Agenda and draft minutes

Education Advisory Board - Monday, 8th February, 2021 4.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Remote Meeting. View directions

Contact: Anna Martyn Tel 023 9283 4870  Email:

Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Jeff Williams, Anglican representative. Mike Stoneman said that Fiona Calderbank, Co-Chair of the Portsmouth Education Partnership (PEP), had resigned from her post at Miltoncross in December and that Steve Labedz has retired but would remain as Chair of the PEP until early July. Recruitment is taking place for an independent chair for a two-year term. The Chair asked that Mr Labedz should be thanked for his contribution to the Education Advisory Board and his role in co-chairing the PEP.



Declarations of interests


Councillor Horton declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as she is Vice-Chair of the governing body at Craneswater Junior School. Councillor Norton declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as he is employed at Mayfield School through an external agency. Councillor Smith declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as she works for Hampshire branch of Unison and represents support staff in Hampshire schools. Debbie Anderson works as an Ofsted inspector but not in Portsmouth schools. Currently all inspections are being carried out by HMIs.



Minutes of previous meeting - 14 October 2020 pdf icon PDF 134 KB


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 14 October 2020 be confirmed and signed by the chair as a correct record.



Portsmouth Education Strategy 2020-2023 - Update on progress in Year 1 pdf icon PDF 370 KB

The report originally marked to follow was published on 4 February 2021.


Mike Stoneman, Deputy Director of Children, Families & Education, together with Debbie Anderson and Sarah Christopher, presented the report and highlighted points from each of the nine priorities.


1. The School Leadership & Effectiveness Board (SLEB) took some time to establish in view of Covid but now has an extensive membership. SLEB is keen to gather partners' views on best processes and practices in order to for schools to set ambitious targets and consider how they will meet them. Schools are asked to consider what similar schools achieve and if below the median level of performance to consider how they could achieve similar. The specific questions to be put to schools were discussed at a recent meeting. Although there are no formal assessments or exams in 2020 and 2021 the aim is to have to more consistent and robust best practice processes in place from September 2021.


2. Digital learning has been a key focus in the Strategy's first year. Education was working on digital learning before Covid and has seized on the opportunity to develop it further. A contract with TSAT (Thinking Schools Academy Trust), a leading digital pioneer, has provided dedicated support and part-funded a Digital Development Officer, which has strongly progressed digital learning. The work in schools to enable education and interactivity between teachers and pupils, the latter especially important during lockdown, has been transformational. The contract has also enabled schools to meet DfE deadlines, for example, remote education plans for parents are on school websites and there is a dedicated page on the PEP website. Access to devices is key. As well as an allocation of devices from the DfE, Education has supplemented provision for primary schools through the EEF (Elementary Education Foundation) Trust. In addition, Education has launched a digital donation scheme with Shaping Portsmouth.


In response to questions from members on the extent of IT access and provision for children, Mr Stoneman said all schools have surveyed parents about access and devices. He cannot give a city-wide answer but schools are managing the situation so far and are in dialogue with Education where there are gaps. There is considerable support from the DfE as well as more local schemes. However, support for infant schools is weak as they are not in the DfE allocation of devices, which is shortsighted and disappointing as remote education is needed for Early Years and KS1. Education is stepping in to remove barriers through the Shaping Portsmouth donation scheme.


Mr Stoneman was aware of larger network companies who had signed up to offer free data to schools, but some of the offers were of poor value and more of a sales pitch. Sometimes if children were struggling at home it could be because of lack of space or having to share devices, in which case they would be deemed as vulnerable and schools would offer a place where possible. Education and schools are doing all they can to ensure access to learning, either at home or school.


Electively Home Educated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


LA response to the re-opening of schools in the Autumn term and the subsequent lockdown at the start of the Spring term pdf icon PDF 201 KB


Mike Stoneman presented the report, noting that it built on the report at the October meeting. Much of the content had already been covered in the update on the Portsmouth Education Strategy. He highlighted two areas:


·         During Christmas funds were used from the Covid-19 Winter Grant to provide food vouchers through a contract with EdenRed for children eligible for Free Schools Meals. The Covid grant and EdenRed will be used to provide vouchers during the Spring half-term as families and schools are familiar with the scheme.


·         There is a focus on Year 11s as applications to post-16 education have decreased this year. Additional support includes the Flying Start website, webinars for parents and carers, and identifying pupils where there are the most concerns about post-16 destinations through the Youth Neet Prevention Programme (a traded service) by offering dedicated support from careers advisors. Despite challenging circumstances some face-to-face work has taken place.


RESOLVED that the Education Advisory Board note details of the work and ongoing work that has, and is continuing to be undertaken, by the council and partners to support education settings in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.



Support and challenge for LA Maintained Schools pdf icon PDF 173 KB

The report originally marked to follow was published on 4 February 2021.


Debbie Anderson, Head of School Improvement & Early Years, introduced the report, which builds on the report at October's meeting, noting that support for schools is proportionate to need. Two schools had had less than Good Ofsted judgements. Support included risk-assessed visits to the schools and commissioned support. Mrs Anderson was interviewed as part of the Ofsted monitoring visit to Corpus Christi Catholic Primary and has worked closely with the new headteacher.


Commissioning external support such as NLE (National Leader of Education) provides continuity for schools. Risk-assessed visits for schools with headteachers new to Portsmouth are useful as although they have a fresh perspective it helps them to have someone quality assuring their judgements.


The work with the local Lead Moderator supports teachers and leaders but also challenges accuracy of judgements about what children should be achieving. When reviewing schools' strategic plans they are asked how they will focus on impact and outcomes and not just actions. Education has reviewed all 21 LA maintained schools to see if their remote education information for parents meets the DfE's expectations on remote education. From 12 February it is a legal duty to publish the information. The DfE expectations emphasise that interactivity between staff and pupils is just as important as lessons.


The Hackney Learning Trust's Destination Reader project (renamed Reading for Purpose and Pleasure) has a systematic sequencing of reading skills which will enable the ten participating schools to progress. Annual subscriptions to the Trust will continue next year so schools can access updated resources. A network of participating teachers will enable collaborative working as way to support and challenge.


The PiXL (Partners in Excellence) organisation does not just provide assessment but resources to help schools use the findings. One LA maintained school is particularly supportive of the PiXL approach.


As there are no formal assessments this year moderation and assessment activities have been re-purposed in order to judge children's work accurately. Support will be given to help with transition.


External consultancy has been commissioned for coaching for five new headteachers. There is also a networking group to help support them. It is especially hard being a new headteacher during Covid.


In response to questions from members about the amount of 1:1 feedback from teachers, Mrs Anderson said although some teachers use pre-recorded sessions they have put considerable effort into ensuring they are suitable. If there are problems parents should speak to the school first and then Ofsted. So far Ofsted has received one complaint and 40 positive comments. Remote education is light years away from what was offered in March 2020. Schools have been asked to send in positive quotes about remote learning to celebrate achievements.


The Chair said that if individual complaints can be investigated and lead to a positive outcome then schools are keen to hear them. Officers agreed the purpose of the Board is to scrutinise and consider difficult questions.


Members thanked officers for their reports and all those who are contributing to success as well  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.