Presented by Kate Kozlova-Boran, Interim Strategic Lead of Learning, the report provided a positive picture of the post-16 landscape. Post-16 year olds included young people who were not in education, employment or training (NEET). The service had made substantial progress in reducing the number of NEET from 13.8% in 2008 to 1.7% in 2018 and young people differed in this timeline. Additional resources may be needed to support the 1.7% NEET.
Councillor Akinbohun questioned how the service was realigning to meet the needs of the NEET in the 21st century. In answer, Kate Kozlova-Boran said careers advice was provided in 85% of schools which would prevent young people from falling into NEET.
On paragraph 3.1,Councillor Anderson questioned why the figure of 2.0% in August 2018 had increased significantly to 8.8% in one month. Kate Kozlova-Boran explained that it had been due to the arrival of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) in which the service had lost sight of. Local authorities had an obligation to report UASC on their systems within 24 hours and although the UASC had run away and not returned, they would still remain on the system, thus contributing to the jump in percentage.
Councillor Akinbohun asked if students had gone on gain placements in prestigious universities. Kate Kozlova-Boran announced that two young people had received placements in Oxford University and Cambridge University. One had been given a confirmed placement following their A Level results and the other one had been offered a conditional placement dependent on their A Level results in August 2019. Pleased to hear this, Councillor Akinbohun went on to say young people who were not doing so well should also be encouraged and supported. Kate Kozlova-Boran stated children from the 9 identified disadvantaged wards of Thurrock were supported and the National Outreach Programme also supported these children.
The Chair questioned whether additional funding had been sought yet. Michele Lucas, Interim Assistant Director of Learning, Skills and Inclusion answered successful funding had been secured through the service’s ‘On Track Thurrock’ programme. The service wanted the best for Thurrock’s young people and external funding was sought on a regular basis. A report would be brought back on high level apprenticeships.
Lynda Pritchard queried how the Committee could help to further the service’s cause in the post-16 landscape and for looked after children (LAC). Kate Kozlova-Boran answered the service had been adding to and realigning services to LAC as well as encouraging them to join the Duke of Edinburgh programme. Specialist tutors were brought in to support LAC who was underachieving. There was also a ‘Next Steps’ programme for LAC which supported LAC into getting ready for the working world and a range of other programmes were in consideration for LAC.
Following up, Lynda Pritchard asked whether there was ‘joined up thinking’ on starting the process of LAC programmes earlier and if funding was an issue. Andrea Winstone, School Improvement Manager, replied that the ‘Brilliance Club’ took disadvantaged children to visit universities. Lynda Pritchard felt that LAC should be high on the priority list and asked for a report to be brought back to the Committee on ‘joined up thinking’ on LAC programmes.
Councillor Akinbohun suggested the service work with other bodies such as fitness instructors to enable young people to channel their energy to prevent them from committing anti-social behaviour acts. Kate Kozlova-Boran answered that youth clubs were available for young people and there was the Prince’s Trust programme for 16-25 year olds. Councillor Akinbohun questioned if youth clubs and the Prince’s Trust Programme was promoted enough to young people. In answer, Michele Lucas confirmed that the Youth Offending Service helped with promotion. The service was aware of certain groups of young people and was trying to target these groups to encourage them to progress and move on. There were a range of programmes available to young people through Inspire which could be brought back to the Committee for an update.
1.1 That the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee endorsed and supported the current approach to the Post-16 provision in Thurrock.
1.2 That the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee reviewed and evaluated the current approach around the current services to vulnerable, SEND, LAC learners through an innovative individualised, young person led and sustainable targeted support programme.