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Agenda item

Rotherham Education Strategic Partnership (RESP) Update


To provide an overview and update of progress in respect of the key areas for action identified within the RESP strategic plan.


The Assistant Director for Education gave an update of the key priorities identified by RESP and progress in meeting these.


The Rotherham Education Strategic Partnership (RESP) was established in 2018 following the Enabling School Improvement consultation. The first meeting was held on 24th October 2018 and the Board had been meeting half termly since.


RESP has brought together key partners from across Rotherham’s education system enabling the work of key partners to be brought together into a coherent and effective strategic plan communicated through the Partnership. It aimed to maximise outcomes and improve life chances for children and young people, promote inclusion and reduce inequalities, to ensure that no school and no child or young person was left behind.


Previously there was an absence of a strategic body which held an overview of all educational partners and priorities. This had been brought together under RESP which aimed to ensure that the life of every child and young person was enhanced to the full by the provision of first class education.


The priority areas were as follows: Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND); Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT), Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Post 16 and Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH). Actions and progress against these areas were detailed in the report.


The Assistant Director observed that whilst a relatively a new Partnership, progress had been made, with good levels of collaboration and co-construction of policy between the Local Authority and educational provision in Rotherham.


Clarification was sought on the support available to children with special needs or disabilities or other vulnerabilities and how more able pupils were supported. The Assistant Director stated that it was the vision of the authority to ensure that no child was disadvantaged. The focus on SEND was to address the lack of sufficiency in provision.


Reference was made in the report of concerns about the traded offer; details were asked to establish what has been done to address these. The Local Authority had a number of traded services which schools could buy into. However, there was a lack of clarity about what was a statutory obligation or traded. A key priority for next year would be to differentiate between what the Local Authority had to do and what schools wanted it to do which would be traded.


Further explanation was asked about dual funding and the responsibility of host schools to give a child a sense of belonging to their community. It was outlined that some students attended alternative provision which may be outside their local community. The host school had responsibility for funding this provision to ensure that the links between the pupil and host school were maintained. Whilst ever students were in alternative provision, Aspire, the Pupil Referral Unit, worked therapeutically to address students’ needs and maintain and build links.


In response to a question about home visiting in relation to disadvantaged 2 year olds, the Assistant Director outlined that a successful bid in conjunction with South Yorkshire Futures and neighbouring authorities, had been achieved focusing on areas with low take-up. The bid would target families who were less likely to engage. Details of the evaluation and monitoring reports would be submitted to the Commission.


Assurance was sought about Elective Home Education (EHE) and how this was monitored. Each EHE family was visited to check on home provision, however, as numbers of families opting for EHE were increasing, this was proving challenging. A further question was asked to establish if there were any concerns about provision of EHE in households where English was not the first language; it was established that the issue had not been raised as a concern.


In respect to concerns raised about school funding, the Assistant Director had made representations to Government about funding options being applied from the date a child from a transient community joined a school rather than being determined from ‘census date’. There had been positive engagement on this issue.


Reference was made to a previous report to the Commission (2018 Education Performance Outcomes, Minute No. 34 refers) where actions to boost the attainment of more able pupils were reported as a priority. It was noted, however, these actions were not referenced in the current report submitted to the Commission for consideration. The RESP priorities had been set prior to the Education Outcomes being published. Assurance was given that the attainment of more able pupils would feature as a strategic priority for RESP next year. It was stated that individual schools and Trusts would be addressing the needs of high performing and more able pupils in their own plans and targets.


Clarification was sought on how the progress and attainment of pupils attending academies who did not buy into the school traded offer was ensured. The Assistant Director cited the longstanding relationships with Rotherham schools and growing levels of positive collaboration. In respect of those academies which were not fully engaged, the Assistant Director met regularly with the Department for Education (through the Regional School Commissioner) and worked closely with the academy Chief Executives to ensure there was progress and concerns flagged appropriately.


Further details were asked about how the Commission could hold the Assistant Director and RESP to account for performance, particularly in respect of key milestones and a demonstration of effectiveness. The Assistant Director outlined that the annual performance outcomes report, which would be submitted to the Commission, would provide a vehicle for this enquiry.


Reference was made to the number of abbreviations and acronyms in the report. It was asked that in future reports that acronyms/abbreviations be explained appropriately.




1) That the evaluation of the Early Years Home Visiting Project be submitted to this Commission.


2) That a report detailing key timelines, milestones and outcomes to reflect the difference that RESP is making be submitted to this Commission in December 2019.


3) That the above report detailed the actions taken to boost the performance of high performing and more able pupils.

Supporting documents: