Agenda and minutes

Education Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 25 November 2020 1.00 pm

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Deborah Miller, Tel: 07920 084239  Email:

Link: videolink to the meeting

No. Item


Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments


An apology for absence was received from Councillor Emma Turnbull (Councillor Susanna Pressel substituting).


Declarations of Interest


Councillor John Howson declared a personal non-pecuniary interest in Agenda Item 7 by virtue of his position as a Director of a company that undertakes research of the subject.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 224 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2020 and 23 September 2020 (ESC3) and to receive information arising from them.

Additional documents:


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 September 2020 and 23 September 2020 were approved and signed subject to the following amendments: Minute 21/20 substitute ‘earlier’ with ‘early’ and Minute 22/20 substitute ’McKewan’ with ‘McEwan’.


Matters Arising


In relation to Minute 23/20 Councillor Susanna Pressel queried how many laptops had been distributed to children and whether there was any support with internet access for families.


The Director for Children’s Services, Kevin Gordon responded that they were currently undertaking a piece of work with the Voluntary Sector Group examining how they could get a wider rollout of laptops, as the laptops they had received from the Department for Education was a limited number and they now believed it was going to be a long-term issue, so there was a need to find creative ways of achieving it.  They were also looking at the idea of ‘sharing data’ with the possibility of adults giving up unused data into a pool, which was an idea used extensively and successfully in Australia.


The Director undertook to keep the Committee updated and informed once something was in place.


Councillor Gill Sanders reported that much of the Councillor Priority Fund for the year had not been spent and suggested that the unspent Councillor Priority Fund could be used to buy laptops and dongles for children in schools.   The Chairman undertook to ask the Chairman of the Council to ask Councillors to consider contributing the money.


Councillor John Howson suggested that members approach the Multi Academy trusts within their areas to see what they were doing and to collect some data and map the scale of the need.


Kevin Gordon reported that they were doing a ‘light touch’ data collection to understand the position.


Update on Special Educational Needs in Oxfordshire pdf icon PDF 228 KB



Report by the Deputy Director for Children’s Services (ESC5).


The Education Scrutiny Committee has requested an update on the analysis of SEND and provision in Oxfordshire, together with the emerging strategy for implementing a transformative approach to supporting our children and young people with SEND.


The Education Scrutiny Committee is RECOMMENDED to note developments to date since September 2020, in order to transform the provision of education, health and care services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.


The Education Scrutiny Committee had requested an update on the analysis of SEND and provision in Oxfordshire, together with the emerging strategy for implementing a transformative approach to supporting our children and young people with SEND.


The Deputy Director for Education, Hayley Good introduced the report which updated members on progress of the actions undertaken since it had last been to Committee in September.  The report recognised that they could not achieve the improvements required without engaging a wider range of other stakeholders in the work they were doing, including early years providers, schools, colleges and parents.


She reported that Oxfordshire County Council SEND services were facing financial challenges as were many Local Authorities across the country, with growing expectations on essential services and increasing demand and complexity of needs of some of the most vulnerable residents.  The current financial challenges however, provided opportunities to fundamentally rethink and transform the way that services were delivered, which would focus on developing a more inclusive approach to supporting children and young people with SEND.


The local area SEND inspection revisit in October 2019 had identified that there was still work to do as a partnership and stated that “Leaders had an aspirational vision for the work they were doing to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND in Oxfordshire. However, parents did not yet feel part of this vision and did not fully understand what work was being done to achieve it”.


There was a significant amount of work ongoing with the co-production Board and at an individual officer level with zoom meetings with the parent carer forum representatives, with over 60 parents having signed up, giving them an opportunity to raise questions.


They were also seeking to second an Oxfordshire Headteacher for an agreed period in order to lead the consultation and finalisation of the new SEND strategy with schools and settings.  It was essential to use the opportunity to capture the realities of the schools setting and develop insight that could help them work with schools on supporting children with SEND.


