A verbal update to be provided.
Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People provided an update on the Children’s Services Restructure.
Following the recent Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services in November 2021 the Councils result and Improvement Plan identified a number of key priorities including important changes to teams and structures across Social Care and Safeguarding functions and including the need to build capacity. It is recognised to review both Education and Early Help functions also.
In December 2022 Bury’s Cabinet received a report setting out the proposed changes to the structures in respect of Education and Early Help which gave approval to formally consult with the staff. The second phase of the transformation journey will focus on delivering the Councils statutory Education functions including alignment of a number of functions under a clear management structure and a focus on accountability for the delivery. In addition supporting the needs of the most vulnerable children and young people including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and those not in School.
The core duties of the department going forward will be
· School Assurance
· Vulnerable Children including Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
· Transport Travel Assistance
· The virtual school
· Elective Home Education
· Children not in full time education
· Children missing in Education
· Behaviour and Exclusions
· Pupil Placed Planning and sufficiency
The proposal aims to provide clear focus on the departments role in place shaping and the strategic planning for the Education System to support communities promoting growth and the economic regeneration through the strong local schools system linked to the skills agenda.
To focus on the core duties other activities have had to be discontinued and now sit within the School system. The proposal seeks to build capacity in a number of key areas it unfortunately means resource has to be removed in another of other areas linked to the delivery of discretionary or traded services including the Curriculum Learning Access Service which is being disestablished.
Formal consultation with staff commenced in March 2023 and is now completed and responses to the consultation resulted in changes and the Council is now underway with a new organisational structure. There are a significant number of staff who will be affected by these plans and some may be impacted by redundancy so we are working with the Unions and staff to support them through that process. Schools have been kept fully informed along the way and further detail will follow as we move to the implementation stage.
It is proposed to bring a more comprehensive update to the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee in the Autumn term as part of the post implementation review.
Members were informed that the service has already began the restructure and is currently in phase two which is looking at education and our schools. To measure impact it is recommended that at least one term passes to allow the Committee to measure impact which would be the autumn term.
Members were informed that there have been delays in delivering the re-structure with one issue being a heavy focus on the Social Services and the recruitment of Social Workers. Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People advised that whilst progress is behind the original plan she is happy with the delivery of the restructure now and it allows people in their roles time before September 01st so work can commence promptly.
A member sought assurances on capacity at a senior officer level to support the running of services through the re-structure. In response Jeanette Richards, Executive Director for Children and Young People advised the whole project has been run in consultation with colleagues from Human Resources and so this has been helpful. The restructure does not propose much change to Senior Leadership which is helpful to support services running. It is a large piece of work and support to the workforce and all staff impacted have been given the offer of a one to one meeting.
A member sought clarity regarding the statutory service provision and if this includes the School Improvement work and transfer of duties to Schools.
In response Councillor Smith Cabinet Member for Children and Young People advised that some of the functions regarding attendance being transferred to Schools are from legislation from Government. Schools will be offered termly meetings to look at cases of children who are severely or persistently absent to then bring in the Local Authorities support to help but responsibility will be with the Schools. In addition, we now have a database which we can use to look at attendance to review children missing from school with real time data which will continue to be reviewed. The school improvement offer will be enriched with offers to all Bury’s maintained schools.
It was agreed:
1. Members note the update on the Children’s Services Restructure
2. A report to be brought back to Committee following the Autumn Term
3. The follow up report to include information that identifies if the re-structure has been successful and how Schools have navigated changing responsibilities. This can be though methods such as data, surveys or feedback.