Report of Director of Education Services
Nick Lee, Director of Education Services, introduced the report providing an update on the Children and Young People’s Plan Priority: Supporting Achievement and Academic Attainment. He gave a presentation focused on the latest attainment data, elective home education and secondary school place planning. He highlighted the following information:
(a) At the Early Years Foundation Stage there has been a rise in attainment levels narrowing the gap to the national average. This indicates an improvement in school readiness.
(b) There has been a focus on phonics at Key Stage 1 in the City and Nottingham has moved up the league tables with children eligible for free school meals now outperforming their peers nationally.
(c) At Key Stage 2 there has been an improvement against the expected standard in reading; and reading, writing and maths. Attainment in maths is good but below the expected standard. There has also been an increase in progress scores at primary years.
(d) At secondary school level, school attendance is now better than the national rate and school attendance at primary school level is slightly below the national rate.
Elective home education
(e) Parents do not have to register their children as being electively home educated and this is a concern. The local authority has a responsibility to monitor, and requests them to work with the local authority on education but there is no legal requirement for them to do so. Local concerns about this are reflected nationally and there is a national lobby to try and change legislation.
(f) In Nottingham there are two home education co-ordinators, who are part of the Education Welfare Team. When they become aware of a child who has previously been at school but has been removed from the school roll, they request a meeting between the local authority, school and parent or carer to understand the reasons for this. If the local authority has concerns then the local authority will write a letter of concern, including notifying the appropriate professionals.
(g) Most home educators are doing it because it accords with their beliefs and/ or meets their particular needs of their child(ren), and work with the local authority on education issues. However if they don’t engage then a home visit is arranged.
(h) There is concern about the potential for schools to encourage families to remove their children from formal education. Schools and the Regional Schools Commissioner have been challenged about this.
(i) Perceived Special Education Needs (SEN) is a common reason why children are home educated and school place provision can also be a factor.
(j) Electively home educated children are not a static group and there is a lot of movement in and out of the cohort.
School place planning
(k) The local authority has a duty to provide sufficient school places, but has limited powers and resources to deliver this.
(l) There has been investment in creating primary school places but there is now pressure on secondary school places. A further 7-9 forms of entry are still required at secondary school level.
(m)The local authority is working with high performing and popular schools to expand and increase their capacity, and accept over-capacity.
(n) The Archway Trust has submitted a bid to Government for a new 8 form entry school through the Free School Process. The local authority is supporting this bid by trying to secure the proposed site. If the bid is not successful then the capital money will be used to expand other schools.
(o) Djanogly School is proposing to add an additional 2 forms on its Sherwood Rise site.
(p) The situation with secondary school places is challenging but incrementally being addressed.
During discussion the following comments and additional information was provided:
(q) There are active groups of electively home educated children that provide opportunities for social interaction and shared learning. However risks of isolation are a concern.
(r) It is a concern that there is no monitoring of standards of teaching and learning in home education.
(s) Those children who have never engaged with school can be identified by health visitors and Nottingham CityCare Partnership is keen to support this work. However data sharing issues can be a challenge.
(t) There have been occasions when there have been concerns about a home educated child and the local authority has taken action to gather evidence about the situation.
(u) It is important for the local authority to maintain a good relationship with the Elective Home Educators Network.
(v) Children can attend the meeting with the local authority, parent/ carer and school to discuss the decision to remove them from the school roll and become home educated.
(w)Children either need to attend school or be home educated, there is not a part-time option.
RESOLVED to note the attainment of children and young people