Report of the Strategic Director, Care Wellbeing and Learning
Committee received the annual report on the Education of LAC, the Virtual School (VS) Report.
The priorities of the Virtual School were highlighted as;
· Personal Education Plans
· Pupil Premium Plus
· Pathways to work
· Pupil progress and Attainment data
· Teaching and learning
· Education enrichment
· Reducing exclusions
During the year the VS prevented a number of Permanent Exclusions through early intervention and close working with schools. In addition, the timely returns of Personal Education Plans continue to increase year on year, the quality of which has also improved.
It was noted that at present there are 398 LAC, 264 of whom are currently at school age. Currently years 6 and 10 have the largest number of LAC. 35% of the LAC have Special Educational Needs, this amounts to 132 pupils, 58 have an Education Health Care Plan and 77 receive school SEN support. The highest incidence is social, emotional and mental health need, followed by Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Pupil Premium Plus stands at £2,300 per pupil. This funds delivery of; individual private tuition and a VS teacher to help close the attainment gap, supporting the wider educational requirements, individual interventions and therapies and the funding of Educational Support Workers.
In relation to Personal Education Plans (PEPS), this is a statutory document that must be completed for every LAC. Returns of the PEP have increased and there has been a greater attendance by the VS at these meetings, however there has been a decrease in attendance by Social Workers.
It was reported that 23 LAC have received fixed term exclusions over the year. The VS intervenes quickly to ensure this does not escalate to a permanent exclusion. Where necessary the VS can contribute to the cost of alternative provision, however could not fund a full time alternative, this would be funded through pupil premium.
In terms of supporting education, the VS has a 0.5 qualified teacher who provides support and plans individual one to one teaching and learning. There is also 1.5 Education Support Workers who provide support to encourage active engagement in education. The VS Head is also the SEND and Inclusion Consultant for Gateshead and provides advise and support regarding identifying barriers to learning and appropriate interventions.
It was reported that the VS continues to commission an Education Psychologist for one day per week. This provides child based therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self esteem, trust in other and joyful engagement in school. The Education Psychologist also offers training for schools on the effects of early trauma and attachment, positive feedback has been received for this service.
Committee was advised that priorities for the VS for 2019/20 is to focus on progress and performance and to use data to target those at risk of falling too far behind, therefore ensuring the gap does not widen.
In terms of results it was reported that in Key Stage one there was 36% achieved expected levels in writing, a decrease of 10%. 50% achieved expected levels in reading, a 4% increase, and 36% achieved expected levels in Maths which is a 5% increase. 14% of this cohort had SEN. In Key Stage 2, 57% achieved expected levels in writing, a 28% increase, 53% in reading, a 3% increase and 47% in maths which was a 14% increase. 47% of this cohort were SEN. In Key Stage 4 there were 38 LAC pupils in year 11, 29 achieved 1 GCSE at Grade 1 or above, 25 achieved 5 GCSE at Grade 1 or above, 11 achieved 5 passes at Grade 4 or above and 8 achieved 5 passes at Grade 4 or above including English and Maths.
In terms of post 16 progression the VS monitors the destinations of LAC. Progress to higher education for this cohort remains low and the VS continues to offer a bursary for year one of University.
Plans are in place to develop regular Network meetings for parents of previously LAC and adopted children and a training programme using the additional funding for 2019/20.
It was queried as to why the PEP return is only 87% when this is a statutory requirement. It was noted that returns vary, for example some schools do not return them and they have to be chased up. Work is ongoing to raise the profile of PEPS with the inspectorate group.
Committee was concerned with the attendance of Social Workers at PEPS meetings and it was agreed that this would be taken back to the Service.
It was reported that there is difficulty in keeping LAC in apprenticeships, however a coordinator post has been created which will be in place in the next couple of months. This role will look at recruitment and retention of apprentices and ensure support is in place for staff and the young person. It was acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to be done in this area. The point was made that it is important to change young people’s opinions on apprenticeships as well as management opinion. The aim is to ensure all support is in place as every child is different.
RESOLVED - That the Committee considered the annual report and the
recommendations contained in the report.