To receive a report giving details of the Children’s Services Performance Indicators.
The Committee considered the Children’s Services Performance Indicators report which was set out on agenda pages 19-28. The Chairman, Councillor Pauline Helliar-Symons stated that this report had been scrutinised by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and some questions had been raised. Officers had produced a paper explaining those particular points and this had been circulated to the Members of the Management Committee. As this concerned Children’s Services’ issues, the Chairman asked that Luciane Bowker, Democratic Services Officer make the document available to all Members of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor Laura Blumenthal enquired about the rationale behind the setting up of targets. Brian Grady, Head of Strategic Commissioning explained that this process was being reviewed and once a new system was in place this would be presented to the Committee.
The following indicators were discussed in more detail as follows:
% Looked After Children living within 20 miles of their home
· this was improving, one of the strategies used was to recruit more foster carers. Felicity reported that five or six new foster carers had been recently recruited through the ‘ Home for Good’ initiative which run via the churches;
· Felicity stated that it would be good to have more foster carers, it was the service’s aim to recruit more foster carers by the end of the year, there was ongoing work to try and achieve this target;
· Felicity informed that a lot of people who initially volunteered to be foster carers did not measure properly the impact that being a foster carer would have on their lives. A lot of people had to be turned down and only real potential recruits were considered by the panel. Often the children that needed to be fostered had challenging behaviours as a result of their early experiences in life. However, Felicity stated that there were different types of needs for different types of foster carers;
· Wokingham had significantly improved the way it treated its foster carers, and the Committee recognised the work that had been undertaken by Felicity and her team to develop a better system.
Reduce the education gap at KS2 level 4 between disadvantaged and other pupils for Reading, Writing and Maths
· Councillor Lindsay Ferris was concerned that not enough was being done to narrow the gap between disadvantaged and other pupils;
· Alan Stubbersfield, Interim Head of Learning and Achievement stated that the overall picture in Wokingham was one of improvement, many schools had maintained a ‘good’ status and this in reality equated to an improvement as the current Ofsted inspection was more rigorous. In Alan’s opinion the schools’ results reflected an improvement in narrowing the gap;
· Alan stated that there was ongoing work and action plans in place for schools that needed improvement or were causing concern;
· Alan informed that the assessment of the 2015/16 academic year was not yet known and this would be reported to the Committee at its next meeting;
· Judith stated that the service was not complacent, there were many schools which were doing very well, and analyses being undertaken to find out what had worked well and how to extrapolate and get even better results;
· Judith reported that the Government often sent letters to schools, sometimes this was about narrowing the gap, but the letters were not consistent;
· Members asked what monitoring and help could be offered to academy schools. Alan responded the Local Authority’s powers relating to academy schools were very limited, it was for the school to determine the level of relationship they wished to have with the Local Authority. Alan informed that only the Regional Schools Commissioner could take action relating to underperforming academy schools;
· Councillor Alison Swaddle reported that Maiden Erlegh had recently received a letter from the Government praising their work in narrowing the gap;
· Alan stated that 100% of maintained secondary schools were rated ‘good’ or ‘better’ by Ofsted.
RESOLVED That the Children’s Services performance indicators be noted.