School Places Scrutiny Workstream Report
A report from the Scrutiny Workstream on School Places is attached. (Non key)
(9.10 – 9.15 pm)
Councillor Doug Taylor welcomed Councillor Katherine Chibah (Chair of the School Places Scrutiny work stream) to the meeting and invited her to present the report of the Scrutiny work stream to the Cabinet.
Councillor Katherine Chibah introduced the report of the School Places Scrutiny work stream (No.203).
Councillor Chibah expressed her thanks and appreciation to the Scrutiny Members and the officers who had supported the effective review of the provision of school places in the Borough and, how the local authority was ensuring that both current and future demand could be met for primary, secondary and special schools.
1. That the report made a number of recommendations, designed to improve further the Council’s school places planning and provision, and to support the Council in delivery in this complex and rapidly changing area.
2. The Cabinet Member and Executive Director’s response to the recommendations, attached as Appendix A to the report.
3. With regard to recommendation 2.1 of the report, Councillor Chibah advised Members that she had written to the appropriate Regional Commissioner with regard to the need for early consultation with local authorities on the provision of new free schools, as detailed in the report. A positive response had been received and it was anticipated that an effective dialogue with the Director of Children’s Services would be established for the future.
4. Councillor Ayfer Orhan (Cabinet Member for Education, Children’s Services and Protection) thanked the Scrutiny Members for a thorough and robust scrutiny of this area of provision. Councillor Orhan expressed her appreciation to Councillor Chibah for an excellent piece of work and supported the recommendations coming forward. Councillor Orhan noted the significant amount of work that had been carried out to date and reported on the progress being made in implementing the recommendations which had arisen from the review. The work would be on-going.
5. Councillor Taylor drew Members’ attention to the recommendations in the report relating to an increase in autism, the reasons for this and the potential impact on future levels of provision to meet increasing demand. In response, Councillor Chibah advised that the evidence considering the reasons for the apparent increase was ambiguous and inconclusive at this stage. The Scrutiny work stream had not compared Enfield to other similar local authorities. Tony Theodoulou (Director of Children’s Services) advised that the diagnosis of autism had improved and noted that other local authorities were experiencing similar increases in the number of identified cases. Ray James (Director of Health, Housing and Adult Social Care) reported on the current position nationally with regard to adult social care. There had been a significant effort to improve effective diagnosis of autism. It was suggested that there had been both an increase in the prevalence of autism together with an improved diagnosis of the condition.
6. Councillor Taylor recognised that further work would be required nationally with regard to autism and suggested that the issue be raised within a National Local Government journal to highlight the matter and seek further investigation into autism and the reasons for the identified increases.
7. Councillor Orhan accepted the recommendations of the Scrutiny work stream as set out in the report.
Alternative Options Considered: None
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed to note the report and the Cabinet Member and Director’s response to the recommendations (set out in Appendix A to the report).
Reason: To assist the Council to fulfil its statutory duty to provide sufficient pupil places to meet anticipated demand.