Agenda and minutes

Education and Local Economy Scrutiny Commission - Wednesday 19 April 2023 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Amit Alva  Email:

No. Item



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    To receive any apologies for absence.


    Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Cassandra Brown and Councillor Renata Hamvas.


    Apologies for lateness was received from Councillor Joseph Vambe.


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.


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


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.


    There were no disclosures of interests and dispensations.




Mitigating Falling School Rolls - Keeping Education Strong Strategy

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    To hear from Councillor Jasmine Ali, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, Nina Dohel, Director of Education, Children and Adult Services on Keeping Education Strong Strategy and also independent consultant Helen Jenner to discuss the review of falling school rolls and outcomes.


    Supporting documents:


    The commission first received a presentation (Appendix 1. Minutes) from Nina Dohel, Director of Education on Keeping Education Strong strategy


    • Southwark Context pupil places 2021-2022; 74 primary schools, 97% Good or outstanding schools according to Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), currently 924 surplus places at reception age which would be monitored until September 2023 when children start school, 5,850 surplus places from reception to year six which is 22% surface capacity, ideal target is to keep 5-10% surplus capacity in the system i.e. 27 students out of a class of 30 students.
    • Southwark Planning Areas; PA1 –Borough, Bankside & Walworth, PA2 -Bermondsey & Rotherhithe, PA3 – Peckham & Nunhead, PA4 - Camberwell, PA5 - Dulwich
    • Borough-wide actions taken and impact; Surplus Capacity 2018/19:19 % Reception 14% school places, changes implemented since 2019 have resulted in reduction of 570 reception places with the impact carrying through to 2028 resulting in reduction of 1395 Primary School Places, 2022-23 surplus capacity: 22% reception 22% School Places
    • Borough wide actions taken, such as reduction of Pupil Admission Numbers (PAN) have been outstripped by the high rate of falling pupil numbers.
    • Planning Area Meetings with Headteachers from autumn 2021; scale of difficulty and specific area challenges, Pupil trends, Falling birth rates, reduced PAN and point of closures, St John’s Walworth
    • Head Teachers Schools Strategic Board (HTSSB) developed criteria for making recommendations about action, 49 schools for further evaluation, Criteria templates: Pupil Roll Trends and Projections, Quality of Provision, Budget Health, Quality of Building and Estate, Local Issues
    • Recommendations with help of independent consultants for schools, PAN reductions and amalgamations
    • Free School Meals (FSM) and Special Educational Needs (SEN) graphs for  schools; FSM is provided from Nursey to year six for eligible children


    The commission then asked questions on the following points


    • The commission asked for desegregation of FSM, SEN and Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) data on the graphs in the presentation to better understand Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) of schools in scope for further change.
    • Criteria for FSM, School budgeting for FSM preparation and subsidies
    • Converting schools into academies, amalgamations and mitigation process.
    • Lack of mention of staff employment rights and union discussions as result of redundancies in Local Authority services.
    • Disproportionate impact on BAME children and language barriers


    Nina explained to the commission that there is an income level eligibility for FSM and she will get back to the commission on the exact criteria. On paying for FSM, the schools get reimbursed for FSM through a FSM allocation budget provided, however the schools have to pay for kitchen staff and maintenance of kitchen equipment.


    Nina informed the commission that school governors are entitled to explore conversion into academies and amalgamation of schools through a Department for Education (DfE) process. The Council’s role is to propose the amalgamation or conversions based on the algorithms from the research conducted in that area. The study indicates that no schools are exempt from the impact of falling school rolls.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Falling Pupil Numbers follow up data/reports


Local Access Partnership (LAP)

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    To hear from Jon Hitchin. Chief Executive of Renaisi the leading and accountable body on Southwark Local Access Partnership (LAP) with input from Councillor Martin Seaton, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Business and Town Centres, Danny Edwards, Head of Economy, Matt Little, Principal Strategy Officer on Southwark’s role as a key partner and supporter of the LAP.

    Supporting documents:


    The commission then heard from Councillor Martin Seaton, Cabinet member for Jobs, Business and Town Centres on Southwark Pioneers Fund (SPF) and Local Access Partnership (LAP)


    • Development of SPF 2018-2019; council proposal £33m program; LAP program blended social investment for social enterprise over 10 years.
    • Proposal in October 2019 setting out visions for LAP and social economy enterprise support plan submitted to foundation for social investment and Big Society Capital (BSC)
    • LAP vision statement is to have a collaborative, sustainable and diverse social economy, which delivers positive social impact and a better future for all Southwark residents. The collective ambition for LAP is to build a new capacity skills, community connections and support across social ecosystems to tackle entrenched social issues in Southwark.
    • Refresh of SPF; creation and scaling up of commercial and social enterprise including revenue rating for charities, widen diversity of people owning or leading enterprise in Southwark, reduce enterprise carbon emissions, start-up program to generate good quality employment and generate wider social value, and growth program which is the enterprise board for later stages of  an enterprise focusing on growth, and social and community program that supports enterprises led by women and from BAME backgrounds.


    The commission then asked questions on the following points


    • Allocation of LAP funding through Access foundation, and funding through SPF
    • Lack of access to funds for businesses like East Street Traders and organisations like Black Business Network.


    The commission heard from Matt Little, Principal Strategy Officer that the money is yet to be withdrawn through the access foundation which would then along with SPF funds be allocated at a granular level to businesses.


    Councillor Seaton informed the commission that regular visits have been made to businesses across Southwark, the issue has been the underlying disconnect with traders, and leaflets have been distributed across Southwark to mitigate this. The council is constantly promoting the message across the community of buying locally from local businesses and many organisations such as the Federation of Small Business (FSB) and Chamber of Commerce offer professional support and guidance to local businesses.


    The commission then heard from Jon Hitchin, Chief Executive of Renaisi the leading accountable body for LAP in Southwark


    • Social Investment Models and driving investment into social businesses and social enterprise which is a thriving sector in the UK
    • LAP- Renaisi’ s role and future plans to co-ordinate and access funds from Access Foundation and BSC
    • Challenges- massive equity differences in BAME and Women led social enterprises and London economy driven land and property prices. Southwark is the only London Borough included in this program.
    • £900k from Access as development grants and £500k from SPF for BAME and women led businesses to grow as Enterprises
    • £5m from BSC and Access combined monies to go only to investment as repayable finance and not grants of any kind.
    • Community Asset Trust model being developed to invest in local assets, properties and spaces with repayable finance at set interest rates which could be collectively owned by a community group  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Finalising Scrutiny recommendations

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    To finalise scrutiny recommendations on the following topics


    • Pupil Places: Looking at shortfalls in primary pupil numbers across Southwark


    • Impact of the cost-of-living crisis on businesses in Southwark


    Supporting documents:


    The draft recommendations 2022-23 (Appendix 3. Minutes) were circulated at the meeting and would be circulated electronically after the meeting. The deadline for commission members to respond on email was set to Friday 28 April 2023.



Work Programme 2022-2023