Agenda and minutes

School Places Scrutiny Workstream
Monday, 23rd November, 2015 7.30 pm

Venue: Room 1, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, EN1 3XA. View directions

Items
No. Item

288.

WELCOME AND APOLOGIES

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr During.

 

Apologies for lateness were received from Cllr Orhan and Jenny Tosh.

289.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members of the Workstream are invited to identify any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests relevant to items on the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

290.

CABINET REPORT 21 OCTOBER 2015 - STRATEGY AND APPROACH TO DELIVERING PUPIL PLACES pdf icon PDF 271 KB

To receive the Report of the Director of Finance, Resources & Customer Services and the Chief Education Officer: Strategy and Approach to Delivering Pupil Places (Report No: 85), presented to Cabinet on 21 October 2015.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Report was RECEIVED and the following questions and comments taken:

 

Q:        How many parents get their first choice of school and are there any particular areas of the Borough where not obtaining the first or subsequent choice of school is an issue?

A:        Approximately 90% of parents get their first choice of school on average across the Borough.  However, there are some areas of the Borough where the location of primary schools means that this percentage is lower (e.g. Southgate and Palmers Green).

 

            ACTION: Jenny Tosh to obtain more detailed breakdown for the Borough.

 

Q:        How many admissions appeals do the Council receive each year and in general, what are the reasons for the appeals?

A:        Figures for appeals could be provided. The reason for most appeals is parents not obtaining their first choice of school. 

 

ACTION: Appeal figures for the borough to be provided.

 

Q:        Of the 11 primary forms of entry needed for 2015-19, the Report mentions 9 have already been planned for.  What plans are there to deliver the other 2?

A:        The West of the Borough has the greatest degree of flexibility to deliver these.  We are also still in negotiations regarding the building of a school in Grovelands Park.

 

Q:        Between 2018/19, there is projected need for an additional 10 forms of entry at secondary level.  At the moment, 11 forms of entry would be delivered.  Given that overcapacity can have negative financial impacts, what will be the economic impact of an extra form of entry? 

A:        There has been an unexpected dip in secondary demand which has led to the planned overcapacity.  We are reviewing the situation all the time with our schools and will need to continue working very closely with schools to ensure we maintain the right levels of capacity.

 

Cllr Orhan added that there was an acknowledged issue regarding the opening of Free Schools, who could do so without reference to or consultation with the local authority and this could create unexpected overcapacity.  However, it was being recognised by Free Schools that to do so may not be in their best interests, as it might result in low take-up.  A close working relationship with all schools will help prevent any destabilising impacts.

 

Q:        Are the additional forms of entry mentioned contained within the 5% ‘buffer’ added to GLA projections?

A:        I believe this is the case but would need to check ACTION: Jenny Tosh.

 

Q:        Are there any schools with class sizes of over 30 pupils?

A:        Not at infants level.  However, sometimes a school is asked to take on a child which would result in a class size of over 30; however, this only occurs at junior level, where the school concerned has agreed to do this and is supported in doing so and union guidelines are adhered to.

 

Q:        Are we dependent on the building of a Free School to meet the need for a secondary school in the west of the Borough in 19/20?

A:        The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 290.

291.

SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS SCHOOL PLACES PROVISION AND SEND EDUCATION STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 445 KB

To receive a report on school places provision for children with Special Educational Needs from Jenny Tosh, Chief Education Officer.

 

To also receive the SEND Education Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Workstream Members RECEIVED the Report and the following questions and comments were taken:

 

Q:        What are the reasons for the delay in developing the Minchenden site and what are the timescales for completion of development?

A:        The delay has been caused by the Council deciding that the Minchenden site would be a permanent, rather than temporary, facility and therefore that it needed to purchase the site (rather than lease it).  The timescales for development have slipped more than we would have wished and this has led to a consequent need to send some children out of the borough and for Russett House and Durants to be operating above capacity.  We do, however, want to ensure as a permanent facility that the design work is of the highest standard so we expect it will be approximately 2 years to complete all work.

 

Q:        The levels of diagnosis of Autism are surprising; how is the Council planning to meet this increasing need and the associated cost? 

