Agenda, decisions and minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020 3.00 pm

Venue: Virtual remote meeting

Contact: Fatima Butt / Jill Bell 

Items
No. Item

60.

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:

No disclosures of interest in matters under consideration were received.

 

61.

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. 

 

(Jill Bell - 01274 434580)

 

Minutes:

There were no appeals submitted to review restricted documents.

 

62.

REFERRALS TO THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

The following referral has been made to this Committee up to and including the date of publication of this agenda.

 

CORPORATE OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE 23 July 2020

 

Called in decision QTR. 1 FINANCE POSITION STATEMENT FOR 2020-21
(EXECUTIVE DOCUMENT "BT")

 

(1)  The Committee releases the decision for implementation.

 

(2)  This Committee requests that a further report be presented to in three months which specifically focuses on the key outcomes delivered from
the Impower Contract.

 

(3)  This Committee requests that the Children’s Services Overview &
Scrutiny Committee considers aspects of the Impower Contract that relate specifically to Children’s Services.

 

(4)  This Committee requests that the Health & Social Care Overview &
Scrutiny Committee considers aspects of the Impower Contract that
relate specifically to Health and Well Being.

 

The Committee is asked to note the referral listed above 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:

CORPORATE OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE 23 July 2020

 

Called in decision QTR. 1 FINANCE POSITION STATEMENT FOR 2020-21
(EXECUTIVE DOCUMENT "BT")

 

(1)  The Committee releases the decision for implementation.

 

(2)  This Committee requests that a further report be presented to in three months which specifically focuses on the key outcomes delivered from the Impower Contract.

 

(3)  This Committee requests that the Children’s Services Overview &Scrutiny Committee considers aspects of the Impower Contract that relate specifically to Children’s Services.

 

(4)  This Committee requests that the Health & Social Care Overview& Scrutiny Committee considers aspects of the Impower Contract that relate specifically to Health and Well Being.

 

Resolved –

 

That the referral be noted.

 

 

63.

CHILDREN'S SERVICES IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 87 KB

The purpose of the report of the Director of Childrens Services (Document “Z”) is to provide members of the Committee with information following the Department for Education (DfE) six month monitoring visit 28th July 2020 and report the publication of the revised Children’s Services Improvement Plan

 

The DfE monitoring visit and the revised plan provide supplementary information which support the progress and areas of improvement detailed in the recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee 5th August 2020 on Children’s Services improvement journey.

 

Recommended -

 

That this Committee notes the contents of this report and the progress being made.

 

                                                                        (Phil Hayden – 01274 434333)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The purpose of the report of the Director of Childrens Services (Document “Z”) was to provide members of the Committee with information following the Department for Education (DfE) six month monitoring visit 28th July 2020 and report the publication of the revised Children’s Services Improvement Plan

 

The DfE monitoring visit and the revised plan provide supplementary information which support the progress and areas of improvement detailed in the recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee 5th August 2020 on Children’s Services improvement journey.

 

The following questions were asked by members and answers given:

·         What has been done to address the poor level of sickness?

o   Sickness was being tracked more formally, including recording absence which was not always recorded previously.  A specialist HR adviser had been brought in to deal with the issue of sickness.

·         How up to date is the information regarding the high level of agency social workers and that there are 44 vacancies at level 2 and 3?

o   These figures were for June/July.  Clarification was sought on the accuracy of the figure and whether it was 44 posts or 44%.  The HR advisor was looking at how to address this through the remuneration package and how to accelerate recruitment of permanent social workers.  The ability to recruit experienced social workers continued to be a challenge and a range of strategies were being developed to address this.

·         What are the proposals for a retention strategy?

o   Bradford is good at recruiting newly qualified social workers but the analysis shows that they leave after 2 years.  The reasons are partly financial but also relate to supervision.  Stable management, training opportunities and manageable caseloads were being looked at as part of the recruitment and retention strategy.  The loss of the Practice Supervisor role had a significant impact and sine the role had been reinstated staff had indicated their desire to come back to Bradford.

·         What services are children receiving?

o   Services had improved in the last year.  Children continue to be seen, assessments are undertaken and interventions put in place in cases of abuse and neglect.  The vital signs report showed improved and sustained compliance across all Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).  External sources had recognised green shoots of improvement.  31 cases were looked at to assess if safe decisions were being made and they were found to be proportional and safe.

·         What engagement are you having with children?

o   The Children in Care Council was being re-established which it was anticipated would be in place by Christmas and this should help test the impact of the improvement journey.  Part of the engagement with children would be learning lessons from the advocacy service.

