Councillors' Attendance Statistics
Agenda and minutes
Children's Services and Culture Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 9 June 2009 7:00 pm
Venue: Council Chamber, York House, Richmond Road, Twickenham.
Contact: Gary Lelliott; 020 8891 7275; Email: email@example.com.
Apologies for absence were received from Charles Hoseason, Councillor Khosa (substituting for Councillor Stanier), Councillor Stanier, Councillor Treble and Councillor MH Wilson.
To consider and approve the minutes of the meeting held on 31 March 2009 attached.
The minutes of the meeting held on 31 March 2009 be received and approved and the Chair be authorised to sign them.
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 whether the interest is of a personal or prejudicial nature.
Members are also reminded of the requirements of Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 that they should declare and not vote on specified matters if they are two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax payments.
ITEM 7 – ACADEMIES
Councillor Beevor, Councillor Cardy, Councillor Fleming, Councillor Nicholson and Anne-Marie True each declared personal interests in the item by virtue of being school governors at schools that may be sending children to any newly formed academy.
REPRESENTATIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
· Mr Newton-Syms
EXECUTIVE DECISIONS CALLED-IN (IF ANY)
There were no executive decisions called-in.
The report sets out the findings of the Library Service Efficiency Review which identifies areas where the library service can deliver efficiency savings from the provision of core library services while improving effectiveness and maintaining levels of customer satisfaction. The Review report outlines a revised purpose and direction for the library service, puts forward a new management structure and makes a number of recommendations to improve the delivery of frontline library services, notably using technology to extend opening hours and make better use of resources.
Report of the Head of Culture attached.
Following questions from members of the Committee, the meeting was advised that:
· Hampton Library did open at lunchtimes.
· Co-location could mean either relocating a library’s services to another more suitable location with further facilities on-site, or moving other facilities offered elsewhere to an existing site that housed a library.
· There were no current plans to relocate Hampton Wick library although it would not be sensible to rule this out from future decisions. There was no suitable site currently available which Hampton Wick library could move to which meant it would remain at its current location for the foreseeable future.
· Other services that could share a site with a library included children’s centres and leisure centres.
· Support costs were very high for the borough’s libraries as there was a high number per head of population.
· Some old library stock was disposed of via a contract with a private company that would sell the books on with a profit to the Council, send some books to Africa, or pulp any books that were in very poor condition. Some books were also sold by the libraries themselves.
· The stock consortium gave London boroughs greater buying power which meant the cost per book was typically less than buying them as an individual authority.
· RFID would introduce further security measures which meant lower levels of book loss.
· The current level of book loss was very low when compared to other boroughs.
· People should be realistic about the possibilities of co-locations as there are a high number of libraries.
· Libraries could also house other services such as wi-fi connections which would enable the public to bring their own laptops as well as allowing Council officers who worked locally to use these sites as well.
· There was now a drive to tailor the services of each library to the community which it serves. This included offering quiet times, story telling times and events.
· RFID would mean potential savings made in staffing levels at libraries.
· Many groups of people had taken part in a survey carried out as part of the review. The highest user group for libraries was the 45-55 age group.
· Non-library users were also consulted as part of the survey.
· There was a need to ensure better use of the spaces available and more effective use of library staff.
· Although community information took up a lot of space within libraries, officers would be looking to see if it was possible to increase the amount available.
· Libraries were very much a ‘cultural hub’ for many communities in Richmond upon Thames.
· Twickenham library had been paired with Kew for a variety of reasons such as other libraries fitted very well together and there were very good transport links between them.
· The current reduction in the number of books did not mean there would be a shortage in the future as more stored stock was now being displayed and there was greater circulation around the libraries.
· Careful consideration was going into library opening hours to ensure that they met community needs and the needs of those who regularly passed through areas such as commuters.
· Before any reduction in book stocks took place, cost savings in book processing and protection would be sought.
The Committee agreed that it was positive about the recommendations contained in the report but felt that better use of the reference library could be made as well as having it on the same site as the Richmond lending library.
RESOLVED that the officer’s report be noted.
This report updates progress on the development of the three proposed Academies.
Report of the Director of Children’s Services and Culture attached.
The Committee heard representations from Mr Newton-Syms, who made the following points:
· Was a parent of two children currently being educated at Hampton Community College and had two further children that were likely to attend there in the future.
· Had concerns over what impact the short term transition would have on children’s education.
· Wanted assurances that the long term standards of education would increase.
· Emphasised the need for a clear and transparent decision making process.
· Reasons for making any decision should be clear as should the selection criteria.
Following questions from members of the committee, the meeting was advised that Mr Newton-Syms felt the selection criteria should be built around the anticipated performance of the school. There was also a need to balance up whether turning the school into an academy would achieve better results than investment in the existing arrangements would. Mr Newton-Syms emphasised that he was not against the academies programme if it was going to improve standards in the school.
