

Councillor Alan De’Ath asked if the projections for new developments considered that many families were being priced out of homes in the borough. Alan Wharton said officers used a ‘child yield’ calculation to estimate the number of children in new developments that did consider local factors.

 

Councillor Caroline Ffiske asked what the lead-time was for a new school.

Alan Wharton replied that for a brand new school it would be around three to four years – though initially officers would look at the current portfolio to see if existing schools could be expanded.

 

Councillor Caroline Ffiske noted that the primary places gap seemed not to be closing – she asked if it was sustainable for that trend to continue. Ian Heggs responded that the council looked at the funding position of the schools to ensure they had balanced budgets – if they had high numbers of vacancies then they would look at temporary capping.

 

Councillor Alan De’Ath highlighted that the report showed only 14 percent of places at the London Oratory were going to local residents, which was particularly low compared with other schools. Ian Heggs responded by saying their figures were due to the school’s admissions policy.

 

The Chair highlighted an issue that was raised at the last admissions forum – namely, could the council keep track of why families left the borough (benefit changes, priced out etc.)? Ian Heggs said the council had sent questionnaires to schools to gather information but it was difficult to build up a reliable picture because the weight of evidence wasn’t sufficient. The admissions team did reflect local intelligence in their analysis though.

 

RESOLVED

That the committee reviewed and commented on the draft school organisation and investment strategy.

9.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 199 KB

The Committee is asked to review its work programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair requested a further report on preparation for work, careers guidance, and career related opportunities. She asked that the Youth Council be consulted on the report and that the report author attended one of their meetings to listen to their concerns and ideas for improvements to the current offer.

 

The Chair noted that she had invited the new Supplementary Schools Network lead to the next meeting for the item on supplementary schools and a video would be shown highlighting the importance of the schools in improving community cohesion.

 

The committee requested an update on the implementation of the recommendations of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Task Group.

10.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on 12 June 2017.

 

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for 12 June 2017.