Agenda item

Learning City Priorities

·       Post 16 Strategy

·       Reading City

·       Attendance Strategy


Post 16 Strategy

Summary of the task & finish group remit:

The LCP Board has agreed to support a two year project to help key partners work together to develop a collaborative strategy to achieve a fundamental transformation of our post 16 offer to significantly improve our provision planning and outcomes. In our first research phase, the group is collecting evidence against priority themes with a view to use our key findings to inform strategic plan priorities from 19/20. 

Lee Probert provided an update on the Post 16 Strategy task & finish group.


Highlighting the following:

a.      That the rationale for the geographical position on this provision was unclear; early findings indicate that schools took the decision on provision based on the availability of qualified teaching staff and funding; 6th form colleges concentrate their efforts on A-levels and progression to University; St Brendan’s had a provision for level 3 learning;

b.      That there was a lack of provision to the East of the City; that the proposed new provision did not address this need.

c.      The next step is to examine the individual provisions in both the private and public sector;  challenging the ‘sovereignty’ of individual providers may bring tension, as the question on the right provision in the right area now needs to considered;

d.      Student’s narratives have been included to consider the advice given by institutions to them at pivotal points in their education progression decision making; students will be invited to complete surveys to share their stories; the survey will include older students to ensure the evidence considers a ‘look back’ element.

e.      Early findings are that many providers limit advice to students based on their own funding resource position; that there was competition between schools and colleges to retain good students and in some instance coloured the advice given to students.

The following was noted from the discussion that followed:

f.       Further explanation was sought on the group’s next steps; which is to listen to young people, parents/parent carers on those wider issues that impact decision making on future study, such as transport; to also consider the lived experience of young people; to compare this data the views of the providers.

g.      A request was made that the group should seek contribution from students who have completed post 16 education to gain a full picture, for the ‘look-back’ exercise.

h.      It was noted that the evidence gathering supported the notion that all provision worked in an environment of competition with limited collaborative work.  That there was concern that no overall authority would be able to own the outcomes from the working group.

i.       The Board was assured positives were arising from the evidence gathering work, that the research gatherings of representative from institutions had a positive unintentional consequence resulting in proposals for collaborative working and unified actions.  An early suggestion is the use of a common application process so all young people @16 have a destination, similarly to the UCAS system.

j.       The Board was further assured that the output from this project will be available to inform the Regional School Commissioner and West of England Authority; to aid post 16 providers consider their provision referencing the evidenced based strategy from the report

Reading City

The cloakroom library concept based on the Gothenburg model will be ready to launch in March 2019. This model also features in the One City Plan.

Tom Sperlinger provided a verbal update on progression:

a.      The Bid submitted for funding to support the expansion of the project was unsuccessful; other resources are being sought to expand the project; the cloakroom library has received a number of books and funding to resource it further is being sought.

b.      Literacy Hub – to establish this would require an investment of £70K; Information to be circled on what this concept is.

c.      That there would be a re-think on cloakroom library set up whilst other funding opportunities is sought; suggested that links maybe formed with existing projects such as ‘read aloud week’ and ‘adult literacy projects’

d.      Action: Jane Taylor to share information with Tom Sperlinger on adult literacy project.


There has been a significant amount of work in relation to attendance that has been started since the beginning of the Academic Year 2018/19 led by Fiona Lightwood (Attendance Manager – Strategic Planning). Although Fiona has now left the Local Authority, it is important that the work she initiated is continued through a regular process of review planning and action.

Cllr Anna Keen provided an updated:

a.      The ‘Tool Kit’ is being finalised before it is shared with providers; the intention is to share good practice; highlight repeat issues that schools need to address and provide guidance on how to manage them.

b.      The intention is the establishment of local workshops for information sharing with and by school attendance leads and to discuss the link with Safeguarding issues that often underpin the reasons for non-attendance of pupils.

c.      An early suggestion was the creation of an independent board outside the school system to liaise & support parents, who are shy of institutions.

d.      The Chair shared her concern that the project is drifting because the lead Officer who led this work is no longer with the Authority and has yet to be replaced.

The following was noted from the discussion that arose:

e.      The question was asked whether a student who is suspended is counted as a non-attender and it was confirm that it was.  Similarly instances of absence result from chronic illness were also counted in this way.

f.       A member commented that the clarity was needed on the position of staff required to support student attendance by administering medication or supervising student’s medical procedure.

g.      It was suggested that the school registers should close at 9.15 instead of 9am to avoid the issue of those who are persistently late.

h.      It was noted that the advice and strategy on attendance for special schools differed to that for main stream schools.

i.       Action: Jim Bowyer to feed info on needs of students needing medication and other issues from special school providers into the findings

j.       Members supported the principle that if a school was viewed by students as a safe and enjoyable place it encouraged attendance and that all providers should work towards this vision.

k.      Feedback from Student Voices was shared; that shared the view that ‘class of the week’ competitions based on attendance had a negative impact on student relationship and overall did not support cohesion.