Agenda, decisions and minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 7th October, 2020 4.00 pm

Venue: Virtual remote meeting

Contact: Fatima Butt / Jill Bell 

No. Item


ALTERNATE MEMBERS (Standing Order 34)

The City Solicitor will report the names of alternate Members who are attending the meeting in place of appointed Members. 



Cllr Firth for Cllr Humphreys.



(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.




(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.



No disclosures of interest in matters under consideration were received.



(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)



There were no appeals submitted to review restricted documents.




The Committee is asked to note any 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.


                                                                        (Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)


There were no referrals to the Committee.



The purpose of the report of the Director of Children’s Services (Document “AE”) is to provide members of the Committee with a progress update on the Children’s Services Improvement Plan.




That the contents of the report (Document “AE”) and the progress being made be noted and that the Committee receives a detailed analysis in respect of recruitment and sickness absence at the next meeting.


                                                            (Irfan Alam – 01274 432904)








The report provided Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee members, with a progress update relating to the Children’s Services Improvement Plan, which is aimed at enabling Bradford Council to improve services for children and families.


Officers from Bradford Councils Children’s Services Department covered three key aspects of the Improvement Plan, which included highlights from this period and areas for improvement over the coming months; key areas of focus and action with more in depth updates; Children’s Improvement Plan summary of progress.


Members enquired whether the newly established Performance Clinics were just another layer and if we should actually be using them and how they would assist in the improvement Journey.


Children’s Services officers stated that this was not another layer and was required to examine patterns and trends, along wit being able to forecast potential difficulties at an operational level.


Members were also keen to know what the current figures were in relation to sickness absence and the current state of the recruitment campaign for Level 3 Social Care workers.  Furthermore, members indicated that vacancy rates are at 15%, which also means that a Serious Case Review is likely to happen;  and that the Council was covering holes with agency staff.


Officers indicated that they did not have the information, but would provide this information.  Also, officers did not agree that agency staff were filling a gap and that a more measured and detailed response was needed in relation to the management of agency staff and full time staff.


Members stressed that it was clear that improvements would only happen, if there was a stable and skilled workforce and what the degree of dependence was, on agency staff.


Officers said that if they started to explore the agency staff numbers, then it could undermine the recruitment campaign that was about to be launched and that the did not want to start casting doubts over the quality of agency staff.


Members said the recruitment of Social Care workers and it was disappointing that no substantial improvements hade been made in this area and that they could not see any significant improvement.


Officers from Bradford Councils Children’s Services stated that they had to pick up on a lot of big issues and that it was not correct to say that there had been no improvements.  The biggest problem was the recruitment of Level 3 Social Care Workers and that all of the leadership team were not permanent, which was not the case a year ago.


Member were keen to explore the increasing workloads of Social Care workers and the impact that this was also having on sickness absence.

In response, officers said that they had undertaken a lot of work to review case loads and challenging workers where they have more than 26 and that there is a commitment that staff should have case loads of 22 or less.  A year ago, it was not common to see Social Workers with cases of 50 or more.




(1)  That the contents of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.



The Strategic Director, Children’s Services will submit Document “AF” which reports on the 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.


The report will also outline the additional funding approved by Executive in June 2020 to support the post Covid recovery for education.




That the contents of the report (Document “AF”) be noted and the delivery of the Post Covid Educational Recovery Programme be supported.


                                                                        (Marium Haque – 01274 431078)



Officers from Bradford Councils Children’s Services explained the contingency plans that were in place which would allow education to take place and continue whether there is or is not a further or extended COVID19 local lockdown, across the District.


The report also set out the additional funding approved by the Executive in June 2020, to support the post COVID recovery for education.


Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny members were keen to understand if Bradford Council was actually considering a local circuit break, for instance like extending the half term holidays.


In response, officers from Bradford Councils Childrens Services stated that any such decision would be taken by Government and Public Health and that Children’s Services would then respond.


Members then wanted to know that if there was an additional lockdown, how far was Bradford Council is distributing appropriate Laptops, to those that needed them, as well as those children who do not even have the internet and equipment to Young Carers.


Officers indicated that at the moment they were in the early stages of laptop roll-out and were looking more in the long term and providing devices to a wide range of children, including the pre-school sector.  Furthermore, part of the strategy also related to providing internet access and equipment to Young Carers.


Members were also keen to explore in terms of managing the outbreak, why different advice had been given to staff about having a COVID19 test.

In response, officers highlighted that all schools across the District had been given clear advice and that they were also working with colleagues in Public Health.  Moreover, testing advice is being communicated consistently and is being understood.


Members questioned officers about schools that are financially struggling and the measures that are in place to ensure that money is being used in the right way.  As well as this, members wanted to understand why only Maths had been identified and why not English;  as if a child cannot understand in the first place, they will struggle with the rest of their work.


Officers stated that they would be starting with Maths first and then would be moving to English, specifically looking at comprehension, text and question analysis.


In relation to mental health, members indicated that there appeared to be insufficient support for mental health capacity and that whether five Therapeutic Officers were enough to meet the enormous demands of schools across the District.


In response, officers highlighted that they had the support from the entire Counselling Support Service, through the Clinical Commissioning Groups. 


There are also mental health projects which are for those children that will require something over and above, for instance more specialist and support, which is unique to their circumstances.


In addition to this, members were keen to understand what the process for this was and who decides which groups have additional vulnerabilities.

Children’s Services officers replied by saying that discussions take place with the school, family and health services, to determine the support required.





That the contents of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.



The report of the Chair of the Children’s Services Overview and

Scrutiny Committee (Document “AG”) includes the Committee’s work programme for 2020/21.




(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:


The Overview & Scrutiny Lead went through the work programme for the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee, as well as the programme of detailed Scrutiny Review that the Committee has agreed to undertake.


Members agreed that the focus of the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny should at the moment be on the OFSTED Improvement Plan, along with the provision of education being provided during the COVID19 pandemic.


However, Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee members did agree that the work programme should continue to be flexible ad adaptable and that the Committee should return to the planned work programme when it was possible.





That the Work Programme be continually reviewed in light of the current Covid situation.


                                                            (Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)