Agenda and draft minutes
Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 6th September, 2023 10.00 am
Venue: Council Chamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions
Contact: Rachel McKeon
Urgent Business - Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in Schools
To consider any items which the Chair has agreed to have submitted as urgent.
The Executive Member for Early Years, Children and Young People reported that there was one school in Manchester which was confirmed as being affected by the RAAC issue and that this was All Saints C of E Primary School, Newton Heath. He informed Members that the Council was supporting the school, Ward Councillors had also offered support and that the school had been allocated a caseworker from the Department for Education (DfE). He advised that this issue would not have a significant impact on teaching within the school as the RAAC was in the school hall and that other community facilities were being considered, in case these were needed.
The Executive Member for Early Years, Children and Young People outlined the national context of this issue, in particular a reduction in spending on rebuilding schools over the previous 13 years. He expressed concern about the lack of information provided to the Council by the DfE on which schools were affected and which schools had not completed surveys, advising that the Council could provide support to schools with this. He advised that he would keep Councillors updated as the situation developed, including communicating with Ward Councillors with an affected school in their ward.
The Director of Education outlined to the Committee who the responsible body was for different types of schools. She explained that the Council was the responsible body for community maintained and voluntary controlled schools and that the relevant Diocese was responsible for voluntary aided schools. For academies in a multi-academy trust (MAT), the MAT was the responsible body while single academies which were not in a MAT were their own responsible body. She advised that all responsible bodies had been required to complete a survey about suspected RAAC within their school buildings. She reported that the Council had completed surveys for the 71 schools which it was the responsible body for early in 2023. She advised that she was aware that the Dioceses had completed the surveys for schools they were responsible for but that the Council had not yet been informed whether surveys had been completed for all the academies in Manchester, despite being in a position to help any who needed assistance. She reported that the DfE was reviewing surveys which were received and, where there was suspected RAAC, a specialist surveyor was being sent to inspect the building. She advised that where there was a confirmed presence of RAAC within a school building, the DfE was advising the schools to close off that part of the school and was allocating a caseworker to the school. She reported that there was no indication that there was RAAC within any of the schools for which the Council was the responsible body.
The Chair advised that the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future Programme in 2010 had led to this problem.
Councillor Flanagan, Ward Councillor for Miles Platting and Newton Heath, expressed concern that there had been a failure of leadership from the Government on this ... view the full minutes text for item 34.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 19 July 2023.
To receive the minutes of the meetings of the Ofsted Subgroup held on 14 June 2023 and 26 July 2023.
1. To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 19 July 2023.
2. To receive the minutes of the meetings of the Ofsted Subgroup held on 14 June 2023 and 26 July 2023.
Report of the Strategic Director (Children and Education Services)
This report provides an overview of Manchester’s current school age population and the numbers forecast for future academic years. It also details work previously undertaken to create additional school places to ensure Manchester meets its sufficiency duty.
The report shows that demand for school places continues to increase and outlines the work that is planned to achieve sufficiency of places across the City in response to this continued growth.
The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services whichprovided an overview of Manchester’s current school age population and the numbers forecast for future academic years. It also detailed work previously undertaken to create additional school places to ensure Manchester met its sufficiency duty. The report showed that demand for school places continued to increase and outlined the work that was planned to achieve sufficiency of places across the city in response to this continued growth.
Key points and themes in the report included:
The Head of Access and Sufficiency advised that, since the report had been published, two further schools had been secured for the city through the Free Schools Programme, one at post-16 and one at the secondary phase.
Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:
The Head of Access and Sufficiency reported that it was planned to have a mixed offer for additional specialist places including further expansion of special schools and specialist units within mainstream schools, which enabled children to remain at the local school that they were originally allocated while accessing additional support and an adapted curriculum. She confirmed that children attending schools outside their local authority area were taken into account in her service’s planning and forecasting and that information was shared between Greater Manchester local authorities. She reported that previously a significant number of Manchester children had attended schools outside of the city’s boundaries, particularly at the secondary phase, but that more recently Manchester children were choosing to stay within the city for secondary school, which meant there were fewer places at Manchester schools available for children living outside of the city. In response to a Member’s question, she confirmed that, if a family moved house during the academic year, they could apply for a school place from their new address, although in some circumstances it might be better for the child to remain at their existing school. She advised that, if there were no vacancies at their preferred schools, the Admissions Team would work with the family to identify a suitable school which was closer to their new home.
