Councils ambition for education other than at school services is not just to be good but to be excellent

Picture courtesy www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk

Picture courtesy www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk

Councillors met to follow up upon the impact of their scrutiny inquiry into education inclusion on the 3 January where they met with the Cabinet Member for Education and the Head of Learner Support Service.

The Panel found that good progress was being made in relation to the recommendations made by the education inclusion scrutiny inquiry panel report and that these recommendations can be seem  reflected in the decision making and preparation of the Councils options Cabinet paper which proposes to extensively overall the entire education other than at school service.

The Panel were pleased to hear about the consultation with pupils that is starting to feed into the process. They heard that young people have told us that they want to have a caring, nurturing environment and that they want to continue to have contact with their originating school even when they have been excluded.  Schools need to understand this and ensure they have systems in place to make this happen.

The Panel were informed that a new Head of the EOTAS has been appointed and will take up the post in the summer term and that she will be involved in the developments over coming months.  Councillors were pleased to hear that she has a track record in improving outcomes.

The cabinet member for education praised Jack Straw, Swansea’s previous Chief Executive for the part he played in helping in the drive to extensively overhaul the entire education other than at school service. Particularly for keeping this issue high on the council agenda of priorities, ensuring a corporate approach to driving this issue and for finding funding from very tight budgets.  The Panel has agreed with this and then planed to write to him to show their appreciation.

The Panel were particularly pleased to hear of progress in finding a more suitable building and location for EOTAS services, and are encouraged by the pending feasibility study for a potential new facility in Cockett.  Although the site has been associated with the youth offending service, the Panel felt that the potential positives of the site do outweigh this, particularly as the whole service will be re-branded.  Councillors heard that some of the potential positives of the site include: its green, leafy location close to a comprehensive school and further education college.  It is also a large site that will have outside facilities as well as more suitable and up to date buildings.  Its location is central enough for young people to travel to and from.

Councillors discussed the issue of engagement with CAMHS.  The Panel heard that there is currently no direct pathway from EOTAS into CAMHS and we were particularly concerned about the potential for this being a weak link in the new EOTAS overhaul especially in meeting the future needs of many of these vulnerable children.  We would like to see a clear link and pathway into CAMHS from EOTAS.  We have agreed to write to the Public Services Board asking them to consider this issue in their multi agency capacity.

The Panel now look forward with optimism for children using EOTAS services and feel vulnerable children within the education system in Swansea will be much better served moving forward.  Councillors were particularly pleased to hear the ambition for this service is not just to be good but to be excellent.  This concludes our inquiry into Education Inclusion.

If you would like any further information about this inquiry or scrutiny more generally you can visit the scrutiny website at scrutiny@swansea.gov.uk

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