In relation to engagement, Mrs Good reported that they were looking to improve communications by ensuring that the final Strategy sent out for consultation made clear the shared vision for the future and identified the major changes required, both in the short to medium term and over the next five years to bring about improved services for children and young people with SEND in Oxfordshire. The insight provided by the SEND Joint Strategic Needs Assessment was extremely helpful in order to ensure that the new SEND Strategy was aligned with the SEND sufficiency strategy and future joint commissioning arrangements.  The next stage for the SEND Strategy would be an update which included input from schools.  The draft would then be made available for public consultation early in 2021.


In relation to the wider SEND Transformation, they were developing a high need deficit recovery plan in order to achieve costs savings and the report highlighted some of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30/20


Vulnerable Learners



To receive a presentation from the Head of the Virtual School on the Virtual school, celebrating children in care and their educational achievements.



The Education Scrutiny Committee had requested to receive a presentation from the Head of the Virtual School on the Virtual school, celebrating children in care and their educational achievements.  Accordingly, Michele Johnson attended the Committee to give a presentation (a copy of which is attached to the signed copy of the Minutes) and share celebrations and reflections over the past year, including Covid.


Ms Johnson reported that although there was considerable concern around the effects of Covid to learning, for children that had been so anxious around attending school it had proved to have been a gift in many ways.  She highlighted the positives from the year, including:


·            Some of the highest exams results seen;

·            A higher number of young people attending University;

·            Lowest ever school exclusion rate;

·            Post 16 results:

·            GCSE resits English 30% (6%) Maths 19% (8%)

·            4 students - A-C A levels – all going to University

·            9 students - Distinction*-pass – 7 going to University, 1 apprenticeship, 1 full time work;

·            4 students Finished degrees/MAs – continuing studying;

·            4 students Finished foundation degrees, continuing to a degree at University;

·            2 Oxbridge offers;

·            Primary University Programme – Magdalen College

·            Training venues for teachers - trauma awareness in schools

·            Mental Health and trauma research sharing with Heads and Chairs

·            Exclusion agenda – Harry Daniels and Ian Thompson

·            REES centre PGCE training, CiCC engagement

·            Dr Alexy Karenowska – Physics – engineering competition over lockdown, magnetic challenge to be sent home – OKW challenges

·            Dr Simon Smith – Brasenose College

·            Ashmolean Museum kinship carer virtual art workshops during lockdown

·            Oxford Brookes University pathway programme for KS3/4 pupils

·            Virtual Reality feasibility study using immersive technologies with Oxford X-Reality Hub and Oxford University

·            Issued laptops to children and care leavers in liaison with social workers

·            Set up 1:1 tuition during lockdown for targeted KS4 pupils, EAL pupils and children working from home

·            Continued with adapted COVID PEPs targeting access to learning

·            Enabled mentoring and career profiling via WhatsApp

·            Published fortnightly bulletins for DTs and Foster Carers

·            Continued with applications for EHCPs/schools/admissions

·            Continued with virtual training for DTs, foster carers and social workers

·            Letterbox parcels for KS1&2, Dolly Parton Imagination Library for under 5s

·            Extremely good attendance

·            CiCC weekly catch ups to check in plus larger meetings via TEAMS

·            Oxfordshire Kindness Wave – creative challenges, holding in mind parcels, art materials, residential home creative packs, online Friday tea-time art clubs, Horrid Henry back to school video messages/letters to children, house-warming gifts for YPSA new homes.


The Committee thanked Ms Johnson for her excellent presentation and requested that she pass on the Committee’s thanks and congratulations to all staff at the school and paid tribute to the fact that the school had grasped the opportunities presented by living in a County with two universities.



Teacher Training Recruitment



To receive a verbal report from Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance on recruitment onto initial teacher training placements and the capacity of the workforce.



The Education Scrutiny Committee had requested to receive a verbal report from Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance on recruitment onto initial teacher training placements and the capacity of the workforce.  Accordingly, Mr Patrick Garton, SCITT Director of the Teaching School attended the Meeting to update the Committee on the Current situation.

Mr Garton reported that he had talked to colleagues at Brooks University and Oxford University regarding ITT Capacity this year and the general message coming back was that they seemed to be making things work this year.  In May and June this year, following lockdown he had been very worried about how things were going to work.  Some of the trainees last year continued in their placements full time and some continued to contribute significantly with on-line work.

