Agenda and draft minutes

Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee - Wednesday, 20 January 2021 10.00 am

Venue: REMOTE MEETING

Contact: Benjamin Awkal, Scrutiny Officer 

Note: Please note that due to the Covid-19 situation this meeting will take place remotely. 

Media

Items
No. Item

1/21

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

    To report any apologies for absence and substitutions.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from Alex Tear.

     

2/21

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS: MONDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2020 pdf icon PDF 271 KB

    To agree the minutes of the previous meeting of the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee as a true and accurate record of proceedings.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The minutes were agreed as a true record of the meeting.

3/21

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter:

          I.        Any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or

        II.        Other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting

     

    NOTES:

    ·         Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest

    ·         As well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner)

    ·         Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Chris Botten declared a personal interest in relation to Item 6. This interest did not prevent the Member from participating in the discussion.

    Declaration:  Member a Local Leader of Governance engaged by the Schools Alliance for Excellence.

     

4/21

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS

    To receive any questions or petitions.

    Notes:

    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (Thursday, 14 January 2021).

     

    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(Wednesday, 13 January 2021)

     

    3.    The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.

     

     

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all questions and petitions received will be responded to in writing and will be recorded within the minutes of the meeting.  

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    None received.

5/21

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE pdf icon PDF 116 KB

    Purpose of the report:

     

    To apprise the Committee of the Executive Director’s initial observations of the Directorate, following their first month in post.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Rachael Wardell, Executive Director

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Chairman welcomed the new Executive Director to the Select Committee meeting and invited her to provide a summary of her findings after one month in post.

     

    1. The Executive Director had a high level of confidence that the council’s children’s services had made significant improvement and were no longer ‘inadequate’, having completed the steps of the improvement plan from the previous Ofsted inspection (2018), and now implementing a “Getting to Good plan”. Feedback from the Service’s January 2021 mock inspection of the Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA) and the Early Help Hub assured the Executive Director of the rigour of the Service’s self-evaluation practices. The upcoming three-way peer review undertaken under the South East Sector Led Improvement Programme would provide a further opportunity for the Service to test its self-evaluation. The Executive Director acknowledged that there was still more work to be done to achieve a ‘good’ Ofsted rating, and was meeting with Ofsted and a senior inspections officer the following week to discuss Service readiness for the next unannounced Ofsted visit.

     

    1. The Executive Director informed the Select Committee that a review undertaken jointly by the Department for Education (DfE) and NHS England confirmed that the Service had made good progress with its provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and, as a result could demonstrate clear and sustained progress and no longer needed to be subject to DfE scrutiny with six monthly meetings. The Executive Director and SEND Systems Partnership had reviewed progress at the last meeting in order to identify areas for continued focus.

     

    1. The Directorate was operating well during the third Covid-19 lockdown despite continuing its improvement programme and receiving frequently changing expectations and guidance from DfE. The Executive Director was pleased to report that a reduced workforce (due to shielding, illness and self-isolation) was not preventing the Directorate from undertaking essential work, and face-to-face contacts were still being carried wherever possible. Covid-19 had delayed some of the Service’s improvement work, but progress had not stopped or been lost.

     

    1. During their first month in post, the Executive Director had identified several priority areas for the Directorate: children’s social care improvement; children with additional needs and their families (SEND capital programme investment in specialist placements in the county); cultures and behaviours and inclusion practice in schools; and supporting children and young people with mental health and emotional wellbeing issues. At the end of 2020, the council agreed a new contract for emotional wellbeing and mental health services, which was now in the mobilisation phase – the Executive Director was the chair of the Assurance Board for the programme. The first meeting confirmed the scale of the task; however, the workstreams were well established and met weekly, recruitment was underway, and progress was being closely monitored. Closing the attainment gap, which was widening due to Covid-19 restrictions, was another Directorate priority. It was also important for the Directorate to focus on the council’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5/21

6/21

SCHOOLS ALLIANCE FOR EXCELLENCE AND CHILDREN'S EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT IN SURREY pdf icon PDF 337 KB

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    Purpose of the report:

    To update the Select Committee on the work of Schools Alliance for Excellence (SAfE) during its second year of delivering school-improvement services.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

     

    Julie Iles, Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning

     

    Liz Mills, Director – Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture

    Jane Winterbone, Assistant Director – Education

    Maria Dawes, Chief Executive Officer, Schools Alliance for Excellence

     

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Schools Alliance for Excellence (SAfE) introduced the report, summarising the key points. SAfE’s short-term priorities were as follows: providing reactive support to schools through the Covid-19 pandemic; safeguarding headteacher wellbeing; focusing on quality first teaching and working together to ensure best practice is shared; supporting and challenging vulnerable schools; the disadvantaged strategy; and working with the Local Authority to support the joint approach to inclusion.

     

    1. SAfE was considering the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on its school improvement contract and had subsequently amended its Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) due to the cancellation of Key Stage and GCSE examinations in 2020 and 2021 –  as those qualifications had not been assessed in the ordinary way, attainment data was not comparable to previous years. 

