Agenda and minutes

Education and Local Economy Scrutiny Commission - Wednesday 19 July 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 Martin Brecknell (Co-opted member) and Marcin Jagodzinski (Co-opted member)


    Apologies for lateness were 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 disclosure of interests and dispensations.




School Amalgamations and Closures in Southwark

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    To receive feedback/report from Freddy Vanson, District & Branch Joint Secretary, National Education Union (NEU) Southwark Branch, on School Amalgamations and Closures in Southwark especially with regards to redundancies with a focus on disproportionate redundancies and disciplinary amongst Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) school staff.

    Supporting documents:


    The commission first received a report from Freddy Vanson and Theo Whitworth of the National Education Union on school amalgamations and closures covering the following themes:

    ·  Equalities data on the disproportionate impact of redundancies on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) school staff.

    ·  Retention and recruitment challenges of teaching staff nationally.

    ·  School staff workforce diversity not reflective of the diverse backgrounds among pupils.

    The commission then asked questions on the following points:

    ·  Influx and levels of BAME members of the community at the teacher training levels

    ·  Disproportionate impact of school closures and amalgamations on non-white school support staff and possible mitigation measures from the council

    ·  Higher number of black staff members at juniors levels

    ·  Comparison of equality data with schools outside Southwark and also comparison of more recent data with 2018-2020 data

    Freddy explained to the commission that anecdotally and only from personal experience it is clear that more young black teachers tend to leave teacher training as a result of lack of support with work place issues, when compared to their white colleagues.


    Freddy agreed with the commission that the trend based on the two schools closures in Southwark indicate disproportionate impact on non-white school support staff; however a clearer picture on the levels of this impact would be attained during the course of the next municipal year. Theo explained to the commission that support staff are more vulnerable with regards to efficiency saving measures implemented by schools prior to any discussions of schools closure or amalgamation. Freddy further explained to the commissions that very few schools have Teaching Assistants (TAs’) any more, TAs’ in schools helped deal and support with accidents in class so the teacher could continue teaching. Furthermore, Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) funding for students with special needs would provide similar support in classes, however the back log of EHCP applications and the time taken to receive such funding is a barrier for providing more support in classrooms.


    Freddy explained to the commission that black school staff struggle to get into position of leadership within education and trends in the data indicate this. Southwark Schools Alliance initiative have a training programme for black leaders in education which helps black staff overcome some of these barriers. The commission heard from Theo that one of the factors for disproportionate representation of black staff within teachers and senior leadership is a result of Southwark’s hiring policy which is inadequate in promoting diversity.


    The commission pointed out that the blind application process within Southwark’s hiring policy should lead to non-discriminatory and non-prejudicial selections, however the commission also considered that this could also result in lower numbers of BAME teaching staff due to fewer numbers of BAME applications. Freddy explained to the commission that there might be a case to consider applicants under the equalities protected characteristics to be selected based on the needs of the school staff body demographic which would be a step towards positive discrimination. More recent equality data will be gathered in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Community Wealth Building in Southwark

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    To receive a report from Southwark’s Local Economy team on council’s role in Community Wealth Building (CWB) from Nick Wolff, Principal Strategy Officer, Chief Executive’s and Danny Edwards, Head of Economy, evaluating Southwark’s strength and weaknesses regarding Community Wealth Building - according to the five pillars:


      Plural ownership of the economy

      Making financial power work for local places

      Fair employment and just labour markets

      Progressive procurement of goods and services

      Socially productive use of land and property


    Supporting documents:


    The commission received a report from Danny Edwards, Head of Economy on Community Wealth Building (CWB) on the following points:

    ·  Community Wealth Building, inclusive economies and inclusive growth; Place based approach at the heart of communities.

    ·  Pillars of CWB; Council wide approach for CWB; Southwark 2030 sets overarching economic vision for Southwark

    ·  New economic strategy 2023-30 details inclusive growth due for consideration by Cabinet in October 2023

    ·  Southwark Anchor Network is a strategic leadership group as part of the wider CWB agenda, harnessing the combined purchasing power of anchor institutions of £207bn.

    ·  Fairer Future’s Procurement Framework due to be considered at Cabinet in September 2023.

    ·  Southwark Works initiative with support from council and anchor institutions

    The commission then asked questions around the following themes:

    ·  Focus of the CWB programme on small and medium enterprises (SME)

    ·  Understanding the reasons for unknown size of companies in the Centre for Local Economies and Strategies (CLES) report. (pg.16)

    ·  Understanding unknown spend within Spend by Anchor and Geography in the CLES report. (pg.30)

    The commission learnt from Danny that the unknown spend in the CLES report is a result of the data gathered from procurement based on a devolved commissioning model used by the council and anchor institutions, where the ownership for commissioning funds lies with local departments and institutions which creates gaps in the contract monitoring register. One of the recommendations within the CLES report is to look at new ways of gathering procurement data.


    On CWB programmes focusing on SME and locally generative institutions, the commission understood that Southwark is not an isolated economy, therefore CWB program’s focus will always be a combination of large businesses and SMEs’. One of the ways the councils supports SMEs is Southwark Pioneer’s Fund (SPF).


    The commission then had discussions around the following themes

    ·  Geography of spend concentrated to tourist areas with increasing demand for food and beverage businesses compared to retail businesses catering to local need.

    ·  Connecting local employment needs to local opportunities, decreasing in work poverty; Unlocking spend from large businesses to support SME

    ·  SPF and its work in supporting SMEs like care leavers, women and BAME owned businesses.

    ·  Consideration and implementation of the recommendations from the CLES report; Success and delivery of social value business projects

    ·  Detailed analysis of local employment amongst the anchor institutions; promoting Southwark Works to local employment need, like care-leavers; dedicated employment engagement service in Southwark Works

    ·  Affordable accommodation for key workers; Southwark works promotion in schools; Information on procurement from large multi-centre companies

    ·  Places identified in the CWB place based approach, targets to measure success in bringing in spend locally to Southwark.

    ·  Southwark being the first London living wage borough having 298 accredited London living wage employers and soon to reach 300 employers who would be supported a London living wage unit run by the council.

    The commission heard from Danny that the dedicated employment engagement service is a critical component of Southwark Works and is being developed to be commissioned in the near future. On Southwark Works, 85%  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Proposed Work Programme 2023-24

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    To consider the proposed Work Programme for the year 2023-2024.

    Supporting documents:


    The commission agreed to keep falling schools rolls on review during the year and hearing from ward councillors on specific issues within the schools in their respective wards.


    The commission agree to include procurement, employment and social value as part of its review on CWB.


    The commission also agreed to consider reviewing the SEND strategy especially due to the rising need of SEND provisions in schools.


    The commission agreed to review topics ‘Southwark Stands Together’ and Inclusion Charter in Schools.


    The commission agreed to remove the review of the Integrated Care System and Fragmentation of the NHS from the work programme.