Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Bath. View directions
Contact: Mark Durnford 01225 394458
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.
EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE
The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.
The Chair drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Councillor Peter Turner had sent his apologies to the Panel, Councillor Paul May was present for the duration of the meeting as his substitute.
Two Co-opted Members of the Panel, Andrew Tarrant and David Williams had sent their apologies to the Panel.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:
(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.
(b) The nature of their interest.
(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest, (as defined in Part 2, A and B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)
Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officer or a member of his staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.
Councillor Dine Romero declared an other interest as she has two children that attend Beechen Cliff School.
Councillor Matt Cochrane declared an other interest as he is a Governor at Bathwick St Mary Primary School.
TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN
There was none.
ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE BUSINESS OF THIS MEETING
At the time of publication no notifications had been received.
Sue Pendle had registered to make a statement regarding Children’s Centre Services and would do so under Agenda Item 10.
Councillor Eleanor Jackson had registered to make a statement regarding Children’s Centre Services and would do so under Agenda Item 10.
Councillor Tim Ball had registered to make two statements, one regarding Bath Community Academy and one regarding Children’s Centre Services and would do so under Agenda Items 9 & 10 respectively.
Councillor Paul May proposed that the announcement by former Chair of the Panel, Councillor Lisa Brett regarding her resignation should be recorded as a separate minute.
The Panel agreed with this proposal.
The Panel confirmed the minutes of the previous meeting with this amendment as a true record and they were duly signed by the Chair.
Cabinet Member Update
The Cabinet Member will update the Panel on any relevant issues. Panel members may ask questions on the update provided.
The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Michael Evans addressed the Panel, a summary is set out below.
Primary School Expansion
He informed the Panel that the expansion of Bathwick St Mary's Primary School is to be put on hold.
Secondary School Admissions
He said that 90.3% of children who applied were offered places at their first-choice school. He added that whilst this was above the regional and national average, it was down from last year's figure of 94.5%.
He stated that overall the achievement of pupils was good and at least in line with or above the national average.
He said that progress however in primary schools was below the national average.
He added that action was needed to challenge schools about the effective use of pupil premium funding to raise the attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils and those with SEN to at least in line with the national average.
He said that the Council were expecting to be inspected very soon.
Councillor Liz Hardman asked what he knew about plans for a Grammar School with B&NES.
Councillor Michael Evans replied that he did not know a great deal about this at the present time.
Councillor Dine Romero said that Bathwick St Mary’s Primary School had previously expressed concerns about expansion and asked how this might be resolved.
Councillor Michael Evans replied that the concerns relate to the nature of the building and whether it would be an extension or a separate facility.
The Strategic Director for People & Communities added that through the development of the former MoD site at Warminster Road the developer has allocated some land as part of a Section 106 Agreement. He said that the Council will continue to work with the governing body of the school on this matter.
Councillor Dine Romero asked what he saw as his responsibility with regard to the closure of Bath Community Academy.
Councillor Michael Evans replied that his role was to make sure that there are places within local schools so that pupils affected by the closure can attend. He added that there had been good co-operation from all schools so far.
The Chair thanked him for his update on behalf of the Panel.
This report will update the Panel on the steps being taken following the DfE announcement on 19th January 2017 that Bath Community Academy (BCA) is to close in summer 2018.
Councillor Tim Ball addressed the Panel. He said that the local community had accepted that Bath Community Academy (BCA) will close, but that they were angry at the allocation of places for pupils to other schools and that they believe that some pupils have been cherry picked by other Schools / Academies.
He informed them that he was helping at least six families with future Year 7 pupils to appeal against their allocation of St. Mark’s having been refused places at Ralph Allen.
He stated that he wished to commend the role that the Head Teacher of BCA had played in this process, but that he was concerned by the actions of other local Head Teachers.
He urged for a prompt decision to be made regarding the future provision on the site.
The Chair asked if he was aware that some Year 9 pupils were being told that courses they wish to enrol for at their new school were full.
Councillor Ball replied that he had been told this and he asks the Cabinet Member to address the issue.
The Chair asked if he knew that no offer of Home to School Transport would be given for pupils unless they chose St. Mark’s as their new school.
