Cabinet Member for Children Start of Life

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1 Cabinet Member for Children Start of Life Learning Improvement Strategy: Protocols for Working in Partnership with Schools, Children and Families to Tackle Underachievement November 2013 Report by Director of Communities Commissioning and Strategic Commissioner for Learning Ref No: CH17 (13/14) Key Decision: Yes Part I Electoral Divisions: N/A Executive Summary The proposed Learning Improvement Strategy: Protocols for Working in Partnership with Schools, Children and Families to Tackle Underachievement sets out the ways in which West Sussex County Council will monitor the performance of all schools and settings, and intervene where required to improve outcomes. The Strategy follows on from previous documents, and has been drafted to reflect the significant shift to include additional focus upon underperformance of individuals, groups of vulnerable learners, including those eligible for free school meals, and other state funded non maintained schools. This approach sets out in detail the relative roles and responsibilities of the County Council, its officers and those schools and other settings. This includes the principles on which it will operate, and the escalation of actions that are available to the County Council to ensure the best outcomes are achieved for individuals, groups and schools, irrespective of their status. The Strategy reflects the current statutory context, prior to any potential future commissioning of the provision of education services by a strategic third party. At this stage two elements of the Strategy those relating to maintained settings and mainstream academies and free schools only are included. The elements relating to individual children and vulnerable groups of children are in development and will drafted at a later date. Recommendation The Cabinet Member for Children Start of Life is recommended to approve the Learning Improvement Strategy: Protocols for Working in Partnership with Schools, Children and Families to Tackle Underachievement as set out in Appendix B. 1. Context 1.1 The County Council currently has a wide range of statutory obligations with regard to education provision for all children and young people in West Sussex, irrespective of the school or setting they attend. However, the direct accountability and responsibility for the outcomes of this

2 provision remain with the individual governing bodies and leaders of the settings, or in the case of academies, the board of trustees or sponsors. 1.2 The purpose of the Learning Improvement Strategy is to set out in a transparent manner the ways in which the County Council and educational settings in West Sussex will work in partnership to secure the early identification of educational under-achievement and put in place timely interventions to raise standards. 1.3 The Learning Improvement Strategy describes how the Learning Service will continue to discharge its statutory obligations on behalf of the County Council to monitor outcomes within this redefined relationship, and, where required, intervene to support the school or setting to make the required improvements. 1.4 The document is entitled a Learning Improvement Strategy rather than just a School Improvement Strategy because it will make clear how the strategies for tackling under-achievement and removing barriers to learning operate at a variety of levels: a) Individual children b) Vulnerable groups of children c) Maintained settings d) Mainstream Academies and Free Schools 1.5 The new Strategy reflects this redefinition for the Learning Service, supporting and standing up for the parents, carers and their children to ensure they have the best opportunity and access to receive the most appropriate provision, leading to the best possible outcomes. 1.6 At this stage two elements of the Strategy those relating to maintained settings and mainstream academies and free schools - are presented for approval to the Cabinet Member. The proposed Strategy sets out in detail how the County Council will intervene on behalf of parents, carers and children in relation to maintained settings and the memorandum of understanding with mainstream Academies and free schools. 1.7 The remaining two strands relating to individual children and vulnerable groups of children remain work in progress. There are a number of changes pending which relate to the Children and Families Bill currently under consideration by Parliament. The new legislation will come into force during 2014 and until the final details are confirmed, the remaining sections of the Strategy will not be completed. 1.8 The Local Authority is held to account on a regular basis for the performance of the learners with West Sussex, by the Cabinet, the Cabinet Member and all Members in the first instance through measures contained within the Performance Framework; directly through parents and carers; but also by external agencies including OFSTED. 1.9 The resources to undertake this monitoring role are both diminishing and potentially subject to a new method of delivery under Future Council. It

3 should be noted however, that OFSTED will still place full expectation on Local Authorities to undertake this work effectively in all schools, including Academies and Free Schools, irrespective of any funding reduction or method of service delivery. 2. Background 2.1 Historically, Local Authorities were not only accountable for outcome and provision within maintained schools, but also for the direct support, challenge and intervention through its officers in those settings. 2.2 This direct intervention was centrally funded, through grants such as the National Strategies for Literacy and Numeracy, and the New Relationship with Schools, including the School Improvement Partner functions. 2.3 This provision was previously reflected in the School Improvement Strategy, which described the nature of direct intervention to every school on a termly basis as a minimum. The Strategy also explained the significant support which could be provided to a school which was seen to be underachieving. 2.4 With recent changes in education policy, including the academy and free school programme, the funding of these intervention responsibilities has diminished, and passed to either individual settings, or to academy trusts or sponsors. 2.5 As a result, the Learning Service now only directly intervenes in schools that are judged as underperforming, although it continues to monitor the performance of all schools though its scrutiny of available data. 3. Implementation of the Strategy 3.1 The first two strands of the Strategy to be agreed, relating to maintained settings and mainstream academies and free schools, will be implemented without delay. 3.2 Each of these strands of intervention will follow similar principles, established around working in partnership with the educational settings, in a fair, transparent and evidence based manner. 3.3 Each strand also sets out clearly the roles and responsibilities of the respective players in this partnership, and the incremental actions that can be expected. This escalation reflects the steps that are available to the Council, as set out in legislation. 4. Other Options considered The Strategy sets out the statutory duties placed upon the County Council with regard to learning improvement within all schools. Within the diminishing resources available, the capacity to intervene in any other way or to a greater degree is not possible.

