Uniquely this committee has non-councillor members. The non-councillor members had read the papers, understood them and discussed knowledgeably with the Director. They were doing Overview and Scrutiny(O/S) committee work, they cared about the importance of the task.
Item 61 concerned secondary school outcomes. Key comparators were graphed, supported with text. This showed Havering has a mixed outcome, a critically important issue. Six councillors sat silently in their living rooms.2Every non-councillor member spoke, making valuable contributions.
Robert South, the Director, stated Havering’s educational legacy is under-achievement. His mission is, ‘Aspiration and Ambition’. The chair was reluctant to press the Director saying certain matters should be discussed ‘outside’. Councillor Gillian Ford pointed out O/S committees were formed to publicly discuss important issues.
The Director said there was a significant ‘drift’ of Havering’s students going to Brentwood schools. A non-councillor member said her child was going to Chelmsford as Havering’s schools aren’t good enough. Havering’s ‘A’ level results are weak. Judith Holt said Havering should be above average. Unfortunately Havering’s school Sixth Forms are academies and a law unto themselves.
Item 6 was an hour long masterclass.3 Councillors should watch the webcast to show them what an Overview and Scrutiny committee is. The masterclass was a direct consequence of the participation of non-councillor members. Councillors aren’t doing the job they were elected to do and are failing Havering’s children.
2 The silent councillors were Misir, Durdin, D. Patel, Carol Smith, Whitney and a substitute member. One councillor was AWOL. Havering’s councillors earn about £200 a week and the O/S committee is their principal public role.
3 To see the webcast go to Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)