Agenda, decisions and minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 6th January, 2021 4.30 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. 



No alternatives present.



(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 declarations were made for matters under consideration.



Recommended –


That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 November 2020 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated).


(Jill Bell – 01274 4580)


Resolved –


That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 November 2020 be signed as a correct record.



(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)



No requests were received to remove the restriction on a report or background paper.




No referrals have been made to this Committee up to and including the date of publication of this agenda.




No referrals were received.




Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee requested regular updates on the Vital Signs report. Appended to the report of the Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “AR”)is the Vital Signs report for December 2020.



Members are asked to consider this report and to also comment on the frequency and format as to how this report should be considered by the Committee in future.


(Irfan Alam – 01274 434333)

Additional documents:


The report of the Strategic Director for Children’s Services (Document “AR”) was presented to the Committee in response to a request for regular updates on the Vital Signs report.  The aim of the report was to enable leaders and members of the Improvement Board to understand and interpret the key trends in children’s social care performance and covered the period up to December 2020.


Highlights and key points were shared including the recent 3 day inspection by OFSTED in December which endorsed the already identified areas for improvement from self assessments. 


Officers stated that contact with vulnerable children was maintained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and an exemplary response to demand had been evident also.  The quality of audits had improved in 2020 and Senior Officers were aware of the status of the service and inconsistencies in the quality of service delivered.  This was an identified area for improvement.


The main areas for improvement and issues being faced were as follows:


·         The threshold of what was referred to social care was not as well understood, resulting in some inappropriate referrals being made.  This would be addressed by the Safeguarding Partnership during 2021.


·         Sickness management had been criticised.

·         Recruitment of permanent staff

·         Auditing – quality still needed driving up


Representatives from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) were also present in the meeting and gave an explanation of its role in the context of children in care and the difficulties being faced as a result of the pandemic.   A new clinical model would be implemented in 2021 which addressed the difficulties in completing medical assessments for children looked after as it had not been possible to recruit paediatricians to complete the work and to have designated doctors.


Members were then given the opportunity to ask questions, details of these and the responses received are below.


·         Good progress was being made on timeliness and compliance, could an explanation be given on issues that auditing social work practices was exposing?  Were they easy to solve?

·      Officers advised that social workers use a system of assessment, plan and review.  If this was carried out to the correct level of quality, children would receive the right support at the right time.  Assessments still needed to be comprehensive and plans must address he needs of the children being assessed.  Children would then move through the system as issues were being addressed to meet those needs, with managers ensuring that the work moved them through the system.  Success depended on a number of factors which made it a complex issue to address but with the right training etc. the standard of practice would be lifted.  It would take time to achieve and the ‘churn’ of level 3 practitioners was a key factor affecting the success.


·         Were recommendations made in internal audits?  And were they taken forward and implemented?

·      In response, Officers advised that all case file audits were checked monthly and had targets set and recommendations made.


·         Were there any common issues arising?

·      The main issues identified were in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



The report of the Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “AS”)provides an update on the work that forms part of the Education Covid Recovery Improvement Programme. It updates the status of work to date along with the approach to be taken for further development.



As the work in progress for this programme is based on an academic year, significant progress and performance against outcomes cannot be provided on a monthly basis. The committee is asked to recommend what they would like to see from this report moving forwards


(Marium Haque – 01274 431078)


The report of the Strategic Director for Children’s Services (Document “AS”) was presented to the Committee and provided an update on the work that formed part of the Education COVID-19 Recovery Improvement Programme.  The report provided an update on the status of the work done to date along with the approach taken for further development.


Officers also advised that much of the work detailed in the report was still being carried out with some significant modifications to tuition programmes in light of the most recent lockdown and closures.  Equipment was on order to ensure that children looked after had devices and wifi to work remotely.


Members then had the opportunity to ask questions which are detailed below along with the responses given.


·         To what extent has the work done previously going to help in the latest lockdown?

·      In response, Officers stated that remote learning was not a new concept and that schools used a number of tools for remote learning with more ‘hands-on’ learning to complement it.  However, some students did not engage with virtual learning.


·         Were the figures of devices received still accurate?

·      Figures were only available for devices delivered to the Council.  Academies were under no obligation to share information relating to their allocation


·         Did it have an impact on investment on draft capital expenditure programme?

·      Officers stated that capital funding would supplement the provision from central government.  The first 2000 devices were distributed via the local authority but the DfE had subsequently circumvented the Authority.


·         The Chair stated that he would like to receive information on what had been provided by Bradford schools and whether there were any reports which could be presented to track activity.

·      Officers responded that it was difficult to take action around remote learners but provided advice and support if a school was experiencing difficulties on a school by school basis.


·         The Chair also asked about the alternative provision review and would the attainment strategy be delayed?

·         Officers advised that this was still being looked at across the District and was subject to ratification of the budget.  Adjustments may be necessary but should not stop the ambitions to improve on attainment.





Resolved –


That the Committee keeps an overview of the Council’s plans for remote learning taking place across the District and requests that officers  present new information when it is available to the Committee.


Action:  Director Children’s Services





The report of the chair of the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Document “AT”) 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:


The report presented by the Scrutiny Lead (Document “AT”) detailed the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee work programme, as well as the unscheduled topics.


Members made amendments to the work programme and agreed to keep an overview of the Education COVID recovery programme, to allow the Committee to consider other pertinent topics.


As well as this, Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee members, were in agreement that the Alternative School Provision Scrutiny Review should be reconvened; particularly in light of increased home education during the COVID19 lockdown.


Resolved –


That the following areas be considered by the Committee at its future meetings, with a specific focus of the impact of COVID19 upon these:


-       Troubled Families;

-       Youth Offending;

-       Mental Health amongst young people


Action:  Overview & Scrutiny Lead