Presented by Keeley Pullen, Head Teacher of the Virtual School for Children Looked After, the report detailed the use of the Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) Grant for Children Looked After (CLA) and the proposed strategy on the use of the grant for 2019-2020.
The Chair gave praise to the report and commented on the detailed information given.
Councillor Spillman questioned if the funds were distributed to the LA and academy schools. Answering that the funds were distributed to whichever school CLA were in, Keeley Pullen said some children were doubled funded so did not always receive the extra funds. Instead, the extra money was used to commission an extra service to support them. Councillor Spillman went on to ask what monitoring and interventions were in place to ensure the schools delivered with the use of the funds. Keeley Pullen answered that monitoring was through Personal Education Plans (PEP) and meetings with the school. There was a robust dialogue between the Virtual School and schools regarding the interventions in place and clear escalation processes which ended with Keeley Pullen herself, the Corporate Director of Children’s Services and Ofsted if needed. However, this scenario has never happened.
The Chair stated that it would be good to see which children did well within the Virtual School. Referring to paragraph 3.4.10, the Chair sought clarification on the first sentence. Keeley Pullen clarified that without additional funding from the PP+, some CLA would not have been able to attend educational visits which were too expensive.
Councillor Johnson mentioned that he was a school governor and saw how PP+ was spent and questioned how school reports would show whether they had CLA in their school. Keeley Pullen explained that it was a statutory requirement for schools to publish PP+ spending. However, school reports were broad and school governors were able to request further information within reports. To the Virtual School, schools had to clarify PP+ spending through PEP and discussions.
Of the £602,600 mentioned in paragraph 3.1.1, Councillor Akinbohun sought clarification on the spend of the rest of the fund. Keeley Pullen answered that the rest of the fund was allocated as the top slice which was detailed on page 42 of the agenda. The figures were received from the finance team but it had to be noted that some of the leftover money came from children who had left care or had not used the full amount.
Councillor Akinbohun queried how the service monitored whether CLA were receiving the services needed with the funds. Keeley Pullen explained feedback was provided from students which was used to improve services and staff would raise accountability where needed. Younger children were usually unaware of the funds but older children were asked.
Jackie Howell, Chair of the One Team, Foster Carer Association, questioned whether CLA over 16 still received the same PP+ grant or whether it was bursaries received. Confirming this was not the case, Keeley Pullen explained that PP+ was received up to year 11 but the Virtual School monitored up to 18 years of age and did not manage bursaries. Jackie Howell mentioned that bursaries were not managed well by schools and young people had to provide proof that they were still in care. Keeley Pullen said that the Virtual School tried to use funds to support their post-16s where necessary as post-16s had no funding. The Virtual School relied on foster carers and young people to notify the service of where they encountered difficulties. Post-16s PEP would usually show where their bursaries were spent.
The Chair queried the percentage of CLA that took up the offer of 1 – 1 tuition. Keeley Pullen explained that year 10s would usually take up the offer and currently 70% of them were having weekly tuition. Some children had dropped a tuition subject because they were doing better and would take up another subject that they were struggling in. Upon reaching year 11, some children moved away from tuition as their school offered more revision classes. However, tuition was offered again if a dip in grades were seen. Currently, year 6s had been offered tuition which was well received.
1.1 That the Committee notes the budget and spending report for 2018-2019 for Pupil Premium Plus Grant for Children Looked After.
1.2 That the Committee notes the overall spending by schools of the grant.
1.3 That the Committee approves the proposed strategy plan for the Pupil Premium Plus Grant for 2019-2020.