Agenda and draft minutes

Education and Business Scrutiny Commission
Monday 7 October 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Ground Floor Meeting Room G02A - 160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

2.

Notification of any items of business which the chair deems urgent.

3.

Disclosure of Interests and Dispensations.

4.

Minutes

5.

Review: School Exclusions - Advocacy Academy

    The following young people from the Advocacy Academy will attend:

     

    ·  Alex Mcarthur – James

    ·  Christian Fernandez

    ·  Olamide Taiwo

    ·  Chanay Golding

    Minutes:

    A group of young people from the Advocacy Academy attended the meeting to talk to councillors about their experience of school exclusion. 

     

    Christian introduced the group and set out their campaign themes:  no lost causes, compassionate education and making the case for increased funding.  Some of the group were also part of the IC3 campaign which aims to address the perception of BAME students.  He explained that the Advocacy Academy is a social justice fellowship made up of young people from across South London.

     

    Christian had attended Globe Academy.  He said that every year one of his friends would get permanently excluded.  He had noticed that they tended to have common traits – they were funny, charismatic and struggled to focus.  He told the commission how his best friend got excluded and life changed.  He knew two excluded students who have died and he saw a link between exclusion and violence.  He wanted to draw councillors’ attention to some statistics:   

     

    ·  35 of the most disadvantaged students get excluded every day. 

    ·  Excluded pupils are four times more likely to grow up in poverty, twice as likely to be in care, and seven times more likely to have special educational needs 

     

    He suggested that the council could develop a charter on school exclusion.  This would mean the council setting targets for schools with upper limits eg a percentage of the school roll –  the upper limit might be set at around 3-5%.  The council could write to every school about this and offer support. 

     

     

    Chanay told the commission that she had experienced internal exclusion for the first time when she was 8.  On one occasion in secondary school she was put in isolation for eating a biscuit in class.  She was eating the biscuit because she had missed lunch catching up on work.  One another occasion she was put in exclusion for leaving her PE kit at home.  Exclusion then led to her falling further behind with work.  The point she wanted to make was that these were punishments for petty things and that students did not learn whereas a humane solution might have worked and led to a positive outcome.  She felt that the concept behind exclusion is like prison and that it becomes a pipeline to more troubles and eventually permanent exclusion.  She wanted to draw councillors’ attention to some statistics:   

     

    ·  25000 children aged 7 or under were excluded in 2015/16. 

    ·  Black students are 3 times more likely to be excluded. 

     

    She suggested that councillorsmeet with heads and talk about students’ experience and try to come up with better alternatives for punishments.

     

    Alex told the commission he had had all types of exclusions.  He had been sent to the annex in secondary school and felt it was more like a pupil referral unit with bars on the windows, and no teachers but staff whose job was to stop students fighting.  He was in there 2 months and had a friend who was there 2 years.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Review: School Exclusions - Faith conference feedback on Exclusions and Serious Youth Violence

7.

Review: School Exclusions - additional information

    Commission members requested more information on Free School Meal eligibility criteria and school reporting requirements for pupils leaving a school role. This is enclosed.

    Supporting documents:

    Minutes:

    The commission discussed the range of information it had so far received for its review of exclusions and whether there were gaps. 

     

    A member said it would be useful to clarify exactly which year groups get free school meals. 

     

    A member queried information in the agenda about children’s missing education, and how it is followed up.  Jenny Brennan responded that there is a formal meeting of a group of professionals following up on children missing education – the Children Missing Education forum.  They will attempt to locate the child and find out if they’ve moved.  They double and triple check the information.  Sometimes a family moves and doesn’t tell anyone.  They follow up on children in cases where school does not know where they are, to verify if this is an attendance issue or a child who is substantially missing.  The list can also include a child who’s new in the country and has not yet got a school place, or a child who was said to be home schooled but the arrangement has not worked out for some reason.  

     

    A member asked about the point raised earlier in the meeting on long term internal exclusion - does that get into the statistics? Jenny Brennan said the commission  would need to talk to schools about exactly what their system is. 

     

    Members agreed it would be useful to have a look at data for exclusion in primary schools.  Are children missing?  What happens with children who come in as unaccompanied minors?  Is there data about the role of SEND support in keeping children in school.  How is transition from primary to secondary school supported?  A survey might help to draw out more information. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

8.

Review: School Exclusions - Regional School Commissioner

    The Regional School Commissioner, Claire Burton, will attend to inform the review on School Exclusions and Alternative Provision.

    Minutes:

    Claire Burton, Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), attended the meeting to discuss the role of her office.  Councillor Babudu set the context, explaining that at its previous meeting, commission members had been keen to understand the regulatory framework.

     

    Claire Burton explained that she had started in her role in August 2019.   She is a civil servant who acts on behalf of the Secretary of State to tackle underperforming academies, underperforming maintained schools, approving changes to academies/sponsors etc.  The School improvement functions had also now been decentralised to sit with RSCs.  She sees role as being the eyes and ears of the education department.  She meets with Southwark council officers regularly as they have a joint interest in excellent education for children in Southwark.  

     

    Intervention from the RSC happens when Ofsted judge a school inadequate or when financial problems are found to be taking place at a trust.   The RSCs work closely with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESF).  For example if there were concerns about financial management/governance in a trust, RSC would work with ESF.  Responsibility for overseeing safeguarding is with ESF, not RSC.  RSCs also work closely with Ofsted and hold termly meetings to share information.  

     

    She was interested in councillors’ experience of access to good quality data. Information about exclusions should come through quickly.   She also pointed out that the Timpson review is in similar policy space.  It makes 30 recommendations.  This had already led to some changes – for example the Ofsted framework had been changed to include off rolling.  

     

    A councillor asked why schools had lost school nurses, who might be able to assist with a violent student.  Ms Burton said that schools control budgets and make their own choices.  She did not think school nurses had been funded by a ring fenced funding stream. 

     

    She thought the debate about exclusion led to an interesting point about professional development of teachers.  Where schools are doing well with exclusion, how can this be spread?  This was a role for her office’s school improvement function.  

     

    A member asked her how the RSC monitors data.  Southwark’s statistics on permanent exclusion show that two academy chains have significantly higher rate of exclusions.  Ms Burton said that the RSC do look at data and raise issues with trusts.  If an issue is raised, they will have the conversation with the trust but they do not think there is a “right number”. The government view is to support headteachers to take any action necessary to make schools safe.    The member asked whether the RSC drill down and assess schools’ learning from exclusions.   Ms Burton explained that the RSC do not get involved at that level.  Intervention is triggered by Ofsted inadequate judgement. 

     

    A member asked what can be done about the patchy supply of data from schools. Ms Burton said if data is not coming through, the council can raise with RSC who would follow up together with ESF.  There is a clear interest and role for RSC on supply  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Work Programme