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Agenda item

Responsible Cabinet Member review

Updates against portfolio priorities will be provided by:

·         The Cabinet Member for Education (Councillor Cooper-Marbiah); and

·         The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services (Councillor Neep).



The Cabinet Member for Education, (Councillor Cooper-Marbiah), highlighted the following in her report to the Panel:

·         National funding formula: proposed by Government, this will possibly result in reduced funding for 10 Merton schools.  Other schools will receive a small gain in funding but this will not prevent them from struggling financially (due to rising costs).  Letters have been sent to all Merton schools so that they are aware of the impact of these changes.

·         Aragon Primary School: is joining Glenthorne Academy in Sutton.  The Council stated its position on wanting the school to remain in its family of schools and why they think a MAT with Glenthorne is not in the best interest of local children.  However, Aragon is now formalising its relationship with the academy trust;

·         School expansion programme: now that the expansion of Dundonald has been finished, the expansion programme of Merton’s primary schools is complete.  The expansion of Merton’s secondary schools has commenced with Harris Merton and the proposal for the new academy is out for consultation. In addition there are expansion plans for Cricket Green and  Perseid Upper School;

·         Harris Wimbledon consultation on admissions policy: this closes on 31 March 2017 and all are encouraged to participate.  Officers were thanked for their work in raising awareness of the consultation amongst residents.  Noted that several meetings had taken place and that the Councillor had attended including a meeting with residents in Colliers Wood which was well attended with much excitement expressed about the forthcoming secondary school and parents keen to ensure access for their children through the admission policy; and

·         Secondary school places: all applications for secondary school places in Merton received an offer demonstrating school place projections were accurate.  Officers were commended for their work.


In response to member questions, the Cabinet Member clarified:

·         Arguments were made to encourage Aragon to remain in the Merton family of schools.  Consultation with other heads has garnered very positive feedback about the school improvement support offered by the Council; and

·         Harris Wimbledon will be built on Council purchased land and the Council owned High Path Resource Centre. In addition, a shared games area will be built partially on a small area of the Merton Abbey Primary School playing field. The use of this is being agreed in consultation with both schools.


The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, (Councillor Neep), highlighted the following in her report to the Panel:

·         Social Work Day: highlighted that the meeting was happening on the national day of recognition for social workers.  Thanks were given to all social workers;

·         Child Sexual Exploitation Week: the Council worked with an extensive network of partners to provide a week long awareness raising event that featured a range of speakers covering subjects from gangs to online safety.  Highlighted the work of the Breck Foundation which is working to raise awareness that it isn’t just vulnerable but all children that are at risk online.  Noted that this learning is being applied to universal services; and

·         Merton Safeguarding Children Board Away Day: this had just happened and focused on current key priorities of early help, think family and adolescence services, all underpinned by the cross cutting issue of neglect.  Noted that support is need from across the Council, from all departments, to get it right for all three areas.  Called on the Panel to consider looking at these areas in partnership with other scrutiny Panels and Council departments.


In response to member questions, the Cabinet Member clarified her top areas of focus:

·         providing support for young people transitioning into adulthood and adult services,

·         access to mental health services (specifically helping parents and carers accessing this where needed),

·         ensuring that young people are helping to shape services and that these aren’t determined by adults and imposed on young people; and

·         crucially ensuring that the young people the Council is progressing to independence have access to housing.