At a meeting of Newham’s Full Council this week (Monday 29 October), members outlined their commitment to working with all of Newham’s schools.
The meeting also highlighted that the council is supportive of free, maintained or academy schools.
Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Julianne Marriott Cabinet Member for Education outlined that a report would be presented at December’s cabinet outlining how a partnership between the council and schools could be delivered.
She said: “I have been meeting with governing bodies to understand what our maintained schools want from us a council and what we can do to support them to stay maintained. At these meetings, I have heard a lot of home truths. Governors talked about how the council needed to get the ‘basics’ right - particularly around Special Education Needs. They were frank around the reasons they had considered becoming an academy and joining a MAT. Push factors - both nationally and locally, including funding cuts, but also because they wanted to be part of a family, a group of schools that supported and challenged each other.
“I have also met the majority of our maintained head teachers and they want the council to be part of a partnership that helps our schools work together and to focus on school improvement. As well, as this, over the next few weeks I will also be meeting with parents and school councils to listen to our young people.
“We’ll be setting out how a new partnership could work in December’s cabinet paper.
“I want to make it clear that our commitment to supporting maintained schools has sometimes been misinterpreted. We are not anti any school in Newham – whether free, maintained or academy. This administration is here to support every child in every school to thrive and succeed – whatever its governance structure. But we do believe schools should be locally accountable and we are clear that we support our maintained schools to stay maintained.”
The council has also submitted an expression of interest to the Department For Education (DfE) for a special school. This is alongside the five new or expanded specialist resource provisions attached to mainstream schools and colleges that have opened across the borough. The additional investment in this area will support the implementation of the council’s Best for All Strategy, which is about improving services and outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
She added: “We are committed to inclusive education in Newham. This year we opened five more resource provisions. But we know our system is creaking and funding cuts are letting down our children with the most complex needs. We have children who are placed out of borough because they do not have a school place in Newham, this is not inclusion. A special school, paid for by the DfE, will bring state of the art facilities in to the borough. More than a school, a new special school in Newham will be a centre – providing outreach to our schools and respite to our families.”
At the meeting Councillor Juliane Marriott also touched on the Government’s budget proposals in relation to education funding, she said: “The Conservatives have not used today’s budget to reverse their funding war on our teachers, staff and young people. We are £4.2m overspent in SEND budget, schools are required to use their own money to increase teachers pay and our nurseries are subsidizing the Government’s ‘free’ 30 hour provision. Later this evening we have a motion opposing Government funding cuts – a motion I wholeheartedly support.”