To receive a summary of the performance of children and young people in Croydon schools for the academic year 2018/2019
Standards Safeguarding and Inclusion presented the report and the following was noted:
· Croydon’s performance in Early Years and Key Stage one was higher than the national average for the fourth consecutive year.
· NEET figures were better that the national average but youth engagement remained a challenge.
· Instances of permanent exclusion were lower than the national average but figures were not low enough, as such, improvements were needed in this area.
· Croydon still experienced high rates of exclusions for Black Afro- Caribbean boys and White British boys receiving the Pupil Premium. The inclusion team was working on intervention and discussions were taking place with head teachers on identified trends.
· Two school advisers had been appointed to support schools.
· There was a renewed focus on provision of Post 16 technical skills provision.
Following presentation of the report, the Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report.
In response to a Member question on what was being done to improve sixth form provision in order to increase life chances and best outcomes for young people in Croydon, officers responded that a review of sixth form provision was being conducted to look into issues in detail and how best to tackle identified problems. It was acknowledged that there were many sixth form providers in Croydon and some had reduced their curriculum in order to be competitive whilst many experienced funding pressures.
It was further commented that the situation was affecting children in current Post 16 provision and the review must be conducted urgently as they required improvement to be made to quality of offer now in order to meet their needs, with a need for sufficient class sizes and access to pool of effective teachers. Officers said that the Council was encouraging more collaborative ways of working between the providers, having open dialogue and expressing concerns. There had been increased capacity within the Not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) team to support, undertake preventative work and develop engagement.
Questions were raised on the number of schools that had recently been inspected by Ofsted and what support had been given to schools, day nurseries and childminders who had received qualify deficit Ofsted ratings. Officers agreed to circulate data on all Croydon schools last inspection dates and Ofsted ratings.
The Committee learned that Schools and the small number of maintained nurseries that the Council held responsibility for liaised with a senior member of the school effectiveness team at fortnightly support meetings. The officer supported providers by working with them on governance issues, leadership and management. Areas of concern were outlined and if needed, course of action that the council would take if improvements were not made.
It was further challenged that the same support would not be available for Academy schools and officers said that a positive relationship with Academies was maintained. The Council was confident in its ability to raise concerns and Academy schools were willing to work with the Council as needed. The Local Authority held responsibility for attendance and safeguarding of all pupils, were able to conduct unannounced visits and request action plans in instances of suspected potential unlawful off rolling of pupils. They could also refer to Ofsted in instances of significant safeguarding concerns.
An additional question was asked on support for Looked After Children, officers said that there was increased focus on 16 year old NEET for which there was a dedicated team to provide support. They had been working in partnership with social work and youth engagement teams to develop a programme for children leaving care.
It was highlighted that increased focus was needed to cultivate a programme for high performing children in the borough. Officers said there had been exploration of methods develop the curriculum in ways that would meet their needs.
A Member asked what was being done to address persistence absence in schools. Officers said that there was now increased capacity in the Virtual Schools department to ensure that all LAC had a personal advisor with attendance tracking procedures in place.
The impact and management of Octavo partnership was questioned to which officers responded that there would be no disruption to the support provided to schools.
In response to questions on the role of the two advisors that had been appointed, Officers said that they both brought with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. They would look at consistency of teaching, any assessments that had taken place, provide pastoral support to head teachers and review action plans. Additionally they would speak to pupils to get their perspective of their school.
Further concerns were highlighted about the percentages of fixed exclusions by ethnicity and it was questioned what the priority for the two advisors would be to address these issues and mitigate these occurrences. Officers said that it was very important that the Council examine data and pick up on any trends. They would explore the strategies the schools had in place to address problems and reduce instances of exclusions. Additionally through the implementation of the Council’s Trauma Informed Programme and approach to its corporate parenting responsibilities, the focus would be on increased multiagency working. The priority and focus was ensuring that all pupils in the borough had an opportunity to reach their full potential.
At the conclusion of this item the Chair thanked the Officers for their attendance at the meeting and their engagement with the Committee and questions
Information request by the Sub-Committee
The Sub-Committee came to the following Conclusions:
1. The introduction of the Trauma Informed programme was innovative, welcomed and the sub-committee looked forward to further examination of the outcomes of this programme in the coming months
2. It was important that the Council took active real steps to working with providers to improving the offer of post 16 provision for its young people.
3. It was evident that priority must be given addressing the needs of and supporting 16 year old NEET young people.
4. The increase of personal advisors in the Virtual Schools department was welcomed.
5. It was hoped that the comments made regarding the high occurrences of exclusions of young black Afro-Caribbean boys and white boys receiving pupil premium funding were taken seriously and that the two advisors would be active in their roles in holding to account the actions of schools.