Agenda item - Chair's Communications
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31.1 The Chair gave the following communication:
Firstly, on the agenda today we were due to have a presentation on activities held during the holidays for SEND children. Unfortunately, those due to present today are unwell and we have therefore delayed this to a future meeting.
Cllr O’Quinn and I attended Youthwise in October where we were grilled by young people on the city’s response to the climate crisis as we should be. Thank you to the young people present for such an insightful discussion. Committee will know that youth engagement is really important to me, and you will note that the agenda includes an update on the annual make your mark survey and a general update on the work of youth council. I’m really pleased to see that the youth council is now bursting with 23 members following the induction day held in October which I was sadly unable to attend due to contracting covid-19.
On note of covid and the pandemic, we continue to keep a watching eye on the raising figures among school age children. While vaccination among 12-15 year olds is progressing, we remain concerned that the high rates of covid are slowing the programme down, due to the wait between catching covid and having a jab. We are also critical of Government’s inaction on preventing the spread in schools. Cllr Sarah Nield wrote to Government last Monday addressing some of those concerns – including the slow delivery of c02 monitors into our city’s schools and how the lack of measures will further disrupt education.
This is the first meeting since Moulsecoomb Primary has become an academy – having been forced out of our hands by the ideology of government. I want to thank the campaign for the work they did in challenging the academisation. As an administration, we have asked officers to keep a focus on what they can do to help prevent forced academisation of more education settings in our family of schools and we have requested regular updates on the work being done to support schools at risk of a negative OFSTED judgement. However, our work to support schools who are fighting academisation may well be hampered. In half term, the Government announced a consultation on removing the school improvement grant from councils. This funds the work we do in supporting our schools, including school improvement advisors who work with schools who need support. Without this grant, this work is at risk. I am concerned this is an attempt by Government to force further academisation by the back door.
Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children
Talking of Government’s failed policies, I would like to highlight that the hotel that is holding uascs in our city remains open. After a few months in operation it remains clear that a rota for councils to take UASC which is voluntary is not the solution to ensuring that UASCs get the support they need from councils across the country. This council has already taken over our suggested statistical quota- we are currently around 130% of that, taking both spontaneous arrivals and from the rota in spite of this.
We remain over 0.07% of our quota, currently around 130% of that, taking both spontaneous arrivals and from the rota in spite of this. I am frustrated that this government is enabling other councils to get away without providing this support to vulnerable refugee children. Once again we call on them to close the Hove site and introduce a mandatory rota so that everyone plays their part.
Budget / Spending Review
I was keeping a keen eye on this autumns budget and spending review to see how it will impact children and young people in our city. While there were some announcements made – this doesn’t fill the gaps that are needed after both increased costs and reducing funding over the last decade. In many cases was a reannouncement of funding already made. Talking of re-anouncements – they re-announced the youth investment fund, now two years after they first announced it. I would really like to see progress on this fund, and I will once again use my chairs communications to urge the Government to release the funding so that youth services in our city can access vital support.