Agenda and minutes
Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 21 November 2011 7:00 pm
Venue: Salon - York House. View directions
Contact: Sam Walker; 020 8891 7156; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Charles Hoeseason.
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.
There were no declarations of interest.
To consider and approve the minutes of the last meeting on 17 October 2011 – attached.
The minutes were agreed with the following amendments:
· Page 4, bullet point 10 should read Roman Catholic arch diocese board and not the Diocesan Board.
· Page 6, Andrew Cole left the meeting after item 21 not item 20.
This report gives updates on progress against the Council’s priorities of providing sufficient numbers of high-quality primary school places and developing community boards within quindrats.
The Cabinet Member for Schools, The Director of Education, Children's Services and Culture and the Head of Schools Commissioning were present for this item.
The Director explained that the Council had issued statutory proposals regarding the expansion of Hampton Wick Infant School and St John the Baptist Church of England Junior School from two to three forms of entry.
The Council was having positive discussions with several free school providers and was working with them to ensure that they would be within the local family of schools. No decision had been taken to allow the Maharishi Foundation to use the Oldfield site in Hampton.
The Director assured the Committee that residents in Hampton would be consulted on the free school before any decision was made.
The Archdeacon Cambridge's Church of England Primary School would not be expanding its forms of entry due to planning constraints. The Heathfield schools would be expanded subject to approval of statutory proposals.
The Director advised the Committee that it would not be suitable to use the Oldfield Road site to expand existing primary schools in the borough. An expansion at this site would leave any new entry forms isolated from their main site. This would make a free school a better choice for the Oldfield Road site, due to its limited space.
It was important to strike the right balance for school places in the borough. The Council needed to avoid over-provision of intake as this would lead to schools being very difficult to manage and increase the number of places being filled by out of borough children. Richmond needed to monitor school development in neighbouring boroughs. Hounslow had recently been allocated £11.5million pounds for school development projects and it was likely they would expand The Blue School. In addition, the former Putney Hospital site, in Wandsworth Borough, had been earmarked for development as a free primary school.
The Cabinet Member explained that he would maintain parent involvement in community boards - as had been the case with Richmond Park Academy, where the Parent Promoted Foundation for Barnes, East Sheen and Mortlake had worked closely with the school to establish a community board. This had allowed information and opinions to be exchanged between the local community and the school.
It was RESOLVED: that the report be noted.
This report outlines the Council’s decision to consult upon abolishing the linked schools policy from the oversubscription criteria for Grey Court, Orleans Park and Teddington for the 2013/2014 admissions intake.
The Cabinet Member for Schools, the Director of Education, Children's Services and Culture and the Head of Schools Commissioning were present for this item.
The Cabinet Member for Schools introduced the item: He explained that consultation was currently being carried out and the results would be considered by the Admissions Forum on 6 February 2012. Cabinet was due to make a decision regarding linked schools policy on 22 March 2012. An update on linked schools would return to Education and Children’s Services, Overview and Scrutiny Committee prior to a decision by Cabinet.
There had been a press release to inform parents of the consultation process. It was hoped this would encourage parents of children who were not yet in primary schools to respond too, as so far there the majority of responses had been from parents with children already in primary schools. Teachers were also informing parents of children already in schools.
It was RESOLVED: that the report be noted.
This report gives details of the Council’s forward procurement activity over the course of the remainder of the financial year.
The Strategic Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services and the Assistant Director of Commissioning, Corporate Policy and Strategy were present for this item.
The Chairman gave a brief introduction: A procurement activity plan report had been heard at 14 November, Finance and Performance, Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The relevant detail would go to each of the Council’s scrutiny committees.
The Assistant Director said an update on procurement activity would return to this Committee in April or May 2012. At this time the procurement activity could be incorporated into the work program’s meeting dates.
Contract standing orders, including new financial thresholds, had been revised and would be considered at Cabinet on 24 November leading to recommendations to Council which, in turn, would meet on 13 December.