The Director for Children’s Services and Culture added:
· The key aim of the academies programme was to provide a much better education for children in the borough.
· That diversity was being built into the system by utilising a variety of sponsors as this itself could bring about improvement.
· The academies programme was the only sure way to gain further investment in schools, particularly in light of the recent economical situation.
· Schools were built up of various aspects including people, processes and buildings.
· The key advantage of the academies programme was getting better buildings for children to learn in.
· The aim was to open the academies in 2010 and have building work well underway within two years of the academies opening.
· Staff from Hampton Community College (HCC) and Whitton School had visited Sweden to observe teaching and learning in schools being run by Kunskapsskolan. Staff were generally impressed and feedback was positive.
The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education echoed much of what the Director had said, but also said that Kunskapsskolan had achieved results in Sweden and people from both HCC and Whitton School were excited about the proposed changes. The Council would also be seeking input from various parties along the way.
Following questions to both the Director and Cabinet Member, the meeting was advised that:
· The overall aim was continue the steady improvement of the borough’s secondary schools.
· The Council wanted all parents to have a good school that was local to where they lived.
· It was currently unclear how much extra money would be provided for the teaching of children, however central government recognised that Richmond upon Thames would not be investing any capital in this project.
· There were various pieces of funding that the Council could bid for.
· Catholic faith schools were not willing to investigate the possibility of being academies. The main reason for this was that if the academy failed, it then went under the control of the Secretary of State.
· The Council was still open to the idea of having a Catholic faith secondary school and this was being investigated.
· Kunskapsskolan were viewed as the organisation with the best bid for both Whitton School and HCC. This was why they were chosen as the preferred bidder for both schools.
· Kunskapsskolan had submitted the best bid for both HCC and Whitton School, although it was felt that they were not suitable for Shene School.
· There would be large scale consultation and there had already been public meetings at Shene.
· The recent change in Minister meant there may be a change in the speed at which any transition to academies takes place.
· Shene School would be in a large funding deficit should it not become an academy.
· The Headteacher of Sheen Mount Primary School had accepted a secondment which aimed to give residents a well respected person within the community, who had good local knowledge, that they could liaise with and receive information from.
· The aim was to have a consortium arrangement with the local authority being a co-sponsor as this would give parents and the community a greater voice within the academy.
· It was unlikely that the building work would be started by the time that the academy was planning to open in 2010.
· There would be further opportunities for consulting the local community when the final plans were available.
· There was work taking place in central government to build a list of approved sponsors, some of whom the council was in discussion with.
· Although by law the governing body had to be the board of trustees, the constitution of such a body was open to discussion. The main aim would be to give parents a loud voice and encourage them to be involved in the academy’s business.
· All staff within the school would be guaranteed their positions, with the exception of the Headteacher as this post needed to be advertised by law.
· Some initial staff turnover was expected once the changeover had taken place, although staffing was generally very stable at the moment.
· The Local Authority would be expected to meet any costs of redundancy, although central government had been told that Richmond upon Thames would not do this.
The final report of the independent review of the primary curriculum sets out recommendations to enable schools to create a less prescriptive curriculum in order to enable schools to tailor the curriculum and use teaching methods to meet the needs of all learners.
Report of the Director of Children’s Services and Cultureattached.
Following questions from members of the Committee, the meeting was advised:
· That science was still an important subject area that gave important skills for life.
· Of the definitions of “discrete learning” and “discrete teaching”.
· That the Primary Headteachers’ Forum would be consulted for a response, although individuals could also respond themselves.
· That all subjects became equally important as the emphasis was on teaching key skills for life instead of individual subject areas.
· The Current curriculum was started in 2001. Ideally reviews of the curriculum should be carried out more frequently.
· That parents were involved in the initial national consultation, although they were still being encouraged to participate via schools.
· That teachers were very well trained and they had a lot of experience to offer already IT literate children.
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
The draft work programme has been drawn up, in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair, from items in the forward plan and from action arising from previous meetings of the Committee.
The Committee is requested to consider the items within the proposed work programme, set out at Appendix A to this report, and suggest any amendments or additional topics to be included in the future.
Information items are included in a Briefing information/General Information Pack, which has been sent to Members of the Committee separately to this agenda. A list of reports included in the Pack is attached as Appendix B to this report. The pack can be accessed via the following link:
Items included in the pack will not be discussed at the meeting. If members of the public wish to discuss any issue arising from the reports included in the pack please contact the Committee Manager, whose details are given on the front sheet of the agenda. Members of the Council may wish to raise their concerns directly with the Chair of the Committee, the Cabinet Member or appropriate officer.
Report of the Senior Democratic Services Officer attached.
It was agreed that, on this occasion, developing the work programme for future meetings be delegated to the Chair and Vice Chair.