Agenda and draft minutes

Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 4th November, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Chloe Ashworth 

Items
No. Item

1.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee are asked to consider whether they have any interest in any matters on the agenda and, if so, to formally declare that interest.

Minutes:

Councillor Boles declared a personal interest as he was employed by a Bolton school which also has a site in Bury.

 

Councillor Staple Jones declared a personal interest as a Governor of Bury Church High School.

 

Councillor Wright declared a personal interest as his wife is employed at a school in Bury and Grandchildren in a school in Bury.

 

Councillor Pilkington declared a personal interest as a parent of a child with special educational needs who attends a school in Bury.

 

Councillor J Lancaster declared a personal interest as she has Children who attend school in Bury.

 

Councillor M Whitby declared an interest regarding item 5 as one of the Children’s Hubs is based in her ward.

2.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS TIME pdf icon PDF 146 KB

A period of 30 minutes has been set aside for members of the public to ask questions on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.

Minutes:

A period of 30 minutes has been set aside for members of the public to ask questions on matters considered at the last meeting and set out in the minutes or on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.

 

Questions and responses, received in advance of the meeting are attached.

Minutes:

The following questions from members of the public were received in advance of the meeting:

Question one: My question refers to the SEND HAF funding; please can the Cabinet member confirm - how much scrutiny has been given to the SEND HAF Funding including the number of children in attendance, those that had multiple spaces and what efforts were made to include children with SEND that parents/carers weren't members of Bury2gether? Emmajane Michael-Okocha

In response Councillor Tamoor Tariq, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Skills reported that HAF was new to Bury this year; we worked with the VCFA to encourage local organisations operating in local communities to provide provision for as many as our FSM children as possible, and for as many of them to be as inclusive as possible.   This was advertised through Bury Council and the VCFA.

We provided a number of provisions with additional funding for a SENCO to ensure they were able to open their provision to as many SEND Children as possible. Local Organisations (including Bury2Gether) completed a grant application form which was scrutinised by members of the HAF Steering Group, which included the VCFA and the Children’s Services Commissioning Team to ensure scrutiny.

In order to advertise all available provision to eligible children, we developed a leaflet of all activities which was sent to all parents of FSM children (using the current list of children eligible for FSM)

Data in respect of all HAF activity has been submitted to the Department for Education.

Supplementary Question: I am asking specifically regarding the SEND HAF funding, a lot of the activities in the leaflets would not accept children with SEND, therefore I am asking specifically in relation to the funding given to Bury2gether for SEND children.

In response to the supplementary question Sandra Bruce advised the HAF funding was specific to children eligible for free school meals. All children who were eligible for free school meals whether they had additional needs or not were contacted, and enough spaces were available. We requested from the Department for Education if we could allocate some of the funding that was available to other children who may not be eligible for HAF activities. Then we put out a different form for other children in different communities to apply this included SEN children. Bury2gether made an application and requested some of that money. FSM children were prioritised in the activities and we had around 23,000 places for children over the summer holidays.

Question 2: When the child’s voice is supposed to be central to their care and support why does the CWDT think it is necessary to remove an early help worker because of process, ignoring  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

MEMBER QUESTION TIME pdf icon PDF 322 KB

A period of up to 15 minutes will be allocated for questions and supplementary questions from Members of the Council who are not Members of the Committee.  The period may be varied at the discretion of the Chair.

Minutes:

Two member questions have been received in advance of the meeting. Copies of the questions were circulated to Members of the committee in advance of the meeting.

 

Question 1: Why does Cllr Tariq think that the Let’s Do It strategy has been found to have minimal awareness across the Children’s Services directorate? Councillor Nick Jones asked by Councillor Bernstein.

 

Councillor Tariq, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Children, Young people and Skills reported that the Let’s do it! Strategy includes a commitment to hear and engage with all vices in the community, including young people. Children and Young People are at the heart of the strategy including early help within the “Local” principle; education and skills within “Enterprise”; engagement and co-design with young people in “Together” and inclusion within “Strengths”.

 

The LGA peer review recognised the ambition in Bury for children and young people in Bury but fed back that there was work to do to embed the new approach within children’s social care practice. Co-production with young people is currently too limited, for example and the current “Compliance” culture in children’s social work does not support the flexible and engaging spirit of Let’s do it!

 

A commitment has therefore been made to developing the “Let’s” model within the Children and Young People’s department, which will be reflected in the improvement plan which has been branded as “Let’s do it it … for children”.  This will include the further strengthening of Early Help; evaluation and development of the Signs of Safety model (a strengths-based approach to social care); a review of the co-production approach and new tools to align practice with the “Let’s” strategic approach such as appreciative enquiry. 

