Agenda and draft minutes

Education and Local Economy Scrutiny Commission - Tuesday 8 March 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Ground Floor Meeting Room G02A - 160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH. View directions

Contact: Amit Alva  Email: Amit.Alva@southwark.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

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    To receive any apologies for absence.

    Minutes:

    Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Nick Johnson, Martin Brecknell (Co-opted member) and Mannah Kargbo (Co-opted member).

2.

Notification of any items of business which the chair deems urgent

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    In special circumstances, an item of business may be added to an agenda within five clear working days of the meeting.

    Minutes:

    There were no items of business which the Chair deemed urgent.

3.

Disclosure of interests and dispensations.

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    Members to declare any interests and dispensations in respect of any item of business to be considered at this meeting.

    Minutes:

    There were no disclosure of interests and dispensations.

4.

Minutes

5.

Cabinet Member Interview - Councillor Jasmine Ali Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education

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    Interview with Councillor Jasmine Ali Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member to get an overview on Children, Young People and Education.

     

    Minutes:

    The commission first heard from Councillor Jasmine Ali, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member to get an overview on children, young people and education. Councillor Ali informed the commission on the successes of the Council in education, especially Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) where in the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) carried out a pilot inspection within the borough and received excellent feedback on Southwark Independent Advice and Support (SIAS) team for their support to children, young adults and their families. Good progress has also been made on mapping and monitoring activity on inclusion and curriculum in the borough with 95% good and outstanding schools in the borough, this has been led by Reema Reid, Head teacher at Hollydale Primary School.

    In relation to education and its finance, Southwark is at the forefront of recouping the deficit of £21m in Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) by engaging in talks with Department for Education (DFE), Councillor Ali informed the commission that she had written a letter to the Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi MP on bridging the financial gap, this was supported and signed by other London boroughs. The School Inclusion Charter should be signed by head teachers in June 2022, subject to final amendments and signatures from other partner agencies in the safeguarding board. Councillor Ali reiterated from her address at the previous commission meeting that exclusion numbers have been reduced to very low levels in Southwark as a result of the hard work by the council teams and councillors, in addition DfE are investing another £3m in setting up a task force around reducing exclusions, consisting of professionals and social workers.

    With regards to mental health there is a £2m investment in building resilience in schools around mental health, in addition to services provided by Southwark Council for promoting better mental health amongst young people such as The Nest, other campaigns like ‘Fund the Hub’ are also being funded by health colleagues to help young people. On matters relating to youth violence such as shootings and stabbings, CQC has fed back that youth funding teams have been performing over and above expectations to bring young people through the justice system.

    The commission also heard on Social Care with regards to Child Protection Services, there are 313 children on child protection plans, 462 children in care and 565 young people leaving care. During the pandemic, the child protection registry grew by 30% which is an increase of 100 more children, however none of these 100 children came into care which was a result of strategies in place to keep families strong and together. Corporate parenting committees have ensured that all young people get guaranteed job deployment opportunities and their testimonies are being heard. Youth New Deal has also enjoyed many successes due to successful cross country partnership working as discussed at the last commission meeting.

     

    Councillor Ali then responded to the following questions emailed to her from the commission prior to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Town Centre Action Plan - Revitalising Southwark's Town Centres & High Streets

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    To receive a report from Patrick Doherty, Principal Strategy Officer and Councillor Jason Ochere Cabinet member for Jobs, Business and Town Centres on the Town Centre Action Plan - Revitalising Southwark’s Town Centres & High Streets.

    Supporting documents:

    Minutes:

    The commission then received a report from Councillor Jason Ochere Cabinet member for Jobs Business and Town Centres on the Town Centre Action Plan. There are three main pillars in revitalising the high streets and town centres the first being investment in the high streets which is related to the question asked by the commission on the High Street Recovery Fund. The regeneration projects that happen across the borough of greatly contribute to towns and high streets, however there is also a need to continue with the high street recovery fund which in previous years has been known as High Street Challenge Initiatives which has dedicated money to various projects run by community groups and businesses or individuals and it’s also a way of attracting people to our high streets and helping to increase activity.

    The commission heard that great progress has been made with regards to investment of about £300,000 in high street businesses, individuals and community groups. Councillor Ochere explained further that within his own ward of Camberwell, SE5 area forum have been supporting businesses by employing a dedicated business marketing officer. Local business meetings involving diverse range of businesses from Easy Gym to Caravaggio have been held to find out some of their key concerns and talk about improvements they would like to see. As a result a number of business have been signposted to finding business support programs in conjunction with GLA, this has helped businesses improve their online presence, develop their legal acumen around contracts and provide them with accounting support.

    On sustainable transport businesses investment, Pedal My Wheels has been supported with their cargo bike pilot by investment through the high street recovery fund, they have procured fitted and branded bikes for local freight and also developed their app to facilitate track and monitor cargo trips. In the north of the borough in areas like Peckham business facilitating discussions have been held and money has been given to Tree Shepherd who have had organised market events for  black people and women owned small businesses. Also in the north money from hardship recovery fund has been given to Better Backside Business Improvement District for their Inns and Yards project in an effort to reinvigorate public spaces.

