Children, Families & Learning Cabinet Member – Minutes – 9 February 2017

27 (27) SCHOOL ADMISSION ARRANGEMENTS FOR 2018/19 COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY CONTROLLED SCHOOLS – The Director of Governance and Partnerships submitted a report informing the Cabinet Member of the outcome of the consultation with governing bodies of community and voluntary controlled schools in respect of admissions arrangements for 2018/19, and seeking approval to implement the proposed admission arrangements for the academic year 2018/19.

The council was required to determine by 28 February 2017 its admission arrangements for the academic year 2018/19, including admission numbers, for each community and voluntary controlled school.

Admission arrangements were to describe how school places were allocated, especially with reference to the oversubscription criteria. This confirmed how applications were prioritised when the number of applications exceeded the number of places available.

The admission number referred to the number of school places that the admission authority must offer in the relevant age group of the school.

The School Admissions Code 2014 required that oversubscription criteria must be reasonable, clear, objective, procedurally fair, and complied with all relevant legislation, including equalities legislation.

Governing bodies were consulted during the Autumn Term 2016 regarding the proposed 2018/19 admission arrangements for community and voluntary controlled schools. The consultation included full details of proposed admission numbers and oversubscription criteria.

As there were no changes proposed to the admission arrangements, nor any reduction in admission number for any of the schools, there was no requirement for a public consultation to take place.

Resolved – That the proposed admission arrangements, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, be approved.

28 (28) STANDING ADVISORY COUNCIL ON RELIGIOUS EDUCATION (SACRE) REPORT – The Director of Learning, Skills and Culture submitted a report updating the Cabinet Member in relation to the work of the statutory SACRE including information on the launch of the newly revised Locally Agreed RE Syllabus.

All children and young people in England and Wales were entitled to receive Religious Education at school. Academies and free schools were contractually required to deliver RE through the terms of their funding agreement and local authority schools delivered RE either according to the locally agreed syllabus or according to the trust deed of the school.

Every council had a statutory duty to publish a permanent authority, called SACRE –  a Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education to advise the LA on matters concerned with the provision of RE and collective worship.

As part of North Lincolnshire’s statutory duties the SACRE Board produced an annual report for each academic year. The report attached at annex one covered the period September 2015 – August 2016, during which eight meetings were held.  The report followed the format suggested for SACRE Annual Reports by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

The report and accompanying appendix gave details on how North Lincolnshire SACRE had advised the council and on the locally agreed RE syllabus.

Resolved – That the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education report be noted.

29 (29) NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE PLACEMENT SUFFICIENCY STRATEGY 2016-19 – The Director of Children and Community Resilience submitted a report seeking approval of the North Lincolnshire Placement Sufficiency Strategy 2016-19.

The council was required by The Children Act 1989 to take reasonable steps to secure sufficient accommodation to meet the needs of children in care, specifically the provision of foster care, children’s homes and accommodation for care leavers. Councils were also required to publish details of how the authority would fulfil its ‘Sufficiency Duty’ under s22 of the Act.

Securing sufficient accommodation that met the needs of children in care was a vital step in delivering improved outcomes for this vulnerable group. Having the right placement in the right place, at the right time, was a vital factor in improving placement stability. This was a critical success factor in relation to better outcomes for looked after children.

The sufficiency duty applied in respect of all children who were defined as ‘looked after’ under the 1989 Act. However, an important mechanism – both in improving outcomes for children and in having sufficient accommodation to meet their needs – was to take early, preventive action to support children and families so that fewer children enter care.

The Placement Sufficiency Strategy 2016-19 detailed how the council would ensure that all children and young people who required accommodation were provided with a safe, stable placement that had been matched to their needs and enabled them to form meaningful relationships with trusted adults for as long as they needed them.

Resolved – That the North Lincolnshire Placement Sufficiency Strategy 2016-19 be supported and approved.

30 (30) EDUCATIONAL AND OFF-SITE VISITS POLICY AND GUIDANCE – The Director of Governance and Partnerships submitted a report seeking approval to publish and circulate to schools and educational establishments the Educational and Off-Site Visits Policy and supporting practical guidance.

School and recreational visits were an important feature of a child’s learning and education. Visits provided the opportunity of new learning environments and could help children to develop a range of new skills and experiences such as team working, confidence building and increased self-esteem.

North Lincolnshire Schools and academies ran a number of activities ranging from overseas skiing trips to local nature walks. Over the last year approximately 2,650 visits were led by schools.

The current Educational and Off-Site Visits guidance document was mandatory for establishments where the council was the employer.  Additionally, the council offered professional advice and guidance to schools and academies where the council was not the employer through a service level agreement.  Organisations that purchased the service level agreements were required to use the council’s Educational and Off-Site Visits Guidance document.

Following a review of the current guidance document a new policy had been written with a supporting practice guidance document for use by staff responsible for organising educational visits.

Resolved – That the Educational and Off-Sites Visits Policy and supporting practice guidance be approved for publication and circulation.

31 (31) APPOINTMENT OF LOCAL AUTHORITY SCHOOL GOVERNORS – The Director of Learning, Skills and Culture submitted a report submitted a report considering the appointment of suitable candidates to serve as Local Authority Governors.

Boards of governors were the key strategic decision-making body for schools.  It was the board’s role to set a school’s strategic framework and to ensure that all statutory duties were met.  There were currently 72 boards of governors within North Lincolnshire serving both schools and academies.  A number of schools were federated, which meant that a governing body oversaw the running of two schools.

In accordance with the School Governance Regulations (2012) maintained schools’ boards were constituted from the following governor categories:

• Parent Governors
• Head Teacher
• Staff Governor
• Local Authority Governor
• Foundation Governor

When a Local Authority vacancy occurred, the relevant board identified the necessary skills, knowledge and experience that would be required of the successful candidates.  The council was then able to match the board of governors’ needs against the perspective candidate’s application.

Resolved – That the named persons as listed in Appendix one to the report be appointed as Local Authority Governors on the school listed, subject to the relevant DBS checks.