Agenda and draft minutes

Education Advisory Board - Wednesday, 14th October, 2020 4.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Remote Meeting. View directions

Contact: Anna Martyn 023 9283 4870  Email:

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Declarations of interests


Councillor Horton declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as she is a governor at Craneswater Junior School. Councillor Norton declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as he is employed at Mayfield School through a cover agency, his partner is employed at Mayfield School and his daughter attends it. Councillor Smith declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as she works for Hampshire branch Unison and represents support staff in Hampshire schools. Debbie Anderson works as an Ofsted inspector but not in Portsmouth schools.



Minutes of previous meeting - 15 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 117 KB


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2020 be confirmed and signed by the chair as a correct record.



School improvement pdf icon PDF 149 KB


Debbie Anderson, Head of School Improvement & Early Years, presented the report and highlighted the main points. As there were no statutory assessments/tests/exams in the previous academic year due to Covid-19 there were no performance data dashboards to help support the prioritisation of school improvement support for maintained schools. Therefore, schools need clear and transparent criteria so they can see how support is prioritised. Criteria included the imminence of Ofsted inspections and new school leadership. Previous performance information and consistent trends could be considered; for example, a three-year downward trend, or anomalies where schools perform well in some areas but not in others. Ms Anderson will be reviewing the school improvement plans of maintained schools and will be looking to secure school improvement support from external sources that can benefit all schools in the city. An example of this is the opportunity to secure funding via the Hastings Opportunity Area and a potential twinning project focusing on literacy.


Ms Anderson confirmed that the PEP School Improvement Board has become the School Leadership and Effectiveness Board which has a focus on school leadership acknowledging that school leadership is key to improving standards in the city.


The Chair suggested that not having the dashboards may be a silver lining as it could be an opportunity to re-assess improvement strategies. The importance of leadership is crucial in setting the tone; a number of previously failing schools have dramatically improved with good leadership.


In response to questions from members, the following points were made.


With regard to effectiveness of school improvement with only Debbie Anderson in post, the Chair noted that the school improvement team had been reduced due to more schools becoming academies. Mr Stoneman said the £55 to £60,000 government funding allocated to school improvement was very little. Ms Anderson was responsible for statutory responsibilities for maintained schools as well as for the Ethnic Minority Achievement Service, Music Service and Early Years. The key was to getting the most from the collective resource available in the city and to capitalise on other opportunities such as the Hastings Opportunity Area twinning project and the potential of the Regional Teaching School Hubs that will be established next year.


With regard to having confidence in accurate results in view of the gaps in learning, officers explained they could not use 2020 results so had to use past trends. Although schools were invited to submit data to support the preparation of school profiles, they were for schools' sole use. When considering performance information the last three years have to be considered. Changes of leadership and the ongoing use of remote learning and the Catch-Up Premium also need to be considered. Fiona Calderbank said grades at her schools were not inflated. She sent the results of two sets of mocks to the Fisher Family Trust and used the algorithm. Schools who inflated grades would only face problems later on. Mr Stoneman assured members the local authority was not "taking the foot off the pedal" in aspiring to provide  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.


Response to Covid-19 pdf icon PDF 42 KB


Mike Stoneman, Deputy Director, Education, presented the report. Section 3 covered action taken after lockdown and Section 4 showed action taken since the previous meeting. Many of the workstreams established in the summer have been retained and merged into the PEP structures.


The Infection Control and Health & Safety group's stepped up work includes a support package comprising guidance, resources, template letters in the event of local outbreaks or lockdowns, which was sent to schools before term started.


Officers worked with Corporate Communications on the Welcome Back to School campaign. The Miss School Miss Out campaign was put on hold until after the autumn half-term. Attendance figures are better than expected with the majority of schools having over 95% attendance. 280 children have not returned to school, half of whom are known to Children's Services and Early Health and have a lead professional. Officers are working with schools via LA Link Co-ordinators to support this work. There is also a focus on elective home education (EHE) and a spike in requests with the aim of avoiding unsuitable EHE which is likely to lead a return to school. All schools are implementing the protocol. Compared with other local authorities in the South East Portsmouth is doing well in reducing the number of children who are inappropriately being home educated Resources for schools and frontline staff working with families were distributed shortly before the start of term. Tracking and monitoring of vulnerable children not at school continues. Existing staff who were deployed into tracking roles have returned to their regular jobs so three full-time LA Education Link Co-ordinators will be employed with effect from November. Many schools used the Welcome Back templates but are now moving to how to support the remaining children to return to school. A bespoke wellbeing support package was developed from one used in Medway.


