Agenda and minutes

Executive Member - The Mayor - Tuesday 2nd February, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Susie Blood 

No. Item


Extension of IT Provision in Schools for Virtual Learning pdf icon PDF 165 KB

Additional documents:


The Director of Children’s Services submitted a report to support an initiative to ensure Middlesbrough’s children and young people have access to IT hardware and internet connection to enable remote virtual learning.


The report provided context and rationale for an investment in remote technology aimed at narrowing the digital divide and provide children and young people an equitable opportunity to learn in the current circumstances.


The report required a decision as there was a requirement for a Single Member decision to formally consider this report to agree to provide £350K funding to mitigate the impact of extended school closures as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. The funding will support recovery from ‘lost learning’ for young people and the ability to participate in online learning.


The report outlined that In December 2020, the Council committed £20,000 to support disadvantaged pupils to

access IT hardware and internet connection to enable virtual learning and to mitigate

disruption from learning due to the impact of Covid. 50 devices and Wi-Fi connectivity were purchased through ONEIT and a loan scheme established for schools to access. Under the original plans (when Middlesbrough was Tier 3), schools were invited to loan devices should a learning bubble need to isolate away from school. Due to the most recent Proposed decision(s) To support an initiative to ensure Middlesbrough’s children and young people have access to IT hardware and internet connection to enable remote virtual learning restrictions which included the closure of schools this scheme has now been exhausted and all digital devices are now loaned out (on long-term loan).


Under current lockdown measures schools have increased accountability to provide

learning that mitigates lost learning as a result of COVID. New government guidance was published that strengthened expectations for the provision of remote education and confirmed remote education curriculum should be aligned to the classroom curriculum as much as possible. Ofsted have also confirmed schools remote learning offer will be a key focus of interim visits. This has significantly increased the onus on adequate provision of digital devices/ digital access for the young people in the town.



In order to fulfil this expectation, nationally DfE have increased their offer to schools by another 300,000 laptops in addition to the 700,000 already delivered and they have confirmed all schools will receive 100% of their ordered allocation. Analysis of school pupil premium numbers has revealed that this allocation only caters for a specific cohort of pupils within schools total of disadvantaged pupils meaning that some pupils will not receive a device from the DfE. Recently published data confirms that 1408 devices have now been delivered to maintained schools and approximately 7000 to Academy Trusts. Figure 1 of the report outlined the breakdown of  disadvantaged pupils in schools across Middlesbrough.


The report further gave information in relation to the demand and also explained the proposal as detailed below:

Schools have been invited to submit requests for support for additional IT technology

including WIFI and digital devices. This has enabled schools to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/8


Middlesbrough Council Support for Tees Valley Bid for Freeport Status pdf icon PDF 356 KB


The Director of Legal and Governance submitted a report to be noted and to endorse the submission of a Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) led bid to the  overnment by 5th February 2021 for a Freeport in the Tees Valley sub-region.


It is proposed that Middlesbrough Council’s endorsement of the bid be signified by the Elected Mayor signing the bid on behalf of the Council.


The bid for Freeport status must be supported by the leader of each Local Authority- in this case the Elected Mayor of Middlesbrough - within whose area the proposed

Freeport zone lies. An Executive decision is sought to endorse the bid and to enable

the Mayor to signify the Council’s endorsement by signing the bid. Should the bid be

successful, then further discussions will take place with TVCA and Government in

order to finalise proposals for the Freeport, prior to a further report being brought back to full Executive for approval.


As set out by the Government, Freeports are a flagship programme that will play an

important part in the UK’s post-COVID economic recovery and contribute to realising

the levelling up agenda by bringing jobs, investment and prosperity to some of the

most deprived communities across the UK, with targeted and effective support. The

government recognises that different regions will have different existing strengths,

institutions and local economic strategies.


The Government intends to select successful Freeport locations that account for and take full advantage of the diverse potential and comparative advantage of different

regions of the UK. The Government has confirmed that they remain committed to

running a fair, open and transparent bidding process to ensure Freeport locations are

selected on the basis of their ability to fulfil our objectives.


The report further outlined the Freeport bid submission process; the proposals; the potential freeport economic impact and advised of the consultation process to date.



No other options were discussed.




That the Mayor endorse the submission of the bid




For reasons outlined in the report.

The decisions will come into force with immediate effect and is not subject to scrutiny call-in procedures.