Venue: 0.02, Council Chamber, East Quadrant, The Silverlink North, Cobalt Business Park, North Tyneside, NE27 0BY
Contact: Maria Parkinson Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for absence
To receive apologies for absence from the meeting.
Appointment of substitutes
To be informed of the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.
There were no substitute members
To receive any declarations of interest
You are invited to declare any registerable and/or non-registerable interests in matters appearing on the agenda, and the nature of that interest.
You are also requested to complete the Declarations of Interests card available at the meeting and return it to the Democratic Services Officer before leaving the meeting.
You are also invited to disclose any dispensation from the requirement to declare any registerable and/or non-registerable interests that have been granted to you in respect of any matters appearing on the agenda
Councillor P Oliver declared a personal interest in Item 6 Support for Children with Special Needs and Disability during the Covid-19 pandemic as a family member has special needs.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2021
Resolved that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 9 September 2021 be confirmed and signed by the Chair.
The Committee considered a report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children and education, including the number of outbreaks from September 2021 and an update on the vaccination programme in schools.
As highlighted in the recently published report the ‘Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health and socio-economic inequalities in North Tyneside’, children and young people had been disproportionately impacted in terms of missed education and social interaction.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was already a significant gap in educational attainment between children living in deprived areas and their peers within North Tyneside. Many children experienced digital exclusion and were unable to access remote learning as families did not have laptops or internet access. The disruption to school-based learning during the pandemic is thought to have further widened that gap.
Across the North East, the learning loss for primary school pupils throughout the year was 2.8 months, which increased to 3.3 months for secondary school pupils. Nationally, pupils in schools with high take up of free school meals experienced the largest learning loss, which has likely widened the attainment gap.
In reply to a question regarding the learning loss for primary school pupils and secondary school pupils in North Tyneside it was noted that accurate information on the impact of Covid-19 on North Tyneside pupils would be obtained in the summer in 2022 when the Council would have data on the outcomes of national tests and national comparators.
As the Government moved to step 4 of the roadmap in July 2021, a new phase of continued caution came into operation to manage the risks of COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the new academic year in September 2021 the national and local priority was to protect time in face-to-face education, minimise disruption and ensure the response to COVID–19 was proportionate to risk to children and young people. The risk of severe illness in children and young people was low, however in contrast there were significant harms associated with missed education.
Self-isolation guidance changed on 16 August 2021 and children below the age of 18 years and 6 months were not required to self-isolate if they were identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19. Close contacts were now advised to take a PCR test but could remain in school as long as they did not return a positive result or display symptoms.
Education settings were no longer directed to maintain “bubbles” or for staff or pupils in secondary schools to wear facemasks, but the following control measures were maintained:
- Ensuring that there was good hygiene for everyone.
- Maintaining appropriate cleaning regimes.
- Keeping occupied spaces well ventilated.
- Following public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Education settings were no longer responsible for contact tracing for single positive COVID-19 cases in their settings, but they needed to notify the local authority if they reached thresholds for an outbreak and had up to date risk assessments in place, in line with ... view the full minutes text for item CES19
The Sub-Committee considered a report on the support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in the Covid-19 pandemic which included funding to schools for support for children with SEND and an update on data on SEND support, children’s attendance and exclusion data.
The local authority tracked the levels of young people accessing SEND support through the North Tyneside schools, as well as those who were supported with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
The overall number of children and young people who had the support of an EHCP continued to rise and North Tyneside remained an outlier in terms of the proportion of the local population who had a plan.
The number of requests for assessment had not slowed down during the last twelve months and this suggested that North Tyneside would continue to be an outlier when compared to national figures. This high rate of children and young people with identified additional needs would put pressure on the service and those of the Council’s partners.
Education in the academic year 2020/2021 had rapidly evolved to meet the dynamically changing needs of children and young people in North Tyneside. Local authority officers from a range of departments continued to support schools to navigate the plethora of legislation and guidance documentation presented by government. This had been the same for all identified groups of children and young people. An additional set of guidance and expectations were made for children and young people with EHCPs or those who were deemed to be vulnerable - the key difference being that full attendance was encouraged earlier. Whilst this additional guidance for children and young people with EHCPs was available, these groups were no less influenced by outbreaks of Covid-19 and periods of isolation.
The academic year 2020/2021 was beset by further disruption to pupils’ education, because of Covid-19. High rates of outbreak within schools and repeated periods of enforced isolation led to an extended period of closure in the spring term 2021. It required schools to move to online learning swiftly. Whilst schools had developed better access and content, it was recognised that generally children and young people with additional needs were challenged by this way of working. However, some were able to access this way of working very successfully. Early indications were that the outbreaks and infection rates had no more or less impact on the group of young people with additional needs.
Continuing high levels of infection during the summer term, particularly within the 10-14 years age range, led to further disruption for pupils. By the time schools began summer holidays, more than half were deemed in outbreak. Whilst there was no evidence that those children and young people who had additional needs were unduly impacted when compared to their peers, the full extent of the impact of two interrupted academic years of education on this group was yet to be realised.
The return to school in September 2021 had seen continued outbreaks, albeit not at the rate ... view the full minutes text for item CES20