Agenda item

Schools, Educational Achievement and Finance

Report of the Corporate Director – Children and Young People’s Services


Purpose:  To provide an update on the local educational landscape, educational achievement and the financial challenges affecting schools in the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency area.


Considered –


The report of the Corporate Director – Children and Young People’s Services which provided information on:-

·       The number of schools across the Constituency area and their status.

·       School standards, attainment and Ofsted judgements.

·       The number of young people not in education, employment or training.

·       The numbers of fixed-term exclusion incidents, and permanent exclusions.

·       The reshaping of targeted mainstream SEN provision and SEN statistics.

·       Elective home education.

·       The number of schools in financial difficulty across North Yorkshire and in the Constituency area.

·       The planning of school places.


The report was introduced by Andrew Dixon (Strategic Planning Manager, Children and Young People’s Services) who, together with Chris Reynolds (Head of SEND Strategic Planning Resource), Sally Dunn (Head of Finance for Schools, Early Years and High Needs) and Louise Wilson (Principal Adviser Monitoring), responded to Members’ questions. 


In response to questions from Members, the following information was provided:-


·       North Yorkshire secondary schools were placed 138 out of 150 local authorities in terms of receiving national funding.  Such funding was calculated in accordance with a DfE funding formula and took into account a number of factors such as deprivation and prior attainment.  The County Council, as Local Education Authority, continued to lobby, as far as secondary schools’ funding position was concerned and, in particular, in relation to small rural secondary schools which were facing significant financial pressures.  In response to a request from Members, Officers undertook to provide Members with background information about funding rates and DfE policy in case Members wished to raise the issue with Andrew Jones MP.  County Councillor Carl Les (Leader of the County Council) undertook to raise the issue at one of his fortnightly meetings with all North Yorkshire MPs, but this would be additional to the Committee having a dialogue with Andrew Jones MP at a forthcoming Committee meeting.


·       With regard to the reshaping of SEN provision, it was proposed that there would be six targetted mainstream provisions within the Constituency area and it was likely that such provision at Grove Road Community Primary School in Harrogate would expand beyond the current provision of 8 places.  Covid had impacted on the development and implementation of targeted mainstream provision as school leaders and governors had concentrated on the various changes they had had to implement to make sure that education continued.  Some Head teachers who might have been interested, in pre-Covid times, might now start coming back to ‘the table’ for conversations about developing further provisions.


·       Schools could become an Academy either by taking the decision themselves to progress a decision around academisation, or through a Directive Academy Order resulting from an Ofsted judgement of ‘inadquate’.   The Council provided support to schools that needed to improve from either a ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ judgement, or through the academisation process.


·       Across North Yorkshire, schools which had the right ethos and the right skill set, were being encouraged to come forward to host a targeted mainstream provision to help meet demand for full time education provision for children and young people who were able to access mainstream education but with additional support for their special educational needs.  Any such provision, once established, would receive additional support and finance from the Council.  The Council had made plans, and had allocated resource, for 31 targeted mainstream provisions across the county.  This was based on a forecast of demand.  Currently seven of such provisions were operational and another three were going through the application process.


·       School-level performance (league) tables, previously published annually, were likely to be reinstated during 2022. 


·       Regarding assessment and exam arrangements for the current year, the Government firmly intended to go ahead with public examinations.  However, contingency arrangements were in place, which included adjustments to some course content both at GCSE and A level, and providing advanced information eg formula sheets for science and maths.  All schools nationally had been asked to consider undertaking three key assessment points during the year to ensure that all schools had robust evidence to support teacher assessed grades should the Covid pandemic mean that it was necessary to move again to a context of teacher assessed grades.


·       There had been a significant increase in the number of children taken out school to be home educated, reflecting both the regional and national situations.  Members commented that they were unsurprised by this due to the Covid pandemic.  This Council, in response to the situation, had put together a team of elective home education advisors to satisfy itself that both the safety and the education provision for the young person was right.  In addition, at the time when a parent was considering elective home education, and the child was on a school roll, the opportunity was taken to see if there were any issues that could be resolved so that the parent could then look to maintain the child in mainstream school, or special school if that was the case.  However, it was recognised that ultimately it was the right of the parent to make the elective home education decision.


Members thanked the officers for their very detailed report and for providing full and clear replies to questions.


Resolved –


That the report, and the educational factors in the Harrogate and Knaresborough Constituency area, be noted.

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