Agenda and draft minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 15th September, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN. View directions

Contact: Luciane Bowker  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist

Media

Items
No. Item

13.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

An apology for absence was submitted from Sal Thirlway.

14.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 378 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 June 2021.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 15 September 2021 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

Matters arising

 

Members were pleased that the Unicef application had been successful and thanked Officers for their work in this achievement.

 

Councillor Mickleburgh asked for an update on the national concerns raised in relation to pre-mobile children during lockdowns and on the issue of care leavers who were Not In Education Employment or Training (NEET).

 

Carol Cammiss, Director for Children’s Services stated that the service had not seen an ongoing theme in relation to harm to pre-mobile children during the pandemic period.  However, a front door Officer was working closely with the 0-5 year old cohort, in an effort to be proactive in helping families that had struggled with the pandemic.

 

Carol Cammiss would ask Adam Davis, Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care and Early to Help to circulate the information in relation to NEET care leavers.

 

Carol Cammiss confirmed that Wokingham had been successful in its application to Unicef to take part in the Child Friendly Cities and Communities Programme, the programme would start in January 2022.

15.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

A declaration of interest was submitted from Councillor Bray on the basis that she was a Governor for the Forest School.

16.

Public Question Time

To answer any public questions

 

A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.

 

The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this committee.

 

Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

17.

Member Question Time

To answer any member questions

Minutes:

There were no Member questions.

18.

Education update pdf icon PDF 345 KB

To receive and consider the Education Update report.

Minutes:

Gillian Cole, Schools Service Manager presented the Education report.

 

Some of the main points made during her presentation are listed below:

 

·           During the summer term of 2021 schools continued to operate within the Department for Education (DfE) guidelines, with significant operational measures still in place;

·           Some off site school trips were re-instated towards the end of the summer term;

·           Some measures are still in place, such as the requirement that schools must continue to offer remote learning for those that cannot attend school because of Covid;

·           From 1 September 2021 there were changes to the mitigation restrictions, in line the government’s road map;

·           Schools have undertaken their own risk assessments and decided which measures they wished to continue with, depending on their context.  For example, some schools found that having staggered starts was helpful in terms of alleviating traffic around the school site, and decided to continue with this measure;

·           Lateral flow tests continue to be undertaken by secondary school pupils twice a week.  Lateral flow tests were also undertaken at schools before the term started;

·           School leaders continue to attend the weekly leadership team drop in sessions, with a high number of attendance.  Best practice is discussed in these sessions, with a public health consultant having attended the last session to give advice and guidance to schools;

·           A-Levels and GCSE’s moved to teacher assessed grades in 2021, this being a different method to the one used in 2020.  This incurred a significant increase in teachers’ workload and was a complex operation;

·           All performance tables remain suspended, with no national or local data available for analysis for the second year running;

·           Ofsted has undertaken some remote visits during 2020/21.  Those were monitoring visits with the aim to ensure that schools continued to provide good education in the current context.  Two schools in the Borough experienced those visits: Gorse Ride and Forest, both were judged to be providing effective education;

·           Substantive inspections were paused until September 2021.  Section 8 inspections (which cannot change the grading of a school) did take place in the summer term.  Section 8 inspections did, however, have the power to bring forward Section 5 inspections if it was found that the current grading no longer reflected the level of the school.  This happened to the Forest School (at the time of writing the report the result of this inspection was not available);

·           The full inspection programme had now re-started.  However, there is a delay of approximately 6 terms in the schedule;

·           The service was going to be working closely with the schools which were due to undergo inspections;

·           The report highlighted some of the key lines of work, such as: Racial equity at schools; therapeutical approaches and mental health strands.

 

During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:

 

·           Councillor Bray stated that the Forest School’s Ofsted report was now publicly available and that the school had been graded ‘Good’.  This was a fantastic result and a huge improvement from the previous grading.  She expressed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Secondary School Sufficiency pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To receive and consider the Secondary School Sufficiency report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Piers Brunning presented the Secondary School Sufficiency report.

 

Some of the main points made during his presentation are listed below:

 

·           This year the Local Authority was able to secure places for all on time Year 7 applicants.  This was possible with the assistance of Emmbrook and Waingels’ schools who agreed to offer additional places;

·           Since offer day the number of applications dropped, as expected.  Now the total number of applications is slightly less than the total number of places available in the Borough;

·           The Forest school has not been popular and as a result there have been a significant number of places available for boys in the Borough;

·           Additional capacity was agreed at other co-educational schools, all of which have waiting lists which includes boy and girls, and this increased the number of unfilled places at the Forest School;

·           It was hoped that following the Forest School’s good Ofsted result that parents would name the Forest School in their preference lists;

·           There have been concerns from families in south Twyford with difficulties in securing a place at the Piggott School;

·           It is a concern for the Local Authority when families cannot obtain a school place near their residence, as this can create difficulties with home to school transport, and the home to school transport budget is tight;

·           Although schools in the Borough were able to provide surplus capacity, this was not sustainable and there was a need to invest in schools in the near future;

·           Bulge years were being projected until 2027, it was expected that numbers would drop back after that.  Some temporary accommodation would be required to deal with this bulge;

·           The high number of house building in the Borough was being considered in planning for future school places.  A site for a new secondary school may be identified in the Council wide plans for future development as and when needed;

·           Meetings with Headteachers and school leaders had taken place before the summer to update them on the planning of school places, these conversations would continue during the year;

·           There were some challenges with capacity in Years 8 and 9;

·           Families continued to move into the Borough, with primary and secondary school children.  This presented a challenge when planning for school places when there were not many surplus places in the Borough;

·           There were no signs that families had moved away as a result of Brexit in the Borough;

·           Construction costs have been going up considerably, which would impact on the Council’s ability to deliver additional places;

·           Currently there was no pressure with the delivery of Post-16 places;

·           The new all through Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) school was on course to open as scheduled.

 

During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:

 

·           Councillor Helliar-Symonds asked for clarification in relation to comments in the report about not being able to offer places from the waiting lists to the Forest School;

·           Piers Brunning stated that schools were required by law offer places in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 210 KB

To receive and consider the Committee’s Forward Plan.

Minutes:

The Forward Plan for the Committee was considered and the following item was added:

 

4 November 2021

·           A review of the Home to School Transport Process

 

Members noted that the Schools Causing Concern – Part 2 report was not listed in the Forward Plan.  Luciane Bowker, Democratic and Electoral Services Specialist stated that due to the fact that Ofsted inspections had been suspended, it had been decided to temporarily remove that report from the schedule.  Luciane Bowker would liaise with Gillian Cole about the best time to bring this report back.