Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Select Committee - Wednesday 17th January, 2024 5.00 pm

Venue: Jim Cooke Conference Suite, Stockton Central Library, Church Road, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 ITU

Contact: Scrutiny Support Officer Rachel Harrison 

No. Item


Evacuation Procedure pdf icon PDF 9 KB


The evacuation procedure was noted.


Declarations of Interest


There were no interests declared.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To approve the minutes of the last meeting held on 13 December 2023.


AGREED that the minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2023 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Scrutiny Review of Narrowing the Gap in Educational Attainment pdf icon PDF 1 MB

-       To receive an update on the draft Attendance Strategy 2023 – 2026 as context for the Select Committee’s review work (draft Attendance Strategy attached)

-       To receive an update on plans for stakeholder engagement


The Select Committee received a copy of the draft Attendance Strategy 2023 – 2026 which provided context for the Select Committee’s review work.


Key issues highlighted and discussed were as follows:


• Attendance levels were broadly in line with the national picture with primary slightly above


• Attendance seemed to become more of an issue following transition from secondary to college


• Colleges were bound by the same legislation as schools but were perhaps less well equipped to deal with complex cases and engage with vulnerable young people


• All schools had been invited to contribute to the draft strategy


• The strategy reflected the need for a strong partnership approach to tackle the issue


• With regard to the rise in absence levels for girls, discussion at Closing the Gap cluster meetings suggested that this might be attributed to period poverty or girls having caring responsibilities in the home


• Members questioned whether strict toilet policies in schools also had an impact on attendance levels for girls. This reiterated the need for a strong pupil voice to understand the reasons for absence


• Schools were able to submit data around school attendance through the DfE portal. The large majority of schools submitted data in this way


• Many schools demonstrated an inclusive culture. However, others adopted an approach of educating pupils only if they were ready to be educated. The reasons behind this difference were recognised by the Select Committee and the challenges for larger secondaries were noted, where staff/ pupil rations were larger. Although attendance was still a line of enquiry in the new Ofsted framework, it was no longer a limiting factor


• Covid had impacted on attendance levels, especially in deprived areas


• Poor attendance directly often raised safeguarding concerns


• Absence due to family holidays remained an issue as the price differentials during term time and school holidays had never been addressed with holiday companies. It was acknowledged that a national agreement was needed


• Changing attitudes to technology also led to a belief among some parents that online learning was acceptable as an alternative to attending school


• If a child was being educated under special arrangements, on a reduced timetable, this would not be recorded as absence because this had been agreed with the school in advance. However, it was stressed a reduced timetable would only ever be for a short-term period and for a maximum of six months


• If a child was excluded from school, there would be no absence marked against them


The Select Committee also received a presentation setting out feedback from schools from pupil premium strategy statements on school websites. The feedback revealed increases in concerns in the following areas:



           Communication – oracy

           Cultural Capital

           Impacts of the costs of living crisis


Based on the feedback, the Select Committee agreed to amend the second strand of their review. The review would therefore focus on attendance and communication.


The Committee were advised that two  ...  view the full minutes text for item CYP/21/23


Select Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 133 KB


AGREED that the Work Programme be noted.