Agenda and minutes

Children's Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee - Wednesday 7 October 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: https://bit.ly/33PMBTo

Contact: Maria Burton, Democratic Services  020 7926 8703, Email: mburton2@lambeth.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Pecuniary Interest

    Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.

    Minutes:

    There were none.

     

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 159 KB

    To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2020 as a correct record of the proceedings.

    Minutes:

    RESOLVED:

    That the minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2020 be approved and signed by the Chair as a correct record of the proceedings.

     

3.

Permanent and Fixed-Term Exclusions from Lambeth Schools 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 747 KB

    Contact for enquiries: Cathy Twist, Director, Education and Learning, CTwist@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Ed Davie, and Director for Education and Skills, Cathy Twist introduced the item, stating that:

    ·         There was extensive evidence showing the link between exclusion from school and poor life outcomes.  Lambeth therefore had an aim to minimise exclusions as far as possible, with an aim of zero exclusions from primary and special schools, and minimal secondary exclusions.

    ·         The report showed a reduction in exclusions from the previous year, with no exclusions from special schools, one from primary and 20 from secondary schools, out of 37,000 children in Lambeth schools.

    ·         Certain groups were more likely to be permanently excluded, particularly Black Caribbean children.  Projects to avoid exclusion such as Raising the Game and the Social Workers in Schools pilot were being expanded.

     

    Mel Christodoulou, from Yellow Qube in Tulse Hill, then addressed the Sub-Committee:

    ·         Parents and young people affected by exclusion attended Yellow Qube.  One child had been removed from English and Maths during Year 10 without parental knowledge or consent.  Other parents had reported that their children had been removed from GCSE courses and placed onto vocational courses.

    ·         The transition between primary and secondary school regularly proved difficult, especially for Black boys, with performance reducing substantially between Year 6 and Year 7.

    ·         Managed moves appeared to be used by schools as an informal way of excluding children, particularly those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  Other parents had been recommended by schools to home educate their children.

    ·         Parents often felt disempowered and unable to voice their opinions throughout the exclusions process.

    ·         There was insufficient support for parents who spoke limited English, with reports of children having to interpret meetings about their own exclusion for their parents.

     

    Michele Reilly addressed the Committee, raising the following points:

    ·         She was a parent who ran a support group for parents of children with SEND.

    ·         The report showed that 9% of children who were excluded had social/emotional difficulties.

    ·         It was unclear how much of the reduction in permanent exclusions had been achieved through the use of managed moves and managed transfers.  These avoided having a formal exclusion on record, but removed parents’ right to appeal.  She was aware of parents being encouraged to home educate children with SEND, and these cases were therefore not counted as exclusions.

    ·         Black Caribbean boys were more likely to be diagnosed with SEND and to be excluded.  Portuguese-speaking children were disproportionately affected by exclusions, but there was no programme equivalent to Raising the Game.

    ·         Disruptive behaviour was the most common reason for exclusion, but was often an expression of unmet needs.

     

    Dominic Bergin, Headteacher of Elmgreen School and Chair of the Fair Access Panel, then addressed the Sub-Committee:

    ·         The Fair Access Panel (FAP) had been established in early 2019 and its aim was to reduce the number of exclusions to zero.  It involved other agencies including schools and the Youth Offending Service.  While the Panel was a new initiative, it was already having a positive impact.

    ·         Previously, managed moves had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Local Area Special Educational Needs and Disability offer for children and young people pdf icon PDF 941 KB

    Contact for enquiries: Adam Yarnold, SEND Lead email: ayarnold@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    The report was introduced by the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Ed Davie; Director of Education and Learning, Cathy Twist; Head of Education Psychology and Pupil Support Services, Susan Franklin; Head of Inclusion, Stuart Boffin; and Lead, Special Educational Needs and Disability, Adam Yarnold, who stated that:

    ·         The current Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy was due to end, and the new Strategy was being developed.

    ·         Lambeth had a high number of children diagnosed with SEND than the national average, and the key goal of the strategy would be to ensure that these children were able to reach their full potential.

    ·         The SEND Service was last inspected in January 2020, and the results of this were presented to the Sub-Committee in June. While positive overall, the inspection identified areas for development, including children entering Reception whose needs had not previously been identified, data-sharing with Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), preparation for adulthood, and ensuring Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs) continued to meet children’s needs.

    ·         There was a disparity in diagnosis by ethnicity, with children from a BAME background more likely to have a SEND diagnosis.

    ·         Young people had previously been provided limited opportunities to be given a voice on their support and needs.

    ·         Spend on SEND Transport was always high compared to statistical neighbours as Lambeth had a higher percentage of young people on EHCPs. However, the spend per head was in line with statistical neighbours.

    ·         Out of 250 EHCPs that were completed last year, 41 cases went to tribunal, and only 14% of cases that went through mediation progressed to tribunal.  This was a better performance than both statistical neighbours and the national average.

    ·         All families with a child with SEND were contacted during lockdown to ensure that they were aware that the service would be available throughout the pandemic.

    ·         In 2019, performance of issuing EHCPs within 20 weeks improved and was better than statistical neighbours and the national average.  More applications had been received in 2020 and there were delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

     

    Michele Reilly, of the Parents’ Forum, provided the following information to the Sub-Committee:

    ·         The language used in EHCPs was often specialised, and excluded many parents from being able to understand their child’s diagnosis and interventions.  This made them less likely to engage with services such as Early Help.

    ·         It was unclear whether the potential impacts on engagement as a result of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter had been fully considered.

    ·         The majority of information relating to SEND was online, which excluded many families, particularly during lockdown.  In addition, the materials were not always accessible for people with disabilities or with English as an Additional Language.

     

    During discussion of this item the guillotine fell at 9.00 pm.

     

    RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.

     

    Officers provided the following information in response to questions from Members:

    ·         The High Needs Dedicated Schools Grant funding had increased from £47m to £51m, and figures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

2020/21 Children's Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 535 KB

    (All wards)

     

    Contact for enquiries: Maria Burton, Democratic Services, Legal and Governance; 020 7926 8703, mburton2@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Sub-Committee Members suggested the following areas for potential future scrutiny:

    ·         An additional meeting would be held in January 2021.

    ·         Pupil Place Planning, particularly given the expected reductions in primary roll numbers.

    ·         Impact on food poverty over lockdown for families receiving free school meals.

    ·         Youth and play, particularly as part of prevention.

    ·         Fostering and adoption placements and the new Carers’ handbook.

     

    RESOLVED:

    That the work programme be noted.