Tuesday 16 April 2024

Tough questions from Byron Court parents at Brent Scrutiny Committee. Why did the Rapid Improvement Group fail?

 Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Commitee: Byron Court presentation & responses


Two Byron Court Parents attended Scrutiny Committee thia evening to ask questions about what Brent Council had done to help the school when it was realised it was in difficulties, The Rapid Improvement Group (RIG) was set up in September 2022 more than a year before the Ofsted Inspection of November 2023.

Parents' Questions

Tanisha Phoenic: RIG history - we have put in an FOI request to help us understand how an Outstanding school with a teaching status in the borough has been left to languish, in the meantime, can the panel answer some of our questions:


Rig was put in place on Sept 2022, chaired by Shirley Parks. Why was RIG put in place? What issues were identified in 2022? Are some of these the same issues that Ofsted identified in their inspection?


What was achieved by the RIG between its inception and the Ofsted inspection in Nov 2023? How many meetings took place, what was the level of monitoring and support put in place?


Was it identified during the year that the RIG was in place that improvements were not being made? What interventions if any were made, were these issues escalated? If so, then where?


We understand that the support to the school via the RIG and SESS has not been as intensive as required i.e. meetings being frequently cancelled by Council officers. Has this in part led to the poor inspection rating?


Did the Council experience any barriers working effectively with the previous Headteacher and governing body?


We want to understand if a school mentioned in 3.3.2 that was rated “requires improvement” in 2022/2023  has had a RIG in place and been on “journey to good” - why has the RIG failed Byron Court?


Do the committee really believe that they have done all in their power to help the school and avoid what has now become a forced academy order?



Vina Vekria -  Assurances from now to academisation


Whilst we acknowledge that you are legally bound to comply with the academisation order, Gwen Grahl reaffirmed the council's commitment to supporting and improving the school and assured us additional leadership capacity would be in place after Easter. 


What if any guarantees can you give us that the council will be living up to its commitment to ‘protect/promote community schools’ as per the Labour manifesto? Will you commit to pushing for a reinspection?


We are campaigning for a reinspection of the school, what guarantees can you give that the RIG will do what is expected and required to achieve the rapid improvements needed?


What additional resources - mentioned by Cllr Grahl at the Cabinet meeting on 9 Apr - are being put into the school and when? Will this address the huge lack in capacity in the Senior Leadership Team?


Will the Scrutiny Committee agree to return to this item at their next meeting in order to provide details of actions put in place?


There was no specific reply to the RIG question or on resources as applied to Byron Court although it was claimed that RIGs were generally successful.   Cllr Grahl spoke about her letter to the Secretary of State and offered to meet with parents. Cllr Ketan Sheth (Chair) said the Committee would keep a watching brief and parents could submit questions to the Committee. Answering a councillor's question Brent officers said that they were confident that no other Brent school would suffer a similar fate to Byron Court.

This is the FoI request made to Brent Council:

Dear Brent Council,

I am writing to you on behalf of over 130 parents involved in the ‘Byron Court Parents’ Campaign group’. The group represents parents who are opposed to the forced academisation of the school following Ofsted’s report.

We urgently request under the Freedom of Information Act the following:

Date of the initiation of Rapid Improvement Group (RIG), details of reasons(or redacted) the RIG was requested/instigated
Date of RIG was put into place
RIG Lead and its members
Aims and Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) of the RIG
Minutes from RIG meetings
Details (or redacted) of improvements achieved


Anonymous said...

All v sinister. We aren’t being told the truth

Anonymous said...

Let's face it Brent Council, both officers and councillors, school management and governors have let down the pupils and parents of Byron Court by not recifying the school's failings that were apparent in 2022, over a year before the OFSTED inspection.

The Rapid Improve Group was set up in 2022, why did it fail in redressing the school's obvious failings?

What is the point of Byron Court being a Council School if they can't keep standards at least above Inadequate?

Perhaps the Council should be placed in special measures for this failure?

Were the ward councillors aware of the failings and the deployment of a Rapid Improvement Group, surely they must have been, and what did they do, if anything?

What a mess.

Anonymous said...

If the council let it get into this state, why do campaigners want it to remain with the council when that hasn't worked for a number of years? Why should the children be given a sub par education in the meantime?