    In relation to the second pillar of revitalising high streets is around night time economy plan which is in process of being issued to the GLA providing a clear blueprint of objectives to be achieved. One of the key themes emerging from the night time economy plan are economic and social benefits that can be achieved through planning and regeneration activities, contribution of arts and cultural organisations by reinvigorating talent centres and keeping them open beyond 6 pm, also looking at using galleries and libraries to attract people at night time. Another key theme would be looking at Southwark Chamber of Commerce and business improvement districts and understanding how to better help small and medium enterprises in the area to get them thinking more innovatively to attract people at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Final recommendations on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

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    The draft recommendations on SEND will be finalised by the Chair with input from commission members, supported by the Scrutiny Officer.

    Supporting documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair then read out feedback from National Health Service (NHS) colleagues on SEND recommendations, health colleagues were unable to attend this meeting due to not working evenings. NHS Colleagues sought some clarity was on the latter part of the draft recommendation no.3, concerns around early diagnosis in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

    The Chair briefed the commission on the conversation with Bridget Nicola from NHS Clinical Commissioning Group prior to the meeting as it was important to get views from NHS colleagues and not just Council colleagues. The commission’s recommendation on shortening response times for Autism and ADHD; The Health colleagues fed back that it was a positive and ambitious recommendation, however Autism had the lowest waiting times in Southwark when compared nationally and although in the context of ADHD the wait was longer but it was still one of the best waiting times when compared nationally. Health colleagues also explained that going forward there is a Central Government mandate on an integrated care system that covers how local authorities and NHS work together around the SEND vision and that there is potential cause for NHS and Councils working more closely together, but the challenges are a mix of practicality between different processes and differences in work culture.

    The Chair explained to the commission that there are inherent structural and cultural differences in the way parts of the NHS and Council operate such as evening working and the inability of the Health colleagues to attend this commission meeting.

    The Vice Chair then informed the commission on feedback from the parent of a child with SEND, Shenice, who was invited but was unable to attend the commission’s previous meeting; Firstly, teachers in schools should quickly identify children with SEND and secondly, any exclusions of the child with SEND before after or during the Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) process should be wiped from the child’s records.

    The commission considered Shenice’s feedback on wiping out exclusions from a child’s record once it has been established that it is a child with SEND needs and is going through or will go through or has gone through the EHCP process. However the Chair explained to the commission that it is not known whether such a recommendation would lie within the remit of the council for it to be actioned.

    The commission noted from the statement (distributed to members at the meeting) of personal experiences with SEND provision from Shenice that SEND provision was inefficient and patchy in mainstream schools which fed into the commission’s recommendation no.2. The commission agreed to incorporate Shenice’s feedback in this recommendation below. To be amended by the Scrutiny Officer post meeting.

    2. The Commission recommends that the Council explore routes to supporting mainstream schools in improving the quality of training plans for their SEND provision, including Continuous Professional Development for staff. The Commission identified varying levels of confidence and competence in schools across Southwark which will likely affect the ability of schools to identify and provide the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Finalisation of any scrutiny reviews and recommendations if not concluded earlier

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    The draft recommendations will be finalised by the Chair with input from commission members on the following topics.

     

    ·  Growing ethnic minority pay gap

     

    ·  Procurement

    Supporting documents:

    Minutes:

    The commission agreed to the recommendation 7 on the growing ethnic minority pay gap.

    The commission agreed with the feedback on email from Martin Brecknell (Co-opted member) suggesting that there should be more emphasis on the requirement of subcontractors and suppliers to employ apprentices, however it was agreed that this was already reflected in recommendation 9 ii., below.

    9. The Commission recommends that Paragraph 55 of the Fairer Futures Procurement Framework is updated to reflect that:

    i. A blanket target of 1 apprentice per £1 million in contract value will in many cases not be sufficiently ambitious

    ii. Provide specific, more ambitious targets in areas where more apprenticeships can be supported per unit of contract value

    The commission also discussed a new draft recommendation on higher social value percentages in the council’s strategic goals driving the green agenda like building council houses that are more environment friendly, hence increasing competition amongst developers. The commission also noted that an earlier recommendation to Cabinet from the previous Council year 2020-2021 has already been made on clarifying where the current percentage of 15% social value is applied.

    The Chair suggested the following draft recommendation 10, to the commission on Social value:

    10. The commission recommends that the council revisit the percentages allocated, to social value and consider raising them in the face of an existential threat of the pandemic to many local businesses and the declared climate emergency.

    The Chair also suggested a draft recommendation 11, below on Southwark Pioneer’s Fund from earlier discussion under item 6, on the town centre action plan with Councillor Jason Ochere, however it was agreed to wait for Councillor Ochere’s response on diversity of support providers for the start-up and growth programmes before finalising recommendation 11 below.

    11. The Commission recommends that the Council develops a framework of business support providers to best serve the diversity of need amongst Southwark’s entrepreneurs and social businesses. A single provider is likely to struggle to effectively serve entrepreneurs at different stages, from very diverse backgrounds and in very different sectors.

     

     

9.

WORK PROGRAMME 2021-22

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    To note the work programme for 2021-2022.

    Supporting documents:

    Minutes:

    The commission noted the work programme for 2021-22.

     

    The Chair thanked the commission for its excellent extensive work over the past years on exclusions where Southwark has taken the national lead and also highlighted the commission’s work into looking more creatively at community welfare through an ambitious procurement approach. The Chair also informed the commission that this would be his final chairing of the commission and also sincerely hoped that this work is carried forward by the next commission. The Chair also thanked all leaving councillors for their excellent contributions and also thanked the Scrutiny team.

     

    The meeting ended at 9:13pm