Agenda and minutes

Education and Local Economy Scrutiny Commission
Wednesday 27 January 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Online/Virtual. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting. Please contact FitzroyAntonio.williams@southwark.gov.uk for a link to the meeting.

Contact: Everton Roberts 020 7525 7221  Email: Everton.roberts@southwark.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES

2.

NOTIFICATION OF ANY ITEMS OF BUSINESS WHICH THE CHAIR DEEMS URGENT

3.

DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS AND DISPENSATIONS

4.

MINUTES

5.

CHILDREN'S EXPERIENCES AND EDUCATION THROUGH COVID

    Following on from the deputy leader cabinet member for children, young people and schools on council activity in respect of children returning to school and the hearing from young people and headteachers on their experience of children returning to school and impact of covid-19 on education – the commission will hear further evidence from:

     

    Children/young people from Anima Youth - a community interest company, initially established to support girls and young women but widened to support young men as well in relation to mental health and career guidance.

     

     

    Matt Jones, chair of SASH (Southwark Association of Secondary Headteachers) has also provided a brief written submission updating the chair on the current needs of secondary schools).

     

    Matt has reported that Southwark secondary schools are generally well resourced in terms of laptops, but that there are up to 4 schools that would benefit from an additional 30-40 laptops each (this has been communicated to the relevant cabinet member).  In relation to mental health, the headteachers had generally found that students who were known to social services, CAMHS or ‘presenting’ with issues before Covid-19 are presenting in a more acute way since school closures.  He has advised that as a community they will need additional therapists and family support professionals to work with the children and the families affected.

    Minutes:

    The commission heard from Eloise, founder and CEO of Anima Youth and young people involved with the organisation (Kendra, Ruth, Vanessa and Teresa). The young people who attended different schools both in and outside Southwark, spoke about their experience of education through the pandemic. 

     

    The young people answered a series of questions put to them by the commission members.  The responses highlighted a mixed experience for those taking part in the evidence session.  The following issues came through in the responses.

     

    How are you finding education through the pandemic, both learning from home and attending school?

     

    ·  How the school responds to the pandemic has an impact on the students and how well the students respond to the change – example, schools emailing students to check how the students were doing.

    ·  School not really checking on wellbeing, mostly focused on education and arrangements for next year.

    ·  Too many expectations on students, and teachers are not teaching properly.  Schools are not taking into consideration that some children are living their entire life from one room. 

    ·  Feels like they are teaching themselves and then have homework on top of that, along with other small issues such as poor wifi and so the work is building up.

    ·  School undertaken Survey Monkey to see how students are finding lockdown and how they are finding the workload.

    ·  Students finding it tough

     

    Have you had much opportunity to express your concerns or how you are finding things, either through the teacher or head of year?

     

    ·  There has been opportunity to express how students are finding things, however sometimes this has been through email, which are sometimes overlooked by students – a phone call would possibly be better.

    ·  Communication has been bad and the quality of lessons have gone down significantly.  School has not been clear on whether they are going to do exams or what is expected of students.  Teachers don’t appear to be bothered, so why should students be.

    Do you have any specific ideas about what the school and government could do to give better support for mental health for young people over the coming months?

     

    ·  Organising virtual sessions, with student, teacher and counsellor, to provide safe space for students to express how they are feeling.

    ·  Counselling service exists in school, but not open to using it.  Could be barrier between her and the counsellor or that the counsellor will not be able to understand her so more likely to not bother signing up.

    ·  A lot of ambiguity over exams has caused a lot of anxiety, especially with teachers setting more assignments and setting mini tests, on top of this students don’t know what their grades are going to be based on.  This creates anxiety, and the pressure of feeling that you have to do well in every single thing, otherwise you are going to get bad grades.  There needs to be more guidance and structure.

    ·  School has encouraged students to talk about mental health, go on walks, have virtual classroom challenges with prizes.  This  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

REVITALISATION OF HIGH STREETS AND TOWN CENTRES - SCRUTINY REVIEW (SESSION TWO)

    Following on from the scrutiny review preparations and briefing from the cabinet member for Jobs, Culture and Skills on the development of the proposed plan for revitalisation of high streets and town centres at the last meeting, the following have been invited to give evidence to inform the scrutiny review:

     

    ·  Nick Plumb - Power to Change an independent charitable trust that supports and develops community businesses in England

    ·  Ben Stephenson – Placemaking Consultant, High Street Task Force expert and BIDs advisor

    Minutes:

    The commission heard from Nick Plumb, Power to Change and Ben Stephenson, Placemaking consultant, High Street Task Force expert and BIDs advisor.

     

    Nick informed the meeting that Power to Change was an independent charitable trust that supports and develops community businesses in England, established in 2015 through an endowment from the Big Lottery Fund, and since then has been supporting community businesses in various different ways.

     

    Power to Change believed that no one understands the community better than the people who live there, so it works with community businesses to revive local assets, protect services that people rely on, and address local needs.  Nick explained that community businesses have four key features:

     

    ·  They are locally rooted in a particular geographical place and respond to local needs.

    ·  They trade for the benefit of the local community. 

    ·  They are accountable to the local community.

    ·  They have a broad community impact.

    An example of a community business in Southwark was the Ivy House, in Nunhead, a community owned Pub.  Elsewhere, there are community owned shops, communities that have taken ownership of heritage assets such as the Town Hall in Hebden Bridge which is in community ownership.  Assets are at the core of the business model and is central to community businesses.  In the past couple of years, Power to Change have become increasingly interested in community ownership on the high street, it was something that was increasing in places across the country.

     

    In respect of Power to Change’s thinking on High Streets, Nick explained that the retail dominated model has been dying for quite a lot, in part driven by out of town retail and the rise of online shopping, accelerated by the pandemic. Retailers and businesses with a strong online offer have fared better, especially large multinationals like Amazon.  At the same time, especially during the pandemic, there has been evidence to suggest that some of those secondary high streets and town centres that may have been a bit neglected, have started to see a bit more activity as people spend more time closer to home.  Along with that, concepts like the 15 Minute City which was referenced in the Southwark economic renewal plan and GLA literature in recent months are gaining interest as people want to spend more time in their neighbourhood, which is an important development.

     

    Nick felt there was a rising recognition among developers and property owners that they need to diversify if they are to continue to receive rent on the property that they own in high streets and town centres and that they need to increase footfall.  One of the key ways of doing this would be through the introduction of diverse community businesses, such as art centres, community pubs and other places offering creative activities.  The destination space that drives people to the high street is really important.

     

    From the conversations Power to Change were having with local authorities, there was also an increasing recognition that councils have to play a slightly more activist role in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

RESPONSE TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EDUCATION AND BUSINESS SCRUTINY COMMISSION REPORT ON PROCUREMENT : ACCESSIBILITY AND SOCIAL VALUE JULY 2020 [CABINET REPORT]

8.

UPDATE ON FAIRER FUTURE PROCUREMENT FRAMEWORK [CABINET REPORT]

9.

EDUCATION AND LOCAL ECONOMY SCRUTINY COMMISSION WORK PROGRAMME 2020-21

10.

DIGITAL NHS STATISTICS - CHILDREN WITH PROBABLE MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER