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Minutes of the Previous Sub-Committee Meeting PDF 481 KB
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 2 November 2021 as an accurate record.
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 2 November 2021 were agreed as a correct record.
The Chair also took the opportunity to extend the thanks of the Sub-Committee to Leo Morrell who was standing down from his role as one of co-opted members of the Sub-Committee.
Disclosures of Interest
Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that, in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, they are required to consider in advance of each meeting whether they have a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI), an other registrable interest (ORI) or a non-registrable interest (NRI) in relation to any matter on the agenda. If advice is needed, Members should contact the Monitoring Officer in good time before the meeting.
If any Member or co-opted Member of the Council identifies a DPI or ORI which they have not already registered on the Council’s register of interests or which requires updating, they should complete the disclosure form which can be obtained from Democratic Services at any time, copies of which will be available at the meeting for return to the Monitoring Officer.
Members and co-opted Members are required to disclose any DPIs and ORIs at the meeting.
· Where the matter relates to a DPI they may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must not stay in the meeting unless granted a dispensation.
· Where the matter relates to an ORI they may not vote on the matter unless granted a dispensation.
· Where a Member or co-opted Member has an NRI which directly relates to their financial interest or wellbeing, or that of a relative or close associate, they must disclose the interest at the meeting, may not take part in any discussion or vote on the matter and must not stay in the meeting unless granted a dispensation. Where a matter affects the NRI of a Member or co-opted Member, section 9 of Appendix B of the Code of Conduct sets out the test which must be applied by the Member to decide whether disclosure is required.
The Chair will invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3, to be recorded in the minutes.
There were no disclosure of interest made at the meeting.
Urgent Business (if any)
To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.
The Chair advised that the final version of the Task and Finish Group’s report on school exclusions and off-rolling had been circulated before the meeting to give the Sub-Committee an opportunity to review the content before signing off the final version of the report. Members noted one particular substantive change to the previous draft relating to the number of children with special educational needs in the borough.
Resolved: That the first part of the Task and Finish Group’s report be agreed.
Action List Update
To review any actions arising from previous meetings of the Sub-Committee.
The Sub-Committee considered the outstanding actions from its previous meetings. It was noted that an update on antenatal health visits would be provided at a future meeting of the Sub-Committee, most likely in the summer.
It was agreed that the Chair would meet with officers outside of the meeting to review and clear the remaining actions on the list and an update would be provided on the outcome from this work at the next meeting of the Sub-Committee on 1 March 2022.
Early Help, Children Social Care & Education Performance Dashboards PDF 94 KB
The Children & Young People Sub-Committee is asked to review the performance dashboards provided for Early Help, Children Social Care and Education and consider whether there are any areas of concern that may need to be scheduled for further scrutiny at a future meeting.
The Sub-Committee considered the performance dashboards set out on pages 15 to 30 of the agenda. The dashboards were a regular item on the agenda and provided for the Sub-Committee to give an overview of performance in the Children’s Social Care and Education services.
Concern was raised about indicator EH7 which detailed the percentage of cases closed due to families no longer requiring services, which had consistently been above the 10% target throughout the year. It was advised that some families no longer required support from Early Help because they had engaged with alternative services themselves. The service was managing its waiting list through a duty system, with regular check-ins scheduled with families to ensure their needs were being met. Given it was a demand led service, the Sub-Committee acknowledged that it could be difficult to achieve some of the targets within the social care system.
Indicators could be affected for a variety of reasons, with the fluctuation in caseloads, staff turnover and recruitment having an impact. Recently scheduling visits had been more challenging due to the impact from the omicron variant on staff absences.
Given the need to make significant savings within the Service, it was agreed that indicators on the financial performance of the directorate would be added to future iterations of the dashboard to provide the Sub-Committee with reassurance that budget were being appropriately managed.
Following the discussion on this item, the Children & Young People Sub-Committee agreed the following conclusions:-
1. It was recognised that there was a range of factors that could have a negative impact upon service delivery, but it was acknowledged that the Senior Management were aware of these factors and were actively managing these risks.
