Agenda and minutes

Children and Education Policy and Accountability Committee
Monday, 13th November, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Courtyard Room - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Tel: 020 8753 2063

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 346 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

That the minutes of the meeting held on 11 September 2017 were approved and signed by the Chair.

 

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Sue Macmillan, Councillor Caroline Ffiske, Nandini Ganesh, Philippa O’Driscoll, and Matthew Jenkins.

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 Participation

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.

Director's Update Report pdf icon PDF 286 KB

This report provides an overview of recent developments in Children’s Services.

Minutes:

Ian Heggs, Director for Education, and Dave McNamara, Director for Finance and Resources, presented the report which gave an overview of recent developments within the Children’s Services department.

 

Schools Funding

Councillor Alan De’Ath asked, regarding school funding, how the Government defined an ‘underfunded’ school. Dave McNamara said none of the schools in Hammersmith and Fulham were underfunded. However, the headline figure of an additional 0.5 percent for all schools was misleading as that would not necessarily be spread evenly across the borough and not all schools were guaranteed an increase.

 

Councillor Alan De’Ath noted that with the changes to pension contributions, national insurance contributions etc. even a small increase in funding would not keep pace with the pressures facing schools. He said it would be useful to see a breakdown of exactly what additional funding each school would receive. Dave McNamara said that information would be released as soon as it was agreed with schools through the School’s Forum.

 

School Performance

Councillor Marcus Ginn noted that selected religious schools such as London Oratory and Sacred Heart consistently achieved impressive results - and asked we could learn from them and apply to lower and mid-ranking schools. Ian Heggs said there were already a range of ways schools shared good practice. There was a strong secondary heads group in the borough and an excellence programme where heads shared practice – particularly around English and maths teaching.

 

Councillor Ginn asked what the secret of these very successful schools was – why did they consistently out-perform other schools? Ian Heggs said there were a number of factors – the best schools were always over-subscribed which meant they received more funding than schools with spare places, they found it easier to recruit and retain staff. They also had clear expectations for their pupils.

 

Councillor Alan De’Ath noted that he had worked in a religious school and the shared ethos was a powerful factor – but there were religious schools with poor performance too so it wasn’t the defining factor. The real reason for the impressive performance of these school was because they were selective. Their admissions criteria is written in such a way that they don’t take as many lower performing pupils as other schools. They shouldn’t be compared with other schools.

 

Ian Heggs commented that where a school’s admissions criteria wasn’t appropriate the Council did support challenges. Officers had worked with the schools mentioned earlier and they were compliant with the code.

 

Councillor Alan De’Ath said the key indicator to judge schools should be Progress 8 as it measured progress pupils had made since they started secondary school. He also highlighted the impressive turn-around at Hurlingham Academy, where he was a Governor, and wanted to formally thank Stephen Greenhalgh, the Chair of Governors, and the headteacher, Leon Wilson, for their hard work.

 

The Chair requested information on schools that required parents to make financial contributions. The Committee had concerns that it was an additional pressure for some parents whose budgets were stretched to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Cabinet Member Verbal Update

Minutes:

Councillor Sue Macmillan was unable to attend the meeting due to illness so there was no update from the Cabinet Member.

 

Dave McNamara noted the recent launch of the childcare survey which would help inform the Council of parents’ requirements for childcare and childcare sufficiency in the borough.

7.

Annual Report of the Local Safeguarding Children Board 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 201 KB

This report provides an overview of the effectiveness of child safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the borough in 2016/17. It includes a self-assessment of the performance and effectiveness of many of the local and regional agencies represented on the LSCB and identifies a number of areas where improvements are required.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jenny Pearce, Chair of the LSCB and Emma Biskupski, LSCB Multi-Agency Training Officer, presented the report. Emma informed the Committee that the LSCB comprised a range of agencies including the local authority, probation services, local prisons, health services, schools, and the police. The whole group meets quarterly and there were also a range of sub-groups that met on an ad hoc basis. These sub-groups include child death overview that examined every child death in the boroughs, expected and unexpected.

 

Councillor Elaine Chumnery, noting the priorities for 2016-17, asked what the priorities were for 2017-18. Jenny Pearce said they would be domestic violence and peer on peer violence - but that didn’t mean they would lose sight of previous areas (e.g. online safety). Councillor Chumnery asked if the Board had met its priorities for 2016-17. Jenny Pearce said there was still some work to do – she was keen the Board didn’t silo the issues facing children. Going forward they would take a more holistic approach as so many issues were cross-cutting. She added that in future the Board would have more engagement with young people when setting priorities.

