Agenda, decisions and minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 12th December, 2018 4.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - City Hall, Bradford. View directions

Contact: Fatima Butt / Jill Bell 

Items
No. Item

34.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct - Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members may remain in the meeting and take part fully in discussion and voting unless the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest which the Member feels would call into question their compliance with the wider principles set out in the Code of Conduct.  Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(2)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(3)       Members are also welcome to disclose interests which are not disclosable pecuniary interests but which they consider should be made in the interest of clarity.

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

 

Minutes:

In the interest of transparency Claire Parr disclosed an interest in Minute 37 as her daughter was a Social Worker.

 

Action:            City Solicitor

35.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Fatima Butt - 01274 432227)

 

Minutes:

There were no appeals submitted  by the public to review decisions to restrict documents.

36.

REFERRALS TO THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

To consider referrals have been made to this Committee following publication of this agenda.

 

The Committee is asked to note the referrals and decide how it wishes to proceed, for example by incorporating the item into the work programme, requesting that it be subject to more detailed examination, or refer it to an appropriate Working Group/Committee.

 

Minutes:

There were no referrals to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

37.

UPDATED INFORMATION FOR MEMBERS ON THE WORKLOADS OF CHILDREN'S SOCIAL CARE SERVICES pdf icon PDF 202 KB

The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “P”) presents the most recent information on the workload of Children’s Social Work Teams and updates Members on key pressures on the service. The workload analysis is based on activity up to 30th September 2018.

 

Recommended -

 

That the Committee consider further reports in the 2018-19 work programme to ensure the continuation of safe workloads and practice into the future given the current financial climate.

 

            (Di Drury – 01274 437077)

Decision:

Resolved-

 

(1)       That in view of the extremely disappointing Ofsted Inspection outcome further reporting on workloads of children’s social care services be incorporated into the feedback reports from the Improvement Board.

 

(2)       That the results of the staff survey be circulated to Members via email as soon as the information is available.

 

Action:           Interim Strategic Director Children’s Services/Overview and Scrutiny Lead

 

                                                                        (Di Drury – 01274 437077)

Minutes:

The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “P”) presented the most recent information on the workload of Children’s Social Work Teams and updated Members on key pressures on the service. The workload analysis was based on activity up to 30th September 2018.

 

The Deputy Director Children’s Social Care reported that:

 

·         There had been an incremental increase in demand which was putting pressure on services.

·         There were now 290 Social Workers employed by children’s services of which 143 Social Workers (132 full time equivalents) were located in Locality Child and Family or Assessment Teams (including agency workers) where the demand was. In addition there were 32 Community Resource Workers (CRWs) ( 27 full time equivalents)  across the service (mainly in Through Care service).

·         At 30th September 2018 there were 33 agency Social Workers and 1 agency CRW being utilised within the social work services. The length of time agency Social Workers had been in post was 10; under 3 months, 20; 3 to 5 months, 2; 6 to 11 months, 1; 12 months or more.   

·         The average caseload per full time equivalent (FTE) Social Worker was 19.0 cases, an increase from 17.9 in September 2017. Social Workers took on a mixed caseload of child protectionand children in need work. The average caseload per full time equivalent Community Resource Worker was 14.2 (compared to 12.2 in September 2017). The most recent published figures from the DfE (2016-17) showed a national average of 17.8 cases per FTE social worker and a regional average of 18.1 cases.

·         The aspiration was for experienced Social Workers to have a caseload of 18 and 16 for newly qualified social workers.

·         The Service employed a number of agency workers to deal with demand; but  the service needed to retain experienced Social Workers.

·         Experienced Social Workers had caseloads far larger than they should have and the department was being challenged to bring that down; the Service was continuing to work hard to bring caseloads down; the increase in demand reflected the national increase.

Members made the following comments:

 

·         Concerned not only about the safety of children but the mental health and wellbeing of social workers particularly experienced social workers who had a high caseload; when would the caseload be down to where it should be?

·         Were existing social workers made aware that new social workers were being recruited and that caseloads would be coming down?

·         Was it appropriate for newly qualified social workers to have a caseload of 16?

