Greater London Region Update April 2016

Update for the April meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

School place planning

Regional DCSs continue to manage the growing pressure on school places, with pressure now also firmly appearing at secondary as well as primary stage. On national secondary offer day, demand for secondary school places increased by more than three per cent in one year in London. An increase is also expected for national primary offer day.

ALDCS and London Councils recently held a pan-London school places meeting to discuss emerging school place challenges including Basic Need 2018-19 allocations. A total of £1.15 billion has been made available for Basic Need nationally in 2018/19, with £155million (14%) allocated to the region. This compares to a national total of £1.28 billion in 2017/18, of which 25% went to the region. In total, 13 regional boroughs have been allocated no Basic Need funding at all in 2018/19.

The limited funding is of concern at a time when nearly all regional boroughs will need to create primary and secondary school places. Meeting the secondary school place pressure requires a different approach to primary given the complexities of secondary school planning, including finding large sites in London. Borough officers will be analysing Basic Need 2018/19 allocation figures and contribute to lobbying work undertaken by London Councils.

Additionally, borough officers, London Councils and the Greater London Authority continue their work to produce school place maps up to 2025.

School funding

The ALDCS and borough CYP finance leads are assessing the possible impacts from the introduction of a national funding formula for schools and high needs. An ALDCS response is being considered and should that go ahead, it will be informed by the regional ADCS response.

The ALDCS has also contributed to a London Councils’ response to the consultation. The broad principles that underpin the response are:

  • To address any inequalities in the current funding formula, funding should belevelled up, rather than down
  • Fairer funding through a NFF should not result in a reduction in funding for the region’s children
  • Local flexibility over funding is vital to address and respond swiftly to localdiverse and emerging issues.

Further Education (FE) - Area Based Reviews (ABR)

ABRs offer the opportunity to reconfigure the FE provision sub-regionally. Each sub-region is at a different stage of its ABR but regional DCSs have encouraged greater engagement of young people and DCSs in the process. As part of the West London ABR steering group, two DCSs are part of the membership. There are possibilities to add to the existing membership of ARB but this requires the approval of the steering group.

Healthy Schools London Programme

The Mayor’s Healthy Schools London Programme has been running for nearly three years. Regional DCSs have supported the rollout of the programme in local areas. Healthy Schools London provides a framework to enable schools to address the health and wellbeing of their pupils. It is part of the Mayor’s commitment to tackling child obesity and promoting children’s wellbeing. Healthy Schools London supports schools to be healthier places, with Mayoral awards to recognise those that are making a difference for their pupils.

An independent evaluation of the Programme is likely to be published in the coming weeks.

Adoption

The pan-London adoption bid continues to move forward. The project coach has reported positively on the project structure and progress to date and the DfE has shown a desire to see how the region can be appropriately supported.

The project team is currently in the process of negotiating DfE funding for financial year 2016/17. Funding has been secured to cover a transitional phase (March 2016 to July 2016) to evaluate the preferred models and identify a detailed model for sign up. Discussions continue with the VAAs and boroughs.

London Safeguarding Children’s Board

Work continues through the LSCB thematic groups focusing on Prevent, CSE and FGM. There is regional DCS representation on all three groups and progress is being made to improve cross-agency working.

Changes to both the Probation service and the Metropolitan Police Service will create some turbulence in the system that will need to be managed. However, opportunities are likely to present themselves such as the realignment of specialist commands at the MET.

Immigration Bill

The Asylum Taskforce, chaired by Paul Greenhalgh, is a subcommittee of the Families, Communities &Young People Policy Committee.

The ADCS Asylum Task Force, working with the LGA and NRPF Network, has had a significant influence on the measures relating to children in the Immigration Bill. Through contribution at select committee and through detailed work with the Home Office, changes to the Bill relating to support for destitute families who have children and for care leavers, have been made. These are currently being debated in the Lords. These proposals include, for families with children who have exhausted the asylum process, a new assessment regime which streamlines the process for families, and a clarification of the status of care leavers who are Appeal Rights Exhausted. After the proposed legislation is agreed in Parliament, the regional DCS Task Force, along with the LGA and NRPF Network, is planning to work with the Home Office to help develop regulation and guidance associated with the new legislation.

Early years

Regional DCSs along with boroughs officers are reviewing the 30-hour free childcare entitlement consultation launched by the DfE. Consideration will be given as to whether a regional response would be helpful. ALDCS is likely to help inform a London Councils’ response.

The delivery of the 30 hours entitlement is a challenge for the region. Most notably, the hourly funding rate offered by DfE is below the average market rate in the region and is proving a disincentive for some providers to consider participation. Additionally, creating sufficient places requires considerable capital investment. There are concerns that the £50 million allocated is not sufficient. A recent early years survey by London Councils identified that three boroughs that responded to the capital requirement question identified a combined need of £10 million.

Youth Justice

Regional DCSs continue to take a lead in responding to the challenges in Youth Justice. Concerns include the impact of severe cuts in other youth services and levels of serious youth violence in some areas linked to gang activity. There has also been a focus on the County Lines issue. A group of DCSs met with Charlie Taylor to make an input to the Youth Justice Review. Discussions are also taking place with the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) about the possible implications of any devolution in this area of policy.

ALDCS priorities

The ALDCS is in the process of finalising its priorities for 2016/17, with the following six areas being considered subject to final amendments and approval:

  • Further developing the two, three and four year-old offer available to the region’s children and parents
  • Working with stakeholders to improve children’s social care/safeguarding practices across the region as well as sharing emerging good practice
  • Achieving consistently high standards in the work of partner organisations to support early intervention/early help
  • Supporting the implementation of adoption reforms in the region
  • Positively shaping the regional education system to support children and young people to achieve better outcomes
  • Working with stakeholders to give children a happy and healthy start in life.

Succession planning

There continues to be turnover at director and assistant director level with a number of recruitments ongoing across the region. Mentoring and support across all levels remains essential.

An aspirant DCS programme is being developed by ALDCS focusing on supporting second tier officers deemed ready and willing to make the transition to DCS. It is a one year support programme to develop readiness to step up. Nominations to join the programme recently closed, with strong interest to participate. In total 18 nominations have been received.


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