 

The Chair noted that the Deputy Youth Mayor had recently released a video speaking about LGBTQ+ issues, including homophobic bullying. She suggested it could be used to inform some of their anti-bullying work.

 

Councillor Alan De’Ath noted that at a recent scrutiny committee he Chaired they looked at hate crime – and the largest proportion of that was homophobic attacks. He suggested it should be more of a focus for the Board. Emma Biskupski said they would look into that area in more detail.

 

Anna Carpenter, Safeguarding Review & Quality Assurance Manager, said this area was a focus for the Council’s Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) lead. Providing a supportive platform that allowed young people to come forward was key. Young gay men particularly found it difficult to be open and honest about what had happened to them.

 

Nadia Taylor, in reference to the table on page 21 of the agenda, asked how the Council could plan for reductions to child protection plans – did that not entirely depend on external factors? Bev Sharpe responded that historically, the Council had far too many young people remaining on plans when they should have been stepped-down to other support services.

 

Nadia Taylor asked if the Board could provide the number of children missing in H&F. Bev Sharpe said the number would be relatively low. Missing children were tracked week to week – on average there would be around 10-12 a week. When they were found a ‘return home’ interview was carried out by social workers to understand why they were missing and the Police were required to do ‘safe and welfare’ checks. Nadia asked how many remained missing. Bev said no children had been permanently missing in recent years.

 

Nadia Taylor asked for more information on the Alan Wood review. Emma Biskupski said the review was commissioned to look at the functions of the LSCB.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Annual Child Protection Report 2016-2017 pdf icon PDF 536 KB

This report highlights the significant responsibilities the Council has with regards to protecting children in the borough and the steps taken to ensure it meets those responsibilities.

Minutes:

Anna Carpenter, Safeguarding Review & Quality Assurance Manager, presented the report that highlighted the significant responsibilities which the local authority had with regards to ensuring the protection of children, and how it discharged them.

 

Vic Daniels asked what the Council was doing to identify, control, and eradicate gang activity in the borough. Bev Sharpe said the Council was looking at this issue more strategically. Many young offenders were known to social services and had child protection plans. This year the Youth Offending Service was being brought back in house to H&F which would allow the Council to provide more effective intervention services. The Council was also working closely with schools, the police, and other partners across London on gangs and knife crime. Councillor Elaine Chumnery felt it was important to tap into existing community networks to help tackle gangs, especially considering the Council’s limited resources. The Chair requested a report on the Council’s gangs and knife crime prevention work.

 

Anna Carpenter said the key to tackling gang crime over the long term was preventative work to stop young people joining gangs in the first place. She had found relationship-based outreach work to be most effective. Bev Sharpe added that a pilot ‘adolescent at risk’ approach would start up in March where one key worker would be assigned to each at-risk young person and they would be given far more personalised support.

 

Councillor Alan De’Ath said it was also important to address the lack of aspiration and opportunity. For some, education was not seen as a route to success. He wanted to see the best schools in the borough reserve places for young people who had to undertake ‘managed moves’. The current system meant schools with the most spare places (often the worse performing) ended up taking pupils who had been moved out of other schools for bad behaviour. This created a cycle of poor outcomes for both the pupil and the school. He also suggested some pupils in expensive alternative provision could be offered places in boarding schools to give them access to quality education in a different environment.

 

Bev Sharpe agreed that lack of aspiration was a major issue. Now that the education service was becoming sovereign again officers were looking at a new education offer to tackle some of these issues. Officers were also looking at replicating the ‘virtual school’ model used for looked after children – which, as the Chair noted, had been very successful in improving aspiration and outcomes – for the new adolescent service.

 

Councillor Elaine Chumnery asked what the general advice to parents was in terms of support and referrals. Anna Carpenter said one borough put a piece in the local free paper (e.g. ‘if you’re worried about your child get in touch’). She felt it was important to think creatively – perhaps using targeted social media, Facebook adverts etc. Councillor Chumnery said there was a lot more outreach to do – the message had to get out to Children’s Centres, parents networks, and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 198 KB

The Committee is asked to review its work programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee requested the following items:

·         Home education

·         Moving On – to be considered in January 2018

·         Gangs and knife crime prevention including our current gangs policy, an overview of current work, and what’s left to do – for March 2018

·         Medical plans – a briefing note to be circulated outside of the meeting

·         Skills for young people – March 2018

10.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 29 January 2018.

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for 29 January 2017.