The Chair of the Group, Councillor Susan Southworth, will attend the meeting. Report attached.
Councillor Susan Southworth, Chair of the Children’s Safeguarding Overview Project Group attended the meeting to update the Committee on the work of the project group.
It was explained that the group had been established to review services available to Bury residents to ensure that those services were meeting the needs and requirements of their users and future users.
The group was made up of a number of Councillors who each had their own knowledge in relation to safeguarding from being ex police, teacher or school governors and working first had in children’s services.
During the 2016/2017 Municipal Year the group had undertaken the following work;
· Received the Ofsted report
· Met with social workers, both newly qualified and experienced.
· Considered work being carried out in relation to child sexual exploitation in particular the work undertaken by the Phoenix Team in relation to this.
· Reviewed the monitoring and examining of performance data.
· Reviewed elective home education across the borough and potential safeguarding issues around this.
· Looked at education achievement at KS2 and KS4, and
· Visited the Victoria Family Centre in Radcliffe
It was explained that should the group continue to meet it would require 2 new members. The group usually meets at 5 or 5.30pm so availability at these times would be essential.
Those present were given the opportunity to ask questions and the following points were raised:-
· Councillor James referred to elective home education and asked that confirmation be given that this area would be looked at again in the next Municipal Year. In particular what are the requirements for parents to notify the LA that their children are being home educated and what are the rights for the LA to inspect the level of education being provided.
Councillor Southworth explained that the local authority had very few powers in relation to elective home education but the group had met with the home education officer and had invited them to attend the first meeting of the group for 2017/2018. Most parents of those being home educated were very cooperative and more than happy for the local authority to visit and offer advice.
· Councillor Smith referred to the figures for home schooling rising nationally and children at risk of exclusion being home schooled to avoid this and asked whether this was adding to the numbers.
Councillor Southworth explained that a small number of children at risk of permanent exclusion had been taken out of school to be home schooled but there was also an issue with parents not being allocated their preferred schools and opting to home educate until a place became available. This could be seen by a spike in the numbers of home educated children in September and October.
Councillor Caserta referred to the Ofsted inspection that had taken place and the project groups’ involvement in relation to any follow up work required and asked whether this would continue.
Councillor Southworth explained that if the Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed the recommendations set out in the report then the group would continue to meet and would set out a plan for the work required for 2017/2018.
It was agreed:
1. That the work of the Overview Project Group be carried over into the new Municipal Year 2017/2018.
2. That, in order to retain the expertise and knowledge developed throughout the review, where possible the existing membership be retained and meeting dates be held quarterly and scheduled in advance.
3. That regular updates be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the work of the Group.
4. That the group in consultation with Klare Rufo Assistant Director Learning and Culture examine the feasibility of establishing a borough wide “Closing the Gap” group in respect of Educational Achievement.