Agenda and minutes

Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 7 April 2011 7:00 pm

Venue: Salon - York House. View directions

Contact: Gary Lelliott; 020 8891 7275; Email: gary.lelliott@richmond.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

2.

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.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To consider and approve the minutes of the last meeting on 7 February 2011 – attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 7 February be received and approved and the Chairman be authorised to sign them.

4.

SECONDARY SCHOOL ADMISSIONS 2011/2012 pdf icon PDF 98 KB

This report details the process, and initial allocations data of admissions, for the 2011/2012 school year for secondary schools and academies in Richmond Borough.

 

Report of the Head of Schools Commissioning attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Matthew Paul, Head of Schools Commissioning, introduced the item by saying that this report covered the initial allocation of places, and final figures would be subject to movement on school waiting lists.  The pan-London admissions scheme had eliminated the issue of parents receiving multiple offers for schools.  Mr Paul said that this year, 255 children were not offered any of their preferences, while there was some spare capacity in all three academies, although the number of spare places had reduced, particularly in Hampton Academy.

 

The committee were given details of the school admissions criteria, along with historical data on admissions between 2005 and 2011.  Mr Paul felt that measuring the borough’s performance on first preference success was unreliable, as often parents would use their first preference for a school (e.g. a selective) to which they were statistically unlikely to gain admission, and use their second (or lower) preference to select schools they were more realistically able to get their children into.

 

Mr Jeremy Rodell, speaking on behalf of the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, said that the borough needed more inclusive secondary schools, in order to address the issue of there not being enough places.  He said that the current policy of prioritising the introduction of a Catholic secondary school would not address the issue of a lack of school places.

 

There were no questions for Mr Rodell.

 

Following questions to the Cabinet Member for Schools and the Head of Schools Commissioning, the meeting was advised the meeting that:

 

  • The linked schools system had been intermittently reviewed by the borough’s Admissions Forum, with meetings concluding that it was desirable to retain the system, as it ensured more places at popular schools went to children who lived in the borough.  The Forum had conceded, though, that the system was not ideal and it would be reviewing the system again in September.
  • Parents in some parts of the borough felt that they had limited choice about which school their children could go to, which was partially fuelled by parental perception.
  • Three schools had become academies, with the expectation that issues around negative parental perception could be addressed.
  • Schools where parents had yet to accept a place that had been offered were actively inviting parents and children to visit, so they could show them the facilities that were available.
  • The implementation of the linked schools system was dependent on proving that there was a large cohort going from one primary school to a particular secondary.
  • The linked schools system review prompted a study into the random allocation system employed by Brighton and Hove City Council.  It was felt that the difficulties inherent in that system were not to do with random allocation per se, but the use of fixed catchment areas, which would be very difficult to introduce in a fair and equitable way in Richmond upon Thames.
  • Both a new non-faith secondary school and a Catholic secondary school were needed in the borough. The need for the latter was due to the significant numbers of children who were having travel large distances to establishments outside of the borough for their schooling and the likelihood that Catholic children would find it increasingly difficult to gain admission to out-borough schools.
  • The shortage of places was mainly a result of an increase in the in-borough birth rate, but the economic downturn since 2008 had further exacerbated demand .
  • The increase in online applications was a result of encouraging parents to use the online facility and not initially sending out paper application forms except on request.
  • The benefits of using the online application process were parents could receive an offer at 5.00pm on the offer day, as opposed to waiting for a letter to arrive, and there being no need for data entry.
  • Parents in Richmond upon Thames were very astute and generally knew how to get the best out of the admissions system.
  • South west London had the lowest rate of first choice offers as many schools were heavily oversubscribed and the good local travel links meant that parents were likely to consider schools a considerable distance from their homes.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

5.

CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE'S PLAN ANNUAL REVIEW 2010-11 pdf icon PDF 72 KB

This report presents the draft Annual Review of the Children and Young People’s Plan for 2010-11.

 

Report of the Head of Culture and Services Improvement attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ian Dodds, Head of Culture and Service Improvement introduced the item.  He confirmed that the improvement of services to children had been prioritised and the Children, and Young People’s Board and partner organisations had been involved.

