Report of Deputy Chief Executive / Corporate Director of Resources
Simon Burton, Corporate Risk Specialist, and Alison Michalska Corporate Director for Children and Families, were in attendance.
Alison Michalska, presented a critical appraisal in response to the Committees request to consider Strategic Risk 12a, ‘Failure to provide the best educational outcome for children and opportunities for young people to access further education and skills training to contribute to the economic wellbeing of the City'. She made the following points:
(a) of the 7 secondary schools which Ofsted had recently inspected, all 7, consisting of maintained and independent schools, were considered inadequate. A major review of education in Nottingham will be carried out by a Challenge Group;
(b) it is important for the future and wellbeing of our young people that education is improved as they are the workforce of the future;
(c) this year, key stage 4 pupils achieved the best ever results within the city with 70-80% of pupils at 4 city schools achieving GCSE qualifications. When considering the cohorts of children in city schools, it is unlikely that some schools will achieve this level;
(d) it is important that children improve and progress and not just achieve a certain standard, including pupils with the most complex needs such as those with learning disabilities;
(e) Ofsted commented that Nottingham city school children are not achieving at the same level as pupils attending schools in other Core Cities and that the quality of some teaching is a weakness;
(f) attracting quality teachers to city schools and also retaining them must be achieved. Incentives could be considered, including the level and quality of support and what the city as a whole can offer. For newly qualified teachers, one of the main issues is the level and quality of support, including mentoring, offered to them in their first year, but also beyond. This is something which the Challenge Group is considering;
(g) attendance and behaviour are important issues across the whole city with attendance sometimes linked to low level behavioural issues. Colleagues are now exploring whether such behaviour is influenced by a particular culture. This will include investigating how low level disruption at school may be linked to crime, and disrespectful and aggressive behaviour. The influence of parents will also be considered as well as how to address the issues and how to motivate a fundamental shift of attitude in some families;
(h) truancy is not often the main reason for pupil absences, rather it is some parents allowing their children to stay home from school as they do not consider their children's school attendance to be of much value. It is important to appropriately challenge this attitude and support parents to get their children to school;
(i) healthy diets for children and families are to be encouraged within the 'Small Steps, Big Changes' programme, but not all pupils in the failing schools have a restricted diet and this presumption must not be made;
(j) the 'Challenge Board', set up following the Ofsted inspection, is driving improvement in not just the 7 inspected schools in the city , but all city schools which are in special measures;
(k) the Challenge Board has, according to its remit, expressed its commitment to improve education for all city children, regardless of which school they attend to Ofsted and Department for Education (DfE);
(l) Nottingham city schools need to employ the best quality Head Teachers that can be afforded and ensure that between the Head Teachers and the Governors, there is a strong governance structure in place;
(m) the value of governors is recognised so to help build and develop the role, improved governor training is required to ensure that all governors are aware of what to look for and are able to ask relevant questions to identify emerging or potential issues;
(n) since the inspection of the academies, two have made excellent progress but one is making very slow progress so the DfE is considering taking action;
(o) the Challenge Board has commented that becoming an academy is not the solution to being placed in special measures;
(p) Academies do not have to employ qualified teachers but Ofsted is trying hard to change this and it is hoped that academies will embrace what is found to be best practice;
(q) it is a concern that nationally, 67% of current Head Teachers are aged 50 years or over - this could potentially result in a void;
(r) Ofsted does not want to re-inspect the seven schools until they are ready to be judged as 'good'. The ambition is that all schools will achieve 'good' or better within the next 2 years. Work continues with the Challenge Board and Ofsted to ensure that this is achieved.
Members of the Committee made the following points:
(s) social and economic factors play a large part in pupil's attainment, as does the social and cultural attitude of parents in choosing or rejecting certain schools for their children;
(t) the quality of teaching and leadership are the two of the most important elements for schools. If quality teachers cannot be attracted to the city, then the reasons for this need to be examined. The Work Place Parking Levy may contribute to deterring new teachers;
(u) progress is being made to readdress some of the cultural attitudes towards education in the city, including behaviour and attendance, but in doing this, it is vital that schools and parents support each other.
It was noted that Strategic Risk, SR29, the 'Public Health Risk', 'failure to establish an effective Public Health function with adverse impact on the citizen wellbeing and a failure to deliver the authority’s statutory responsibilities', which the Committee resolved to consider at this meeting, is deferred to the next Risk Register 2013/14 update.
(1) to note the Committee's review of SR12a - Failure to provide the best educational outcome for children and opportunities for young people to access further education and skills training to contribute to the economic wellbeing of the City;
(2) to note the progress made on reducing the seriousness of the Council’s strategic risks as reflected by their threat levels and Direction of Travel (DoT) for Q3 2013/14;
(3) to note the results of the review of the Strategic Risk Register by the Corporate Leadership Team;
(4) to consider SR29, 'failure to establish an effective Public Health function with adverse impact on the citizen wellbeing and a failure to deliver the authority’s statutory responsibilities' as part of the SRR Q4 2013/14 Update at the next meeting.