Shifting to the online world mid-way through the year was a bit easier than setting up a whole new year in that context.  By the time they had got to the end of their recruitment cycle in June, they had managed to make things work with around 115 trainees this year on new programmes, and a group of around 20 on part-time programmes who had started in the last academic year, so they found enough places to work.  This had been the same at Oxford Brooks and Oxford University as well.  To an extent they were in competition with the 2 universities for placements as they were the three significant providers of ITT within the County.

He further reported that around 90% of those that had trained with them had stayed in Oxfordshire, which compared to 25 – 30% of the other two providers, so one of the reasons they always tried to get high quality placements was because it translated in 9 out of 10 situations to people joining state schools in Oxfordshire as newly qualified teachers (NQT) and that was the case this year even for those, given the turbulence of the Summer Term.  They had 2 or 3 who had trained with them last year and hadn’t taken teaching jobs yet, but around 85% were NQTs this year.

At the same time last year, they were still in the depths of a recruitment crisis and for many years there had been a crisis in terms of quality, quantity and location, and location as a factor in Oxfordshire was of particular concern.  What they were now beginning to see as they looked ahead, was that capacity would be a major challenge in the system.  At the moment, this year they were just about making things work, although on a daily basis they were hearing of trainees and their mentors and colleagues in schools and year group bubbles who were having to self-isolate, so it was continuing to be a very patchy picture and it was proving difficult to ensure that the best provision was distributed equitably across all the trainees. 

The Department of Education had relaxed some of their ITT criteria and legislation, in an attempt to make things a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32/20


Admission Scheme



To receive a verbal update from the Head of Access to Learning on fair access and referrals to the Secretary of State.


The Education Scrutiny Committee had requested to receive a verbal update from the Head of Access to Learning on fair access and referrals to the Secretary of State. Accordingly, Allyson Milward attended the Committee to update it on progress of the fair access processes.


Mrs Milward gave an update of the fair access processes and how they were working currently since the last time the Committee had looked at the issue last Autumn.  She reported that since last autumn, the team had been introducing rigorous procedures in referring youngsters in the in-year application system who had not been placed within 15 school days within logging an application for a place. They were now (if they could not be placed) being referred straight to the panels.  The business was going to the in-year fair access panels alongside those who had been excluded and were looking for an alternative school place.


Youngsters were being identified if they were not moving into the school system quickly enough, which had meant that there had been a huge increase of business going to the panels, so they were looking at how that was being administered.  At the moment that was being administered well, North/West Central panels were working co-operatively together to place the youngsters, (there were always cases that needed more investigation than others) but mostly they had got numbers coming through in the Oxford and Bicester areas which was just sheer volume in trying to place youngsters where they hadn’t got the on published numbers the number of places to offer them.


Work had been carried out to identify those trends and they had not had to make any referrals of the SFA this term, but it did take longer to place a youngsters that had been excluded than ones that was coming through with an application for a place because they had not here for the main rounds.  They were now getting ready to do the annual consultation on the in-year fair access protocol which would look at some administrative changes to help those panels deal with the volume of work coming their way, so they could get even better at shifting the business.


They were also setting themselves up to deal with the anticipated changes to the school admissions code in the next academic year.  The Secretary of State had consulted on some changes this Autumn though the outcome was not yet known.   In this area, the main change was that was a requirement that youngsters would have to be placed within ten days of applying for a place in-year and that requirement would fall upon the co-ordinating authority which was usually this Council, but also on the admission authorities and it was going to be a challenge to meet that target.  She believed they should be achieving it, but this could require a further look at the fair access protocol next Autumn.


The Chairman commented that those who were members on the school’s stakeholder were aware of the proposals that were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33/20


Forward Plan and Committee Business pdf icon PDF 117 KB

An opportunity to discuss and prioritise future topics for the Committee, potential approaches to its work and to discuss the schedule for future meetings (ESC9).


The Committee considered the forward plan and AGREED the business for February 2021 as set out in the report and that the Chairman and Vice Chairman, together with officers would manage the business on the current work programme for the efficient running of the Committee.