2. In light of the budget savings required from the Service in 2022-23, it would be important to include financial indicators in the dashboard, to allow the Sub-Committee to monitor progress made in delivering the budget.
Children, Young People & Education Budget Scrutiny Challenge PDF 189 KB
The Children & Young People Sub-Committee is asked to review the information provided on the identified budget proposals and reach a conclusion on the following:-
1. The savings are deliverable, sustainable and are not at unacceptable risk.
2. The impact on service users and the wider community is understood.
3. That all reasonable alternative options have been explored and no better options exist.
The Sub-Committee considered a report set out on pages 31 to 42 of the agenda along with a supplement, which provided a response to the three areas within the Children, Young People and Education budget targeted by the Sub-Committee for in-depth scrutiny. The three areas selected were: -
1. The review of care packages for children with disabilities aged 0-17.
2. The impact of the reduction in spend on the adolescent service.
3. The funding gap for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
The Sub-Committee was asked to consider whether the savings identified were deliverable, sustainable and did not present an unacceptable risk. Consideration was also given to whether the potential impact upon service users and the wider community from the savings was understood by the senior management of the service and the Cabinet Member, and that all reasonable alternative options had been explored and no better options existed. The conclusions agreed by the Sub-Committee would be reported to the Scrutiny & Overview Committee at its meeting scheduled for 15 February.
The Sub-Committee considered each of the three areas in turn, starting with the proposal to review care packages for children with disabilities up to the age of 18. During the introduction to this section provided by the Head of Social Work with Families & Children, Rodica Cobarzan, the Sub-Committee was given an overview of the review process for care packages. This included the work with the Transitions service for young people approaching the age of 18. Case studies which had resulted in both reduced and increased care packages were also provided to the Sub-Committee.
Following the introduction, it was acknowledged by the Sub-Committee that the budget position of the Council required difficult decisions to made. However, reassurance was sought that reassessments would not lead to an adverse impact upon the children or their families. It was confirmed that care packages were continually reviewed and reassessed to ensure the best outcomes for the child were being achieved. It was likely that the efficiency savings required would be achieved through reviewing service providers, rather than the level of care provided.
It was highlighted that many families were opting for the direct payment model, which delivered a saving to the Council. This led to a concern being raised by the Sub-Committee that the direct payment system allowing families to buy their own agency support may not have the same level of quality or consistency required as opposed to the higher quality support acquired using local authority input.
In response to a question about whether there had been any challenge from families because of the changes introduced, it was confirmed that there had been no tribunals. Assessments would be reviewed as required to ensure there was full transparent between the Council and families over decision making. There had been a low number of complaints received to date, which had been responded to as a priority.
It was acknowledged by Members that it was an ongoing challenge to ensure that commissioned services met the needs of the community, particularly ... view the full minutes text for item 6/22
Education Estates Strategy PDF 92 KB
The Children & Young People Sub-Committee is asked to: -
1. Note the draft report setting out the Education Estates Strategy for consideration by the Cabinet
2. Consider whether there are any considerations or concerns it may wishes to submit to the Cabinet during its consideration of the Strategy.
The Sub-Committee considered a report set out on pages 43 to 134 of the agenda which provided an overview of the Education Estates Strategy for its feedback, before consideration by the Cabinet.
The report was introduced by the Council’s Director of Education, Shelley Davies, during which comparisons on persistent absences and the work focussed on analysing data were highlighted. It was advised that it was important to focus upon contributing factors, which were being reviewed in greater depth. It was acknowledged that the impact of pandemic over the past two years had affected the availability of data, however it was noted that schools should be highlighting attendance where persistent absence was an issue. Schools would also be taking other factors into account alongside absences.
The work focused on addressing surplus school places was highlighted, including an in-depth review of shared resources and exploring opportunities for schools to generate additional income.
