Agenda and draft minutes

Education Consultative Committee - Thursday 13 October 2022 2.00 p.m.

Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham. S60 2TH

Contact: Samantha Mullarkey, Governance Unit  01709 822054 or 01709 822062

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Pitchley, Councillor Read, Colin Price (NEU) and Chris Stones.


Minutes of the previous meeting held on 23 June 2022


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 23 June 2022 were approved as a correct record.


Matters arising from the previous minutes


Sue Brook provided an updated in relation to Minute 6, Free School at Dinnington. There had been a site visit after the school had opened in September after which some concerns had been raised. These related to staff welfare, specifically the absence of a staffroom and the lack of toilets. There were concerns over how far away the pupil toilets were from the classrooms. As the toilets were outside the classroom area, pupils had to be accompanied by a member of staff. This meant staff members were out of the classroom for extended lengths of time. This would cause further difficulties as staffing ratios were not yet at the level that Ethos had originally stated. Nathan agreed that this matter would be discussed at the formal meeting but also confirmed this was not an issue solely related to Rotherham. The recruitment and retention of education staff, particularly in the SEND sector was problematic across the country.


A space within the entry foyer had been suggested as a private staff space however Unions did not believe that this was suitable as it was not necessarily private, despite the screening proposed. Nathan Heath stated he had been involved in discussions regarding the entry foyer. The school did not want the area to be too enclosed as it was felt this could provoke confrontation. However it was confirmed that this was a matter that the assets team were looking into along with allocating space for a staffroom.


It was agreed that Nathan Heath would pick up any matters relating to the Free School at Dinnington in the next formal meeting with Ethos Academy Trust on 17 November 2022. Members and Unions were urged to contact him with any further issues on this matter prior to this date so that they could be raised.


Sue Brook confirmed that some issues had been raised via HR back when the provision was at Rowan in July 2022, but no response had been received. This particularly related to pay progression.


Sue Brook also referenced Minute 7, Proposed Academisation of Catholic Schools – Update and requested an updated. Nathan Heath explained that there was continuing dialogue on the matter. The two Multi Academy Trusts (St Clare’s and St. Francis’) were now in place and an outline timetable for conversions was being established. The matter would be raised with the Department for Education.



Free Schools, Trusts and Academies - update


Dean Fenton referenced the Free Schools, Trusts and Academies update that had been circulated prior to the meeting. It was confirmed that the expected date of conversion for West Melton Junior and Infant School was now 1 December 2022, not 1 November 2022. It was also expected that there would be a change of name for the school, possibly to align with the new housing estate that had been built locally. This was subject to on-going consultation and the Local Authority would work closely with the Unions on this.


In response to a question from Sue Brook on the Creative Children’s Academy Trust merging with the New Collaborative Learning Trust, Amy Leech confirmed that as this was a matter of one academy merging with another, the TUPE transfer would be academy, not Local Authority led. However, HR would be involved, and help would be provided if required. It was not expected that the merger would be complete by the given date of 1 January 2023.


It was agreed that Nathan would write to Multi-Academy Trusts within the area to explain the transfer/merger process following a number of idiosyncrasies.



Violence to Staff Statistics


It was agreed that the Violence to Staff statistics would be circulated after the meeting along with a brief narrative providing an analysis of the key themes and trends of the data. Dean Fenton did advise that there was no statutory obligation for academies to report violence against their staff to the Local Authority and only around 50% of academies within the area did in fact report. Some had reporting mechanisms through their insurance.


In discussions it was agreed that there could be a reluctance from schools to provide the data as it could display them in a bad light. Sue Brook raised the issue of stretched support staff and children not being able to get the support that was needed which in turn could lead to more violence. She also raised the issue of EHCP’s taking a long time to progress through the system.


In response, Nathan Heath confirmed that around 50% of EHCP’s were completed within the 20-week deadline which was in line with the average nationally. The reason for delays nationally was an increase in demand, a backlog in children’s social care, medical care and therapeutic care. The ability of Local Authorities to provide access to high need and specialist need placements was particularly difficult.


It was reported that there was also a huge demand on Child Psychologists. Dr Hussain did confirm that Rotherham Council had recruited two trainee Child Psychologists who would be graduating in September 2023.


A further discussion was held on the pressures staff recruitment put on safeguarding and how the Council could monitor any issues, particularly in academies.



Teachers and NJC Pay Award Application


A verbal update was given on the teachers and NJC pay award application. The teachers award would go through November payroll with the NJC pay award going through October payroll. This was to avoid leaving employees at a detriment through the cost-of-living crisis. Nathan Heath stated that he would make all academies in the area aware of this so they could align their pay.


Sue Brook explained that the Unions were still in a dispute over the pay awards and asked the Council to guarantee that, should a more favourable pay award be proposed, it would pay that increased figure? Nathan Heath agreed that a more favourable pay award would be paid if proposed and agreed by Government and the Unions.



SEND Sufficiency Phase 4 Update


An update was provided on the SEND Sufficiency Phase 4 which was being presented to Cabinet on Monday 17 October 2022. Approval was sought for the proposal to create 10 additional SEND resource bases in mainstream education and thus creating a minimum of 100 additional SEND places across this phase of SEND sufficiency. Approval was also sought for the proposal to enhance both mainstream and specialist SEND accessibility, through targeted investment in schools to enhance their ability to meet a wider level of SEND needs within their individual education settings.


Expression of interests from schools to host a SEND resource-based provision will take place across autumn term 2022, with a proposed rollout from Easter 2023 onwards, with current school sites that will be repurposed and needing less physical adaption opening in the first instance, followed by a staged approach across building projects.


The proposals would enhance SEND provision in the borough thus supporting the delivery of the High Needs Safety Valve Agreement that was in place. It would also mean that children could continue to have their needs met locally.


Concerns were raised that some schools would not want SEND resource bases as it could impact on their exam results. Nathan Heath confirmed that the Local Authority would offer support to all schools that wanted to engage. There was a hope that clear links between resources in primary schools and into secondary schools could be established. A mapping exercise across Rotherham would be completed to ensure the resource bases covered as much as the borough as possible.


It was agreed that a written update would be provided at the next meeting on the progress made to date. The report would also include an update on the Newman rebuild.


There was some discussion on post-19 SEND resource at Thomas Rotherham College. The DfE had approved the Council’s proposal to extend the 16-19 provision to post-19 students with SEND in order to help them transition into the next level of education. This was a change to national policy.



Any Other Business


Reports and Minutes


It was agreed that, where possible, written reports would be provided in advance of meetings.


It was agreed that the Minutes would be circulated as soon as they were finalised.



Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 9 February at 2.00pm in Rotherham Town Hall.


The next meeting would take place on Thursday 9 February at 2.00pm in Rotherham Town Hall.