The Deputy Leader of the Council (Children and Young People), Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, introduced the report and noted Lambeth’s success in supplying primary and secondary places, providing an additional 27 forms of entry (Appendix C), four new secondary schools, 165 additional SEN places and 78 places at Vanguard Special School for 2020. The paper demonstrated a clear need to focus on the delivery of additional second school places and set out reasons for increased demand.
Councillor Jackie Meldrum addressed Cabinet and expressed her concern at the shortage of places in West Norwood and Streatham, but noted the Council’s £200m expenditure on schools over the last seven years to generate places and provide fantastic schools for the borough, especially after inheriting a local school system in a terrible state.
Cabinet Members raised the following points in discussion:
· 95% of Lambeth schools were now rated as good or outstanding and noted the improvement from being in special measures as opposed to Rotherham’s schools which were still under review.
· The report was exemplary in its use of information and data.
· The apparent lack of places in south Lambeth was concerning.
Cathy Twist, Director for Education & Learning; Maggie Harriott, Education Strategy Manager; and, Kamran Rashid, Interim Assistant Director for Schools and Community Programmes, responded to questions as below:
· Officers were concentrating on secondary provision and welcomed Harris School sixth form receiving planning permission.
· No complaints had been received from West Norwood nor Streatham in recent years and officers reassured Cabinet that residents had school places available, however the Norwood School was a small school and was why it had received a red-rating.
· The town centre categorisation formula used was clarified every year with the Department for Education (DfE). A pupil place planning process review by peer review from another local authority had taken place in 2015 (agenda pack, page 128) and reported the process as accurate and being ‘good’, utilising the right data sources and of sound methodology.
· Officers would review the language used in the agenda pack (page 138) to describe the number of available secondary school places.
· Officers would manage any decline, such as potentially occurring after Brexit, and could attempt to do so by reducing published admission numbers (PANs) in agreement with schools.
· The Basic Needs Grant cessation in 2019/20 would be met by increasing completion of school capacity (SCAP) returns, however there was flexibility and more places were not required.
· The most difficult aspect of prediction was the child yield, such as establishing the number of children from new estate builds; however, they remained largely accurate.
· Bishop Thomas Grant might not need a bulge class, but it would be helpful if the Southwark Diocese were to take part in any discussion; noting renovation was still required.
The Deputy Leader of the Council (Children and Young People), Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, concluded the discussion, emphasising the breadth of improvement from the borough’s historically poor school standards and the turnaround where Lambeth was a net importer of pupils to secondary schools and standards ... view the full minutes text for item 6