Report of the Corporate Director of People.
The Panel received a report of the Corporate Director of People, which provided an overview of the Performance and Standards of Children Looked After (CLA) by the end of key stage, an analysis of attendance and exclusions, an overview of the work of the Virtual School and development priorities for the Virtual School for 2017-18.
The Headteacher of Harrow Virtual School introduced the report and set out the key aspects of the report. She informed Members that since April 2017, the remit of Virtual Headteachers had changed in that they now assumed new duties concerning promoting the educational achievement of previously CLA, such as the provision of advice and information to adopted children and their parents, those with special guardianship orders and school staff.
The Headteacher provided an overview of the key areas monitored by Harrow Virtual School in the academic year 2016/17, and drew attention to the various statistics provided in the report, as follows:
· year 1 phonics test – there were four children who were eligible to sit the assessment and they all met the expected standard;
· key stage 1 – of the five children in Year 2, only one pupil was able to sit the SATs papers. The cohort had had various needs, including complex ones, and close monitoring was required;
· further analysis of CLA schooled in Harrow compared to those outside was required to identify the issues in attainment and how these could be addressed. Currently, CLA schooled in Harrow performed better than those outside the borough;
· headteachers often sought advice from the Virtual Headteacher prior to making a decision to exclude CLA. To assist, intervention and support was provided to schools to ensure that extremely vulnerable children were not unnecessarily excluded. Recent figures showed that more girls than boys had been the subject of fixed term exclusions (FTEs) and the pie chart in the report showed the types of behaviours that led to exclusions, including physical assaults. For secondary schools, the number of FTEs increased, particularly for those with Special Educational Needs (SEN);
· key stage 2 – performance in SATs of CLA children was good. The results obtained in reading, writing and mathematics of 60%, 90% and 70% respectively were considered to be good. There was no regression due to the support provided which had helped to ensure momentum and pupil engagement;
· key stage 4 – the grading structure for GCSEs had been amended and there had been a move from letters to numbers 9-1 where 9 was equivalent to A*. Level 4 was considered a pass at GCSE. Last year there had been four CLA who passed eight GCSEs. There were two CLA who passed eight GCSEs of level 4 and above. 58% of CLA passed 1 GCSE and, overall, CLA were better at getting through five GCSEs instead of eight. The challenge for social workers was to increase these figures;
· ethnicity also played a part in achievement levels and further work was required to understand and improve poor levels of attainment in order to meet the national average. A number of measures and support had been put in place, such as the use of EAL consultants (English as an Additional Language). The use of visual methods, including for carers, buddying systems and assessments had been put in place;
· further support was required key stage 3 to ensure that there was no regression in pupil progress as they entered key stage 4. The attainment levels of CLA children at key stage 2 were good but they dipped when they entered secondary school. Overall, children who had been in care for longer periods performed better at school;
· personal education plans (PEPs) - the quality of PEPs rather than the quantity needed to be improved and an action plan had been put in place to address this issue;
· education health and care plans (EHCPs) – the trajectory was that CLA were receiving their statements on time but they had gaps in education/learning difficulties. There were a number of students in HVS with identified learning difficulties who did not meet the criteria for an EHCP. Work with SEN teams was underway to improve the situation.
The Panel was informed that comparison of data with raw data was required and that further work would be carried out. Additionally, figures on the number of care leavers attending University would be provided.
(1) the performance of, and standards being achieved, by Harrow’s CLA, in particular the improved performance of CLA at the end of Key Stage 4, be noted;
(2) the work of the Virtual School and the strategies used to improve CLA outcomes be noted;
(3) it be noted that comparative data would be present to the Panel, including University attendance.
Reason for Decision: To be availed of the performance of CLA pertaining to their attainment, progress and attendance, which, although improving, remained below England’s averages for CLA of Statutory School Age. To note the priority for Harrow Virtual School.