Councillor Ball replied that he had heard that that may be the case and if so it would mean that pupils travelling across the City may have to embark on at least two bus journeys. He added that this concerned him as the safety of pupils is paramount.
The Strategic Director for People & Communities said that specific evidence would be required for any action to be taken regarding the allegation of the cherry picking of pupils. He added that course options can be limited for pupils outside of this particular scenario.
He said that pupils would be able to access Home To School Transport in line with the Council’s published criteria and that would generally mean that those attending schools closer to BCA than St Marks would be unlikely to qualify on distance grounds, but might under SEN, FSM, etc. He said that pupils who live within 1 – 1.5 miles of their allocated school could not expect to be provided with transport. He added communication regarding a decision on the site would be key and that there was a pressing local need for more Special School places.
The Chair asked how long the offer of Home to School Transport for pupils transferring to St. Mark’s would last.
The Strategic Director for People & Communities replied that it would last for the duration of need for those pupils with SEN, those eligible for Free School Meals and those living above the distance from school threshold, as well as to the pupils starting year 7 or 10 in September 2016 who had opted to transfer to St Marks.
Councillor Liz Hardman asked if an existing Special School could move to the BCA site when it becomes vacant if it chose to operate as a Free ... view the full minutes text for item 81.
This paper updates the Panel on the Children’s Centre Options Appraisal which has been undertaken to explore and test out different commissioning options and help determine the best way to commission the overall service in the future.
Sue Pendle, Chair of Trustees, First Steps Nursery addressed the Panel. She spoke of the good work that had been carried out over the past 25 years by First Steps and that it truly is a community organisation.
She said that as a local charity it was able to attract additional resources and that this could be at risk if they were not involved in the work of Children’s Centre Services. She also highlighted the fact that Centres run by the Local Authority were overspending by £300,000 a year.
She stated that First Steps were looking for an opportunity to tender to remain part of the Children’s Centre Service and that options 3 – 6 would exclude them.
Councillor Liz Hardman asked if First Steps had considered joining a consortium.
Sue Pendle replied that they had not ruled this option out and had looked into possible partnership arrangements. She said the matter was quite complicated as they would want to maintain their identity.
Council Alison Millar asked if First Steps had a preference between Options 1 and 2.
Sue Pendle replied that they had not stated a preference as Option 1 would mean the status quo and that if Option 2 were chosen they would bid for the Bath element.
Councillor Eleanor Jackson addressed the Panel. She recalled talking at a funeral to some friends of a former Ketamine user and asking them what provision they would like to have.
She said that they responded by saying that they wanted a constructive place to go to with activities they could take part in and services based on education.
She said that she was concerned about the provision of services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and asked for services to remain and be supported in the Somer Valley.
She spoke in particular about The Potting Shed in Radstock as it appears that Sirona do not want to be involved anymore and Virgin Care will not talk to the project leaders. She explained that The Potting Shed was a gardening group for young people with Downs Syndrome and learning difficulties.
Councillor Paul May said that as a Board Member of Sirona he was aware of the scheme and its benefits. He added that he thought that through the work of the Your Care Your Way project that no changes would be made within the first 100 days of Virgin Care becoming the prime provider which would begin on April 1st 2017.
The Chair suggested that this matter could be picked up in the scheduled Youth Services report in May.
Councillor Liz Hardman said that she felt there was a danger if the Council did not continue with open access youth work.
Councillor Eleanor Jackson agreed with her comment.
Councillor Tim Ball addressed the Panel. He said that he had knowledge of the very successful work that First Steps does within his ward of Twerton and credited them being the launch model of Sure Start Centres around the ... view the full minutes text for item 82.
This report provides an update and summary analysis of the overall performance of key groups of pupils in 2016 across all key stages in Bath and North East Somerset.
The Senior School Improvement & Achievement Adviser introduced this report to the Panel. He explained that the outcomes for vulnerable pupils, particularly those who are eligible for Free School Meals and those with Special Educational Needs is well below both other pupils and similar pupils nationally for both attainment and progress at all key stages.
He added that action was needed to challenge schools about the effective use of pupil premium funding to raise the attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils and those with SEN to at least in line with national.
He said that overall progress from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 for all pupils was below national for writing and mathematics. Boys’ progress in writing and girls’ progress in mathematics was low.
