Agenda and minutes

Venue: Boardrooms 3, 4 and 5 - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ

Contact: Toby Howes, Senior Democratic Services Officer  020 8937 1307, Email:

No. Item


Declarations of interests

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


None declared.


Minutes of the previous meeting held on 6 January 2015 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

The minutes are attached.




that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 6 January 2015 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.


Matters arising




Current Status of Systems Resilience Group and Winter Pressure Update pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The report from the North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups outlines the processes within the Systems Resilience Group and provides an update on the current status.  A presentation is also attached.

Additional documents:


The Chair began by stating that this item had been requested to inform the committee what steps were being taken to address the increase in demand for healthcare over the winter period.  On behalf of the committee, he expressed its disappointment that there were no representatives from the London North West Healthcare NHS Trust despite having received earlier confirmation that they would be attending.


Rob Larkman (Chief Officer, Brent, Harrow and Hillingdon Clinical Commissioning Groups) gave a presentation on this item and advised that the Systems Resilience Group (SRG) was a partnership group set up to respond to pressure on health services, not just during winter but also where elective demand rose.  This winter had seen unprecedented pressure on services for the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) as well as the rest of London and also nationally.  Members heard that the SRG worked as a network and it had been identified that the Accident and Emergency (A and E) Unit at Northwick Park Hospital (NPH) had not been performing at the desired level, where 85% of patients had been seen within four hours, although some A and E units in London had lower rates than this. Rob Larkman advised that the A and E unit was operating safely.  He explained that investment for the winter period had been unpredictable in the past, however now funding for this was allocated nationally and so the SRG could plan and respond to demand accordingly. 


Bernard Quinn (Director of Delivery and Performance, North West London CCGs) then drew members’ attention to the membership of the SRG, which included representatives from NHS commissioners, NHS providers, local authorities, London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, London Ambulance Service, NHS England, patient representative and urgent care centres (UCCs).  Members noted the governance arrangements for the SRG and a breakdown of costs for each scheme in tranches one and two.  Bernard Quinn advised that a comprehensive escalation system was now in place and that efforts to improve A and E performance at NPH had increased the proportion of patients seen within four hours to 88%.  He added that the local aim was 93%, whilst the national average was around 95%.


During members’ discussions, a member asked what the total funds were to manage winter pressures and what defined the winter period. Since funds had been received, further information was sought on the SRG’s method for addressing winter pressures and the action plan in respect of London Ambulances not arriving on time, whilst it was also asked what the average wait for an ambulance was in the last week.  Another member asked how many beds would be in Robertson Ward following the funding for three additional beds and for further details in respect of costings for Furness ward and Willow ward.  She also requested if the report on how to improve patient flow could be made available.  In respect of work undertaken by Capita on behalf of hospitals, she enquired  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Brent Education Commission - six month update on the implementation of the Action Plan pdf icon PDF 126 KB

The Council’s Cabinet, at its meeting on 15 September 2014, agreed an action plan based on the recommendations contained in the Brent Education Commission report. The purpose of this report is to brief the Scrutiny Committee, as agreed at the Cabinet meeting on 15 September 2015, on the progress made in the past six months in implementing the action plan.

Additional documents:


Gail Tolley (Strategic Director, Children and Young People) introduced the report that provided an update on the implementation of the action plan agreed by Cabinet on 15 September 2014 following the recommendations made in the Brent Education Commission (BEC) report.  She advised that there had been slippage in some of the deadlines specified and there had been some adjustments to the action plan, however it continued to focus on the areas identified in the report, which were:


·         Improving strategic leadership of education across the borough

·         Planning school places

·         Knowing Brent schools

·         Promoting and supporting school to school networks

·         Providing challenge to address weaknesses

·         Improving school governance


Gail Tolley advised that the council was progressing a shared approach to supporting schools with educational partners including Brent Schools Partnership (BSP) and two Teaching School Alliances (TSAs) and representatives from these organisations were also present to respond to questions from members. 


During members’ discussion, a member asked for further information about how knowledge of schools in the borough had improved, what had been learnt and what steps were being put in place in schools as a result.  It was asked whether the School Effectiveness Partnership Group’s role was primarily strategic and how did its work differ from that of Ofsted.  In terms of expectations, the committee asked whether schools in the borough were starting from a relatively low base and were dramatic improvements expected in the next two years.  A member enquired what measures were being put in place to improve partnership working and to develop the BSP and what responsibilities would remain with the council.  She felt that the School Effectiveness Partnership Group was working well and in terms of leadership she asked what steps were being taken in attracting and retaining the best headteachers.  She referred to the responsibility of the ‘family of Brent schools’ for all children in the borough and sought assurances that there were sufficient resources in maintaining and strengthening this family.  In noting the BSP’s intention to improve schools and provide further professional development, a member asked whether there was a sufficient number of such staff to facilitate this.


