Agenda and minutes

Venue: Boardroom - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Bryony Gibbs, Democratic Services Officer  020 8937 1355 Email:

No. Item


Declarations of personal and prejudicial interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting any relevant financial or other interest in the items on the agenda.


None declared.


Minutes of the last meeting held on 10 October 2013 pdf icon PDF 104 KB


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 10 October 2013 were approved as an accurate record subject to the following amendments:


      i.        Councillor Pavey to be included in the list of Members present.

    ii.        Councillor Mitchell Murray’s apologies for absence to be recorded.


Matters arising


None raised.


Brent Youth Parliament update

The committee will receive an oral update on the work of the Brent Youth Parliament.


Edison Lasku (Chair of Brent Youth Parliament (BYP)) and Roisin Healy (Media Representative BYP)  advised that elections for BYP would be held on Saturday 14 December 2013 and would be supported by Democratic Services. The representatives explained that they would be stepping down from their current positions and advised that members’ acquaint themselves with the new BYP Executive following the elections. Several additional roles had been created for BYP members to undertake and there would now be two treasurer posts, four United Kingdom Youth Parliament (UKYP) posts and two media representatives posts. Events and activities in the forthcoming year would include a team building residential, creation of an AQA qualification recognising the personal development of BYP members, assistance with CV building,  UKYP induction, and the regional campaign. Members were advised that the regional campaign would focus on the issues of Curriculum for Life and lowering the voting age to 16 year olds.


Responding to members queries, the representatives advised that the additional posts were funded via the local authority and had been created to share the significant workload amongst members, extend opportunities for members to learn new skills, and to minimise the division between the Executive and other BYP members. Eve Baker (Service Manager – Youth Support Services) emphasised that by having greater oversight of their  finances, the BYP had reduced spending against various areas. The meeting was further advised that following the BYP elections, there would be an increase in the number of members and schools represented. Every secondary school in Brent had been contacted, including at least one SEN school. At the present time there were five members with SEN. It was agreed that further information could be provided on the success of the Curriculum for Life campaign.


The Committee expressed its congratulations and thanks to the BYP representatives and requested to be kept up to date on the progress of the regional campaigns.




That the update be noted.


Education Standards in Brent 2013 pdf icon PDF 6 MB

This report comments on the standards achieved in Brent schools in 2013.


Rebecca Matthews (Interim Head of School Improvement) presented a report to the committee on education standards achieved in Brent schools for 2012/13 academic year.  The report provided a snapshot of the Ofsted ratings of Brent’s schools as at November 2013 and outlined the national context for the changing relationship between local authorities and schools in relation to school improvement. It was highlighted that a new Ofsted inspection framework had been introduced at the start of the 2013/14. Changes to the criteria for ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ ratings meant that schools which currently held those ratings could be vulnerable at re-inspection. 80 percent of Brent’s secondary schools were rated good or outstanding, against 87 percent in London and 72 percent nationally. Similarly 78 percent of Primary schools in Brent held these ratings compared to 85 percent in London and 78 percent nationally. Enhanced support was provided to those schools which were judged to be in special measures, requiring improvement or were considered to have fragile ratings, to ensure that all schools progressed towards good or outstanding.


Rebecca Matthews drew Members’ attention to the report attached as Appendix A, which detailed attainment of key measures at Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stages 1, 2, and 4 by Brent pupils against London and National averages. Comparable data was also provided for academic years 2010/11 and 2011/12 and a further breakdown of achievement by ethnicity and for those children qualifying for the Pupil Premium was set out for the committee’s information. It was explained that the Pupil Premium was additional funding provided to schools to address underlying inequalities between children eligible for free school meals (FSM) and their peers.


In outlining the key trends evident in the report, Rebecca Matthews highlighted that standards in Brent Schools at EYFS had shown improvement and the equality gap was closing. There was an improving three year trend at KS1, with schools in the borough meeting national averages. Progress at KS2 was considered to be less secure; whilst assessment measures had changed making direct comparison difficult, the borough’s schools were falling behind national and London averages. Results at KS4 had reversed the decline marked in the previous  year and now exceeded the national average. The breakdown of attainment by ethnicity reported results for the three main ethnic groups represented in Brent; Black Caribbean, Somali and White Other. Members were advised that as the cohorts were small, the figures provided should be treated with some caution; however there was an improving picture at KS1 with Brent pupils achieving in line and often better than national comparisons. At KS2 pupils of the three main ethnic groups performed better than the Brent averages. Whilst progress had been made at KS4, attainment for the three groups was still less than national comparisons.  Members were further advised that achievement for children eligible for the Pupil Premium was positive, with a general reduction in the gap between this group and their peers and higher standards achieved against most measures.


In concluding the presentation,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


School Places update

A verbal update will be provided to the committee.


Sara Williams (Acting Director Children and Families) outlined the position regarding school places and applications as at 6 December 2013. The committee heard that there were sufficient secondary school places and the small number of pupils waiting for an offer of a place were due to the application processing time. There remained a shortage of primary school places however. There were currently 51 pupils without an offer of a Year 2 place, against 27 vacancies. The pressure on Reception Year places remained particularly significant, with 115 pupils without offers and only 33 vacancies. New classes were being opened at the start of the new term in January 2014 to accommodate these pupils. The classes would be located in the Gwenneth Rickus building and the former Strathcona  Day care centre. The council would be revisiting its expansion and school places strategy in the coming months based on the new projections from the Department for Education.


