Agenda and minutes

Small Schools Task and Finish Group
Thursday, 24th October, 2019 1.30 pm

Venue: County Hall, Chichester

Contact: Rachel Allan on 033 022 28966  Email:  rachel.allan@westsussex.gov.uk

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Notes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 216 KB

Members are asked to agree the notes of the previous TFG held on 18 September 2019 (cream paper).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.1     Mrs Flynn pointed out that the TFG had not received the split of numbers of children who had been at the same school since they started education and those who had transferred from other schools.

 

1.2     Resolved – that the Task & Finish Group agrees the notes of the previous meeting.

2.

Response to Recommendations pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To note the response from the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills dated 8 October 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

2.1     Resolved – that the Task & Finish Group notes the response from the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Members and officers must declare any pecuniary or personal interest in any business on the agenda. They should also make declarations at any stage such an interest becomes apparent during the meeting. Consideration should be given to leaving the meeting if the nature of the interest warrants it. (If in doubt please contact Democratic Services before the meeting).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

3.1   In accordance with the code of conduct, the following personal interests were declared: -

 

·         Ms Sudan in item 5, Consultation Process and item 6, Stakeholder Representation as her husband is Chair of Governors at Langley Green Primary School

·         Mrs Flynn in item 5, Consultation Process and item 6, Stakeholder Representation as a member of Ingfield Manor School Governing Body

 

4.

Project Plan pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Members are asked to agree the project plan for the Task and Finish Group.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1     Resolved – that the Task & Finish Group agrees the project plan for the Task and Finish Group.

5.

Consultation Process pdf icon PDF 211 KB

Members will receive a presentation on the consultation process so far.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1     James Richardson, Programme Manager, updated the TFG on the consultations responses as at 17 October 2019 with a presentation: -

 

  • There had been 189 responses up to 17 October 2019
  • Some people may have entered responses for more than one school
  • Responses up to 17 October showed the following: -

Ø  Clapham and Patching – respondents mainly support no change, feel the school is centred on the needs of the children and learners but are more split on the financial viability of the school

Ø  Compton and Up Marden – respondents mainly support no change, feel the school is centred on the needs of the children and learners and is financially viable

Ø  Rumboldswhyke – respondents mainly support academisation and are fairly split over whether the school is centred on the needs of the children and learners and financially viable

Ø  Stedham - respondents mainly support no change, feel the school is centred on the needs of the children and learners and is financially viable

Ø  Warninglid – respondents almost evenly split between no change and relocation, feel the school is centred on the needs of the children and learners but more split on the financial viability of the school

 

5.2     Paul Wagstaff, Director of Education & Skills told the TFG that: -

 

  • The question was asked as to whether responses could be broken down by those who were parents and those who were not to show possible differences in views between parents and other members of the community
  • Two meetings had been held with parents with just under 100 attending the one at Angmering and around 60 at Warninglid
  • Parents had often chosen to send their children to these schools after bad experiences at other schools
  • The schools recognised that change was needed
  • At the Warninglid meeting, which was positive, there had been questions about federation and relocation
  • There were challenges around how admissions were planned
  • The meetings had provided a good opportunity to get the views of parents and other members of the community

 

6.

Stakeholder Representations pdf icon PDF 886 KB

An opportunity for members to hear representations from identified witnesses who have been invited to speak.

 

Members will also consider any written representations received in advance of the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1     The TFG heard from representatives from the schools involved in the consultation process.

 

6.2     David Longmore - Clapham & Patching Church of England Primary School: -

 

  • The school had the following grievances with the process

Ø  A lack of openness and transparency with the data and timescales

Ø  No chance to see information before it was made public

Ø  No warning information would be made public despite the letter of 12 July from the Director of Education & Skills saying it might be

  • The school answered the 12 questions on the School Effectiveness Strategy in October 2018 then met the Director of Education & Skills on 2 May 2019 when it learned that there might be a consultation on options that would include possible closure of the school – the school had already been considering federation. The school kept this discussion confidential as requested
  • At a meeting on 26 June 2019 the school warned that if consultation included possible closure it would impact on admissions – six expected admissions did not materialise as a result
  • The school was angry and shocked to receive the letter on 12 July 2019 saying the school could possibly close
  • There was disappointment at the way the Children & Young People’s Services Select Committee dealt with the matter on 11 September 2019
  • There was little notice given to arrange a public meeting
  • Communications had been badly handled

 

6.3     David Ewers - Clapham & Patching Church of England Primary School: -

 

  • There were issues with the disclosure of information and the financial implications that have impacted on admission numbers
  • The financial data was hard to reconcile – there was no rationale for the figures produced
  • The school challenges the viability of the financial data and questions why it was put in the public domain

 

6.4     David Barty – Rumboldswhyke Church of England Infant School

 

Mr Barty began by stating that he had been Chairman of the governing body of Rumboldswhyke school until mid-September when an Interim Executive Board, of which he was a member, was formed to replace the governing body. Mr Barty also stated that he had made regrettably already found it necessary to make a formal complaint against the Chairman of the Interim Executive Board which had yet to be resolved. Mr Barty told the TFG: -

 

  • The options for the school were restricted due to its inadequate judgement by OFSTED which also impacted on the school roll
  • The judgement was based on technical safeguarding issues that had been resolved and the school wanted to be inspected again
  • When parents hear that a school may close, they look for other options
  • The school had lost pupils as it fed into Central School which had had problems for some time
  • The process had been handled badly

 

6.5     Ed Platt - Compton & Up Marden Church of England Primary School

 

  • The school would resubmit its answers to the 12 questions asked in July with a fuller response
  • Data about the school from OFSTED reached by the ‘Have Your Say’ website was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Future Work

Members to identify any additional stakeholders to be invited to its next meeting and any additional evidence or advice required.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1     The Task & Finish Group discussed who to invite to its next meeting

 

7.2     Resolved – that representatives from the Executive Heads, Schools Forum, Governors Association and Diocese of Chichester be invited to the next meeting of the Task & Finish Group.

 

8.

Date of the next meeting

The next meeting of the Task and Finish Group will take place in December with a date and location to be advised.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting will take place in December and will be confirmed once arranged.

 

The meeting ended at 15.09pm.