Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Connor Hall Scrutiny Adviser
Declarations of Interest
Minutes of Previous Meeting PDF 368 KB
The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted as a true and accurate record.
Education Mid-Year Reviews PDF 322 KB
The Head of Education introduced the report and reported that the Education Service continued to develop and progress, even given the backdrop of response of the service to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report showed that out of the actions detailed,76 were currently on track to be completed by the end of the financial year and measured as ‘green’, with a minimal number of 4 as ‘red’. Since the publishing of the report, further progressions had been made and the Service was in an even better position.
Members asked the following:
-Why was there a projected underspend of 5%?
The Head of Education explained that this figure equated to £1 million and was primarily linked to Out of County placements. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, it had been difficult to identify children that needed this provision. Newport City Council had also tried to keep children with complex needs closer to home for their education which also reduced costs. Going forward there was a likelihood there would be greater need for support for those children so the underspend was unlikely to be an ongoing trend.
- How frequently was the risk map reviewed?
The Head of Education commented that senior leadership team meetings were held on a weekly basis and a regular topic was the escalation of risks, but the risk map was discussed specifically twice a year. Whilst some identified risks such as ALN support and demand were forecast, others had lessened, for example GEMS spend as there were skills and expertise within schools to continue this support. The risks around the 21st Century schools continued due to ongoing price increases and although Newport City Council had enough surplus spaces within our schools, these were not within every community, meaning Newport City Council could not necessarily offer places within a 2-mile radius which would remain a cost risk for the time being.
- What measures were being taken to support Additional Learning Needs (ALN) children?
The Head of Education responded that at the start of lockdown the Service worked with all schools to complete risk assessments for vulnerable pupils to ensure they were tracked and supported. ALN support was assessed on a gradient depending on the needs of the child. When additional needs were identified, Newport City Council were able to provide a range of support, sometimes at school level ranging from extra time or additional work or it could be provided at a local learning resource base. Newport City Council could consider out of town provision and had provision mapping set up in all of our schools which ensured that all children in mainstream education had a universal entitlement to support their needs. The Local Authority could see the whole of the provision across all of its schools and see with confidence that pupils were supported at school level and within various specialist provisions across the city.
- How were Safe Routes to School being monitored, and what was being done to encourage active travel to school?
Conclusions of Committee Reports
Following the completion of the Committee reports, the Committee will be asked to formalise its conclusions, recommendations and comments on previous items for actioning.
The Committee wished to make the following comments:
Comments and Recommendations
· Safe walking routes to school (page 24): It was noted that Education had taken this as far as they could, and that the responsibility for furthering this would now lie with City Services. The Members would like the initiative to be added to City Services’ Service Plan going forward so that it can be further scrutinised.
· The Members wanted further information sent on the number of children excluded from schools.
· The Members shared their concerns for the number of children being excluded.
· The Members were concerned that any issues with regards to ALN and vulnerable children tended to be in red/amber measures. They noted that this may be something they would like added to the Forward Work Programme in future.
· The Members expressed concern with regards to the estimated completion date of the calming room audits, and would like to be updated on progress in future.
· The Committee thanked officers for their hard work within Education.
Scrutiny Adviser Reports PDF 387 KB
a) Forward Work Programme Update (Appendix 1)
b) Actions Arising (Appendix 2)
c) Information Reports (Appendix 3)
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The Scrutiny Adviser shared with Committee the Forward Work Programme with the caveat that some changes may have to be made, as well as updates on the actions from the previous meeting.