Agenda and minutes
Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 4 December 2012 7:00 pm
Venue: Terrace Room - York House. View directions
Contact: Faye Simpson; 020 8891 7156; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Christine Gooch (Parent Governor Representative) and Andrew Cole (Church Representative).
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Members are requested to declare any interests orally at the start of the meeting and again immediately before consideration of the matter. Members are reminded to specify the agenda item number to which it refers and the nature of the interest being declared.
There were no declarations of interest.
To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2012 – attached.
The minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2012 were approved as a correct record of proceedings, subject to the following amendment:
Include Councillor Martin in list of those present.
RICHMOND YOUTH COUNCIL'S MANIFESTO
To receive a presentation from members of Richmond Youth Council.
[This item was heard jointly with item B: Youth Scrutiny Panel.]
The Scrutiny Officer and the Youth Engagement Lead provided information about the work that the Council had carried out with the Youth Council and on the development of a Youth Scrutiny Panel. It was noted that whilst the Youth Council Members had specifically been working with the Strategic Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services, it was envisaged that if a Youth Panel were approved, its Members would provide input into all Scrutiny work at the Council.
A presentation was delivered by Members of Richmond Youth Council. The Committee was advised about the work of the Youth Council and their vision for the future. This vision included the development of a manifesto to reflect the priorities of young people, to empower local young people and to act as a point of discussion.
The Youth Council had been involved in the work of Richmond Council via various projects, including the development of the new Children and Young People’s Plan. Youth Council Members had also received training in order to carry out extensive peer research as part of the Tobacco Control Task Group work. Following this Youth Members were conducting a research project on young people’s sexual health.
The Youth Council had also established a Youth Commissioning Panel, which so far had been responsible for allocating £70,000 to 21 local projects, such as the smoking cessation service.
The Youth Council Members outlined the benefits to themselves, other young people, the Council and the wider community in becoming more closely involved with Scrutiny work. These benefits included gaining new skills and knowledge, ensuring that young people were involved in decision making and ensuring that services met the needs of all of the community.
In response to questions the Committee Members were advised that:
(i) The Youth Council aimed to be as inclusive as possible. It was recognised that it was often difficult to attract the interest of young people in the Council’s work, but it was hoped that by holding elections in March 2013 the Youth Council would gain more prominence and become more representative. The Youth Council was also building stronger links with the Children in Care Council as well as with schools and youth clubs.
(ii) The ‘Takeover Day’ at the Council had been very successful. This day had allowed young people to gain a greater understanding of the work of Council employees and to be more involved in Council decision making. It was hoped that this could be repeated in the future.
The Committee thanked the Youth Council Members for their presentation and the work carried out thus far. Members welcomed the opportunity for Scrutiny to work more closely with the Youth Council Members in 2013.
This report sets out the proposal for establishing a Youth Scrutiny Panel for Richmond Council which aims to increase the engagement of children and young people in decision making processes.
Report of the Director of Children’s Services and the Assistant Head of Democratic Services attached.
[This item was heard jointly with item A: Richmond Youth Council’s Manifesto.]
It was RESOLVED:
That the development and implementation of a Youth Scrutiny Panel for Richmond Council be approved.
To receive an update on the Achieving for Children proposals.
An update on the Achieving for Children proposals was provided by the Director of Education, Children's Services and Culture, and the Chief Executive, in conjunction with the Strategic Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services and the Cabinet Member for Schools. The Committee was informed that the current Achieving for Children proposals had been developed following consultation with council staff, schools, councillors and the public. The recommendations which would be considered at Cabinet on 13 December were a step towards the establishment of the councils’-owned company.
In response to questions the Committee was informed that:
(i) A timescale for the development of the company had been agreed between Richmond and Kingston boroughs: appointments of senior officers to the social enterprise would take place in December 2012. Due to the complex work involved, it could take 18 months to establish the company fully.
(ii) Some services were already being integrated, such as support for troubled families and substance misuse support. However, it was envisaged that other services such as Education and Safeguarding would remain separate. Further integration between boroughs meant that the councils could focus on frontline services and reduce management costs.
(iii) Those being recruited to senior management posts within the new enterprise would be sourced from those already working for Richmond or Kingston Council. Due to the independent nature of the company it would not be appropriate for Members to be directly responsible for appointing to Achieving for Children posts: the Council would act as commissioner rather than manager of internal affairs.
