The Committee is asked to consider and respond to the Call-In in accordance with the procedure set out in the Council’s constitution.
The Chair, Councillor Sean Fitzsimons introduced the Call-In item, outlining the reasons why the key decision to close St Andrews CofE High School had been called in. It was stated that the reason for the Call-In was for officers and the Southwark Diocese to be held accountable and to answer any queries arising on their reasons for recommended closure of the school.
The Chair explained the process for considering a Call-In confirming that the Committee needed to agree whether to review the decision and if it decided to proceed confirm how much time it wished to allocate for discussion of the item. The Committee agreed that it would review the decision and allocated 60 minutes for consideration of the item.
The Chair went on to explain that there were three outcomes that the Committee could reach as a result of the review. These were:
1. That no further action was necessary and the decision could be implemented as originally intended.
2. To refer the decision back to the decision maker for reconsideration, outlining the nature of the Committee’s concerns
3. To refer the decision to Council, if the Committee considered that the decision taken was outside of the Budget and Policy Framework.
The Chair highlighted that as the reason for the Call-In did not raise the possibility that the decision was taken outside of the Budget and Policy Framework, it was unlikely that option 3 would be used in this instance.
It’s important that the relationship between the LA and the Diocese in relation to managing the school and the finances are clear. St Andrews CofE was a Voluntary aided school which meant that it was part of the educational provision of the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education and the London Borough of Croydon. It’s a state funded school in which the Diocesan Board contributes to building costs and has a substantial influence in the running of the school. The running costs are fully paid by central government via the LA. The Diocese maintains costs to the building, 90% of the schools Capital costs are met by the school and the Diocese responsible for 10% of the costs of capital work. As the school is a state funded school, by law any deficit incurred are the direct responsibility of the LA.
The Interim Director of Education addressed the reasons for the Call-in and directed Members to the Executive report which outlined the reasons for the agreed decision on closure of the school. During the introduction to the item the following was noted:
· The governing body made the decision for closure of the school, the Local Authority (LA) and the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education was asked to support the decision, with the LA asked to commence the statutory process of the school closure in December 2018.
· The school had struggled for a number of years to attract a sustainable number of children onto the school roll
· The financial viability of the school had been unstable for a number of years. ... view the full minutes text for item 33