Councillors discuss schools, free school meals and 4 Wirral schools in special measures
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Last night’s meeting of Wirral Council’s Attainment sub-committee started off well enough. Before the hour of six o’clock had even been reached, Cllr Moira McLaughlin was chomping at the bit to be made Chair. As there was only one Conservative councillor present and many, many Labour councillors, it was hardly likely she wouldn’t become Chair.
The Labour councillors then agreed to Cllr Wendy Clements being Vice-Chair.
The Chair, Cllr Moira McLaughlin pointed out that Cllr Alan Brighouse wasn’t present, but decided to continue the meeting anyway. To be perfectly honest I’m glad as if every meeting waited until Cllr Alan Brighouse was present things would never start on time as like another councillor he has a reputation for poor timekeeping.
Apologies were given for Julia Hassall who would be late. Declarations of interest were given as some councillors were school governors.
The minutes were agreed. The Chair said that the main thrust of the meeting would be a presentation from Deborah Gornik (who wasn’t there). The Chair was informed that Deborah Gornik would also be late as she (and presumably Julia Hassall) were “at another meeting”. Were they meeting each other? What was this other meeting about? Who knows?
The one officer (apart from the one taking the minutes) that had turned up on time, Sue Talbot gave her report on standards (which is not often a word you hear at public meetings of Wirral Council).
However this was about standards of education for at the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 level, with a focus on raising standards and what happened to the education of those in local authority care (adopted or fostered). The phrase “good news story” was repeated by Sue Talbot many times.
Cllr Alan Brighouse was the first to speak and used words like “pretty fantastic improvement” followed up by a question about falls in numbers of children eligible for free school meals. The answer given was that the eligible benefits for people for apply for free school meals had changed which partly explained the drop and in answer to a further question that the officer preferred to use numbers of children rather than percentages.
The Lib Dem spokesperson (as the only Lib Dem he’s therefore the spokesperson) continued to talk about primary schools becoming academies (at this point I wondered if he was going to explicitly mention Lyndale). Sue replied that Wirral Council still had legal duties towards academies and mentioned the academy representatives on the Wirral Schools Forum and Sue went on to say the good relationship that Wirral Council has with primary schools (which if you’ve been following the Lyndale story is a matter of opinion).
Cllr Wendy Clements then asked about floor targets, the officer replied that no schools triggered all four triggers but they had banded schools (sound familiar?) and there were four schools in band four… followed up by her favourite phrase again “good news story”. Cllr Clements asked a follow up question and the answer given was that they were keen to track children who come out of care but admitt