·         This Committee was criticised at Council for not undertaking an in depth review on Children’s Social Care Services; this Committee had asked toestablish a task and finish group to look into ways of improving recruitment and retention of Social Workers and report back to the Committee in December 2018 but no work had been undertaken to take that forward.

·         Concerned at the significant shortfall in experienced social workers; 18 new social workers had been recruited and 12 were in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

OFSTED INSPECTION OF LOCAL AUTHORITY CHILDREN'S SERVICES (ILACS) pdf icon PDF 98 KB

The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “Q”) provides updated information about the Council’s response to the OFSTED ILACS judgement published.

 

Recommended -

 

(1)          That the actions taken in response to OFSTED inspection findings be noted.

 

(2)          That the plans to establish the Improvement Board be noted and comments be provided.

 

(3)          That the Committee monitors the Improvement Plan at regular intervals.

.

(Jim Hopkinson – 01274 432904)

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved-

 

(1)       That the actions taken in response to the September 2018 Ofsted Inspection findings be noted.

 

(2)       That the establishment of the Improvement Board be noted.

 

(3)       That the monitoring of the Improvement Plan is placed on the Committee’s Work Programme as a standing item for each meeting.

 

Action:           Overview and Scrutiny Lead

 

                                                            (Jim Hopkinson – 01274 432904)

Minutes:

The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “Q”) provided updated information about the Council’s response to the OFSTED ILACS judgement published.

 

It was reported that the Department for Education had written formally to serve the Council with an Improvement Notice.

 

Members were informed that under the leadership of the Portfolio Holder for Children & Families, and in consultation with other councillors, DfE, OFSTED and the Local Government Association (LGA), there had been progress in establishing the approach to addressing the key areas for improvement identified by OFSTED and the necessary supporting arrangements were as follows:

·                Establishment of the Improvement Board. An Improvement Advisor was identified by the DfE and would be invited to chair the Improvement Board. Draft Terms of Reference and proposed membership of the Board were attached at Appendix 3 of the report. The Chair of Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been asked to consider joining the Improvement Board. The work of the Board to secure the improvement of Children’s Services identified by OFSTED would be supported by a staff and a children’s reference groups, as well as established internal and partner officer working groups. The Board’s Terms of Reference would also need to be approved by DfE/OFSTED.

·                Development of our Improvement Plan. With the voice of the child at its heart, improvement planning had been a key focus of activity, involving staff at all levels in Children’s Services, with the support of corporate resources (Finance, HR, Legal and Performance) and in consultation with partners.  A Planning workshop was scheduled with Ofsted on 10th December 2018 to help inform the Improvement Plan.  A Statement of Action must be submitted to Ofsted by 4th February 2019.

 

It was reported that as set out in the Improvement Notice, the Council was now subject to intervention by the Department for Education (DfE) until services improved. OFSTED would monitor the progress regularly and the Service would be subject to a full re-inspection within two years.  Key actions and milestones included:

·                     Establishment of the Children’s Social Care Improvement Board once membership and Terms of Reference are approved by both DfE/OFSTED and Executive.

·                     Producing a draft Statement of Action for discussion at the OFSTED planning meeting.

·                     Submit a full Statement of Action (Deadline for submission: 4 February 2019).

·                   Support a monitoring visit (which will take place 3 months after our publication of inspection i.e. January)

·                   Quarterly monitoring would continue until the Council had an inspection and moved into a different pathway (ie good or above)

 

In response to a Member’s question it was reported that the Service did not record the evidence that all foster carers had undertaken training; a database had been created to track training; the service prided itself in how it supported foster carers but the concerns in the report related to recording of mandatory training of foster carers; Ofsted would be reviewing the Services assessment processes closely and reviewing signs of safety and how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

CHILDREN MISSING FROM HOME AND CARE pdf icon PDF 105 KB

The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “R”) highlights the work being undertaken in Bradford to prevent children being missing from home or care the actions taken to protect young people when they do go missing and the provision that is in place to meet their needs.

 

The report covers the period April 2017 to October 2018.

 

Recommended -

 

That the work being undertaken to safeguard looked after children who go missing in Bradford be received.