·         Regarding the Lived Experience of children and young people, what % of cases would be satisfactory to Ofsted in which the child’s voice was evident?

o   There is no benchmark, Ofsted would like to see it significantly higher although the current 44% is higher than it was.

·         Regarding timeliness of child protection visits,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

YOUNG CARERS pdf icon PDF 137 KB

The report of the Strategic Director of children’s Services (Document “AA”)provides a requested update on the progress being made against the Key Performance Indicators and the new model for providing support to young people in the Bradford District who are known as Young Carers.

 

The Young Carers Service is a commissioned service which meets the Council’s statutory duty to provide an assessment for Young Carers, as well as providing other resources following assessment.

 

The Carers Resource was successful in gaining the new tender from 1st April 2019

 

Previous reports have been presented; the last one was on 9th October 2019 and should have been presented on 12th April 2020 but cancelled due to Covid 19. The impact on the service provision because of Covid 19 will be noted.

 

Recommended -

 

(1)          That Overview and Scrutiny to receive this paper for information, note  the progress and   support continued development in our jointly commissioned service.

 

(2)          That the Committee continue to receive annual reports from the service and that these are scheduled  annually for June, to give the service time to report on a full year of activity.

 

                                                                        (Cath Dew – 01274 437049)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Strategic Director of children’s Services (Document “AA”)provided a requested update on the progress being made against the Key Performance Indicators and the new model for providing support to young people in the Bradford District who are known as Young Carers.

 

The Young Carers Service was a commissioned service which met the Council’s statutory duty to provide an assessment for Young Carers, as well as providing other resources following assessment.

 

The Carers Resource was successful in gaining the new tender from 1st April 2019

 

Previous reports had been presented; the last one was on 9th October 2019 and should have been presented on 12th April 2020 but cancelled due to Covid 19. The impact on the service provision because of Covid 19 was noted.

 

It was noted that of the target of 200 professionals undertaking an e-learning package only 12 had undertaken it.  A number of pledges had been made at a hidden carers event in January 2020 to undertake the training, however they were not honoured due to Covid 19.  The Children’s Society had been asked to re-launch the pledges when schools re-opened in September.  Carers resource had worked with every school in the district.  An issue log of interactions with schools could be reported to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

It was reported that funding had been identified to support young carers who find it difficult to return to school when they open following Covid 19 restrictions.  It was stressed that young people needed to be in school for their own wellbeing and to provide peer group support and respite from caring duties.

 

In response to a number of questions it was agreed that schools would be asked to keep an issue log of work with schools to develop and maintain Young Carers Champions; referrals to Barnardo’s are passed on to Carers Resource; schools signpost young carers to other responsible agencies such as Early Help or the front door.

 

It was noted that Carers Resource had 2 workers who checked with schools that young carers had attended school and identified how they could be supported to get back to school.  However it was noted that young carers were not recorded in the numbers of children who had attended school during Covid 19 restrictions.   

 

Resolved –

 

(1)  That an Annual Report on Young Carers be presented to the Committee in June 2021, which would include the full year activity.

 

(2)  That an Interim report be presented to the Committee in January 2021, which includes:

 

            (a)The success rate in getting Young Carers back to school       following the Covid restrictions;

 

            (b)The success of the re-launch of the E-learning system;

 

            (c) The numbers of children who have become Young Carers as a        result of COVID19 and how they are being supported.

 

ACTION: Strategic Director Children’s Services

 

65.

SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITY REFORMS pdf icon PDF 163 KB

The report of the Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “AB”) provides an update on the developments and progress in respect of the delivery of the SEND Reforms. It updates the impact of the work undertaken, specifically focusing on areas of risk and the approaches being used to address them through an updated SEND Action Plan.

 

Recommended -

 

That Overview and Scrutiny Committee consider the contents of Document “AB”  and accompanying action plan and make recommendations at the meeting.

 

                                                                        (Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “AB”) provided an update on the developments and progress in respect of the delivery of the SEND Reforms. It updated the impact of the work undertaken, specifically focusing on areas of risk and the approaches being used to address them through an updated SEND Action Plan.

 

It was noted that there had been a pause on SEND inspections and that visits to councils would be undertaken to see how they were performing on delivering the reforms, that would result in a published letter.   This did not replace the inspection cycle and it was anticipated that inspections would resume in January or April 2021.  It was reported that by 31 March 2020 the backlog of 600 cases had been cleared, the compliance rate had increased to 70-90% and the team was working effectively.  The national compliance rate was 60% and the district’s cumulative compliance rate was 41.7% which was a significant improvement.