A member asked what strategy was in place to enable development of classroom skills for teachers.  Members expressed hope that better opportunities for higher level teaching assistants would arise and what assurances could be given that schools would not be receiving negative reports in two years’ time and would there be regular monitoring of schools to ensure that there was significant improvement.  One member asked how many schools in the borough were part of BSP and she suggested that there should be annual general meetings and more parent and governor representation on the BSP Board.  She added that the terms of reference and the composition of the BSP Board should be made clear in the report.  Another member requested that future reports include explanations of acronyms and enquired whether some priorities listed were higher than others.  Alloysius Frederick commented that he was working with two Brent schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Annual report academic year 2013-14: Standards and achievement in Brent schools pdf icon PDF 102 KB

The annual report for the academic year 2013014 for Brent schools is attached.

Additional documents:


Gail Tolley introduced the annual report that set out the standards and achievements of Brent schools for 2013-14.   Members heard that the overall effectiveness of Brent schools was based on the Ofsted inspection process and it included the outcomes at each Key Stage.  Gail Tolley advised that the comparators in the report included those that were available at the time of writing.


During committee discussion on the matter, members asked for information on how young black male pupils were performing and the reasons for this.  A member commented that the school where he was a governor excelled at  results, including black male pupils, and he enquired why the school had not been approached to help other schools in the borough.  Another member commented that there could be many contributory factors for black male pupils underperforming and that there needed to be greater effort into looking at the reasons for underperformance, as this was of great importance for a pupil’s future.  A member sought reasons for the performance disparity between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 4 and what steps were being taken to address this.  She also asked whether it was felt that there were enough resources to improve schools’ performance.  Clarification was sought regarding the timescales to ensure that every school in the borough was rated as at least good and it was commented that every effort should be made to ensure that the Rotherham child abuse scandal could not happen in Brent.  It was also asked whether there was any relationship between a school’s balance and its academic achievements.


With the approval of the Chair, Mary Arnold addressed the committee.  Mary Arnold sought reasons as to why there was a significant decrease in the proportion of looked after children achieving level 4 at Key Stage 2 in 2014 compared to 2013.


In reply to the issues raised, John Galligan (School Effectiveness Team Manager) advised that black male pupils were underperforming compared to the average pupil performance in  terms of Brent, London and national averages, whilst black female pupils were also underperforming.  He attributed the underperformance to multiple risk factors for these groups and examples of best practice not being disseminated amongst schools as actively as it could be.  However, schools were working with BSP in analysing data and identifying and disseminating best practice more effectively.  Although the performance gap between these groups and others had reduced to a degree, there was still a lot of work to continue progress on this.  Sarah Conway added that performance was highly variable in the borough and schools were being challenged where pupils were underperforming.


Karen Giles advised that Brent was not the only borough where black male pupils were underperforming and the local authority was holding schools to account for underperformance, whilst schools also needed to do more to disseminate best practice. 


Gail Tolley confirmed that performance between Key Stages 2 to 4 was above the national average, but below the London average, and efforts were being made to map and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Use of the Pupil Premium Grant Task Group - interim feedback pdf icon PDF 911 KB

Interim feedback from the use of the Pupil Premium Task Group is attached.


Councillor Southwood, Chair of Pupil Premium Grant Task Group presented the report and explained that the Task Group looked at what was available to different groups of children to close performance gaps.  The interim report highlighted key areas and the final recommendations of the Task Group were soon to be drawn up.  Councillor Southwood emphasised that the relationship between the local authority and its partners was crucial and the Task Group had visited a number of schools in the borough and there had also been a meeting with a virtual headteacher.  Members noted that the final report was due go to the committee in April 2015.


During discussion, the committee enquired whether the Task Group had received sufficient support from headteachers and further information on potential issues was sought.   It was asked whether secondary schools were cooperative in how pupils were tracked.  Another member stated that there was an increasing number of homeless people in the borough that impacted on children and their education, including when they were then moved to another borough and she stressed that this needed to be looked at.


In response, Councillor Southwood confirmed that headteachers had been supportive of the Task Group. Issues to consider included the Pupil Premium in the wider context of Brent, such as the Borough Plan, and how was the Pupil Premium being currently used and how could it be used better.  Other issues included eligible pupils not applying for the Pupil Premium and pupils who were technically not eligible, but in reality were living in poverty. 


Karen Giles added that consideration should also be given to innovative ways of using the Pupil Premium and she added that some schools had low uptake of the Pupil Premium, even though they were located in areas of high deprivation and this was another issue that needed to be looked into.


Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 49 KB

The Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan 2015/16 is attached.


Members discussed the Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan and it was noted that Christine Gilbert and Cara Davani (Director of HR) would be present to respond to members’ queries in respect of equalities and HR practices at the 11 March meeting.  Councillor Colwill requested that day care centres be added to the Forward Plan, whilst Councillor Daly requested that Alcohol Services in Brent be included as the borough had one of the highest rates of alcohol misuse in London.  Councillor Southwood requested an update on the action plans in respect of previous Task Group reports on gangs in Brent and female genital mutilation.  Councillor Allie asked if gambling would be able to be included in the Forward Plan.


Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be 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.