The Scrutiny Panel will be asked to consider and approve the content of the draft final report and determine recommendations for submission to the Executive.
A discussion ensued and Members commented on various aspects of the report including the responsibilities and knowledge of governing bodies, the importance of schools dealing with incidences of bullying in accordance with DfE and Ofsted guidance and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on exclusions.
In respect of paragraph 9, bullet point 5, a Member requested that the responsibility of the governing body to publicise the school behaviour policy also be referenced.
Draft recommendations had been tabled at the meeting for the scrutiny panel’s consideration.
A Member expressed concern in respect of Middlesbrough’s exclusion rates and highlighted the need for the scrutiny panel to monitor and examine rates on a six monthly basis. Recommendation b) was amended accordingly to accommodate that proposal.
A Member commented that it would be beneficial for the scrutiny panel to have sight of the outcomes associated with recommendations d) and e). The Democratic Services Officer advised that an update on the implementation of proposed recommendations/actions would be submitted to a future meeting of the scrutiny panel and the outcomes of those particular recommendations would form part of that update.
Following discussion, the following recommendations were agreed for inclusion in the final report:
a) In respect of the new Inclusion, Assessment and Review Service and the ‘Team Around the School’ approach, that:
i. a full and comprehensive evaluation is undertaken, which takes into account the impact of COVID-19 and the risk management controls currently in place within schools; and
ii. the key findings, outcomes and outputs of the evaluation are reported to the Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel, including feedback received from children and young people.
b) That the Local Authority holds schools to account more transparently for their exclusion rates by:
i. monitoring, analysing and recording exclusion data at a school-level;
ii. undertaking regular focussed visits to those schools with high rates to assist with putting measures in place to reduce fixed-term and permanent exclusions; and
iii. reporting exclusion data to the Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel on a 6 monthly basis.
c) That, where exclusion rates are high, the Local Authority:
i. provides an enhanced bespoke package of support to assist schools in identifying and meeting the needs of children with SEND and additional vulnerabilities; and
ii. delivers training to demonstrate the detrimental impact of exclusion on a pupil's life and life chances.
d) That the Local Authority shares good practice with schools by facilitating peer reviews and providing case study illustrations of good behaviour management practices.
e) That a guidance document is developed and circulated to schools on the importance of language and its influence on changing perceptions and attitudes.
f) That schools are encouraged to undertake an anonymous survey of staff and students about their views on behaviour, discipline and bullying and that feedback is utilised to improve behaviour management practices.
That, subject to the inclusion of the agreed recommendations, the final report on Behaviour, Discipline and Bullying in Schools be approved and submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration.