Agenda and draft minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 17th September, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: David Hicks 1 - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN

Contact: Luciane Bowker  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist

Items
No. Item

15.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Darryl Ward and Councillor Pauline Helliar-Symonds.

16.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 386 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 June 2019.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 18 June 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

Matters arising

 

Members asked why the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy had not been included in the Agenda.  Jim Leviers, Interim Assistant Director for Education stated that one of the recommendations made by Ofsted was that the strategy should be co-produced.  Therefore the strategy was being revisited through the SEND Improvement Board to include the element of co-production.  The strategy would be submitted to the Committee in the new year.

 

Councillor Miall asked for information relating to the number of first preferences for schools in the Maiden Erlegh ward.  Jim Leviers stated that Maiden Erlegh School had received 42% of first preferences for Year 7 and Addington Primary received 36% of first preferences for first entry to school.

 

Councillor Miall asked for an audit report on the Members’ Christmas collection for Children In Care.  Carol Cammiss, Director of Children’s Services agreed to circulate this information to Members of the Committee.

 

In response to a question Jim Leviers stated that the SEND Improvement Board had held its first meeting and that Health professionals were taking part in the development of the SEND Strategy.

17.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

18.

Public Question Time

To answer any public questions

 

A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.

 

The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this committee.

 

Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

19.

Member Question Time

To answer any member questions.

Minutes:

There were no Member questions.

20.

Children's Continuous Improvement Plan pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To receive and consider the Children’s Services Continuous Improvement Plan report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the Children’s Services Improvement Action Planning report which was set out in Agenda pages 15-19.  Viki Elliott-King, Children’s Improvement Programme Manager presented the report.

 

Viki Elliott-King stated that the service regularly undertook self-evaluation to determine its priorities.  The last self-evaluation had been undertaken in January 2019, and the service had also been through a full Ofsted inspection in June 2019.  The analysis of both of these evaluations had helped to shape the priorities for the service which were presented in the report.

 

During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:

 

·           Members were pleased with the layout of the report;

·           Members noted that the report covered a lot of areas and asked what the hierarchy of priorities was.  Viki Elliott-King stated that sometimes the service had to react to situations and the priorities could change, one of the most pressing priorities currently was to stabilize the workforce;

·           Carol Cammiss stated that the sequencing of priorities might change, but they would not came off the list;

·           In response to a question Carol Cammiss stated that it was always challenging to make sure the finance was robust whilst making improvements to the services.  The service was continually re-addressing its priorities and identifying areas that it wanted to focus on.  For example, one area of improvement was the development a service for the children in the edge of care;

·           Councillor Croy asked how improving the brand would benefit the service.  Viki Elliott-King stated that this was in relation to improving communication internally and externally.  She stated that it was important to build trust and break barriers to communication;

·           Members were interested to know more about the process of identifying vulnerable children.  Carol Cammiss stated that there were different processes, and cross reference of information.  For example monitoring the children who attracted Pupil Premium, children with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and Looked After Children;

·           Councillor Croy asked if there was a risk of an overload of reviews within the service.  Carol Cammiss stated that the new leadership team had to reassure itself that the service was running in the way that it should be.  She explained that some of the reviews were part of a three year programme, she believed the reviews were necessary;

·           In response to a question Carol Cammiss stated that the next Placement Strategy was currently being developed.  This Strategy was going to include the development of a service for children in the edge of care and a service to support foster carers looking after children with high needs.  There was an aspiration to reduce the number of children who were placed outside of the area as it was a known fact that children who were placed closer to home achieved better outcomes.

 

RESOLVED That:

 

1)     The Children’s Services Strategy and Delivery Priorities be noted; and

 

2)     The intent of improvement action planning to deliver priority actions, improving outcomes for children and young people and resulting in an Ofsted grading of “Good” be noted.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Ofsted Inspection Outcomes and Action Plan pdf icon PDF 361 KB

To receive and consider a report giving details of the Ofsted inspection outcomes and the action plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Ofsted Inspection Outcomes and Action Plan report which was set out in agenda pages 21-40.  Viki Elliott-King presented the report.

 

Viki Elliott-King stated that the service had undergone a full Ofsted inspection in June 2019 and the outcome was ‘Requires Improvement’.  Ofsted had identified five areas for improvement and required that an action plan be submitted by 17 October 2019.  Ofsted had also identified many areas of good practice, however the result reflected the fact that quality was not consistent across the board.  Ofsted recognised that the service was on a trajectory of improvement.

 

Carol Cammiss stated that Ofsted the findings were in line with the service’s own self-evaluation.  The leadership team understood where the challenges were and the work to improve those areas that were identified by Ofsted as needing improvement had already started.  Additionally, Ofsted was pleased with the progress made since the earlier inspection.

 

During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:

 

·           In response to a question Carol Cammiss Social Workers’ caseload was reduced as a result of a review of all the children in need cases;

·           Carol Cammiss explained that an added difficulty in Social Worker recruitment was that it could be more difficult to recruit Social Workers to work in certain areas;

·           Carol Cammiss stated that the recent churn in senior leadership had been unsettling for staff and impacted the recruitment of staff.  She also stated that poor practice was not accepted in order to retain permanent members of staff;

·           Councillor Mickleburgh asked if there were any areas of concern that had not been identified by Ofsted.  Carol Cammiss stated that the inspection had been very rigorous and that many areas of good practice had also been identified.  She stated that she had been honest with Ofsted in saying where the service was and what was being done to address areas that needed improving.  She stated that, provided that the senior leadership team remained stable, the service was on course to achieve its targets as outlined in the improvement plan;

·           In response to a question Carol Cammiss stated that a more robust reporting system was being put in place to monitor the adoption service provided by Adopt Berkshire;

