Agenda item

Overview of Responsibilities of Portfolio Holder for Education report


This item was introduced by Councillor Adam Carter (Portfolio Holder). Key points included:

·       All partners were thanked for their continued support and hard work. 

·       Academies accepted the challenge posed by RAAC and rose to the occasion.

·       The Portfolio Holder advised he visited many schools and acknowledged there was a requirement of improvements to scrutiny.


During discussions, the following points were raised:

·       The achievement of schools was highlighted however Members raised that secondary schools in Thurrock were currently 2nd for the bottom within the East of England and wanted to know what was done to address this.

·       Members were assured that performance was due to three of the borough’s schools designated as inadequate and requires improvement. These schools had not been re-brokered for two years which was disappointing. Thurrock remained the strong critical friend, however, was unable to dictate to academies. 

·       Members raised that scrutiny was not working and highlighted that the current Portfolio Holder for Education was the previous chair of the Committee. The Portfolio Holder advised the Committee of the challenges and ever-changing situation of the rebrokering of the three schools and that a previous provider fell through, however, a resolution continued to be sought.


·       Questions arose on RAAC, and the Portfolio Holder for Education advised he did not visit schools affected prior to the November 2023 Overview and Scrutiny meeting. Members raised that guidance was issued over the summer and was changed which put pressure on schools. Each Head Teacher confirmed it had an impact on children’s learning, stressing the importance of site visits. 

·       Members raised issues with the education attainment gap. The Committee were informed that extra support was being put in place for transitions and recognised the Key Stage four results remained below targets. This was due to missed education during the pandemic, and they were still catching up. The impact of RAAC situation would also need to be taken into consideration. There was also a cohort of children struggling to get back to school.


Action: A report on the education attainment gap and the work with schools to improve this is to be considered within the next municipal year as part of the proposed changes to the overview and scrutiny function. 


·       Members questioned the 8% of settings that did not engage with the School Effectiveness Team. They were informed that the service delivered the statutory responsibility of the council around delivering support and advice to settings to improve.

·       Members raised that Thurrock was higher than statistical neighbours for EHCPs. 20-week assessments were improving, and the service was now fully staffed which had made an impact.

·       Members questioned the data on Elective Home Education (EHE) children and if this was moving in the right direction. It was noted there had been an uptick since the pandemic, however parents had a right to consider EHE. Furthermore, there was a strong school attendance and support team in place.

·       Member asked for clarity in relation to School Ofsted reports.  90% of Thurrock’s schools rated good (95% of primary Schools and 76% of secondary schools). Members were reassured that Thurrock continued to have a close relationship with academies. Members were encouraged to review the individual Ofsted reports for specific performance results. 

·       It was highlighted that the SEND in focus week commenced next week (w/c 18 March 2024).




No recommendations were contained within the report.  


David May left the meeting at 10.36pm.


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