London boroughs are committed to championing the interests of children and young people, improving standards, holding schools to account and ensuring fair access to education.
London Councils has a wide-ranging policy programme that sets out the London local government role.
London local authorities and schools are currently dealing with a significant and sustained period of reduction in demand for reception places, which has implications for school budgets and standards. The fall in demand reflects the decline in the birth rate since 2012 and changes in migration patterns in London.
London Councils has set out the analysis of borough four-year forecasts of demand, the current challenges facing schools and local authorities in relation to planning school places, and recommendations for what local government, London Councils and the government can do to support the school system through this challenging period.
The previous London Councils series of Do the Maths publications can be read below.
In year admissions
In-year admission applications have increased significantly in London in recent years. Across 27 London boroughs, over 75,000 in-year admissions were received from September 2021 to July 2022. This is a considerable cohort of children who have to apply through an unwieldy system, often facing unnecessary delays, including referrals to Fair Access Protocols and the Secretary of State in the more challenging cases. Local authority oversight and management of pupil movements would bring about a simpler system for parents and put in place checks and balances to support safeguarding and ensure that children are not missing education.
London Councils has explored the cohorts of children seeking school places in-year, the challenges in the system, and the levers local authorities need to ensure that all children and young people in their area have fair and timely access to school places.
Early Years Education and Childcare
Early years provision is a key cornerstone for social mobility. London Councils undertook a survey of London borough Heads of Early Years to investigate the key issues relating to early years and childcare across the capital. This report highlight the considerable concerns London boroughs have about children being left behind because they have missed out on the government’s early years education entitlements during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Early Years Integration
Well-connected and integrated early years services can help to make sure families access the right support at the right time.
London Councils commissioned Isos Partnership to undertake research to look at integration of support for children through their early years journey across London to better understand effective integration across early years systems and services. The report finds that integration of early years systems is considered a priority across London but there is a variability in practice. There are different ways to bring services together, and local decision making that responds to community needs remains essential.
Obstacles holding up more joined up working include capacity, cultural barriers, shifting landscapes and technical difficulties which include a lack of information on sharing systems or rules locally. The report makes recommendations to address these challenges at a local level, across London, and nationally.
London Councils has also published a self-evaluation tool to enable local authorities and their partners to progress better join up across their local early years system and develop a common agenda for change.
Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Practice
Inclusive practice in schools enables children to attend their local school, supporting children with SEND to develop independence and life skills and encouraging acceptance and kindness in other children. London Councils conducted qualitative research into inclusive practice in mainstream schools in response to local authority concerns about the disparity in levels of inclusion across schools in London.
The Impact of COVID-19 on education
The Education Select Committee commenced an enquiry on the on impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services. The submission from London Councils can be read here.
London Councils welcomes the government’s proposal to introduce a duty for local authorities to maintain a register of home educated children as well as the duty for parents and carer to supply information to the local authority about the education children in their care are receiving. However, without legislative change to ensure mandatory annual monitoring visits, alongside mandatory registration, the current arrangements for elective home education will never be fully effective in ensuring that all children are protected from harm and receiving a good standard of education.
Ask the parents
London Councils commissioned YouGov for five consecutive years to survey London parents on their attitudes to the reforming educational system.
Head teacher survey
Talking Heads, a survey of nearly 400 London head teachers and senior school leaders, lays bare the negative impact of insufficient funding on teacher and teaching assistant numbers, curriculum options, learning resources such as IT equipment and textbooks, and the upkeep of school buildings.