(iv) The Headteachers of all Richmond and Kingston schools had confirmed their support for the Achieving for Children project via individual emails. The proposals fitted with a drive towards further autonomy for schools and it was hoped that this would aid partnership working with academies and free-schools as well as with local authority schools.
(v) If one authority wished to withdraw from the social enterprise in the future this would be possible, but it would also be a complex and expensive process. By working in partnership towards shared goals it was not envisaged that such a withdrawal would be necessary.
(vi) The project was an opportunity to work in a more flexible manner and to learn from good practices at each authority. It also provided more career opportunities for staff.
(vii)The Department for Education was more supportive of a social enterprise model than a simple council-managed shared service model for the boroughs. The social enterprise model was well established in other areas of council work across the country.
(viii) It was necessary to take an interim step towards the establishment of Achieving for Children at this time because it was not sustainable to continue operating two separate services with only one Director.
(ix) Scrutiny Members would continue to play a role in holding the enterprise to account. The welfare of the borough’s young people would always be of paramount importance and Members would need to examine whether the desired outcomes were being achieved.
(x) Each authority would continue to set its own service parameters via the Children and Young People’s Plan. The Director of the Education and Children’s Services remained a statutory position and would be appointed jointly by both Councils.
(xi) It was acknowledged that the different sizes, demographics and finances of Richmond and Kingston did represent a challenge but it was believed that the benefits of operating a shared service and of pooling resources would outweigh any initial difficulties.
Some Committee Members expressed a desire to examine further details of the enterprise including financial information. It was explained that reports would be presented to Cabinet and to Scrutiny in 2013 as the proposals were progressed.
It was RESOLVED:
That the report and appendix be noted.
UPDATE ON SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT
To receive a presentation on the new Education Richmond model for school improvement.
The Director of Education, Children’s Services and Culture introduced Maggie Bailey, the Headteacher at Grey Court School. It was explained that Ms Bailey was currently seconded to work on the School Improvement programme as the Secondary Lead (in conjunction with Damien Burke, Headteacher of Hampton Infant School, the Primary Lead). Ms Bailey provided the Committee with an update on the School Improvement programme, ‘Education Richmond’and in particular highlighted the following:
(i) Education Richmond allowed the borough’s primary and secondary schools to work more closely together to improve standards at all levels. This collaboration was a new initiative but was already proving to be very fruitful. The Education Richmond partnership encouraged greater autonomy for schools whilst enabling teachers and headteachers to share expertise. This had shown that it was not always necessary to import experts from outside of the borough.
(ii) It was important to foster training and development opportunities with the borough’s schools in order to retain good staff. The partnership was encouraging the co-funding of Masters degrees if they related to school improvement issues.
(iii) The partnership was also carrying out research on how best to address issues of social inequality. An example of this was research carried out on the topic of free school meals.
(iv) Funding to specific school improvement projects was agreed by Education Richmond based on whether the proposals met the collaborative ethos of the partnership.
The Director informed the Committee that Richmond Education had been recognised at a national level as providing a modern, progressive model of school improvement.
In response to questions the Committee was provided with information about the role of Expert Learners; the allocation of bursaries for Masters courses and the appointment of School Improvement lead officers. It was explained that it currently worked well appointing Headteachers to Education Richmond on a seconded short-term basis but that the sustainability of this model needed to be examined. In future, the services of Education Richmond could potentially be offered to other local authorities. The Committee was also provided with information about Education Richmond’s work to encourage take-up of free school meals.
The Cabinet Member for Schools and the Committee congratulated Maggie Bailey and her team on the positive work being carried out by Education Richmond.
It was RESOLVED:
That the update be noted.
To receive a report on the proposed work programme for the Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Report of the Head of Democratic Services and Appendix A attached.
The Committee heard a short representation from Mr Nick von Behr who suggested that the issue of provision of careers advice in schools within the borough should be examined by the Committee, given that this was a statutory responsibility and had an important effect on young people. It was explained that Ofsted would be publishing the results of a survey of schools on this issue in the summer of 2013.
The Committee discussed this proposal in light of the current work programme commitments.
It was RESOLVED:
1. That the issue of careers advice be placed on the Committee’s list of potential future topics to consider (potentially to be considered in the summer of 2013). This could also contain reference to sixth forms.
2. The further updates on the establishment of Achieving for Children be considered when appropriate (to include details of how the proposals interrelate with the Children and Young People’s Plan).