This report seeks to outline the role for the local authority:
1) As a result of the 2010 coalition Government’s white paper, the Importance of Teaching, and how the Council intends to meet requirements.
2) To ensure school effectiveness aims, priorities and principles as well as operational arrangements for quality assuring, monitoring and evaluating and supporting and challenging schools.
These documents, alongside the Council’s School Place Planning Strategy and the SEND Strategy form Medway Council’s education strategic framework.
The report is due to be presented to Cabinet on 19 October 2021.
The Assistant Director,
Education and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
introduced the report which provided two documents, namely the
Medway Education Strategy and the Medway School Effectiveness
Strategy. The documents would form part
of a strategic framework for Education in Medway. He explained that the documents provided clarity
around the role of the local authority (LA) in relation to
education. The documents were
draft and the Committee was asked to
comment and recommend them to the Cabinet for approval.
Members then raised
a number of questions and comments,
· Voice of the child – concern was raised that the documents did not demonstrate enough the voice of children and young people or their input in shaping the strategies. Equally it was stated that the documents didn’t recognise enough the diversity of Medway. In response offers accepted these points and that more needed to be done around the child’s voice going forward, recognising that covid had been a factor that had made this more difficult.
· School location – the point was made that ideally every child should have a primary school within 1.5 miles from their home. Officers confirmed that although this was ideal and an aspiration for children, it wasn’t always possible due to land availability.
· Purpose of the strategies – in response to a question about the purpose of the documents and what the public would gain from them, officers confirmed that they provided clarity around the Council’s role in relation to education provision in Medway and that the framework would work towards a more effective, efficient, and equitable provision across Medway.
· Places for out of area children – concern was raised about out of area children taking up places in Medway schools, primarily selective schools. Officers confirmed that it was unlawful to set admission policies that always favoured local children over children from other boroughs. He added that Medway schools were compliant with the Schools Admission Code and they were admitting pupils on distance thereby providing Medway children with a greater prospect of gaining a place, unless children were just outside the Medway border or were able to meet higher aspects of oversubscription criteria, such as sibling links. It was added that Key Stage 2 performance still needed to improve and as and when it does, more Medway children would reach the pass mark of the Medway test and thereby gain a place at a Medway grammar school.
· Partnership working with the diocese boards – it was recognised that the diocese boards had a part to play in supporting schools who were not performing to expected standards and could work in partnership with the LA and were welcomed to better engage in the Medway Education Partnership Board.
· Governors – in response to a question about dialogue between the LA and school governors, officers confirmed that this had been something the LA needed to do more of, and governor meetings were being started up again later in the term. These would be organised by governors and supported by the LA as it felt this would be the most successful method of maximum engagement and outcome.
· Medway Test – comment was made about whether Medway could require parents to opt their children out of taking the test, as opposed to opting in. Officers raised concerns about the legal possibilities of this but undertook to investigate.
· Home-schooling – it was confirmed that when a parent chooses to home school their child the legal responsibility around that child’s education falls to them and the LA had no right to intervene if the family did not wish to access support.
The Committee recommended the Cabinet to approve the Education Strategic Framework, as detailed within the strategies attached at Appendix 1 and 2 of the report.