4 5. Consultation 5.1 This Strategy has been drawn up in consultation with a range of key stakeholders, including school leaders, governors, and other interested groups including parent representatives. 5.2 The latter strand concerning academy and free schools resulted from workshops of invited academy chain sponsors over a number of weeks. 5.3 The whole school strand has been distributed to all schools, including invitation for written feedback. 5.4 The Strategy was the subject of scrutiny by the Children and Young People s Services (CYPS) Select Committee on 24 October Following the debate, the Select Committee endorsed the proposed Strategy and made recommendations regarding its implementation which have been accepted by the Cabinet Member and incorporated into the Strategy where appropriate. This included the need for elected Members to exercise their democratic mandate in relation to Academies and Free Schools and that expectations regarding Children s Services be included in the Memorandum of Understanding with Academies and Free Schools. 6. Resource Implications and Value for Money 6.1 The shift from setting to learning improvement explained above in paragraph 2.3 reflects the shift in direct control and accountability resulting from the diversification of schools through the academy programme, and the resulting impact upon the degree of influence and capacity within the Learning Service. 6.2 This impact has been the subject of recent CYPS Select Committee consideration as part of its scrutiny of the future models of delivery options for the Learning Service. The new Strategy reflects the increasing financial constraints, and deploys the remaining resources to those areas of greatest need. Within Learning this is described as deploying resources in inverse proportion to success. 6.3 Regardless of the funding source, the Learning Service through this review will ensure that best value for money is achieved in the delivery of services through effective commissioning and procurement of those services. 7. Impact of the proposal 7.1 An Equality Impact Report has been undertaken and is attached as an Appendix A. 7.2 The proposals contained within the Strategy are intended to ensure that the quality of provision, and therefore the rights of the individual child are maintained and enhanced through the future actions of the County Council.

5 8. Risk Management Implications 8.1 The primary risk implicit within this Strategy, reinforced through the emphasis on work only with settings where underperformance has already been identified, is that the Council will increasingly lose intelligence of a significant number of schools. This will be as a result of either their status, or as a result of the far more limited intervention in anything other than underachieving schools. 8.2 This limited knowledge of schools could mean that schools deemed as good or better may underperform, yet the County Council may be unaware of this underperformance until the publication of annual examination or test results. 8.3 Ultimately, this underperformance profile may potentially lead, through the public inspection of school improvement services, to the County Council being judged as requiring improvement or inadequate. The service is currently preparing for a potential inspection, including making explicit its responsibilities and how it may discharge them under a different method of delivery in future. This Strategy will set out the County Council s responsibilities to mitigate against this risk. Susan Hawker Director of Communities Commissioning Brin Martin Strategic Commissioner for Learning Contact: Brin Martin, Background Papers None Appendices Appendix A Equality Impact Report Appendix B - Learning Improvement Strategy

6 Equality Impact Report Title of proposal Date of implementation Learning Improvement Strategy: Protocols for Working in Partnership with Schools, Children and Families to Tackle Underachievement January 2014 EIR completed by: Name: Tel: Brin Martin Decide whether this report is needed and, if so, describe how you have assessed the impact of the proposal. The foundation of the Strategy grew from previous iterations of a school improvement strategy, which has been in place and operated successfully for several years. The shift from setting to learner as the focus required wider consultation. Early stakeholder engagement has been undertaken to explore the impact upon settings through direct consultation with their leaders, ultimately charged with the learning improvement of children and young people of West Sussex. Through several iterations, the Strategy was supported and drafted. This included later work with the Academy sponsors to try and ensure inclusion of learners outside the direct control of the Local Authority. 2. Describe any negative impact for customers or residents. None 3. Describe any positive effects which may offset any negative impact. The intention behind the implementation of the Strategy is that the focus will shift from setting to individual learner. In this way, it is anticipated that all learners will be included in the scope of this Strategy. 4. Describe whether and how the proposal helps to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The proposal to redesign the Learning Improvement Strategy has the potential to maintain and ideally enhance a high quality service to all customers and so the work undertaken will help to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation. 5. Describe whether and how the proposal helps to advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. The proposal, by seeking to maintain effective monitoring, support and challenge for all learners, irrespective of the setting they attend, has the potential to advance the equality of opportunity for all customers. In future, a commissioning team within the County Council will be able to focus on the outcomes required for all learners, including for people who share a protected characteristic. 6. Describe whether and how the proposal helps to foster good relations between persons who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

7 The proposal has the potential to foster good relations between families, children, young people, providers of learning and the wider community through strong partnerships, improved communication and ensuring effective delivery of statutory and strategic responsibilities. 7. What changes were made to the proposal as a result? If none, explain why. N/A 8. Explain how the impact will be monitored to make sure it continues to meet the equality duty owed to customers and say who will be responsible for this. The three Senior Advisers with responsibility for learning improvement. As a result of the Learning Service Redesign, there will be a formal opportunity to review the implementation of the strategy on transition to provision by a third party provider, no later than April To be signed by a Director or Head of Service to confirm that they have read and approved the content. Name Sue Hawker Date 27/11/13 Your position Director of Communities Commissioning

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