A:        The process of diagnosis is an element of this; up to the age of 6 years any diagnosis is made by a paediatrician, over the age of 6 years the diagnosis is made by the CAMHS Team.  We are trying to increase provision, such as Minchenden, to meet increasing need but we are also trying to increase the ability of mainstream schools to take children.  We have just set up the Autism Advisory Service to provide such support to schools. We are also in discussions with medical professionals at the moment to try and better understand how diagnosis is being made; there is a national increase in cases of Autism but Enfield also has a particular contextual difference; many children are arriving in the Borough from areas of conflict and the associated symptoms of trauma have many similarities with those on the Autistic Spectrum.  As well as this, Asperger’s Syndrome is now diagnosed under the Autistic Spectrum, which may have also increased levels of diagnosis.

 

It was noted that the Workstream could consider recommending a commissioning of joint research with other local authorities to look into increasing need and diagnosis.  It was also acknowledged that, even if the child was not diagnosed with Autism, a child with conflict associated trauma would still require special educational support.  A child’s pathway through learning was the most important element.

 

The issue of funding was discussed; it was felt that the Government should urgently review the Dedicated Schools Grant.  Recent reforms had also meant that the age range for children receiving SEND support had been extended from 0-25 years, which placed increasing pressure on funding.  However, despite this, Enfield continued to provide excellent SEND services.

 

Q:        How do you decide whether mainstream or specialist provision is best, who makes that decision and how are we coping with demand?

A:        The type of placement depends very much on individual  level of need and Autism is a wide spectrum of need.  A SEN Panel assesses all documentation associated with a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 291.

292.

SCHOOLS VISIT 17 NOVEMBER - FEEDBACK AND DISCUSSION

Minutes:

Officers were thanked for organising the visits to Oasis Academy Hadley, Ark John Keats and Edmonton County School on Tuesday 17 November.  All three schools are all through schools.  The following feedback/comments were received:

 

·         Schools were thanked for their time and their views.

·         Councillors had been pleased to discover that all 3 schools followed the Council’s admissions policy and had provided very positive feedback on this.

·         It appeared that different schools in the Borough had different relationships with the local authority.

·         One of the schools had an in-house facility for children in danger of being excluded, which seemed to be working well.

·         One school had expressed concerns over school places capacity and in-year admissions at a certain year group which were proving to be a particular challenge.  They suggested that a cap on numbers would assist.

·         It had also been suggested that some in-year admissions were as a result of children at risk of exclusion being moved before this occurred.  It was thought that this may be because parents did not have a positive view of the Pupil Referral Unit and wished to avoid their child being placed there. A further issue was that the records were not always received with the child from their previous school.

·         Parents may also be attracted to new schools with new facilities and move their children accordingly.

·         One school was experiencing under-capacity at the moment.  It had just been established as an all-through school and this was working very well.

·         Councillors could see clear benefits in schools operating as all-through schools as this provided greater continuity of learning and economies of scale.  In-year admissions could prove disruptive to continuity of a child’s learning, however, as curriculums between schools may differ.  Schools taking in pupils mid-year may also find that no previous records are provided to them which would assist. Councillors were not clear on what the effect would be on curriculum continuity when pupils join the school at secondary level from various different schools.

·         It was acknowledged that population churn is a concern for some schools and an issue that they have to deal with from year to year.  Schools are, however, made aware of the potential for this to happen.

·         One school had taken very positive steps to embed itself in the community and thus stabilise children’s learning through additional/family support.  Enfield’s Family Centres were also working on the issue with children at an earlier stage.

·         It was asked how school places were allocated to children moving into/being placed in the Borough.  It was confirmed that the admissions process was the same as for resident children i.e. parents would be provided with a list of available/suitable schools and could visit such schools. They would then confirm acceptance of a place at a chosen school.

·         Cllr Orhan emphasised that the Council had a statutory responsibility to provide all school children in Enfield with a place.  The Council’s strategy was flexible so as to capture and respond to any ongoing changes and to ensure these  ...  view the full minutes text for item 292.

293.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS AND AGREED ACTIONS

Minutes:

It was AGREED that a further meeting be arranged for January (private) to discuss and agree recommendations.

294.

DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS

To be confirmed.

Minutes:

See Item 6.

295.

EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

To consider, if necessary, passing a resolution under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 excluding the press and public from the meeting for the item of business listed in Part 2 of the agenda on the grounds that it will involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in those paragraphs of Part 1 Schedule 12A to the Act (as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006), as are listed on the agenda (Please note there is no Part 2 agenda).

Minutes:

Not moved.