Agenda item - How the council, schools and other providers response to the pandemic is proceeding and what could be done better.

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Agenda item

How the council, schools and other providers response to the pandemic is proceeding and what could be done better.

Report of the Executive Director Families Children & Learning (copy attached)

Decision:

RESOLVED: That the Committee –

 

(i)             Noted the information in this report;

 

(ii)            Requested the Director of Families, Children and Learning writes to School Governors and Headteachers across the city, recommending that staff in clinically vulnerable groups are protected through permission to work from home or additional protective measures;

 

(iii)          Requested the Director of Families, Children and Learning writes to the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and the Sussex Health and Care Partnership – proposing the development of a scheme that allows school and Early Years staff, including those over 50, to be offered vaccinations as a priority, in line with social care staff.

Minutes:

82.1    The Committee considered the report of the Executive Director Families Children & Learning which outlined how the Council, schools and other providers were responding to the pandemic. The report was introduced by the Head of Education Standards & Achievement and was accompanied by Ms M Southern (Head Teacher Hove Junior School) and Mr J McKee (Head Teacher at Patcham High School).

 

82.2    Councillor Grimshaw noted that some children had received laptops to assist them in home working and asked if they now had to hand them back. Mr McKee and Ms Southern said that no child had been asked to return their laptops.

 

82.3    Councillor Brown asked how children had engaged with home learning. Mr Mckee said that during the first lockdown there had been some difficulty in engaging all children but that had got much better and there were now high levels of engagement, and the school had been able to introduce Parent’s Evenings and feedback sessions online. Ms Southern agreed and said that during the first lockdown only 50% of disadvantaged pupils were engaging but that had risen to 85% during the second lockdown.

 

82.4    Councillor Hills noted that initially some parents struggled to engage with online lessons and asked if there were support for them. Ms Southern said that her school had done their best to assist them, and the most vulnerable pupils were still attending the school. Mr McKee said that parental engagement was less important at secondary schools, but support was given where necessary and their most vulnerable pupils were also attending school. The Head of Education Standards & Achievement said that schools were providing a bespoke service for each child.

 

82.5    Councillor Nield asked what steps the schools had taken to make the environment as safe as possible. The Head of School Organisation said the Council had held workshops for all schools and had reiterated the need for cleaning, hand washing and ventilation etc. Mr McKee said that the school had a live risk assessment which was adjusted as and when new guidance was received. The school had protocols on hand washing, social distancing etc, and the layout of classrooms had changed, and all year groups were kept in separate bubbles. All children had been tested and further tests were on going and the results were received within 30 minutes. All staff and pupils wore masks whilst at school. Ms Southern said that there were similar steps in place at her school with risk assessment being constantly updated, support staff not mixing across bubbles and a video had been prepared for parents to explain the school’s protocol.

 

82.6    Councillor Hamilton noted that the schools had reopened today and asked what the attendance levels had been. Ms Southern said that there had been 99% attendance at Hove Junior School, and Mr Mckee said that there had been 97% attendance at Patcham High School.

 

82.7    Councillor McNair noted that there had been changes in the way that education was delivered and asked which changes the schools would like to keep in place going forward. Mr McKee said that there had technological advances for everyone and Microsoft Teams had been used for remote learning and they would continue to use that method for feedback on students work and to give them other options for doing their homeworking in different formats. Ms Southern agreed and said that student’s knowledge of IT had improved hugely during lockdown, and communication with parents had improved as the school could email parents and have online meetings which were quicker and more efficient for all parties.

 

82.8    The Chair noted that there was an amendment from the Labour Group and asked Councillor Allcock to propose it.

 

82.9    Councillor Allcock said that he was pleased with the rollout of vaccines but was aware that some staff were concerned about returning to schools and said that the vaccine for front line key workers should be accelerated. The Council as the employer had a responsibility to protect and support staff and to use its influence to that end which is what the amendment was asking for. Councillor Hamilton seconded the proposed amendment.

 

82.10  Councillor Hills said that the Green Group agreed with the need to protect staff, but the schools were carrying out risk assessments and the roll out of vaccines was continuing and all those aged 50+ would be invited to have their injection in the next few weeks, and so did not think there was value in supporting the amendment.

 

82.11  The Committee voted on the amendment and the Green and Conservative Groups abstained, others voted for.

 

82.12  RESOLVED: That the Committee –

 

(i)             Noted the information in this report;

 

(ii)            Requested the Director of Families, Children and Learning writes to School Governors and Headteachers across the city, recommending that staff in clinically vulnerable groups are protected through permission to work from home or additional protective measures;

 

(iii)          Requested the Director of Families, Children and Learning writes to the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and the Sussex Health and Care Partnership – proposing the development of a scheme that allows school and Early Years staff, including those over 50, to be offered vaccinations as a priority, in line with social care staff.

Supporting documents:

 


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