Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by Councillors:


(a)         Petitions: to receive any petitions submitted to the full Council or at the meeting itself;


(b)         Written Questions: to consider any written questions;


                     i.        Brighton & Hove City Council strategy to encourage play.


(c)          Letters: to consider any letters;


(d)         Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Council or submitted directly to the Committee.


                     i.        Climate Change Teacher.


(a)         PETITIONS


17.1      The Chair noted there were no petitions to be submitted.


                        (b)       WRITTEN QUESTIONS


(i)           Brighton & Hove City Council Strategy to encourage pay.


17.2      Councillor Clare put the following question:


“Given the benefits to wellbeing and learning, what is the Council doing to encourage play, particularly in early years and primary, including outdoor play and learning? Is there a current and up to date play strategy?”


17.3      The Chair provided the following reply:


“The Council supports families with and promotes the importance of play in a number of ways but does not have a separate play strategy. Some two year olds and all 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to free childcare which meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Guidance, which states:


           Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned and purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-led activity. Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to this about problems and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.’


In addition:


           Providers must provide access to an outdoor play area or, if that is not possible, ensure that outdoor activities are planned and taken on a daily basis (unless circumstances make this inappropriate, for example, unsafe weather conditions).’


The Council’s Early Years team offers a training programme and quality support to nursery setting across the City. The quality of early years provision in the city is high with 97% of childcare providers on the Early Years Register judged to be good or outstanding by Ofsted.


All Council nurseries have audited the quality of the play environment both indoors and outdoors. The Council nurseries are working towards offering continuous uninterrupted provision with a focus on sensory play and the natural environment. Mud kitchens, loose part play and heuristic play are being strongly promoted across the service. All nurseries are running regular stay and play information sessions for families. Children’s Centres offer well attended baby and stay and play sessions for families running in each of the seven main Children’s Centres.

Families can also be visited in the home (by Health Visitor referral) by Early Years Educators to support adult/child interactions, play and development. The Council also supports after-school clubs and holiday playschemes run by voluntary sector and private organisations in the city including giving advice on quality assurance in play for out of school providers.


Play is a very important part of learning. Schools are increasingly looking to develop their grounds and curriculum to ensure that there are opportunities for creative play. One example of this is the work that Fairlight Primary School has being doing with OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) to develop opportunities for more high quality creative play in their playground.


Several schools, including Aldrington CE Primary have an established ‘Forest School’, where pupils have regular opportunities to develop their creativity, use of skills and tools in a woodland or natural environment. Aldrington also uses the grounds and space for outdoor learning to develop confidence and self-esteem and pupils use the space informally at playtimes. Reception class at St Mary Magdalen Catholic Primary School took part in a series of workshops with the Sussex Wildlife Trust, learning about different habitats. One of these was a Beach School session at Ovingdean. The Children learnt about features of the beach, took part in rock pooling, talked about conservation and staying safe in the beach environment. It inspired the learning for the whole half term. Feedback from teachers, pupils and parents was really positive.


The Outdoor Education Service encourages the development of school grounds for play and active learning through a variety of training and online resources. It also promotes learning outside the classroom in all its many forms to bring the curriculum alive, broaden children’s horizons, improve their physical and emotional self-development, enhance their relations ship with nature and the environment, foster relationships and help them learn how to manage risk.”


                        (c)       LETTERS


(i)           School Transport – Letter from Councillors Wares and Mears.


17.4      The Committee considered a Letter from the Patcham ward Councillors that requested an update to Home to School Transfers.


17.5      The Head of School Organisation and the Assistant Director – Education & Skills provided the following update:


·         Officers had been working for months on home to school transport arrangements.

·         It was noted that a number of contractors withdrew late August which led to issues that the officer team had been working tirelessly to resolve.

·         The Committee were given apologies for all and any distress caused to parents and

·         It was stated that a Dynamic Purchasing System had since been employed to help reduce issues and expedite the process of resolving this.

·         It was stated that all contractors had been fully briefed with details of what was required of them.

·         It was confirmed that a small number of issues were still being resolved.