 

Mr Dodds said that some performance data was missing, with much of it awaiting information from central government, which typically arrived in several parts.  A number of key achievements resulting from this Plan had been externally verified by OfSTED.  It was reported that Richmond upon Thames was ranked first in the country for both KS 1 and KS2.

 

The next stage for this CYPP was to assess again when the local authority had more information from central government and then consider what targets should be carried over to the next CYPP.

 

Following questions from members of the committee, the Strategic Cabinet Member for Education, Youth & Children’s Services and the Head of Culture and Service Improvement advised the meeting that:

 

  • Professor Munro, in her review, did not seem to be reducing the number of processes that had to be followed.
  • There was a need to track what young people did once they left education, although it was noted this was going to me more difficult now the Connexions service was finishing.
  • Richmond was measured against its ‘statistical neighbours’.
  • NI162 was a national indicator which showed how many children had had 2 or more placements.  Richmond upon Thames’ figure was 16.7%.
  • The Cabinet Member would consider returning children’s health back to within the remit of this committee.
  • The levels of obesity were rising nationally, although at a slower rate in Richmond upon Thames, that elsewhere in the country.
  • There was no data collection for anorexia or bulimia; it was noted that GPs should be monitoring this.
  • The Hampton Youth Centre was now open with the next priority being increasing IT provision.
  • It was hoped further figures could be circulated in June.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

6.

CONVERTER ACADEMIES pdf icon PDF 76 KB

This report gives an update on the academies programme within the borough, with particular focus on schools converting to academy status (rather than becoming sponsored academies).

 

Report of the Head of Schools Commissioning attached.

Minutes:

Matthew Paul, Head of Schools Commissioning, introduced the item.  He said that all schools were able to become converter academies by central government, although many of Richmond upon Thames’ schools were awaiting further information from the Department for Education (DfE) before making any decisions.  The Council had shared as much information as possible with schools and would continue to work with them, although it was individual governing bodies who decided whether their schools should become academies.

 

The Cabinet Member for Schools said that he felt much more information was needed from the DfE.  He added that commissioning was also an area needed further work, as it was not certain schools would get better value when acting individually.  Councillor Hodgins said that work was still taking place with schools and emphasised that the decision to become an academy would be a governing body matter.

 

Following questions from members of the committee, the Cabinet Member for Schools and the Head of Schools Commissioning advised the meeting that:

 

  • The ‘Becoming Academies’ information pack was still being amended following additional pieces of information being received from central government.  This information would be made available to committee members and schools on request.
  • The local dioceses did have concerns about the academies system, although these had recently been overcome.
  • There was a policy to encourage as many schools as possible to become academies by May, although many schools were stating that they wanted further money by becoming academies.
  • The limit of 50% faith admissions in faith academies was being reviewed by central government and the dioceses.
  • The potential of forming academy federations for the purpose of commissioning was being looked at by schools and the Council.  The Council was not looking to impose any measure of schools and it would also look to allow cross-borough federations.
  • The relationships between individual schools were being improved as academies was a reason for chairs of governors to communicate with one another more often than had previously been the case.
  • Central government would be paying the cost of setting up all ‘free’ schools.
  • Wandsworth Council had purchased an area of land, which it then handed over to an organisation to open a new school.  The cost of this was then reimbursed by central government.
  • All new academies would have to participate in the school admissions process.
  • The Council would have less influence over academies, although the Cabinet Member stated that he felt the Council should work with schools, not impose matters on them.
  • Academies were still subject to OfSTED inspection framework and the SEN Code of Practice.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

7.

WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 54 KB

This report gives details of the proposed work programme for the municipal year 2010/11, as discussed with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the committee.

 

Report of the Head of Democratic Services attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that:

 

  • A report be received on the SEN transport review.
  • The committee receive a report on the efficiency of the children’s substance misuse service, as recommended by the Environment, Sustainability and Community Overview & Scrutiny Committee before January 2012.

 

Updated: 27 March 2014