     

    1. A question was asked about the changes made to SAfE’s performance indicators in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of performance data and routine Ofsted inspections. The CEO responded that performance indicators were to be reviewed again in light of the third national lockdown and changes to the assessment of GCSE, AS and A-Level qualifications in 2021. SAfE was giving more prominence to disadvantaged and vulnerable children in the amended KPIs, with four of the six KPIs now focused on that cohort. SAfE was also trying to shift focus onto measurable outcomes for Key Stage 4. In 2021, SAfE would be able to compare the gap between the non-disadvantaged and disadvantaged cohort across Surrey.

     

    1. A Member asked what the implications were of the cancellation of GCSE, AS and A-Level examinations in 2021. The CEO responded that, compared to 2020, exams had been cancelled earlier in the 2021 academic year, so SAfE had time to undertake a detailed consultation with schools to consider how best to assess Key Stage 4 and 5 children. The Director added that the Service was working on destination planning, supporting key stage transitions, and providing additional support for pathway planning for young people.

     

    1. SAfE asked that all maintained schools complete a key-skills needs analysis, which was a self-assessment of schools’ strengths and areas of concern. SAfE was also working with the Service to identify vulnerable schools and was supporting an increased number of settings due to Covid-19. SAfE would also be identifying where more formal intervention could take place for those schools where little progress was perceived to have been made.

     

    1. The Select Committee was informed of a number of key overarching issues in Surrey’s most vulnerable schools, as identified through the risk assessment process:  safeguarding; challenges for small schools; budgetary constraints; governance; Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and inclusion; and inexperienced leadership. SAfE was working with the council and Phase Councils to identify mitigating measures against all the aforementioned issues. 

     

    1. Results for all Key  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/21

7/21

EDUCATION AND CAREERS SUPPORT FOR VULNERABLE YOUNG PEOPLE pdf icon PDF 597 KB

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    Purpose of the report:

    To provide the Select Committee with information regarding the education and careers support that is available for vulnerable young people in Surrey, including the current priorities for increasing vulnerable learners’ participation in education, employment and training.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Julie Iles, Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning

     

    Liz Mills, Director – Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture

    Jane Winterbone, Assistant Director – Education

    Anwen Foy, Head Teacher, Surrey Virtual School

     

    BenedicteSymcox, Operations Lead, Family Voice Surrey

     

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Head of Surrey’s Virtual School had been in post since June 2020 and had experience as the headteacher of Virtual Schools in a number of other local authorities. Virtual Schools were established as champions of local authorities to promote and track the progress and educational attainment of children or young people who were in care to ensure they receive the correct support, have their needs understood by teachers, and achieve educational outcomes comparable to their peers. Surrey’s Virtual School was fully staffed with a new team, following the restructure, that had been assembled by the governing board.

     

    1. The Operations Lead explained that Family Voice Surrey was a parent carer forum that provided independent collective representation for families with children who had any degree of special needs or disability from 0-25 years old. The organisation welcomed the council’s work around transition into adulthood, which presented a challenging time for families with children with additional needs. Many families who reached out to Family Voice had children who were not in education, employment or training (NEET), which was a stigmatising label. One of the most commonly raised issues was about SEND children not being able to manage a full-time working week.

     

    1. A Member asked what governance arrangements were in place for the Virtual School. The Head Teacher stated that there was a dedicated governing board, chaired by the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning, which had taken an active role in the Virtual School’s improvement journey. The governing board had recently discussed being reconstituted as a subgroup of the Corporate Parenting Board.

     

    1. It was noted that the cohorts least likely to progress to post-16 education or training were those with poor or persistent absence; those who had been excluded; those whose first language was not English; children of young parents; and children with illness. These cohorts needed targeted support to help their transition into post-16 placements. Through the Participation Strategy, officers wanted to explore how to achieve a more impartial approach to providing guidance and advice in school settings to children. The Head Teacher stated the importance of understanding young people’s individual strengths and having ongoing conversations with them to help them see themselves as a learner post-16 with more positivity. The Head Teacher emphasised that education stability and minimising disruption was key, but it was difficult to find post-16 provision where young people could start mid-year.

     

    1. It was explained that the Service was working with schools and post-16 colleges to make the Maths and English core learning offer more exciting and relevant for those who had not yet passed their Level 2 assessments in those subjects. Functional Skills became a key element of the curriculum and provided a key step towards attaining these Level 2 qualifications. Adult  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/21

8/21

ACTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PLAN pdf icon PDF 119 KB

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    Purpose of the report:

     

    For the Select Committee to review the attached actions and recommendations tracker and forward work programme, making suggestions for additions or amendments as appropriate.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    1.                    The Assistant Director informed the Select Committee that they had discussed with transport colleagues and the school in question why some children were turned away from public transport to school in Epsom. The Assistant Director was assured that the issue was resolved. 

     

9/21

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING: THURSDAY, 11 MARCH 2021

    The next public meeting of the committee will be held on Thursday, 11 March 2021.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Select Committee noted that its next meeting would be held on Thursday, 11 March 2021.