In parallel, a broader piece of organisation development work is being planned to similarly reinforce new behaviours amongst all other staff and ensure complementary support across other departments.

 

Supplementary question: Would you give us the reassurance that included in the action plan will be milestones to identify those improvements have been achieved?

 

Councillor Tariq, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Skills reported that he can give that commitment; the whole point of the improvement plan is to ensure the actions set are being implemented. The Improvement Board is being Chaired by Linda Clegg and will ensure we achieve the milestones set.

 

Question 2: What plans and by what date are being put in place to assist Members to strengthen their corporate parenting responsibilities? Councillor Russell Bernstein

 

Councillor Tariq, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Children, Young people and Skills reported We have an active Corporate Parenting Board we will be holding a Corporate Parenting week from the 15th to the 19th November and elected members are invited to this. During this period sessions and events will be held every day which the members will be invited to get involved with.

 

The Members briefing training has been updated and the link sent to all to complete.  Following this we increased the number of corporate parenting champions. We have invited  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 246 KB

Minutes from the meeting held on 7 September 2021 are attached.

 

Minutes:

It was agreed:

 

That the Minutes of the last meeting held on 07th September 2021 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair subject to the following amendments:

 

Councillor Whitby raised that a question had been asked by another Committee member about the diversity of Parental Consultations and what consultations were taken outside of Bury2gether. Councillor Pilkington raised the question: What help was available for parents who are not members of Bury2gether.

 

The response to Cllr Pilkington’s questions was that for Bury2gether to have a reach of over 1000 is an incredibly successful parent model. One of the important aspects is where you get support, we have an Independent Advisory Service commissioned from Barnardo’s; the local offer on the Bury Directory communicates this to parents. We have a working group including our parents; however, the governance of the local offer needs to improve to reach more parents.

 

Councillor Lancaster requested that the difference in costs for maintained and none maintained Schools be noted due to being a significant difference between maintained and none maintained.

Councillor Lancaster requested the number of children (140) and the cost comparison (approximately £25,000 per child) to attend a maintained school is noted.

 

 

Councillor Lancaster requested the noting of the question: Who attended in the Fit and Fed Scheme in the May half term and what the figures were like across the Borough.

 

 

5.

MATTERS ARISING

Minutes:

Councillor Luis McBriar requested an update on the independent review on Speech and Language.

 

Isobel Booler, Director of Education and Skills advised that a colleague from the CCG has been looking for people to complete this. It has not started yet but it is due to be underway in the next few weeks. Funding and commissioning has been agreed and work will commence shortly.

 

Councillor Tom Pilkington advised that members of the Scrutiny Committee were invited to meet with Bury2gether earlier this week and asked some direct questions of them. This included asking who scrutinises them, he reported that they gave a comprehensive answer in that they are scrutinised not only by this Committee but by the Department for Education and the Charity contact also. He believes this will be a point of public interest especially regarding the public questions received.

 

 

6.

MEETING THEME - LGA PEER REVIEW FEEDBACK AND RESPONSE pdf icon PDF 252 KB

A report from Councillor Tariq, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services is attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Tariq, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Skills wished to use this opportunity to make members aware, if they were not already that there has been a change in the leadership of the Department. This has meant there is additional pressures with the current senior leadership team within Children Service’s. He added that Paul Cooke, Sandra Bruce and Isobel Booler have all been acting up in their respective areas and in most cases covering two roles. Councillor Tariq requested that members of the Committee consider this with the workload and pressures of this Department at this stage. It is hoped that this interim arrangement will soon be over, and a briefing can be provided at the next meeting providing information on the senior leadership team. Councillor Tariq thanked the officers for stepping up at such a critical point.

 

Moving on to the meeting theme; LGA Peer Review Councillor Tariq reported that the review was conducted virtually.

 

It covered:

 

·         The effectiveness and recruitment of social workers

·         The impact of quality assurance

·         Quality placements for Looked after Children and care leavers

·         Looking at the effectiveness of Child Protection Plans

·         Capacity for transformation across the department

 

Isobel Booler, Director for Education and Skills reported that a Delivery Board and Plan has been set up and met in September 2021. However, the last three weeks we have been under inspection by Ofsted and therefore the plan has changed due to this and leadership changes.

 

A key area we are aware of is the recruitment and retention of social workers and is at the heart of the recruitment plan. As well as responding to the LGA Peer Review we will respond to the Ofsted findings. The findings from Ofsted will be provided on the 17th December 2021.

 

Councillor McBriar requested a breakdown of what cases are and aren’t dealt with in one day and if high caseloads result in children remaining in harmful situations for longer what is being done to solve the situation as per page 14 point 2.6 in the agenda pack.