He stated that outcomes for pupils with Special Educational Needs in mainstream schools in Bath & North East Somerset are also low, and progress is generally lower than similar pupils nationally. Whilst pupils with EHCP plans in special schools are making better progress than similar pupils nationally, progress in mainstream secondary schools and in primary schools is low.
Councillor Matt Cochrane asked what the relationship was like between the Council and Academies with regard to the attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils and those with SEN.
The Senior School Improvement & Achievement Adviser replied that the Council had a good relationship with most Academies and was offering them Pupil Premium reviews.
The Strategic Director for People & Communities added that the Council’s role should be seen as a facilitator.
Councillor Liz Hardman asked if any Academies had purchased School Improvement services from the Council.
The Senior School Improvement & Achievement Adviser replied that some have and that the team has capacity to carry out Safeguarding Audits, Pupil Premium Reviews etc.
Councillor Sally Davis commented that it was important to have good staff retention levels in terms of School Improvement.
Councillor Alison Millar asked when a School or Academy would be asked to take part in a Pupil Premium Review.
The Senior School Improvement & Achievement Adviser replied that it may come as a recommendation following an Ofsted inspection or the Council may ask them to on reviewing results data.
Chris Batten asked what impact the exam changes in KS4 will have on pupils with SEN.
The Senior School Improvement & Achievement Adviser replied that it was too early to say but that it would be addressed at the meeting with Head Teachers due to take place tomorrow.
The Chair stated her concern that the gap between pupils on Free School Meals and those with Special Educational Needs and other pupils is not closing. She questioned if the matter should be discussed with the Regional Schools Commissioner.
The Strategic Director for People & Communities replied that the Regional Schools Commissioner was specifically responsible for the performance of Academies and that the Council has a responsibility relating to School performance across the whole system.
The Chair asked if any outcomes following alternative provision were available.
The Senior School Improvement & Achievement Adviser replied that it ... view the full minutes text for item 83.
This report gives the Panel an update on Un-Accompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) and Syrian Refugee Families.
The Divisional Director for Safeguarding & Social Care introduced this report. He explained that since the publication of the report some very positive talks had taken place with Curo to identify some housing options.
The Chair asked what communication this Council has had with the Government following the closure of the Dubs scheme.
The Divisional Director for Safeguarding & Social Care replied that no direct discussions had taken place with the Government on this matter and that the South West Councils arrange the dispersal of the children.
Councillor Liz Hardman asked if the Council had enough trained foster carers to accept additional unaccompanied children.
The Divisional Director for Safeguarding & Social Care replied that no issues had been encountered so far and that it does have enough trained foster carers.
The Panel RESOLVED to recommend;
i) That we continue in discussions with Home Office re: receiving further refugees through Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (SVPR), Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) etc.
ii) That we continue to attempt to secure affordable housing and negotiate that a third party (Home Turf Lettings or similar) manage the property on our behalf and that their management fee is taken from the year 1 per capita allowance. Years 2-5 to be decided / negotiated. To this end it is recommended that we pay void fees where necessary to secure properties prior to occupation and make a claim to the Home Office to cover the void costs at the end of year 1 (this would not be possible if we hold an underspend).
iii) That we continue to pursue options with the Home Office re: increasing our funding to cover the LHA gap.
iv) That we continue our discussions re Community Sponsorship with any interested parties.
People and Communities Strategic Director's Briefing
The Panel will receive a verbal update on this item from the People and Communities Strategic Director.
The Strategic Director for People & Communities addressed the Panel. He said that he had nothing further to brief the Panel on outside the items that had been discussed on the agenda, except to say that officers were preparing for what they believe to be an imminent Ofsted inspection.
This report presents the latest workplan for the Panel. Any suggestions for further items or amendments to the current programme will be logged and scheduled in consultation with the Panel’s Chair and supporting officers.
The Chair introduced this item to the Panel. She suggested that the Panel received a further update on Bath Community Academy in May.
Councillor Liz Hardman proposed that at the May meeting the Panel is updated on the work of establishing a Teckal Company. She said that she would also like them to receive a report to a future meeting regarding School Improvement.
The Panel agreed with these proposals.