It was questioned whether there had been any formal discussion with head teachers as a totality from both primary and secondary about the estates strategy and whether feedback from this had been included in the evaluation. It was confirmed that there had been discussions with the Schools Forum, Schools Block Working Group and Secondary Head Teachers Meeting. The Sub-Committee welcomed confirmation of the unified approach deployed and it was agreed that a briefing summarising these meetings would be shared with the Sub-Committee.
In response to a question about the support available for schools in danger of not managing their places, it was confirmed that support was provided to individual schools as well as wider conversations on a borough wide level. It was acknowledged there had been difficulties during the pandemic due to practical issues, but officers were focussing on taking this forward.
It was agreed that the decline in numbers at some schools was a significant risk, with it questioned whether there were any radical ideas that could be used to support schools whose excess spaces were above the 5% target. It was also agreed that there needed to be a greater clarity around the risks to the Council of schools going into deficit. It was advised that there was a focus on early intervention with schools and reassurance was given that it should not have an impact on the Council’s budget.
The Chair acknowledged the support by the committee for a study on excess places within the Borough.
At the end of this item the Children & Young People Sub-Committee agreed that:
Croydon Safeguarding Children Board - Annual Report 2020-21 PDF 142 KB
The Children & Young People Sub-Committee is asked to: -
1. Note the Croydon Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report 2020-2021
2. Consider whether there are any considerations or concerns it may wishes to submit to the Cabinet during its consideration of the Annual Report.
3. In particular, give consideration as to whether the Annual Report provides sufficient reassurance on the performance and effectiveness of the Croydon Safeguarding Children Board.
The Sub-Committee considered a report set out on pages 135 to 182 of the agenda which presented the Annual Report for 2020-21 from the Croydon Safeguarding Children Board. The Sub-Committee was asked to review the report and provide feedback ahead of its consideration by the Cabinet.
It was agreed that it was essential for the Partnership to ensure it was working effectively together in order to avoid duplication. Further consideration was needed to identify a means of providing evidence in future annual reports to demonstrate the Partnership worked efficiently and effectively together. It was acknowledged that had been a delay in provided the 2020-21 annual report, but given the pandemic this delay was understandable.
Reassurance was provided to the Sub-Committee about the commitment of the partners, which had contributed greatly to the ability of the Partnership to plan its work. It was highlighted that positive action had been identified, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
The Sub-Committee agreed that the key for next year was to look at how to identify the quality of work that had taken place, and to focus on outcomes rather than just the tasks completed.
At the conclusion of this item the Chair thanks officers for their attendance at the meeting and engagement with the discussion of the Sub-Committee.
At the end of this item the Children & Young People Sub-Committee concluded
1. That it was happy for the Croydon Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report 2020-21 to be submitted to the Cabinet in its current format.
2. That further consideration needed to be given to how to demonstrate in future reports the effectiveness of the partnership, with a robust set of indicators used to track progress.
3. The Sub-Committee agreed that it would be in favour of engaging with the Board at an early stage in the development of the next Annual Report to ensure that concerns raised about the content of this year’s report were addressed.
What Difference Has This Meeting Made To Croydon's Children
To discuss the findings from this meeting and expectations for Croydon’s Children.
At the conclusion of the meeting the Sub-Committee considered what difference the meeting had made to the children of Croydon. It was concluded that it had been a good meeting, which had benefited from the preparatory work undertaken in advance, including the budget briefing provided in November.
It was agreed that future reports on the education estates strategy should be expanded to include budgets for other areas of education spend. Should it be possible, consideration of this report should be scheduled for the autumn rather than at a later stage in the process.
It was also agreed that before reviewing the next annual report from the Safeguarding Children Board, the Sub-Committee should look to test the partnership arrangements of the Board. The format for this would need to be carefully planned to ensure that the process was effective.
The budget situation within the Service was likely to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future and would need to be closely monitored by the Sub-Committee to ensure it remained on-track for delivery.
The Chair acknowledged final comments from colleagues and thanked them for their input into what had been an interesting meeting.