Agenda item - Chair's Communications
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- Meeting of Children, Young People & Skills Committee, Monday, 14th September, 2020 4.00pm (Item 15.)
15.1 The Chair gave the following communication:
Welcome to this virtual meeting of the Children Young People & Skills Committee. Please note that this meeting is being webcast and is capable of repeat viewing.
This is my first committee as Chair. I wanted to start by thanking Cllr John Allcock for his time as Chair and Lead Member.
Our city’s schools reopened earlier this month for pupils after a very long time away since they first closed in March. I would like to extend my ongoing thanks to all that work in education in the city. They have responded impressively well over the past 6 months and I have seen how well supported our children, young people and families have been. They continue to manage many uncertainties.
We have had some positive cases in our city’s schools so far, including of some of our young people. Our public health team will continue to monitor and do what they can. But if school return is going to ensure our children are kept safe then the Government must provide a better testing capacity. Billions of pounds have been given to private companies like Serco, while public health budgets have been cut. The Government must give the support and funding to local authorities to manage test and trace more effectively than they are managing.
As part of the schools reopening I have followed the Schools Streets initiative in 13 of our city’s schools, which provides temporary timed closures of roads close to schools’ entrances during drop-off and pick-up times, during term time. The road closures are managed by parents and carer volunteers and I want to extend our thanks to them for their support. I visited Brunswick Primary on Friday and saw children playing in the streets outside the school and safely social distancing and it was great. And I’d love to see this expanded if we can – but we are currently short of volunteers so please do get involved if you can. It is a challenge to provide and in London boroughs where they’ve had successful school streets they’ve been able to fine drivers rather than rely on volunteers to staff them and I hope we get the powers to do that in future.
I was proud of how the city managed and performed in the recent A level and GCSE results which came out over the summer. Students across Brighton & Hove were able to celebrate a strong performance across the city. Students, school and colleges should be very proud of how they managed a very challenging exam and results season.
I also want to acknowledge all of the work our children’s safeguarding and disability services have been doing working throughout the pandemic and summer, ensuring our young people are kept safe and supporting carers. Over the summer it was a chance for many families to have a rest and to support those with children with SEND, we worked with the Parent and Carers Council and the city park’s team to ensure there was some dedicated park space for those families to use. PaCC also asked Brighton & Hove City Council’s SEN Team to see if they could help with helping to organise extra activities over the holidays. A real range of exciting and stimulating activities for children and young people SEND were delivered across the city both online and face to face.
Since the Notice of Motion that was bought to the last committee meeting a programme work has started with a group of BAME teachers in the city to produce an anti-racist strategy for our schools. We will hear more detail in a report to this committee in November. I want to make sure that if we do this, we do this right and we commit the right funding and resource to do it. It cannot be a tokenistic act. You will also note my colleague Cllr Hills has submitted a letter on a fantastic project today and we’ve also met with many parents and campaigners doing similar things across the city to tackle racism through arts and learning.
I wanted to end by ensuring that committee members knew that due to the change in administration there has been an adaptation to the home to school transport Member Policy Panel. This will now be chaired by Cllr John Allcock and we look forward to receiving the Panel’s recommendations back to this committee in November. I will remain a member of the panel.
There have been a couple of changes to the agenda:
1. Item 23 on the agenda ‘Central Youth Hub’ has been withdrawn from today’s meeting. The matter will now go to a Cross Party Working Group for discussion before coming to this Committee.
2. Item 24 Youth Review. I am conscious that this item will be of particular interest to the young people attending this meeting, and so will move this item up the agenda to be considered after Item 20 Foundations For Our Future.