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.
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 responded to Members’ questions and comments, which included:
· Funding formula for schools – in response to a question about the equity of funding nationally and how Medway compared to other local authorities, the Portfolio Holder explained that Medway had seen a 5% increase in funding in Medway but noted that other areas with similar demographic make up and challenges were receiving significantly more and he therefore would continue to make the case for additional funding for Medway’s children and young people.
· Progress in school performance – in response to a comment made about progress across key stages the Portfolio Holder explained that performance across the key stages was improving and thanked, schools, the School Challenge and Improvement Team and all involved in driving up standards in school performance.
· Exclusion rates – in response to a comment about Medway’s rate of exclusions being higher than the national average, the Portfolio Holder commented on a detailed inclusion programme, funded via the Regional Schools Commissioner’s Office, which was providing targeted support to 20 schools and academies in Medway with the highest exclusion rates. This work had contributed in a reduction in Medway’s rates from the rates recorded for the previous year, against an increase nationally.
· Skills Strategy – in response to a question about the progress with the Skills Strategy, the Portfolio Holder confirmed that it had been approved at Cabinet earlier that week. He added that the Government had recently strengthened the requirement of schools to provide students with independent information, advice and guidance (IAG) services
· Provision of Grammar School Places – in response to a query about the sufficient provision of grammar school places, the Portfolio Holder explained that due to rises in population the demand on grammar school places (which accounted for 25% of all secondary school places), was growing. Expansions to current provision had or was planned to take place across a number of grammar schools but this continued to be a challenge and approaches would need to be made to the Government for funding to further increase capacity.
· Capacity in the education system for continued improvement – in response to a concern raised about the capacity for continued improvement, particularly in relation to the cohort of students who had previously not reached expected attainment at Key stage 2, the Portfolio Holder explained that the entire sector were working together and that discussions between school leaders, the Regional Schools Commissioner and others provided assurance that improvement would continue.
· Board of Dynamics – reference was made to the Board of Dynamics and it was clarified that Medway was one of the top three performing hubs.
The Committee thanked the Portfolio Holder for Educational Attainment and Improvement for his attendance.