 

The following questions were asked and answers given:

·         Why are the EHCP’s not of the quality required?

o   The key priority had been to focus on the 20 week time frame but the quality had not deteriorated.  Checks and balances have been built in to allow quality to improve and quality had increased over the previous 12 months as compliance increased.  It had been necessary to focus on time lines in order to improve quality.

·         Would advice be given following the interim visit on how to make improvements?  Would it be reasonable to expect compliance to reach the national average of 60% by December 2020?

o   Everything will be helpful in providing a stocktake.  There have been significant improvements month by month and it was hoped that the authority would be nearer national figure by December 2020.

·         What areas of improvement are anticipated following the SEND inspection?

o   The inspection will look not only at EHCP’s but also Autism waiting lists, how parents feel and accessing respite care.  Significant known challenges are that waiting lists for Autism are too long which is recognised by DfE, NHS England and the CCG’s;  mental health assessments for children and young people are an area of concern with challenges around joint commissioning.  Significant progress is being made but the inspection will look at all partners making progress together as it is a local area inspection.  It was stressed that the inspection would measure progress since the change in the statutory process not just the changes achieved in the last 12 months.

·         What influence can the authority bring to bear on the CCG’s regarding Autism waiting lists and mental health assessments?

o   The expertise and knowledge base of colleagues in the local authority and partner organisations could be capitalised on.

·         Is the quality of then EHCP’s connected with the instability of levels of social work staff?

o   They are not completely disconnected but EHCP’s mostly involve schools rather than social workers.  Quality of EHCP’s was a legacy issue, cases were not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

PLANS FOR RETURN TO SCHOOL IN SEPTEMBER 2020 pdf icon PDF 92 KB

The report of the Strategic Director of Children’s  Services (Document “AC”) will set out contingency plans in place that will allow education to take place and continue whether there is or is not a further or extended COVID19 local lockdown across the District.

 

Recommended –

 

That the contents of Document “AC” be noted.

 

                                                            (Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

 

 

Minutes:

The report of the Strategic Director of Children’s  Services (Document “AC”) set out contingency plans in place that would allow education to take place and continue whether there was or was not a further or extended COVID19 local lockdown across the District.

 

It was noted that the vast majority of schools had already opened for staff training and would open for students in a phased way from the following week.  Schools were prepared for opening and where there were concerns they had contacted the authority for advice which was specific to individual schools.

 

The Chair recognised the amount of work that had been undertaken by officers, schools, head teachers, teachers and staff in schools and thanked them for this.

 

A member commented on the lack of detain the report that made it difficult to scrutinise. In response the Deputy Director Education advised that at the time of writing the report it had only been possible to provide information that was available nationally and that this had changed a number of times per week.  She provided an update and noted that there would be changes later in the week.  A report would be presented at the next meeting of the Committee on the £1.2 m additional funding to support post Covid recovery.  The key areas being focused on were:

·         The national laptop scheme awarded 2,000 laptops, there were 5,000 vulnerable and known to social care children in the district so the additional funding would help address this.

 

·         Targeted therapeutic input had been put in place for families facing additional vulnerability and challenges in returning to school

 

·         Tuition work would continue to be built on for the current year 11 cohort.

  

Co-opted members of the Committee thanked the Deputy Director and her team for their support and advice in the difficult circumstances being faced by schools.  They looked to her to monitor how the additional finance was being deployed and to advocate to the DfE that children get the additional  learning time they need before the next assessment in Spring.

 

The  Deputy Director would continue to send daily and weekly emails to head teachers.  Issues raised by parents and schools were collated and shared at weekly meetings with DfE so that they were aware of the issues faced in the district.  The national laptop scheme would continue until March 2021 however the authority was looking to extend it to the end of the academic year. Bradford had been held up as a national exemplar regarding the specification of the devices ordered and that controls and software were installed before they were allocated to children.

 

A co-opted member noted that preparations were in place to open schools and keep children and staff safe in unprecedented circumstances.  He referred to staff members in vulnerable groups such as those who were pregnant, over 60 or BAME.  He also referred to the condition of school buildings.  The Deputy Director responded that none of the schools had said that they would struggle to open.

 

The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.

67.

CHILDREN'S SERVICES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE - WORK PROGRAMME 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

The report of the Chair of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee includes the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee  work programme for 2020/21. 

 

Recommended -

 

(1)       That members consider and comment on the areas of work included in the work programme.

 

(2)       That members consider any detailed scrutiny reviews that they may wish to conduct.

 

                                                                        (Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That from 7 October all meetings of the Committee commence at 16.30.

 

ACTION: Overview & Scrutiny Lead/Governance Officer