Hounslow Council


Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Chaspal Sandhu on 020 8583 2065 email:  chaspal.sandhu@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

150.

Apologies for Absence, Declarations of interest and any other communications from Members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were noted and there were no Declarations of Interest.

 

Membership:

Sheena Poley, Head of Place Planning and Admissions, advised that, following on from the decision taken at the last meeting, some changes to the membership of the Schools Admissions Forum had been made to ensure that the Forum was representative of the breakdown of schools within the London Borough of Hounslow. There were some vacancies still to be filled on the updated membership.

 

Action: A letter of thanks would be sent to all of the previous members of the Forum that were no longer on the updated Membership of the School Admissions Forum. 

151.

Minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2015 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 June were agreed as a correct record.

152.

Summer Born Children - Recent communication from Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Minutes:

Sheena Poley discussed the letter, circulated with the agenda, that had been received from Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools, in September 2015. The letter related to the admission to school of summer born children and the need to ensure that summer born children did not miss out on schooling. It was noted that a parent could request that their child start school later in the academic year or attend school on a part time basis. Mr Gibb advised that a request for part time hours could not be refused by the Local Authority. It was stated that, as the child would not be compulsory school age until they were aged five years old, the parent could ask that they go straight into Year 1 when they started school. The parents could also request that the child be held back a year and that the child start school in reception when they turned 5 years old rather than to start in Year 1. Mr Gibb advised in his letter that parents could enter into discussions with schools to try to find the best solution for their child.

 

Councillor Bruce felt it would be helpful if schools had a schedule of their part time offer so that the discussions between the school and parents would be easier. He noted that Mr Gibb had emphasised that part time requests could not be refused and that the Admission Authority would need to make a reasonable offer.

 

In response to questions, it was clarified that the full funding amount would be received by the schools even if the child was only attending on a part time basis, as the child was officially listed on the school roll. Liz Wolverson questioned whether the school’s funding would be affected if a child was not in on the day that the census was taken. Ms Poley advised that she would speak to the census data collection team to find out if this was likely to be an issue.

 

Ms Poley advised that the parent would be encouraged to complete and submit the admissions form for the correct intake year and then once a place was offered, parents could then discuss options for late/deferred entry. Parents could also then request to be moved out of chronological age. Where this was the case Ms Poley clarified that the school would consider the request taking into account the child’s best interests, the parent’s views and information about the child’s development. However, there was no guarantee or automatic right for the child to be held back a year at the parents request.

 

Liz Wolverson, Diocesan Representative, felt that deferred entry for children could possibly work whilst they were of primary school age. However, she expressed concern that there would be real problems for children that were behind a year, due to deferred entry, once they reached secondary transfer age. She felt that due to their age, once the child reached Year 6 ready for secondary transfer, some secondary schools may not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 152.

153.

Crown Servants - The DfE guidance on this which should be read alongside the School Admission Code pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Minutes:

Sheena Poley advised that new guidance from the DfE stated that official paperwork from Army Personnel was no longer required before children of Crown Servants could be allocated a school place within the Borough. She clarified that in the past the local authorities had often required official proof of residence for army children before allocating a school place. This was no longer a requirement before a place could be offered, provided their application could be accompanied by an official letter declaring a relocation date and unit address or quartering address.

 

154.

Office of School Adjudicator determinations on Hounslow School Admission Arrangements 2016 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

 

To note the decisions of the recent OSA referrals. 

 

·         All community Schools in Hounslow Local  Authority (ADA3004)

·         St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Chiswick (ADA3014)

·         The Rosary Catholic Primary School (ADA3011)

·         Reach Academy (ADA3010)

·         Norwood Green Junior School (ADA3006)

·         St Richard’s Church of England Primary School (ADA3012)

·         St Paul’s Church of England Primary School (ADA3017)

·         Westbrook Primary School (ADA3018)

·         St Lawrence’s Catholic Primary School (ADA3013)

·         Oak Hill Academy (ADA3007)

·         Our Lady and St John Catholic Primary School (ADA3009)

