Agenda item

Raising the Achievement of Boys of Black Caribbean Heritage in Brent Schools


Gail Tolley, Strategic Director Children and Young People, Brent Council, introduced the report to provide an update from the Brent Schools Partnership (BSP) on the actions taken and progress made since September 2018, following the launch of the Schools Forum funded “Raising the Achievement of boys of Black Caribbean heritage in Brent Schools.


It was noted that BSP were commissioned to undertake this task and this report was in line with the recommendation in the Schools Forum report of the 20 June 2018, which was that Schools Forum receives six monthly reports on the use and deployment of the allocated spend and the resulting impact on securing improvement for this group of pupils. After a brief introduction, Gail Tolley, handed over to Farzana Aldridge (BSP Strategic Director) for detailed update and to respond to any questions.


In summarising the key points, Farzana Aldridge, highlighted the following key points which were noted by the Forum:


·         The Forum meeting on the 20 June 2018, unanimously agreed to allocate a total budget of £564,750 over a two-year period to the BSP to deliver the proposals set out in the report. The funding allocated for the two-year period was broken down as £359,500 (2018-19) and £205,250 (2019-20);


·         Section 3.7, featured what the funding was approved to deliver:


a)    A supported rigorous and robust analysis of the performance of pupils of Black Caribbean heritage, and the effectiveness of key aspects of schools’ practice to ensure pupils of Black Caribbean heritage achieve well.

b)    The designation of a Black Caribbean Achievement (BCA) Champion in every school in Brent for a period of two years.

c)    A programme of half termly training for the BCA Champion to ensure high level of skills and competencies to deliver the role effectively leading to real impact on outcomes in schools.

d)    A programme of subsidised training for groups of staff and for school governors.

e)    The development of online resources for parents on strengthening their role and contribution to improving their children’s learning and progress, and reducing the likelihood of their children being excluded from schools. This would provide links to opportunities for accreditation, face-to-face advice and workshops.

f)     Leadership and management of the overall BCA strategy, including regular collation and analysis of the attainment and progress of pupils of Black Caribbean heritage.


·         The progress and actions together with the use and deployment of the allocated funds as detailed in section 4 on pages 17-20 of the report, whereas, the early impact assessment and areas of concerns were detailed in section 5 on pages 20-21; and


·         A separate monitoring and tracking system, in addition to regular reporting to the Schools Forum, was in place and details were shared with the relevant Boards for transparency and accountability.


In considering the report, the Forum posed and noted the following questions and comments:


·         The initiative was welcomed. It was queried whether there was any in-depth analysis in relation to good quality Early Years (EY) support and opportunities? In response, it was noted that it was difficult area since there was no precise way of knowing this information. There was a gap at foundation stage which meant it was not possible to track quality of achievements but any relevant concerns based on local knowledge and feedback were highlighted in the school audits. A Forum member felt that EY provision needed to be properly funded and monitored to avoid another cohort of children performing well below their potential;


·         Gail Tolley, informed the Forum that Early Years provision in Brent was presently at the highest rating overall. She added that this project was one of many projects as part of the bigger picture. On the Parent Resources Portal, parents were not picking up the EY provision as much - this was being raised with the Black Caribbean parents;


·         In response to a question about how often did the BSP met with Black Caribbean parents, it was noted that although BSP did not work directly with the parents, it supported and helped them understanding the system and manage their needs. In addition, two meetings were held with Black Caribbean parents which was attended by 60-80 parents with strong and diverse views;


·         Other schools were being engaged with support, constructive challenge and meeting with parents - the BSP had no statutory mandate to make people engage;


·         In relation to section 3.2 on page 16 about the fixed term and permanent exclusion of boys of Black Caribbean heritage, it was stated that having the relevant numbers would be more helpful;


·         In relation to section 3.4 on page 16 about the significant variability of relevant monitoring data by schools, it would be helpful to have some clarity. In response, it was noted that identification criterion was set out by Department for Education (DfE) according to nationally accepted rules.  However, it was a complicated and nuanced area due to dual/multiple heritages, diversity issues and sometimes confusion between Black Caribbean and Black African identification;


·         BSP had to rely on the data provided by the schools as they did not have the capacity to check, another issue was the persistence absence and the DfE would be drilling into this; and


·         Audit Framework could be applied to any group but the current project was focussed on Black Caribbean boys.


RESOLVED that the Schools Forum notes the report, and as appropriate seeks any further information from the BSP Strategic Director.


(Action: Brain Grady and Farzana Aldridge)

Supporting documents: