This report provides an overview of recent developments in Children’s Services.
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.
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.
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 limit. Councillor De’Ath asked for information from officers on what else schools were doing to plug the gaps in their budget – and offer suggestions for how the Council could support them in different ways.
ACTION 1: Dave McNamara
Family Support Service – Managing Director
The Chair asked if the Managing Director of the new Family Support Service had been appointed. Dave McNamara confirmed that Peter Watts was the successful candidate and would be starting on the 1st of March 2018.
Moving On (the disaggregation of the tri-borough arrangements)
Councillor Elaine Chumnery asked for an update on the Children’s Services elements of ‘Moving On’. Dave McNamara said staff consultation had begun on the new staffing structures. Some services would remain shared where there were operational advantages in doing do. The new structures would be implemented between 24 March and 2 April. Ian Heggs noted that Mandy Lawson had been appointed as the Assistant Director for SEND for H&F and would officially take up post in January.
Councillor Chumnery asked if the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) would remain shared across the three boroughs. Emma Biskupski, LSCB Multi-Agency Training Officer, said there was a commitment to keep it as a shared arrangement due to the strengths of cross-border cooperation between many of their partners.
The Chair requested a report on ‘Moving On’ for the next meeting in January 2018.
ACTION 2: Steve Miley