 

(David Byron – 01274 432986)

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved-

 

That the work being undertaken to safeguard children who go missing in Bradford be accepted.

 

                                                                        (David Byron – 01274 432986)

Minutes:

 

The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “R”) highlighted the work being undertaken in Bradford to prevent children being missing from home or care the actions taken to protect young people when they do go missing and the provision that was in place to meet their needs.

 

The report covered the period April 2017 to October 2018.

 

Members commended the information contained in the report.

 

Resolved-

 

That the work being undertaken to safeguard children who go missing in Bradford be accepted.

 

                                                                       

40.

CHILDREN MISSING FROM EDUCATION pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Under Section 436A of the Education and Inspections Act 1996 all local authorities have a statutory responsibility to “make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children residing in their area who are not receiving a suitable education. In relation to children, by ‘suitable education’ we mean efficient full-time education suitable to her/his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.”

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services will present a report (Document “S”) on Children Missing from Education including information on Unregistered Schools and Elective Home Education.

 

Recommended -

 

That Overview and Scrutiny Committee receive and note this report on matters relating to Children Missing Education, Elective Home Education and Unregistered Schooling.

 

(Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

Decision:

Resolved-

 

That the Committee notes the report and expresses grave concerns regarding the lack of intervention powers available to the Local Authority and the potential safety and educational attainment of those children missing from education.

 

                                                                        (Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

Minutes:

Under Section 436A of the Education and Inspections Act 1996 all local authorities have a statutory responsibility to “make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children residing in their area who are not receiving a suitable education. In relation to children, by ‘suitable education’ we mean efficient full-time education suitable to her/his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.”

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services  presented a report (Document “S”) on Children Missing from Education including information on Unregistered Schools and Elective Home Education.

 

Members made the following comments:

 

·         How confident was the service that every child had been identified?

·         What work was being undertaken with new arrivals and traveller communities?

·         What discussions were taking place with parents before they chose to elect for home education?

·         Concerned that there was no statutory right to inspect children being home schooled.

·         Some schools were forging registers to make their attendance figures look good; schools were not recording data correctly.

·         Why did some schools see larger numbers of children being taken off their rolls?

·         How do parents know what rights they had? Should the information be in the school admissions booklet.

·         Some parents could not afford uniforms and children were sent home from school if they did not arrive to school in the correct uniform.

·         Was the service aware of any unregistered schools?

·         Future reports could include information on ethnicity and gender.

·         Concerned over the authority’s lack of power to make sure children who were home schooled  were receiving a good education.

In response to the comments raised by Members it was reported that:

 

·         Some parents elected for home education, registering for home education was voluntary.

·         There was a whole team dedicated to new arrivals/traveller communities.

·         42 school attendance orders were being pursued; needed to ensure children attend school.

·         Work was on going with a particular school to work with parents to ensure they are fully aware of responsibility of home education.

·         The authority would look into cases where they had been informed of school attendances being forged.

·         Some families took children out of school because they had “fallen out” with the school; others may be trying to avoid paying fines for poor attendance, and some were not happy that they had not been allocated their first choice school.

·         The Department of Education website provided information on parents rights.

·         Any parent who elected for home education could choose for their child to go back into school at any time; the Fair Access Protocol was being revised; would be looking at doing a leaflet for parents to explain that.

·         Should not be discriminating against poor families because they could not afford uniforms; would be supporting schools that could have separate badges that could be sown onto uniforms; pupil premium could be used and the school could show that barriers were being removed by using the premium in this way.

·         The service was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

CHILDREN'S SERVICES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 62 KB

This report of the Chair of the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Document “T”) presents the Committee’s Work Programme 2018-19.

 

 

Recommended -

 

That the Work programme 2018-19 continues to be regularly reviewed during the year.

 

(Licia Woodhead – 01274 432119)

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved-

 

That the Work Programme 2018-19 continues to be regularly reviewed during the year.

 

                                                                        (Licia Woodhead – 01274 432119)

Minutes:

This report of the Chair of the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Document “T”) presented the Committee’s Work Programme 2018-19.

 

Resolved-

 

That the Work Programme 2018-19 continues to be regularly reviewed during the year.