Venue: Conference Room 1 - Fred Perry House. View directions
Welcome & Introductions
Stephen Nyakatawa, the Council’s new Director for Education, introduced himself to the Board and explained that the Chair had invited him to chair the meeting in her absence.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Chris McLoughlin, Cllr Colin Foster, Geraldine Gerrard, Richard Mortimer, Anita Rolfe, Dr Donna Sager, Claire Woodford.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 11 July 2019 (copies of which had been circulated) were approved as a correct record, subject to the inclusion of Will Blandamer in the attendance for the meeting.
Declarations of interest
Members were invited to declare any interests they had in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.
No interests were declared.
Attendance and Inclusion
Heidi Shaw attended the meeting and made a presentation on exclusions, attendance and inclusion at Stockport schools. The presentation was based on data from an audit of files relating to exclusions.
The presentation highlighted the following issues:-
· In 2018 there were 53 exclusions overall, 49 of which were from the secondary sector and most of the excluded children were male.
· Rates of exclusion in Stockport were high. By comparison, schools in Leeds City Council area excluded only 7 pupils in 2018.
· The largest single reason for exclusion was due to persistent disruptive behaviour (55%)
· Of all the excluded children, only 23% had no vulnerability factor. There was a significant overlap of factors in the other cases. There was often a high level of agency involvement in excluded pupils’ lives prior to exclusion.
· 12 of the 53 exclusions had prior attendance highlighted as an issue.
· The number of excluded pupils receiving SEND Support was in excess of comparative authority areas.
· The audit had included levels of support provided by school and one particular trend identified was the use of internal isolation and concerns had been raised about whether this conflicted with the SEND Support Plans of the children involved.
· One factor that the data suggested was a number of missed opportunities to address pupil’s emotional health or wider factors leading to poor behaviour. Professionals involved often identify domestic violence or divorce as possible factors. There appeared to be too great a focus on behaviour and insufficient focus on underlying causes.
· Further work was planned to explore how school, SEND and social care support could be coordinated better.
Members of the Board discussed the issues highlighted by the presentation, including the following:-
· In Stockport it was relatively easy to exclude because children stayed within the system but with little support to address underlying behaviours or difficulties, nor was there much provision to prevent exclusions.
· There appeared to be capacity challenges for specialist provision and little SEND support available centrally.
· Concerns were expressed about the use of shortened timetables and the difficulties this caused when seeking to re-engage pupils with school.
· There was scope to improve transition between primary and secondary settings to better flag potential additional needs of pupils.
· The ‘managed move’ process in Stockport had generally been positive with Head teachers working well together.
· The roll out of Operation Encompass across primary schools should assist in identifying those children at greater risk of harm but also at risk of future exclusion given the correlation between domestic violence and future behavioural problems.
· The Council had received a grant from the Home Office to pilot therapeutic support for young people, and this may be a way to address some of the underlying factors for children at risk of/ having been excluded.
· The majority of the placements made by the Local Authority in independent providers were due to emotional and behavioural issues. It may be that there steps that could be taken up-stream to reduce the need for such placements.
· Communication with parents was often a challenge due to the time and resources involved, but this could have a significant impact on outcomes.
· The complexity of the situation for many pupils at risk of or having been excluded could not be overestimated, and in some cases this was made more complex by the complex need of parents.
· Given the profound consequences for a child of exclusion, and that most schools were not doing so very often, it was important to ensure there was consistency in the application of procedures and the approaches taken. It was acknowledged that each school was unique and had differing contexts, and so differing thresholds, but there was scope to share best practice, and examples of paperwork.
· The subsequent impact on the excluded pupils was questioned. It was stated that some of this was captured in the files that had been audited, particularly where they had been involved with social ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Jennie Neill, Stockport Council, submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) updating the Board on progress with implementing the SEND Improvement Programme and the Written Statement of Action (WSoA) following the last report to the Board in July 2019.
The report summarised a number of actions against the WSoA priorities, including:-
· the coproduced development of SEND outcomes at a workshop event involving young people and other stakeholders;
· embedding social workers within the SEND team to ensure social care involvement in all Education, Health and Care Plans;
· the appointment of a ‘Strategic Participation Leader’ to lead on the co-produced improvement agenda. The job role had itself been the result of a co-production process;
· improving communication with parents and young people, including improvements to the Local Offer and regular newsletters;
· the appointment of a Director for Education with a particular focus on SEND with further staffing changes planned to ensure appropriate focus and challenge.
Further details of ongoing risks, and their mitigation, was also included in the report. This had been reduced from 11 to 4.
RESOLVED – That the report be noted.
Jennie Neill submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) detailing the Council’s proposals, as part of its Medium Term Financial Plan, to further exploit opportunities for integration of children’s and education services, as well as reduce duplication and implement best practice. The document was currently subject to consultation with stakeholders.
Comment was made that if the approach being adopted was an all-age outcome focus, it was essential that partners were also aligned with this, and that within the Council there were decisions needed on place based, asset based, outcomes focussed working.
RESOLVED (1) – That the report be noted.
(2) That the Children and Education Review Group be recommended to give consideration to the comments made by the Board.
Nuala O’Rourke submitted the draft Stockport Family Partnership Board Plan 2019-22 (copies of which had been circulated) for consideration and comment by the Board. The Plan drew together a range of priorities and objectives from other relevant plans, most notably the Greater Manchester Children’s Plan.
The following comments were made/ issues raised:-
· There needed to be more emphasis on the health of vulnerable babies in addition to the infant mortality indicators.
· Greater emphasis was needed specifically on the mental health of young people as there was a danger of overemphasis on physical health.
· It was important to ensure there was widespread ‘ownership’ of the priorities in the plan through appropriate engagement.
· In the spirit of co-production that partners were now engaging with, it was important to involve children and young people with this process, and provide a version that was child friendly.
RESOLVED – That the report be noted and further consideration be given to how to engage with children, young people and partners in the development and approval of the plan.
Maura Appleby gave a presentation to the Board (copies of which had been circulated) on the work of the Safe Sleep Task Group, convened in response to the death of two children and the subsequent serious case reviews, which sought to raise awareness amongst parents and professions about the importance of safe sleep practices.
The presentation set out the background to the Group, and its composition, as well as current practice with regard to safe sleep and some of the key risk and vulnerability factors that were likely to increase risk of death. The presentation also covered the training provided to staff on recognising the vulnerabilities and how to have honest and frank conversations with parents.
It was commented the Child Death Overview Panel process was key to informing the development of the Safe Sleep Action Plan.
Seeking feedback from parents, and mothers in particular, was suggested to better understand the reasons for current sleep behaviour and likely influences for changing behaviour.
RESOLVED – That the presentation be noted.