For the Chairman or nominated Member of the Committee to report back in its activities including any requests to undertake reviews. Any written reports available are included in the Agenda.
Councillor Ken Miall referred to the activities of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee as set out in his written report which had been included on page 71 of the Agenda.
Councillor Norman Jorgensen referred to his report on the activities of the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee which had been published and circulated separately from the main Agenda and also referred to the previous points he had made relating to the September meeting of the new Community and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
It was noted that both Committees had considered the matters and scrutiny review requests referred to them by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee at its meeting on 1 June 2015.
Councillor Pauline Helliar-Symons provided a verbal update on the meeting of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 21 July 2015. The meeting had been well attended with a number of members of the public present to ask questions regarding the provision of sufficient primary school places in Earley. The following key points from the meeting were highlighted:
The Committee had considered reports on the Draft Primary School Provision Strategy for 2015-2018 and the Primary Place Planning and Allocation Process. The item on Primary Place Planning and Allocation Processes followed a request from the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee that it look at the issue of primary school place allocations as a result of an overview and scrutiny review suggestion submitted by Councillor David Chopping.
The Committee had noted the intention of Councillor Ian Pittock to establish a Member task and finish group to oversee the development of the Draft Primary School Provision Strategy and had appointed Councillor Ken Miall as the representative of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the task and finish group. In considering and discussing the report, the Children’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee had noted the measures used by the Council to try and estimate the demand for school places and the problems that had arisen in the Earley area in the current admissions round whereby some 30 parents had been unable to secure places at their preferred primary schools for entry in September 2015. The Committee was also informed of the measures put in place to identify and act on misleading applications for school places and the actions which were planned to create additional capacity within Reception and Year 1 in seven Earley schools for the 2016/2017 academic year. Overall, the Committee had been reassured that the problems identified in the two reports were being addressed.
The Committee had also considered a report on the development, purpose and function of the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub, (MASH). The role of such multi agency hubs was to make it possible for all professionals working with children to identify risk early and put in place plans to address them. In this way the risks of a child slipping through the safeguarding net could be mitigated. Councillor Helliar-Symons commented that this was part of the improvement in the way in which the Council worked with other partners such as the police and NHS in sharing information.
Councillor Helliar-Symons also stated that the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been informed that the Council had been successful in meeting the challenge of recruiting sufficient children’s social workers through the recruitment of five staff from Australia.
Finally, Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee were informed that the issue of the effect of the Government’s planned implementation of 30 hours free nursery provision had been discussed. Members of the Committee had been concerned about the effect of the proposals on nurseries within the Borough because of the increases in their costs. It has been noted that Officers were preparing an consultation response to the Government on the issue.
RESOLVED: That the reports of the Overview and Scrutiny Chairman and the actions outlined within their reports be noted.