Agenda item

Children's Services Strategy

To receive and consider the Children’s Services Strategy report.


The Children’s Services Strategy was presented by Matthew Booth, Children’s Services Consultant and Carol Cammiss, Director of Children’s Services.


The Strategy covered a period of three years, and it was designed to align the service delivery of the priorities.  The report included details of the governance arrangements and the action plan.


The vast majority of children in Wokingham achieved very good outcomes, however it was important to acknowledge and address the needs of those children that needed additional help.  One of the strategic priorities was to deliver excellent outcomes for all children, young people and families in Wokingham.


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


·           Councillor Mickleburgh felt that there could be more mention of the ‘voice of the children’ within the Strategy.  He asked that consideration be given to supporting the most talented children in the Borough.  He also asked about support to parents struggling with child rearing;

·           Carol Cammiss explained that there were various services that sat underneath the Strategy which covered those areas mentioned;

·           Carol Cammiss stated that the Unicef project was one of the ways in which the voice of the children was going to be taken into account, there was also the Youth Council and other initiatives to include the voice of the children;

·           In response to a comment, Adam Davis, Assistant Director of Children’s Social Care and Early Help stated that there were a range of Early Help and Early Intervention Services being provided in the Borough.  These services included universal and targeted interventions;

·           Matthew Booth stated that Early Intervention was very important in order to protect the most vulnerable children in the Borough;

·           Councillor Helliar-Symonds stated that in the past, a strong relationship had been developed with the Fire Services with the aim of supporting the most vulnerable children in the Borough.  She was interested to know if this relationship was still strong.  Carol Cammiss stated that there had been changes in the Fire Service’s personnel, and the relationship was not as strong as previously.  However, they still did the fire safety checks and referred into the services through the front door service.  Councillor Helliar-Symonds agreed to speak to the manager of the central hub about strengthening the partnership with the Fire Services;

·           Councillor Bray asked for information about the implications of the recent announcement by the DfE that the new SEND school would not open next year; 

·           Carol Cammiss stated that negotiations with the DfE were ongoing, including alternatives for the children.  She re-assured the Committee that children’s needs would be met;

·           Members were sympathetic to the challenges being created as a result of the delay in the opening of the new school;

·           In response to a question, Carol Cammiss stated that Children’s Services was moving towards a more holistic approach to delivering services to children, with more integration of education and social services;

·           Matthew Booth stated that the Strategy was being designed in such a way as to promote integration of services and communication between departments and partners;

·           In response to a question Carol Cammiss stated that the live interactive action plan did have RAG ratings, she agreed to include RAG ratings in future report updates;

·           In response to a question Carol Cammiss stated that a business case model was used for identifying efficiencies;

·           In response to a question Carol Cammiss informed that there were many partnership opportunities that the service was involved in, for example: the Children and Young People’s Partnership, the Health and Wellbeing Board, the Berkshire West Safeguarding Board, the Violence Reduction Strategy Partnership Group and others;

·           In response to a question Matthew Booth stated that the service intended to complete the Strategy to tackle serious youth violence, child sexual exploitation and extra familial harm before the end of this financial year, a lot of work had already been undertaken with stakeholders;

·           Carol Cammiss informed that Wokingham’s training and continuous development offer for the workforce was very comprehensive and an area of strength;

·           In response to a question, Carol Cammiss stated that audit reports were submitted for quality assurance purposes, however because of confidentiality these reports could not be shared with the Committee.  Adam Davis added that there were core audits and themed audits;

·           In relation to a question about Elective Home Education, Matthew Booth stated that the service had to be respectful of parental choice and to ensure that children were having access to good quality education, and this could be tricky.  There was no legal obligation for parents for elected home educated children to engage with the Local Authority;

·           In response to a question Carol Cammiss stated that IT systems were updated regularly in order to improve systems and to enable better use of data;

·           Matthew Booth explained that Power BI was a data management system.


RESOLVED That the report be noted.

Supporting documents: