Purpose: To provide an update on the local educational landscape, educational achievement and the financial challenges affecting schools in the Thirsk & Malton area.
Members considered a detailed report introduced by Andrew Dixon, CYPS Strategic Planning Manager. The wide-ranging report provided information on:
· The no of schools across the area and their status;
· School standards and attainment;
· Special Education Needs;
· Elective Home Education;
· Schools Finance;
· Local school place planning issues;
In response to questions from Members, it was confirmed:
· There was land designated in the Easingwold area for school parking, secured by the County Council in case it was needed, which would be dependent on house building in the area. These types of decisions were now supported by access to NHS data on pre-school aged children registered at local GP practices;
· Capacity at Kirbymoorside school and the level of expansion needed, was currently being assessed;
· There had been a steady decline in the number of fixed term exclusions which was considered positive but the Service was not complacent. It was confirmed that following the significant review of secondary school exclusions in 2018, which led to changes to the pupil referral unit and the introduction of a more positive and proactive approach, a similar review of the support and interventions for primary aged pupils was to be undertaken;
· In regard to Easingwold Outwood Academy, there had been a reduction in its intake. In previous year’s it had seen a significant intake of pupils from outside its catchment area, but following its special measure judgement, those numbers fell away. Coupled with that there had been no increase in the primary population from its feeder schools, which was having an inherent impact. It was noted the school had not had an Ofsted inspection since becoming a sponsored academy in 2018, so it continued to carry its predecessor’s judgement.
· There would be a return to external exams this year, with some adjustment to GCSE and A Level examinations e.g. some reduced content;
· In the last 5 years, the gap between the national and local recognised percentage of children with an EHCP had reduced significantly, bringing the county much closer in line with the national picture. Work continues to ensure the county has enough provision in the right places;
· A high percentage of those pupils with fixed term or permanent exclusions often had complex needs or unidentified SEND;
· There had been an increase in the number of pupils being electively home educated which had been exacerbated because of the lockdowns. Many had chosen to continue post pandemic. A team of advisors had been established under the Medical Education Service to work with families to ensure an appropriate curriculum and safeguards were in place. The co-operation of the parents was key, as it was not something the local authority could insist on;
· Overall a falling birth rate and some social and economic factors were responsible for a reduction in pupil roll numbers, resulting in a reduction in funding;
· Further developments for 2022/23 around sparsity funding following the significant increase in the maximum value for smaller and more remote primary schools in 2021 with a further 80 schools expected to benefit across North Yorkshire;
The Chair thanked officers for their comprehensive report and it was
Resolved – That the annual report be noted.