·         Oriel Academy (ADA3008)

·         The Blue School (ADA3019)

·         Nishkam School (ADA 3005)

·         St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Isleworth (ADA3015)

·         St Michael and St Martin’s Catholic Primary School (ADA3016)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sheena Poley advised that an objection had been submitted to the Office of Schools Adjudicator by a parent regarding the admission arrangements determined by the London Borough of Hounslow, as the admission authority for community and voluntary controlled schools, for September 2016. The  parent’s objection was that information in the arrangements relating to the admission of children below compulsory school age to part-time education or to a deferred place was insufficiently clear and did not comply with the requirements set out in the School Admissions Code. The parent also felt that the information about the process of requesting the admission of children outside their chronological age group did not meet the requirements of paragraphs 2.17, 2.17A and 2.17B of the Code.

Councillor Bruce advised that the parent that had made the complaint had been invited to the School Admissions Forum meeting to discuss the issue further, however, there had been no response to the invitation and it was assumed that the parent had chosen not to attend.

 

Ms Poley explained that the parent had requested a part time place for her child to attend at school. The parent had refused to give any further information about why a part time place was required as they had interpreted that the Code did not require it. The parent subsequently chose to submit a complaint to the Office of Schools Adjudicator against the admission arrangements for all Community, Voluntary-Aided and Academy Primary Schools within the London Borough of Hounslow. Following receipt of the complaints, the Schools Adjudicator investigated the admission arrangements for all of the schools listed within the complaint. The investigation also included aspects which had not formed part of the complaint. Ms Poley provided the Admissions Forum with the determinations made by the Office of Schools Adjudicator. The conclusion was that the arrangements were determined and took account of the requirements of the Code and complied with paragraphs 2.16 and 2.17 of the Code and the  Schools Adjudicator did not uphold any of the parent’s complaints or objections. However, in drafting the brochure for Admissions in 2016 and consulting on the Primary admissions for 2017 the LA would ensure that the wording was clear.

 

It was advised that during the OSA investigation process, the Local Authority went through each adjudication of the Voluntary-Aided and Academy Primary Schools in Hounslow to identify any common themes. This included schools not publishing their admission numbers or their admission arrangements on their own School’s website. In some cases, information about the waiting list had been vague and further clarification had been sought. Some schools had not given detailed explanations about allocations to SEN pupils or Looked After Children or made references to the Health Education plan in their guidance. The Forum were advised that when there was an adjudication ruling, schools or the Local Authority had two months to rectify the issues.

 

As a result of the objections made to the OSA, there had been a delay with publishing the Local Authority’s composite prospectus, which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 154.

155.

Office of School Adjudicator determination on The Aspirations Academies Trust for Rivers Academy 2016 pdf icon PDF 253 KB

Minutes:

Ms Poley advised that objections had been submitted to the adjudicator by Southville Junior School, Bedfont Primary School, Victoria Junior School and the London Borough of Hounslow with regard to the admission arrangements for September 2016 for The Aspirations Academies Trust. Objections had been submitted in response to a number of proposals suggested by the school including, a reduction in the admission number and proposals to introduce ability banding.

Ms Poley advised that a detailed determination from the Office of Schools Adjudicator was received in August outlining that the proposed admission arrangements did not conform with the Code and the OSA upheld the objections in the following matters:

 

a)    The consultation on the 2016 arrangements did not meet the requirements set out in the Code.

b)    The reasons for the reduction in PAN for 2016 were insufficient to justify the decision in the context of the need for places in secondary schools for 2016.

c)     The banding approach was not fair or objective as it was based on literacy tests alone which were not a fair test of ability.

d)    The information for parents on banding was not sufficiently clear.

e)    There was insufficient explanation of how children with SEN or EAL would be supported to take the tests.

f)      The naming of Trust schools as feeder schools did not meet the requirements of the code and disproportionately disadvantaged children that lived more locally.

 

In addition several other aspects of the arrangements did not comply with the Code. 