·         It was further confirmed that all temporary routes had been covered.


17.6         Amanda Mortensen expressed concern from the perspective as a mother of a disabled child. It was stated that this was an operational disaster and that it presented further issues surrounding safety and, in some cases, worse. It was affirmed that this was an equalities issue and that it was clear that certain sections of BHCC were not working together well. A request was made for further clarity on how this had affected everything.


17.7         The Head of School Organisation requested any further information of other examples of any mal practice. It was stated that headteachers were informed of the responsibilities of drivers in advance and that drivers had been instructed not to exceed this as BHCC did not have insurance cover for this. It was confirmed that any necessary changes would be made where possible at no additional cost.


17.8         Councillor Clare enquired of the administration’s future efforts to resolve this.


17.9         The Chair stated that efforts to try and steer committee positively going forward would be undertaken. It was stated that transparency would be paramount and that the first priority would be to ensure services were running properly.


17.10      The Head of School Organisation further confirmed that parents making journeys by themselves would be remunerated however this would be on a case by case basis.


17.11      Councillor Simson stated that although officers had placed the failure on behalf of contractors, it was apparent that the contract was never fit for purpose. It was furthered that the cost of sending staff out would be larger than any costs covered by BHCC’s insurance. It was stated that there was not enough staff to collect non-mobile children and that Officers were pre-warned of this issue. It was further stated that Brighton had high standards which included the blue book that taxis had to adhere to and enquired why operators who were already providing this service not tendering for the contract and if they had why was it not awarded to them? It was stated that an independent review would be insufficient and that a cross party working group was proposed.


17.12      The Chair stated that the independent report would provide a report to the committee and requested that Councillor Simson send in points of concern for the independent review.


17.13      Councillor Nield enquired why the routes were handed back at late notice and requested confirmation as to whether this could happen again.


17.14      The Head of School Organisation stated that the contract required 30 days’ notice which was not provided by some of the contractors. It was reaffirmed that efforts to make as many arrangements as possible were made.


17.15      The Executive Director for Families, Children and Learning stated that contractors were still delivering routes.


17.16      Councillor Knight requested that the independent review considered every aspect and that a review to provide more robust contingency planning in place be brought.


17.17      Councillor Hamilton enquired if there was a backup in house should this issue arise again.


17.18      The Head of School Organisation stated that the Dynamic Purchasing System required many fields of information be provided in order that the procurement process could judge responses. It was noted that logistical difficulties were considered and would be shared through the review.


17.19      Councillor Wilkinson welcomed the independent review and requested that it looked in to the reason for the return of routes.


17.20      Leslie Hurst, Diocese Representative, noted that this issue indirectly affected siblings in schools. It was requested that officers clarify if they would also contact families that had to refuse this service due to safety concerns.


17.21      The Head of Schools Organisations confirmed that families who met these criteria would be contacted.


17.22      The Chair clarified that a full input was sought from everyone not just Councillors. Contact details were provided and that the timescale of the review would be published and that the Children, Young People and Skills Committee would monitor the progress and have input in the final review.


17.23   RESOLVED – that the letter be noted by Committee.


                        (d)       Deputations


17.24   The Chair noted that NO deputations had been submitted by Members.


(e)       Notices of Motion: To consider any notices of motion referred from Council or submitted directly to the Committee:


(i)           Climate Change Teacher


17.25   The Committee considered a Notice of Motion requesting the Executive Director of Families, Children and Learning to write a letter of congratulation to Emily Defries and Headteachers in Brighton and Hove to raise awareness of a Climate Change Course that is available by Councillor Elaine Hills.


17.26   Councillor Nield seconded the motion.


17.27   Councillor Simson stated that she supported the motion, however enquired if SEN teachers amongst others could be included.


17.28   Councillor McNair expressed happiness with Patcham for leading on this issue. It was requested that all sides of this issue be considered and critiqued and that a focus on solutions be the focus.


17.29   Councillor Hills stated that knowledge on climate change and how it affected different communities were considered and that a prescriptive approach would not be the case.


17.30   RESOLVED – that the Committee note the motion.

Supporting documents:


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