The Director assured the Committee they were committed to transparent decision making and wished all members to be involved in the procurement activity plans.
The Director advised the Committee that the Public Health Intelligence Team had completed a needs analysis of risky behaviour amongst children and young people in Richmond. Risky Behaviour would now be a priority for the Council over the next year. An outreach service would to be set-up to provide support to those deemed most vulnerable. This would operate outside of schools, in community settings, including parks. This service was currently out to tender and would be in operation by the summer of 2012. The Director suggested that member involvement would be most effective at the development stage, identifying service priorities.
The Committee noted that they were half way through the procurement year and the majority of substantial procurement activity had already been implemented.
The Assistant Director advised the Committee that a three year procurement plan would be ready by spring 2012 and would be available in good time to allow the Committee to have meaningful input into future procurement activity. The Committee would be asked to decide which procurement activity they wished to scrutinse. The Assistant Director suggested that the Committee focus upon more substantial procurement contracts.
It was RESOLVED that an information update on procurement activity be provided in March.
The purpose of this report is to update the committee on the work of the LSCB through their Draft Annual Report.
The Strategic Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services, the Director Education and Children's Services, the Head of Safeguarding Quality and Performance, and Culture and the Head of Protective and Preventative Services were present for this item.
The Head of Safeguarding Quality and Performance introduced the item: She explained that the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) report was in draft form. It would be signed off by the LSCB at their 6 December 2011 annual meeting. The report contained a comprehensive list of the year’s activities. It also included details of progress made against key priorities set out in the Annual Business Plan for the 2010/2011 fiscal year. All other agencies and organisations working with children and families had already seen the report and given their input in April - May.
The following points were clarified by the Head of Safeguarding Quality and Performance in response to questions from the Committee:
The Child Death Overview Panel’s (CDOP’s) evaluation of cases had identified issues of concern and lessons to be learnt which would improve inter-agency responses to child deaths.
At the January extraordinary meeting, the LSCB would be carrying out a serious case review of evidence to plot the way forwards. Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) were normally completed within six months. It was important to allow time for the cases to be carefully analysed so that lessons could be learnt. The number of different agencies involved in SCRs increased their complexity and, where necessary, extensions were applied for. The CDOP was producing longitudinal figures and it was hoped this would reveal any emerging trends in child deaths. It was not yet known if there was a trend that had lead to the increase in child deaths between 2010 and 2011. One cause of the rise could be attributed to the improvement in hospitals notifying the CDOP of deaths. It was not known if there had been a national increase in child deaths. Richmond’s figures were low compared to the national average. The Committee were advised there was no reason for concern at this stage.
There had been no notable increase in Sudden and Unexpected Deaths of Infants (SUDIs). Co-sleeping was still the most significant cause of unexpected deaths, despite national campaigns and good local advice to discourage it. Compared to Hounslow, Richmond boroughs figures for SUDIs were low. Richmond’s SUDI figures were similar to the national average. New parents within the borough were offered valuable advice on avoiding SUDIs by health visitors. It was too early to say if there was a demography that was particularly prone to SUDIs.
The Director said the annual report of the Stay Safe Delivery Board (SSDB) of the Children and Young People’s Trusts highlighted areas for action in 2011/2012. One area highlighted was the amount of short break care provided for families within the borough caring for people with Asperger's Syndrome and high functioning Autism. The progress of this service would be monitored and an update provided to the Committee. In addition, the emerging Health and Wellbeing Board – set up to betterthe health and wellbeing outcomes for adults and children in Richmond - was expected to help develop services for the borough’s most vulnerable residents.
Three, Common Assessment Frameworks (CAF) had been completed in the past year of all agencies working with children and their families. The CAFs identified that children that lived outside the borough and used Richmond Council’s services had not been receiving the same level of support as Richmond residents. This had been earmarked as an area needing improvement.
The Committee were advised that the reported upward trend in referral figures for domestic violence in St Margarets, Twickenham and Teddington was not necessarily cause for concern. The high figures could be due to a significantly high number of children living within the Quindrat. An assessment of the figures would be available in December.