There is a weekly communications update to schools every Friday, a weekly PEP bulletin, fortnightly meetings with headteachers and Multi-Academy Trusts (MAT), and half-termly meetings with maintained schools.


Ms Calderbank noted that the gap between the pupil premium and normal attendance has grown four times so it is pupil premium attendance that has been affected and might need investigating.


In response to questions from members, the following points were made.


Mr Stoneman felt Portsmouth was prepared as well as could be for a second wave of Covid-19 or an immediate lockdown. It will be in a much better position as it will have the LA Link Co-ordinators in place and has already done work on digital and home learning, for example, where children have had to self-isolate due to a positive case in schools. Ms Calderbank noted that by 22 October schools have a legal requirement to provide remote learning that is in line with the curriculum, not previous work.


With regard to schools being able to manage if school staff were waiting for tests or are overloaded with work, some schools had particularly felt the strain and as infection rates rise it will  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.


Portsmouth Education Strategy 2020 - 2023 pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:


Mike Stoneman, Deputy Director, Education, introduced the report, noting that the strategy had incorporated much of the work of the last six months and many of the priorities were Covid-19 related. Some consultation has taken place though not as much as was originally planned pre-Covid. The aim is to publish the strategy the following week. It will be delivered under the auspices of the PEP. The merger of the MATs Strategic Forum with the PEP Strategic Board is a welcome development as MATs (there are 11 in Portsmouth) have an important role in sharing their expertise. Mr Stoneman outlined the nine priorities. Inclusion, Early Years and post-16 will continue to be a central theme running through all the priorities. Key points to note from the nine priorities were as follows:


1.    Sue Samson, Chief Executive of the University of Chichester Academy Trust, has agreed to chair the School Leadership and Effectiveness Board. Andrew Olive, former chair of School Improvement Board, will continue to be part of the new Board.


2.    A digital learning pioneers' group has been created by building on work done in the summer on remote access. The Thinking Schools Academy Trust has been commissioned to support this work with Natalie Sheppard, TSAT's Director of Education for Portsmouth in the lead. Until now Alison Bradley, a senior HMI seconded to Portsmouth, led a digital and home learning group. Since September officers have refined what schools need for digital learning; they do not want schools to be left behind. The first of a series of webinars was on safeguarding and the dangers of remote learning. Others have covered hybrid and flipped teaching; flipped teaching is where the teacher is at home and the pupils are at school. Secondary schools are more used to digital learning as the students are older and more independent but infant and primary schools might need more support. It was noted that there is a requirement for all schools to have remote learning plans in place by 22 October. Work is also taking place to ensure disadvantaged children have access to devices and the internet, including an initiative with Shaping Portsmouth and employer members.


3.    Despite the focus on literacy maths is still important and there have been some successes with maths through the Solent Maths Hub. However, there are still significant issues with literacy and early language and this will be a key priority in 2020/21.


4.    Simon Barrable, Principal of Portsmouth College, is chair of the ITT, Teacher Recruitment and Retention Group. Since Covid-19 there has been renewed interest in teaching as a career and most ITT providers are reporting an increase in numbers but work is still needed to attract and retain the best teachers.


5.    The Infection Control and Health & Safety Group builds on the work done in the summer. It is chaired by Helen Atkinson, Director of Public Health, and will continue for the foreseeable future.


6.    Safeguarding is a new priority following two schools being judged by Ofsted as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.


Dates of future meetings

Wednesday 10 February 2021 - 4 pm - location TBC

Wednesday 14 July 2021 - 4 pm - location TBC


Members of the Board noted the dates of the next meetings as follows (location to be confirmed):


·         Wednesday 10 February 2021 at 4 pm

·         Wednesday 14 July 2021 at 4 pm