 

The Local Authority expressed concern that despite the response from the Schools Adjudicator to Rivers Academy being very close to the application process for 2016, the Aspirations Trust had chosen to continue implementing the banding following changes to the testing procedure. The Local Authority had raised its concerns with the Regional Schools Commissioner.

 

Kathryn Harper-Quinn questioned how children with Special Educational Needs would be able to get a place at the school. Ms Poley advised that if the child had a Statement the allocation process would be outside the admission process. The School were encouraging all children to take the pre-entry test, even children with SEN. If a non-statemented child did not take the test he/she would be excluded as the application would be deemed incomplete and would not be allocated a place at Rivers Academy.

 

Ms Poley advised that the closing date for applications for secondary transfer places for 2016 had ended on 31 October 2015. At this stage it was not known how many applications had been received for Rivers Academy and how many applicants had also completed the school’s banding tests. 

 

The Local Authority would continue to review this issue.

156.

Oak Hill Academy outcome of referral to Regional Schools Commissioner - Verbal Report

Minutes:

Sheena Poley reminded at the last School Admissions Forum the Local Authority was waiting for a response to their objection submitted to the EFA regarding proposals submitted by Oakhill Academy to expand from a Junior School to a Primary School. Ms Poley advised that the EFA had responded in August 2015 to state that the Regional Schools Commissioner had referred the objection on to Lord Nash as it was considered to be contentious with a detrimental impact on Feltham Hill Infant School. Following the referral, Lord Nash did not uphold the proposals submitted by Oakhill Academy and would not be considering any future proposals. As a result, Feltham Hill Infant School would remain a feeder school to Oakhill Junior School.

 

157.

Local Authority Annual Report to the Schools Adjudicator June 2015 pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Minutes:

Ms Poley advised that the report attached to the agenda was the Local Authority’s Annual report to the Office of Schools Adjudicator. The report followed the same format each year. Ms Poley advised that following discussions with the Admissions team it was agreed that there was a need to focus more on processes for in-year applications. It was agreed that the Local Authority would need to make more timely offers and responses to parents.

 

Ms Poley advised that one of the commitments made by the Admissions Team was that over the next few months a team review would be undertaken to review the current processes and practices and to identify ways to work in a more consistent and efficient way and this had been communicated to the schools.

158.

Update on Online application process introduced for 2016 process - Verbal Report

Minutes:

Sheena Poley provided an update on the online application process. She advised that the secondary transfer application deadline of 31 October 2015 had passed. It was reported that 96% Year 6 pupils completed the online application forms on time. She advised that a lot of support from Admissions staff had been provided to parents who required support filling in the application forms online. Workshops had been held every Wednesday from October 2015 and would continue until January 2016 for parents to get help to fill forms in online. For many parents the language barrier had been a huge obstacle when applying online and the support from staff in the Admissions team had been essential when completing applications.

 

Ms Poley advised that the admissions team had kept track of all year 6 children in Hounslow schools applying for secondary transfer places and had maintained regular contact with the Junior/Primary schools to keep them informed of how many children had applied online on-time.

 

In response to questions, Ms Poley advised that 10 paper applications had been received and accepted. The paper applications had been accepted in cases where it was genuinely felt that the applications could not be completed online. However, the Admissions Team did not actively promote the paper applications. Each child had received a letter confirming the process and how to apply but the schools brochure would only be made available online instead of the hard copy previously provided.

 

As there was not a captive audience at reception age in the same way as secondary transfer it was felt that it would be more difficult to have a good success rate for the number of primary application forms completed online. Ms Poley advised that there had been several events where the online application process had been promoted for primary applications. The process was also advertised through the Corporate Communications team. Members of the admissions team had targeted local community venues such as nurseries, GP surgeries, health centres, community centres, playgroups and libraries publicise the process.

 

Mr Marks acknowledged that it would be a challenge initially for reception applications, however, by the time those children reached Year 6 their parents would be experienced at completing the application form online. He emphasised that the online applications were beneficial for many reasons as they were more accurate than the previous paper applications and also stopped parents from putting the same school on the form six times or listing schools that did not exist.

 

Ms Poley reported that last year there were approximately 200 late secondary applications received. She advised that to date there had been 6 late applications received for this round. Parents were advised not to leave applying for a secondary transfer of primary transfer place until the last day as the PAN London online system could crash resulting in the application being registered as late.

 

Mr Gill noted that at the last meeting it was suggested that a YouTube video demonstrating how to fill out a form could be uploaded to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 158.

159.

Free School and Academy status update pdf icon PDF 175 KB

Minutes:

Sheena Poley provided an update on the status of Free Schools and Academies in the Borough. She advised that the Floreat School was now open and was located in Brentford. She advised that it was a two form entry school. However, due to the initial delay in the school opening, some pupils took offers at other schools and as a result the school was currently operating as a one form entry school. Ms Poley advised that a permanent site for the school was still being investigated. A permanent site had not yet been identified.

 

Ms Poley advised that Edison Primary School would be opening in September 2016. Edison Primary School would be located on Vicarage Farm Road in Heston and would initially open as a 3 form entry school for Reception and Year 1.

 

The School Admissions Forum were advised that The Bolder School would be opening in September 2017, initially as a five form entry school increasing to a six form entry school from 2018 onwards.

 

The Green School for Boys was also due to open in September 2017 as a four form entry school in the initial first year, increasing to six forms of entry with a sixth form from 2018 onwards.

 

Ms Poley advised that there had also been an agreement for Isleworth & Syon School for Boys, Chiswick School and Heston School to expand with an additional 4.7 forms of entry to help meet the demand for school places within the Borough.

160.

Update on Admission to Primary and Secondary School for September 2015 - Verbal Report

Minutes:

Sheena Poley advised that London Borough of Hounslow Admissions had offered places to all pupils that applied on time by the deadline. She advised that the Admissions section had also been able to offer places to all applications that had been received late, after the deadline for applications. She advised that there were no children left without an offer of a school place by the start of the term in September 2015. All late applications had been placed in years 1 to 6.

 

Ms Poley advised that in terms of late applications received for Reception places, there were 68 children without a place. However, by 29th September 2015 there were only 16 children, that had submitted late applications, remaining without a place. However, she advised that those remaining children were under the compulsory school age.

 

Ms Poley advised that earlier that day that she had been informed that there were vacancies in Crane Park Primary School and William Hogarth School. The Heads of the two schools had expressed some concern that there were vacancies at the schools and the admissions department would continue to monitor the vacancies at the school.

 

Michael Marks noted that there had been an extremely high influx of children into the Borough over the summer holidays and the good news was that the admissions department had been able to offer places without putting in late offer bulges within the schools.

 

161.

Update on the need for Primary, Secondary and Special School places for 2016 -2020 - Verbal Report

Minutes:

Ms Poley provided an update on the need for additional school places to meet the demand across the Borough. She advised that a further 60 places would be added to the Hounslow Town School intake to meet the demand for places in that area. Wellington Primary School would also expand with an additional 60 places.

 

Ms Poley reminded that Edison Primary School would be opening in Heston with 90 places in reception and 90 places in Year 1. The Forum were advised that there were no plans to expand the permanent provision of places for secondary schools in 2016. However, there was a list of secondary schools that had offered to provide some additional places if contingencies were necessary.

162.

Admission Arrangements for LA Primary and Secondary for 2017 - Verbal Report

Minutes:

Ms Poley advised that she had hoped to bring the Local Authority’s draft consultation on Admission Arrangements for primary and secondary schools in 2017 to the School Admissions Forum. Unfortunately, the draft consultation document was not available until the following week. She advised that she would email the consultation document out to members of the School Admissions Forum.

 

163.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

Michael Marks and the Chair noted thanks to Sheena Poley for all her hard work in responding to the Office of Schools Adjudicator complaints and the huge move to online applications only. Mr Marks emphasised the huge amount of work and effort that was put into the move to online applications and thanked Ms Poley and the Admissions Team for their efforts.

164.

Date of the next meeting - 7 March 2016

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting was noted as 7 March 2016.