Agenda and draft minutes

Education and Local Economy Scrutiny Commission - Thursday 22 February 2024 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Amit Alva  Email:

Note: Tentative 

No. Item



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    To receive any apologies for absence.


    The Vice-Chair explained to the commission that the Chair had taken ill and that she herself would be chairing this commission meeting instead.


    Apologies for absence were received from the Chair, Councillor Chloe Tomlinson and Martin Brecknell (Co-opted member).


    The commission also noted that Councillor Jason Ochere is on parental leave.


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.


    The Chair informed the commission with deep sadness the untimely and sudden passing away of Tina Daley from East Street market traders. The commission acknowledged Tina’s contribution in presenting to the commission in the last municipal year on the economic hardships faced by East Street traders in light of the cost-of-living crisis.




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.


    Councillor John Batteson declared his role as a Governor at Bird in Bush School.






Report reviewing amalgamation of Bird in Bush school

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    To hear from James Robinson, Executive Head teacher, Bird in Bush School and to receive a report from Richard Hunter, Principal Advisor, Education, Learning and Achievement on amalgamation of Bird in Bush school.

    Supporting documents:


    The commission first heard from James Robinson, Executive Head teacher Bird in Bush School (BiB) on the following points


    ·  Initially the decision to amalgamate Camelot and Coburg in February 2023 met with hostility from parents. However, amalgamation was a success with a big number of children admitted to the new BiB school.

    ·  Key factor in this amalgamation was the strong strategic leadership from the council, other Local Authority (LA) community schools and head teachers facing falling school rolls need such leadership.

    ·  Negativity in media with regards to amalgamation, however this was clarified by inviting BBC to visit the school and meet pupils.

    ·  Establishment of a consistent staffing of teachers at BiB; School of 485 pupils.


    The commission then heard from Richard Hunter, Principal Advisor on the following topics


    ·  Governors and Head teachers instrumental in implementing the amalgamation plan provided by LA; pragmatic approach was to amalgamate as improvements at Coburg school were identified with help of a new governance body at Coburg working in partnership with James.

    ·  Effective and strong governance; working with LA to provide constitutional support, timetabling of processes; providing quality education by retaining experienced staff.


    The commission then asked questions on the following themes


    ·  Clarification on concerns for next academic year; support for staff not on permanent contracts during amalgamation; Communication and timing when contacting parents on amalgamations.

    ·  Moving governors from Coburg to Camelot (BiB); in contrast to BiB school amalgamation, improvement in processes for amalgamation of two other relatively well performing schools who are facing falling rolls

    ·  Impact on children as a result of amalgamation.


    James explained to the commission that the Pupil Place Planning Board has informed BiB on the continuing trend of the falling pupil numbers from 58-60 pupils, per year group this year, to 40 pupils next year.


    The commission learned from Richard and James that from Coburg all the 7 teachers and the full time permanent teaching support staff except 2 who chose not to, were moved over to Camelot. 75 % of teaching support staff on fixed term contracts were retained by Camelot and after 6 months they would be on permanent contracts. 


    James informed the commission that governors on the interim executive board expedited the process for amalgamation by working with the council. Within the processes of amalgamation it is important that the period of 23 weeks is adhered to and amalgamation completed before the start of the academic year in September.


    The commission learned from James that the existing governing body from Coburg was disbanded and a new Interim Executive Board was established with 3 governors from Coburg and one Chair of Governors (Juliette Young) for both schools, after the amalgamation all 3 governors were moved to the BiB governing body.


    Richard explained to the commission that amalgamation of any two schools is not an easy process, it’s important that we consider the different ways that the two schools operate, the differences in the communities that they serve. Effective communication to parents is critical in explaining the different processes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Interview with Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Refugees.

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    To interview Councillor Jasmine Ali on key strategies and projects under her Cabinet Member Portfolio; and also to receive reports and verbal updates on


    ·  Schools Funding including nurseries

    ·  Overview of maintained nurseries by demand in wards (report to follow)

    ·  Overview of SEND Strategy including Under 5 provision in nurseries (verbal update/questions)


    Supported by officers Kate Bingham, Schools Finance Consultant, Neil Gordon-Orr, Strategic Manager Education and Anna Chiva Asst. Director for SEND

    Supporting documents:


    The commission first heard from Councillor Ali on the following points


    ·  Good reviews in Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), 98% good and outstanding schools this year; good feedback of care leavers services and youth justice service.

    ·  Children and young people exam results in schools have been very good; there were concerns before the exams of poor results leading from the recovery after the pandemic period, however Southwark children outperformed London schools in key stages 4 & 5 and also bucked the national trend. English & Math grades up by 2.4% in schools. Southwark ranks 15th across all LAs’.

    ·  Corporate Parenting Committee working successfully; GCSE and A levels scores are also very good; majority of young people getting into first choice colleges and universities; Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provisions also very good (handouts circulated to commission)

    ·  Improving provisions for complex and multiple needs; development of greater needs and provisions in all settings; development of pathways into adulthood for young people with SEND; Investment of £4.5m in SEND.

    ·  Challenges- deficit plans for closure of schools in the Keeping Education Strategy; Council absolutely committed in supporting schools, however in a different way to the past; Successes in social care and early intervention and prevention.

    ·  Inclusion work and regular meetings with Head teachers (primary & secondary), councillors, council leader and senior council officers to exchange information; importance of wrap around services like early intervention and prevention to reduce children coming into care, free mental health hub and free school meals (FSM); pilot FSM in secondary schools; Corporate Parenting Committee handouts to this commission.


    The commission then asked questions on the following themes


    ·  Changes in leadership structure of the council and the role of Head of Education; retaining the best teachers whilst battling private sector pay; mental health support in schools; free breakfast in schools

    ·  Reducing the processing time for Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP) in nurseries for children under 5; tracking of EHCP and SEND needs from early years to later in education

    ·  Refresh of Keeping Education Strong (KES) strategy in light of the projected continual trend of even lower pupil intake in coming years; trends in the impact of falling school rolls from primary schools feeding into secondary schools, year 7 and significant funding issues; post 16 provisions and offers.

    ·  Government’s expansion of the scheme in early years’ provisions, assessment of Southwark with supply of provisions when compared nationally.


    Councillor Ali explained to the commission that officers will competently manage the transition as a result of the change in the leadership structure. Inclusion work will be managed by early intervention and prevention in schools.


    The commission learned from Alasdair that he is absolutely committed to education in Southwark, and the leadership structure beneath all the changes is very stable. Anna Chiva has recently been appointed as the Asst. Director for SEND. The council has been committed to ensure that the most vulnerable pupils with special needs get the best provisions in SEND. Furthermore, the council is keen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme 2023-2024