The Committee queried what feedback the council was receiving on the pressures being experienced by families with little or no reasonable options of school places for their children and how this information was being captured and fed into the formation of policy. Sara Williams explained that there were planning areas used for primary school places and  the council aimed to locate new school places in areas of particular need; however this was becoming an increasingly difficult undertaking with schools less able or willing to expand and a lack of available sites for new schools. It was expected that the government would require the council to assume a more aggressive stance in this respect.




That the update be noted.


Working with Families update

The committee will receive a presentation on the Working with Families initiative.


Sara Williams (Acting Director, Children and Families) delivered a presentation to the committee on the Working with Families (WwF) initiative.  It was explained that the WwF approach was family focussed and aimed to address all dimensions of need including unemployment, housing, parenting capacity, child development, health and behaviour. WwF encompassed a range of integrated and multi-agency support services, with appropriate step-up and step-down arrangements.  It increased the resource base for early intervention and met Brent’s commitment to the national Troubled Families Programme. 


Sara Williams explained that the WwF objectives were delivered through several key work streams including the Brent Family Front Door service. This was a multi-agency team, bringing together services across  social care, the police, health and education and would act as a first point of contact for all referrals received. For those families identified as requiring further support through the WwF initiative, the Family Solutions Team, a multi-disciplinary network of specialist key workers,  delivered bespoke packages of support. Members were also introduced to two new edge of care services; FAIR (Family Assessment and Intervention Resource) and FAST(Family and Adolescent Support Team).  The FAST worked with families at the point of crisis to support families and prevent adolescents (10 years and over) from entering the care system whenever safe to do so. FAIR sought to address the gap in assessment and interventions services for families with younger children where care proceedings were under active consideration, working to help the family stay together where possible.  It was emphasised that early intervention services helped reduce the often high costs of providing ongoing support for families.


A brief overview of the Troubled Families Programme was provided by Sara Williams. The payment-by-results programme required that the council work with at least 810 of the boroughs most vulnerable families by March 2015 to deliver evidence-based solutions and coordinate support  required from a variety of agencies via a key worker. The council had thus far worked with 303 families (Cohort 1) and was currently working with a further 200 families (Cohort 2).  Phase 3 of the programme would be accelerated through work to improve the involvement of other agencies and  the provision of additional key workers.


In the ensuing discussion, the committee asked officers to comment on the availability and turnover of staff within the support teams and whether this impacted the ability of workers to build relationships with families. An explanation was sought of how the teams related to each other, how they were funded and the professional criteria for the workers within the teams. With reference to the online form which enabled referrals to be made to the  Brent Family Front Door service, it was queried who this facility was aimed at and how it would be promoted. Clarification was requested in relation to the ‘basket of local criteria’ which formed one of the criterion established by the Communities and Local Government Department which must be met to claim payment by results   


Sara Williams advised in response to members’ questions that the person  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Children's Centres Update pdf icon PDF 802 KB

This paper provides an overview of the progress of Brent Council in securing sufficient integrated early childhood services through children’s centres. 


Susan Gates (Head of Early Years and Family Support) introduced a detailed report to the committee setting out the progress achieved by the council in securing sufficient integrated early childhood services through children’s centres. The report described the movement from 2011/12 to a locality model of children centres in accordance with the requirement to reduce expenditure on Children’s Centres by £1.2m. This model introduced shared management and the operation of staff across multiple sites under a single locality advisory board. It was noted that this was a model being increasingly adopted by local authorities. An outline of the most recent guidance and direction from central government was provided and Members’ were apprised of the impact of the new Ofsted inspection framework which came into force in April 2013. The committee heard that the focus of Ofsted inspection had shifted to three areas of judgement (previously twenty) with significant implications for partnership working, information sharing, definition, identification and engagement of target group households and the planning and delivery of services. It was noted that Willesden locality had been amongst the first children’s centre localities nationally to be inspected under the revised framework. The Willow nursery which was attached to the Willow Children’s centre had also been inspected as an early years setting. The outcomes of these inspections (requires improvement and inadequate respectively) were considered disappointing and not reflective of the improvement in quality of provision. Sue Gates highlighted the required actions identified and work undertaken in response to the judgements. 


Members discussed the report and raised a number of issues. Councillor Gladbaum advised that she had reviewed the Ofsted reports for Brent’s children’s centres and highlighted to the meeting that under the old framework there had been 7 children’s centres inspected, 3 of which had received good ratings; in contrast, 8 centres had been inspected under the new framework and of those 8, only 1 had received a good rating. Additional explanation was therefore sought regarding the changed inspection framework and the mapping of progress across this. The committee further queried the number of qualified teachers employed in children’s centres. 


Addressing the issues raised, Susan Gates emphasised that there had been improvement achieved across all of Brent's Children's Centres. However, the Ofsted inspection requirements had changed in April 2013 and it would take time to adjust to these and embed the new regime. Members were advised that local authorities across London had similarly struggled to do well under the new arrangements. A particular feature of these arrangements was the focus on data analysis which placed a new requirement on staff and would take time to assimilate. Susan Gates further explained that the requirement to have a qualified teacher had been removed two years previously. Qualified teacher input was an expensive resource but was provided as a shared resource within localities. It was noted that it was very rare to have qualified teacher input in PVI sector nurseries.


The committee thanked the officer for the report and for her contribution to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 71 KB

The Work Programme is attached.


It was agreed that the work programme be updated to include the committee’s requests made in the meeting and to include a report on all through schools.


Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny meeting is scheduled for 5 February 2014


It was noted that the next meeting of the committee would be held on 5 February 2014.


Any other urgent business

Notice of items raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Democratic Services Manager or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.


None raised.