Agenda item


To receive the report of Neil Best, Head of Education Strategic Resourcing & Partnerships.


(This item contains exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 (information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person – including the authority holding that information) of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, as amended).  


Noting that no press or public were in attendance at this point in the meeting, Peter Nathan, Director of Education, introduced the report of the Executive Director – People in respect of pupil places and falling school rolls.


The decline in school population was a major issue across London at present. The main reason for the fall in Enfield pupil numbers was a fall in the birth rate, as well as movement of families out of London. It was noted that popular schools tended to hold on to pupils and stay full. A fall below 24 or 25 children per class made it difficult to manage a school due to the impact on school budgets. There was an agreed process for maintained schools in deficit, and officers worked with every school. Collaboration between maintained schools was encouraged, and the Council was not looking to close any schools at the moment. School re-purposing may be used to address the demand for SEN provision. The decline in mainstream pupil places was likely to be a long term issue going forward. The Council’s Executive Management Team had asked for a School Places Strategy to be produced by April. The Director of Education had been given appropriate powers to address deficits with schools.


Questions were invited from Members.


Members asked about schools operating at above 100% capacity. It was confirmed that this was allowable: such schools did not have to consider the other schools in the area and may raise their admission numbers if they were attracting pupils. Officers encouraged special schools to operate over capacity as the demand was there.


In response to Members’ queries regarding the situation across London, it was advised that deficits were worse in Inner London and that boroughs including Lambeth, Southwark, Hackney and Islington had closed schools. Only two boroughs out of the 32 had seen an increase in school pupils.


Members were given more detail regarding deficits at particular schools.


In response to Members’ questions about data on home-schooled pupils, the current number in the borough was 480 children and this was monitored carefully on a regular basis. Each year contact would be made, to check the progress of the pupil in line with their age and ability, but this was not statutory. Home schooling of a child with an Educational Health Care Plan would not usually be agreed as it would be difficult to meet the needs of the child. The Council may not be aware of a child with no application for nursery or primary school, electively home educated, unless notified to the local authority.


Officers clarified class size averages in primary, secondary and SEN school provision, and associated funding.


It was confirmed that re-purposing of space in schools with capacity was quite common, and all possibilities were explored, including for community uses which could generate income.


Officers clarified that there would be concern around schools which reported deficit balances of 5% and above. Some government funding was available to assist, but there must be a recovery plan in place. Schools with an appropriate business manager tended to respond more effectively. It was confirmed that schools in deficits in Enfield were not all at the 5% and above level, and a significant number were not of concern to officers.


The Chair thanked officers for providing the report and for attending the meeting.


The Panel AGREED to note the review of the position with regard to pupil places in the borough and the financial impact on schools of falling rolls.

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