Agenda item

Outcome of Call-in - Future School Organisation Arrangements of Roe Green Infant School

To consider a report detailing the outcome of a call-in considered by the Community & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on 2 Octoberr 2019.  The call-in related to the decision taken by Cabinet on 9 September 2019 in respect of the Formal Consultation on School Organisation Arrangements of Roe Green Infant School.

Decision:

Having considered the report from the Head of Executive and Member Services and the supplementary report from the Strategic Director, Children and Young People, alongside representations from stakeholders and Councillor Ketan Sheth, on behalf of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, the Cabinet RESOLVED:

 

     i)        To confirm the original decision taken by Cabinet on 9 September 2019, enabling the decision to take immediate effect.

 

     ii)        That officers develop alternative options to meet the demand for education places for young people 16-25 with SEND at the Strathcona Site from September 2022 in conjunction with the Cabinet Members for Schools, Employment and Skills, Children's Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care and Regeneration, Property & Planning.      

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, stated that at its meeting on9 September 2019,Cabinet had considered thereport fromtheStrategicDirectorofChildren and Young People on The Future School Organisation Arrangements of Roe Green Infant School”.

 

That Cabinet decision was subsequently called-in by 8 Members and the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee met on Wednesday 2 October to consider the call-in.

 

The Committee heard from the Cabinet Member for Schools, Employment and Skills and received representations from representatives of the councillors who had called-in the decision, ward members and a number of stakeholders.

 

In introducing the report, Councillor Ketan Sheth, Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, stated that the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee had agreed to refer the decision back to Cabinet for reconsideration. Councillor Ketan Sheth thanked the Chief Executive, Strategic Director of Children and Young People and Cabinet Members for Schools, Employment and Skills for attending the call in meeting.

 

Councillor Ketan Sheth asked that Cabinet now reconsider its original decision, taking into account the reasons why the Scrutiny Committee decided to refer the matter back, and the recommendations made by the committee as an outcome of the call-in.

 

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, informed the meeting that he had agreed a number of requests to speak on this item.

 

Jag Sidhu, Associate Head, outlined proposals to establish an ARP which would have as its ethos that children with ASD would spend as much time as they can manage on a day to day basis in the mainstream classes. Two rooms would be set up, one for Reception/KS1 and the other a KS2 room. This would provide the base for all the children coming daily into school and would be their home base for bus collection etc. The provision rooms are, by their very nature, vertically streamed rooms and therefore by going into mainstream rooms that are vertically streamed this would not pose any issues. 

 

Hema Dahale, a teacher at Roe Green Strathcona, stated that to say that due to the low number of pupils with an EHCP plan at RGI/Strathcona means ‘other Brent schools have more experience with SEND’ is utterly ludicrous and insulting.

 

Nicky Lobo, Headteacher, stated that Roe Green Strathcona has one DfE number and it is impossible to locate the Strathcona site on Brent’s website. She questioned the local authority’s consultation process about the planned closure saying that she had only been kept informed about the closure via a public blog.

 

Liz McLaren, Deputy Headteacher, questioned the financial implications mentioned in the reports. She said that educational benefits cannot be measured financially. She stated that the financial comments provided were inaccurate.

 

Sreedevi Manoj stated that teachers play a crucial role in transforming mental health provision. Teachers play a key role in identifying mental health issues early on.

 

Andrew Miller, Assistant Headteacher, stated that a lack of knowledge and understanding dating back to 2014 is why the council and school find themselves in the situation they face today. He stated that pupil numbers were already falling. The school, he said, had started a marketing strategy, to encourage admissions.

 

Jenny Cooper, National Education Union, stated that the fifth day of industrial action at the school would take place on 5 November 2019. She stated that the Council had not engaged with staff or NEU members over the issue. She stated that the Council was already in talks with a Trust to take over the site and that the report had been drafted with that in favour. She urged the Council to reconsider its decision and engage with the teaching staff and NEW members.

 

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, thanked the many speakers for their contributions. He stated that Cabinet had given much thought and consideration to the future of the site.

 

Councillor Amer Agha, Cabinet Member for Schools, Employment and Skills, introduced the response to the Scrutiny call in stating that the report provides Cabinet with further information regarding proposed additional uses of the Roe Green Infant School Strathcona site, raised as part of the call-in on a change in the age range of Roe Green Infant School and the closure of primary provision on the Roe Green Infant School Strathcona site from September 2020.

 

Councillor Agha stated that the request to call-in the Cabinet decision set out a number of proposals for the additional use of the Roe Green Strathcona site. The proposals for additional use assume that mainstream primary provision continues on the Roe Green Strathcona site and that the additional uses utilise spare accommodation or the premises out of school hours.  This differs to ‘alternative’ use of the site which would be established if primary provision ceased to operate from the site. He stated that the additional use proposals are set out in the report as described in the Call-In form, along with an officer evaluation of the viability of each proposal.

 

Councillor Agha stated that the local authority currently places 136 children and young people in out of borough independent and non-maintained special schools, at a cost of £24,000 to £84,000 per place depending on the individual child’s needs.

 

It was noted that there is, however, scope to reduce out-of-borough placements through the provision of more secondary special school places so that children in primary settings can transfer to a local 16-25 provision and provision for young people post-19 so that they can remain in Brent. This would have educational and social benefits for children and young people, as well as financial benefits.

 

Regarding comments about the Financial Implications in the original Cabinet report, the Council’s Director of Finance confirmed that all the financial implications were accurate.

 

In response to the comment made about the Council having conversations with education trusts, Members received reassurance that the Council has had no such conversation with any trust about the site.

 

Having considered the report from the Head of Executive and Member Services and the supplementary report from the Strategic Director, Children and Young People, alongside representations from stakeholders and Councillor Ketan Sheth, on behalf of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, the Cabinet

 

RESOLVED:

 

     i)        To confirm the original decision taken by Cabinet on 9 September 2019, enabling the decision to take immediate effect.

 

    ii)        That officers develop alternative options to meet the demand for education places for young people 16-25 with SEND at the Strathcona Site from September 2022 in conjunction with the Cabinet Members for Schools, Employment and Skills, Children's Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care and Regeneration, Property & Planning.

Supporting documents: