Agenda item - Chair's Communications

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Agenda item

Chair's Communications


60.1    The Chair gave the following communications:


Covid – 19 – Coronavirus


I wanted to thank all of the schools, nurseries and other providers in the city and the local authority staff who have been managing the emerging situation with the Covid 19 (coronavirus) so well. All schools remained open as the city was placed at the forefront of the nation’s response in the early days of the virus being identified in the country. This is an evolving and potentially fast-moving situation and it is important that we all keep a close oversight on advice shared with us. We will continue to ensure that advice and other communications are shared with partners as and when we receive it and offer support to those who need it.


Local Authority visits by Ofsted


We’ve had three visits from Ofsted ourselves at the local authority over the last few weeks, including a focussed visit on our arrangements for children in need of help and children in need of protection and our annual conversation with Ofsted. Both of these went well, and the department will be receiving summary letters from Ofsted about those in the next few weeks. The focussed visit letter will be published on the Ofsted website.  


The Local Authority was also very recently inspected by Ofsted on the adult and community learning provision in the city and I am very pleased to confirm that we have retained our ‘good’ rating. The service provides training for residents and is delivered by four local partners, The Friends Centre, Tempus Training, Hangleton & Knoll Project and the Whitehawk Inn. The service has a particular focus on supporting people who are on low incomes, are unemployed or have mental health issues. The Ofsted inspectors praised its ‘ambitious’ curriculum and the ‘highly inclusive’ learning environment.


Promoting lifelong learning is a priority for us and I’m very proud of the work our adult and community learning service does overseeing invaluable training and support for hundreds of residents every year. Well done to all involved.


Looking at our SEND arrangements


We also recently hosted the annual visit from the DfE SEND advisor and a representative from NHS England who come to see the Local Authority and the CCG. We invited parents along to that meeting too to feedback on co-production in the city. The meeting was very positive, and they are looking forward to hear more about our developments and improvements for SEND in the city when they visit again next year.


Moulsecoomb Primary School monitoring visit


We are currently waiting for the publication of the letter from the recent monitoring visit for Moulsecoomb Primary School from Ofsted. I’m very proud of the work that leaders at the school, children, parents and the community along with the LA are doing to support the school. We’re looking forward to hearing soon in the letter about the positive work that has been happening there.


Secondary school offers


Today is national offer day for secondary school placements for September. Nearly 84% of parents have been offered their first preference school this year, compared to just over 79% last year.


All parents who expressed an on-time preference for their catchment area school or schools have been offered either a catchment area school or a higher preference. The total number of applications are down this year at 2,573 compared with 2,734 last year.


In instances where no preferred school was offered, this was either because parents didn’t list their catchment area school / schools among their preferences or because they missed the applications deadline.


I’m really pleased we’ve been able to offer so many parents their preferred secondary school. But the best news of all for local parents is that all our secondary schools are now rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. So children are assured of a high quality education for their children whichever school they go to.


Former Portslade Sixth Form site, Mile Oak Road Portslade


Further to my Chair’s communication at the January meeting of this committee I am now able to provide an update on the outcome of the consultation on the proposal to change the use of the former Portslade sixth form centre.   


During the course of the consultation we held a public drop in session at Portslade Town Hall.  Four people attended this session to look at the plans and discuss the proposal.


At the end of the consultation period we had received responses from 9 schools closest to the site.  All of these schools confirmed that they had no desire to make use of the playing field areas available.  This was either because they had sufficient playing fields on their own site or because of the logistical issue of accessing the areas from their schools. 


We had also received a further 26 responses from members of the public and other interested parties of which 14 supported the proposal, 10 did not support the proposal and 2 merely noted that the consultation was taking place.  The main reason given for not supporting the proposal related to traffic and parking issues that respondents felt would occur as a result of an office for 150 staff being located on this site.  These are matters that should properly be considered as part of the planning process and not as part of the application to the Secretary of State for Education


Having considered the responses to the consultation I am happy to proceed with the application to the Secretary of State for Education to change the use of the Portslade sixth form land and buildings.  The necessary application forms will now be prepared and submitted accordingly. 


Pinaki’s departure


And finally, as you may have heard, Pinaki Ghoshal is leaving Brighton & Hove to take up a role of Director of Children’s Services at Lewisham. He is not leaving until the end of May, so we’ll have an opportunity to share our thanks and wish him farewell at our next committee meeting. However, I wanted to ensure that all committee members are aware of the news and to share our congratulations. He will be missed by us all. I am pleased to say that the interim arrangements already in place with Deb Austin as our Executive Director will continue after Pinaki’s departure and then a recruitment process will be undertaken.”



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