 

In response Sandra Bruce, Assistant Director for Early Help and School readiness advised that for the cases dealt with in one day the figure is 96%. Whilst there has been a slight drop recently this is due to bringing MASH back together but as a usual figure, we are in the high 90’s. We have measurements on how long it takes to do assessments and whether they are in timeframe, whether visits and planning is also done in set timeframes. We are in line with our statutory neighbours and nationally, therefore despite setbacks the service has had it has not impacted performance. However, Sandra Bruce advised that with maintaining statutory figures you can lose some of the quality, which is demonstrable from the public questions submitted.

 

Councillor McBriar also requested further information on document pack page 14 point 2.9; he acknowledged that Bury Council carrying out all ‘expected’ activity is positive, however, he questioned what  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

DEMAND FOR SCHOOL PLACES pdf icon PDF 729 KB

A report from Councillor Tamoor Tariq, Cabinet Member for Children and Education Services is attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Tariq, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member Children, Young People and Skills provided an overview of the report. He advised it is projected there will be gaps over the next five years.

 

Paul Cooke advised the report sets out the forecasted demand for school places. Typical projections are for five years, and this covers that period. From primary we take data from the Health Services such as births and add data from other variables such as faith preferences, building, housing, commuting out of Borough and changes in locations. Secondary Schools have a slightly longer leading time as we can see this developing based on current figures in primary.

 

The Birth rate in bury has been in decline for a number of years and housing growth has also been limited reducing demands for school places. The report sets out the implications for this the reason it is important is the level of school funding declines due to the projections and can affect the viability and sustainability of individual Schools if action is not taken to mitigate it. The report gives us an advanced view of this and helps us to mitigate the risk of schools entering hardship. There is the potential for significant residential growth though the proposals of the GMSF and those demand pressures are not recognised in this report.

 

The report brings forward proposals to mitigate issues on schools that could be impacted. This may include leadership models, class sizes and executive heads that function over more than one school and this paper informs these discussions.

 

Admission arrangements for secondary schools is the use of catchment areas which is largely historical. They have not evolved as demographics and schools have changed. Proposed changes to admission arrangements critically reviewing the role of catchment areas. 

 

Councillor Boles clarified that whilst the report discusses the drop in demand for primary schools it is not reflected in Bury East and Moorside.

 

Paul Cooke agreed, the issues are not consistent across the Borough. Sometimes the issue is popularity, whilst you aim to maintain parental preference equally we must ensure all our schools are sustainable and have places filled.

 

Councillor Boles Also Secondary School’s planning do we have any idea on how the schools in the north of the Borough will be affected when the Radcliffe /school is developed.

 

Paul Cooke, Assistant Director of Learning advised we currently see a high level of demand in Secondary Schools, we currently have a temporary increase in capacity to use when needed and to scale back when not required. Admitting first year 7’s in 2024 should help to offer more parents the option for preference. When the new Radcliffe schools starts it will offer a place to 750 pupils, over time this will increase to 1000 although it will grow incrementally so will take until September 2028 until it is full. Paul Cooke to provide some further more detailed responses by email.

 

Councillor McBriar asked why catchment areas haven’t been looked at before and when will they be looked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

SCHOOLS UPDATE ON RE-OPENING pdf icon PDF 156 KB

A report from Councillor Tariq, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services is attached.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Tariq, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member Children Young People and Skills introduced the report.

 

Wendy Jackson, Service Lead for Quality Assurance and Performance thanked the Committee for asking for an update and thanked the Schools and Governors for the work they have done. Communication has been key throughout the pandemic in informing and helping our schools.

 

The vaccination programme is going well but take up has not been high however this is reflective at a Greater Manchester level too. Work has been done to help 16/17-year-olds with the uptake of the vaccine.

 

Councillor Wright asked a question regarding the school nursing teams being used for the vaccine role out; has it effected the nursing teams in schools.

 

Paul Cooke, Assistant Director of Learning advised that the utilisation of the school nursing team should not negative impact programmes in place such as the flu vaccination. We are currently doing some additional pop-up clinics which do impinge on schools nursing time but it should not affect nurses time.

 

Isobel Booler, Director of Education and Skills reported Primary headteachers have raised formally their school nurses have not been as available from the vaccination role out.  This does illustrate challenges our schools have had to deal with they are expected to have made progress whilst dealing with covid notifications and high staff and pupil absence.

 

Councillor Wright wished to record the Committees thanks for all the work Isobel, Sandra and Paul have done stepping up in their respective roles and the hard work of teachers getting back into schools.

 

9.

URGENT BUSINESS

Any other business which by reason of special circumstance the Chair agrees may be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.