This report sets out the progress made within the areas covered by the Portfolio for Educational Attainment and Improvement, which fall within the remit of this Committee.
This item was not finalised in time for despatch with the main agenda. The Chairman of the Committee is of the opinion that it should be considered at this meeting as a matter of urgency as permitted under section 100B of the Local Government Act 1972 to enable the Committee to consider this item at the same time as the Annual School Performance Report.
Members received an overview of progress on the areas within the terms of reference of this Committee and covered by the Portfolio Holder for Educational Attainment and Improvement as set out below:
· Further Education
· Primary and Secondary Educational Improvement
· School Organisation and Capital Projects
· School Services (including Admissions and Medway Test)
· Schools Liaison
The Portfolio Holder for Educational Attainment and Improvement, Councillor Martin Potter, responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows:
· Key Stage 1 and 2 performance – A Member congratulated the Portfolio Holder and the wider team for the progress in attainment achieved at Key Stage 1. With reference to the improvements made in attainment at Key Stage 2 set out at paragraph 3.2 (iii) of the report, the Portfolio Holder provided clarification to Members and explained that a breakdown of the statistics to support the statement of achievement was presented in item 7 (Annual School Performance Report) of the agenda.
· Results at Key Stage 2 and the impact at Key Stage 4 and 5 – With reference to the impact of attainment at Key Stage 2 on Key Stage 4 and 5, the Portfolio Holder noted that a trend had been identified but he did not accept that attainment at Key Stage 4 was lower as a result.
· Progress 8 and Key Stage 4 and 5 – In relation to a question concerning a disparity in the attainment achieved by Medway Schools in the Progress 8 measure at Key Stage 4 and the attainment level in English and Maths at Key Stage 4, the Portfolio Holder explained that he had challenged the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) as well as school leaders on the issue and he expected to see improvements. He added that whilst performance in the Progress 8 measure was good, performance in English, Maths, as well as all eight subjects in the attainment 8 Measure also needed to be good.
· Dynamics, the Medway Music Education Hub – A Member expressed that he was encouraged to note that Dynamics was to become a Community Interest Company (CIC) and noted that music education in Medway was to a high standard. With reference to music education, the Portfolio Holder advised the Committee that music did not just form part of a broad and balanced curriculum but provided health and wellbeing benefits. He added music education is particularly good in primary schools but that improvements were needed in secondary schools. The Portfolio Holder stated he would be a Director on the CIC Board and looked forward to seeing music education develop. At the request of a Member, the Portfolio Holder undertook to provide the Committee with a copy of the Annual Performance Report of Dynamics as a briefing note.
· Work programme – With reference to a request from a Member to receive the Medway Schools’ examination results before the March Committee meeting, the Portfolio Holder advised the Committee that whilst the work programme was determined by the Committee, the full break down of the results would not be available until they were validated. He added that before this time some data may be missing and only high level details would be available.
· Medway Test review – In response to a question concerning the progress of a review into the Medway Test, the Portfolio Holder explained to the Committee that the Finance Team had undertaken a review and that the results would be presented to the Portfolio Holder in the coming weeks. Thereafter, the recommendations would be implemented. With reference to last year’s IT system failure which caused the late release of results, the Portfolio Holder apologised.
· Further education – In relation to a question concerning the work of Medway’s Further Education provider, Mid Kent College, set out at paragraph 2.2 of the report, the Portfolio Holder confirmed he had visited Mid Kent College and Rivermead School and met with the pupils. He commended their excellent work supporting the transition of pupils into college.
· University Liaison Committee – In relation to a question asking when the University Liaison Committee last met, the Portfolio Holder explained that the Committee had not met this year but two meetings were held in 2017 and follow up meetings had taken place with Jane Glew (Master for the Medway Campus, University of Kent).
· Children’s University – With reference to discussions held with Jane Glew, the Portfolio Holder advised the Committee that a new type of Children’s University had been discussed which had an academic and curriculum led focus. He undertook to follow up progress on the Children’s University with the Director of Children and Adults Services.
· University engagement - With respect to other ways the University of Kent engages with Medway’s schools, the Portfolio Holder explained that students at the University had volunteered in primary schools and the University also programmed visits to secondary schools. This programme was delivered to students in Year 8 through to Year 13 (Sixth Form). He added that for younger pupils, the University aimed to raise the aspirations of children and develop children’s understanding of University. This programme was welcomed by the Portfolio Holder.
· Primary admissions – In response to a question concerning the timescale to provide an additional 3000 primary school places, the Portfolio Holder confirmed to the Committee that the 3000 additional school places had already been provided. He also advised Members that there were additional expansion plans for St Mary’s Island Primary School, Riverside Primary School and Halling Primary School. The Portfolio Holder stated that as demand rises, the Council would continue to expand and provide school places. He also advised the Committee that sourcing the funding was a challenge owing to being reliant on contributions from developers to top up basic needs funding.
· Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) – A Member noted that within the admissions criteria of Multi Academy Trusts there seemed to be a preference towards feeder schools. The Portfolio Holder stated this was not something he supported and added that distance should be the main criteria outside the other main factors.
· Secondary school admissions – Asked by a Member about what action could be taken for the 4.5% of children who did not obtain their preferred secondary school place, the Portfolio Holder advised the Committee that a choice of places would continue to be provided to support families obtain a school place of their choice. He added that the provision of new free schools and expanding grammar schools would support this aim.
· Medical School – The Portfolio Holder stated his support for the provision of a Medical School in Medway. The Director of Children and Adults Services advised the Committee that Members were actively involved in supporting a bid for a medical school in Kent and that the bidding process was in its final stages.
The Committee thanked the Portfolio Holder for Education and Attainment for his attendance at the meeting and the answers he provided.