In response to a Member’s questions about children who did not receive a place at one of their preferred schools, the Head of Access and Sufficiency reported that they would be allocated a place at the closest school with a vacancy and, depending on the distance, would be offered free travel. She reported that in some cases the Council had worked with particular schools on trying to transport children in groups so that they ... view the full minutes text for item 36.
Report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services
This report provides a summary of attendance data in Manchester for the academic year 2022/2023. It also reviews some of the activity that has taken place over the course of the last academic year and outlines the strategic approach for 2023/2024 for Committee Members.
The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services whichprovided a summary of attendance data in Manchester for the academic year 2022/2023. It also reviewed some of the activity that had taken place over the course of the last academic year and outlined the strategic approach for 2023/2024 for Committee Members.
Key points and themes in the report included:
A Member expressed concern that Wythenshawe had worse school attendance than other areas of the city and asked what the Council and local Councillors could do to address this. The Statutory Lead for Attendance and Exclusions reported that his team had worked with a number of schools in Wythenshawe through the Targeted Support Meetings pilot and this had resulted in improved attendance levels in those schools. He advised that he was confident that when Targeted Support Meetings were rolled out to other schools in Wythenshawe, this would result in further improvements. The Director of Education advised that Ward Councillors could help through their role, for example, asking why a child was not in school or routinely asking about children’s schooling when families approached them for help and she outlined some of the support families could access if they were struggling to get their child to school on time, through Early Help Hubs or the school. She reported that school attendance was looked at through the school quality assurance process and, where needed, schools could be invited to attend a Support and Challenge meeting to discuss this.
In response to Members’ questions about Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN), the Statutory Lead for Attendance and Exclusions reported that these were requested by the individual school so there was variation in their use across the city, with some schools using it as early intervention and some using it as a last resort, although there were plans to provide more challenge to schools on their processes before issuing an FPN. He informed the Committee that 75% of FPNs were issued due to families taking holidays in term-time, with most of the rest being due to persistent absence.
The Chair highlighted that the groups with the lowest attendance levels were White Travellers of Irish Heritage and White Gypsy/Roma and asked what work was taking place to address this. The Statutory Lead for Attendance and Exclusions reported that the Council produced a model attendance policy for schools which included an appendix with guidance in relation to these groups and that Targeted Support Meetings with schools could be used to formulate a strategy for improving the attendance of individual pupils.
The Chair advised that Ward Councillors in areas with the lowest attendance levels should be informed of this. She supported the development of a strategy to improve attendance levels for White Travellers of Irish Heritage and White Gypsy/Roma children.
1. To note the progress made on school attendance in 2022/2023.
2. To approve the strategic ... view the full minutes text for item 37.
Report of Strategic Director for Children and Education Services
This report provides an update on the implementation of Manchester’s Inclusion Strategy 2022-2025 and an overview of the key priorities and next steps.
The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services whichprovided an update on the implementation of Manchester’s Inclusion Strategy 2022-2025 and an overview of the key priorities and next steps.
Key points and themes in the report included:
The Director of Education offered to share a link to the Inclusion Strategy toolkit with Members of the Committee.
A Member welcomed the positive report and that so many schools in Manchester were becoming Rights Respecting Schools.
The Chair asked want was being done in relation to schools which had higher levels of exclusions than others. The Director of Education reported that exclusion and suspension data was monitored and, if a school was an outlier, they would be invited to a Support and Challenge meeting to understand the reasons for the higher number of exclusions and identify a way to work with the school to improve that.
To note the report.
Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit
The monthly report includes the recommendations monitor, relevant key decisions, the Committee’s work programme and any items for information.
A report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit was submitted. The overview report contained key decisions within the Committee’s remit, responses to previous recommendations and the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee was asked to approve.
The Chair encouraged more Members to join the Ofsted Subgroup. She informed Members about the forthcoming visit to Wetherby Young Offenders Institution and stated that the Committee would receive a report on Youth Justice at a future meeting. In response to a Member’s comments about an incident of anti-social behaviour by young people in the city centre and what was being done to prevent this from happening again, the Chair stated that she would discuss with the Chair of the Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee which Committee should consider this issue.
To note the report and agree the work programme, subject to the above comments.