·           Members asked for more information on the comments relating to Corporate Parenting Board (CPB).  Carol Cammiss stated that Ofsted felt unsure that CPB was adding value to the children.  The service was aware that CPB needed reforming before Ofsted’s visit and had already been working on a proposal to make it more efficient.  This proposal would be submitted at the next meeting of CPB;

·           Councillor Bray agreed that CPB needed to improve the way it operated in order to gain Members’ commitment;

·           Members asked for more information relating to recording systems.  Carol Cammiss stated that the service used two systems: MOSAIC, which was the information system where most children’s information was recorded and Electronic Document and Records Management System(EDMRS).  Ofsted identified a difficulty in navigating between the two systems.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Children's Services Performance Indicators pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To receive and consider the Children’s Services key performance indicators.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the Children’s Services Performance Indicators report which was set out in Agenda pages 41-52.  Nick Hammond, Service Manager, Intelligence and Impact presented the report.

 

Nick Hammond stated that it had taken a long time to address the issues in relation to EHCPs.  The service had struggled over the last 12 months to appoint appropriately qualified and experienced workers and since 2018 was operating at less than 50% capacity.  This had severely impacted on the service’s ability to issue EFCPs within the required timescales.  He was confident that all outstanding plans would be finalised by December 2019 and that by March any new plans would be issued within the required 20 weeks.  Jim Leviers stated that two Task and Finish Groups had been set to address the issue of timeliness and quality of reports.

 

In response to a question Jim Leviers stated that the local authority should aim to have nil children out of the Borough.  Some initiatives had already been put in place to increase the capacity within the Borough, for example the expansion of Addington School.  He also stated that the Northern House School was in negotiations to break a deal with another academy trust.

 

In response to a question Jim Leviers stated that the introduction of the Children and Family Act 2014 had had a huge impact on the demand for services.

 

Carol Cammiss stated that it was necessary to develop more provision of places within the Borough.  She pointed out that the service would not bring back children from out of the area who were settled and doing well, so even with more places it would take time to reduce the number of children being educated out of the area.  However, there would always be a small number of children with very complex needs for whom the local authority would not be able to provide.  Also, there were no colleges in Wokingham.

 

In relation to Early Help, Nick Hammond stated that that indicator was only red because it was higher than the last quarter, however it was still within the target of 45 days.

 

Carol Cammiss stated that a piece of work was underway to understand the reason for the increased number of re-referrals and to address it.  

 

In relation to the percentage of children in care who had had more than one social worker in 12 months, Carol Cammiss stated that the service was more effective now.  She stated that strengthening the service for children on the edge of care was an area of focus.

 

Members asked about the number of Care Leavers who were placed in B&Bs.  Carol Cammiss stated that in the past if there was no other alternative, Care Leavers would have been placed in B&Bs.  It had now been agreed that Wokingham would not put Care Leavers in B&Bs.  She stated that the number of Care Leavers varied, in April there were 22 Care Leavers between the ages of 18-22, and that was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

School Performance Indicators and Ofsted reports

To receive and consider a report giving details of schools’ performance indicators and Ofsted reports released since the last meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the School Performance Indicators and Ofsted reports report which was set out in Agenda pages 53-60.  Gillian Cole, Service Manager Schools presented the report.

 

Gillian Cole stated that due to the summer break there had not been many school inspections.

 

During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:

 

·           Gillian Cole stated that Floreat Montague Park was a new school that was building up year by year.  A new headteacher of a successful school had been recruited and started this September.  The school had pulled out of the Floreat Trust and was now part of GLS trust.  She stated that the new headteacher would engage with the local authority;

·           Gillian Cole stated that Bohunt School had had its first inspection and achieved a ‘Good’ rating, there were no concerns about Bohunt;

·           Gillian Cole stated that the 2019 outcomes listed in the report were provisional at this stage.  She would bring the final outcomes as soon as they became available.  Wokingham remained with above the national average results in all measures;

·           Gillian Cole explained that in the new 1-9 GCSE grading system a 4+ was a pass result;

·           Members asked for information on post 16 (non A-Level) education.  Gillian Cole stated that she would contact the relevant officer to provide this information to the Committee.  However, many Wokingham post 16 children attended colleges outside of  the Borough which made it difficult to gather data;

·           In response to a question, Gillian Cole stated there was no further breakdown of the data for Early Years, she also informed that the terminology was moving to ‘meeting the expected standard or not meeting the expected standard’;

·           Gillian Cole stated that children that were not achieving the expected level in the Early Years would become the focus in order to establish why they had not achieved the required standards;

·           Members were surprised that the Holt School had not been inspected by Ofsted since 2008.  Gillian Cole explained that there was no statutory obligation to inspect outstanding schools.

 

RESOLVED That:

 

1)     The Committee notes the outcomes of relevant Ofsted reports and the provisional outcomes of the 2019 statutory assessments;

 

2)     The Committee will be informed of the indicative Year 11 destination and of post 16 non A-Level education; and

 

3)     The final outcomes of the 2019 statutory will be provided to the Committee as soon as these become available.

24.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To consider the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Forward Plan and dates of future meetings.

Minutes:

The Committee considered its Forward Plan which was set out in Agenda pages 61-64.

 

The following items were added:

 

19 November 2019

·           Year 11 destination, Post 16 non A-Level education

·           Review of Ofsted Action Plan

 

21 January 2020

·           SEND Strategy

·           Support for Young Carers

 

17 March 2020

·           Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing – Members talked about the possibility of inviting HOSC Members to join the discussions on this item.

25.

Exclusion of the Public

That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended) as appropriate.

Minutes:

That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of the Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as appropriate.

26.

Schools Causing Concern - Part 2

A report containing details of schools causing concern will be considered in a part 2 report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was discussed in a part 2 session.