The Committee asked that they be provided with details of the infections that had contributed towards the year on year increase in child deaths across Hounslow, Richmond and Kingston.
It was RESOLVED that the Committee note the Local Safeguarding Children Annual Report 2010/2011.
This report outlines the Council’s secondary school pupil forecasts and its plans for providing sufficient numbers of high-quality secondary school places over the next decade.
The Cabinet Member for Schools, the Director Education and Children's Services and the Head of Schools Commissioning were present for this item.
The Director introduced the item: He reminded the Committee that the purpose of this report was to consider secondary school places and not the Clifden Road site.
The Director made the following points in response to questions from the Committee:
The figures in appendix A of the report represented the most likely forecast for secondary up-take and demonstrated there was sufficient capacity for secondary school up-take within the borough. It was unlikely that an increased demand in the primary sector would lead to capacity being exceeded until at least 2016. Appendix B gave an alternative scenario, where recruitment to the three sponsored academies increased more rapidly. In both possible scenarios, the predictions showed there was no need for a new community secondary school within the short-term.
The Committee noted the boroughs secondary school take-up was similar to that of the demand. This was favourable to overprovision, which would put pressure upon resources, especially in the current economic climate. In addition, overprovision could greatly increase the amount of out of borough take-up. The Director advised the Committee that ideally schools should get as close to one hundred percent capacity as possible in order to run effectively.
The Cabinet Member assured the Committee that the Head of Schools Commissioning had assumed a very high take-up rate in the prediction figures. This approach to the estimations ensured there was some allowance for flexibility built in. He had also taken into account secondary schools outside the borough boundary lines when producing the estimations.
It was too early to tell how many free schools there would be in the borough. In March 2012 the Council would know which schools had applied to the DfE for free school status and have more information for the Committee.
The Director said it would not be advisable for the five current non-academy schools to increase their intake as these schools were already at their peak capacity. Excess uptake at one school would be detrimental to other schools. He stated that secondary schools in the borough were expected to continue meeting expectations for capacity.
The Director said a number of children were currently travelling further than was reasonable to attend a Catholic school. It was the Council’s responsibility to ensure that all children were provided for as equally as possible and a new Catholic School on the Clifden Road site would greatly reduce these travelling distances. The Committee were advised that in-borough secondary schools would not be adversely affected by the provision for a new Catholic secondary school, because current figures showed that most children with a preference for a Catholic school were attending schools in Hounslow and not Richmond.
Concern was expressed that children living in some parts of Hampton might not get into Hampton Academy due to high out of borough take-up. The Director said there would be an adequate number of places provided for the children of Hampton. If there was a shortfall, local schools could feasibly increase their intake.
The Director said he was going to meet head teachers on Monday 28 November to discuss sixth form funding and feasibility. A full feasibility study would be made available next year and it was likely that new sixth forms would be in place by September 2013. The establishment of any new sixth forms would follow the statutory consultation process.
Due to the small margin for errors in the up-take figures, some members of the Committee suggested that the variability of the reports figures be highlighted to Cabinet. However, the majority of members did not hold the same view. The Cabinet Member for Schools assured the Committee the figures had been very well thought out, but he would ensure that every variable had been considered and nothing overlooked, before a report was sent to Cabinet for approval.
It was RESOLVED that the report be noted.
This report gives details of the proposed work programme for the municipal year 2011/12, as discussed with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the committee.
Report of the Head of Democratic Services attached.
Councillor Nicholson agreed to join the Tobacco Control Task Group.
It was likely that a meeting to discuss the future use of the Clifden Road site would be held in February 2012.
It was RESOLVED that:
A specially convened meeting would be held to discuss the use of the Clifden Road site if the Secretary of State approved the Archdiocese of Westminster’s application.
In addition, a specially convened meeting would be held once:
· The statutory consultation results had been received.
· The public school intake figures had been taken into account.