Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee - Tuesday, 17th January, 2023 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

Contact: Tom Downs  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence from any members of the Committee.



Apologies for absences were received from Councillor Maddie Henson and Josephine Copeland (Non-voting Teacher representative).


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 1st November 2022 as an accurate record.



The minutes of the previous meeting held on the 1 November 2022 were approved as an accurate record.


Disclosures of Interest

Members are invited to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and other registrable and non-registrable interests they may have in relation to any item(s) of business on today’s agenda.


There were no disclosures of interest 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.


There was none.


Budget Scrutiny Challenge pdf icon PDF 84 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.         Are the savings deliverable, sustainable and not an unacceptable risk.

2.         Is the impact on service users and the wider community understood.

3.         Have all reasonable alternative options been explored and do no better options exist.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee considered a report set out on pages 13 to 30 of the agenda, which provided identified budget proposals for 2023/24. The Director Quality, Commissioning & Performance introduced the item and went through the additional slides appended to these minutes and the presentation included in the agenda with detailed input from the Head of Service, Access Support and Intervention and the Head of Service, Social Work with Families and

Children with Disabilities.


Review of Front Door Services


The Head of Service, Access Support and Intervention responded to questions about whether the Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team were co-located and informed Members that this was the case, with police officers, Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVA) and Education officers also sitting with MASH colleagues in Bernard Weatherill House. There was ongoing work to ensure there were increased presences from the Health and Housing departments, possibly through a hybrid solution. The Sub-Committee asked whether there was staff capacity to meet current demand, and the Head of Service, Access Support and Intervention explained that the service had been designed to meet current demand and needs and thought had gone into who the best teams were to respond to any given query. There was a significant number of staff in the MASH team with increased capacity through the Early Help triage team.


Members asked about the limited funding for the Social Workers in Schools (SWIS) programme and the future of the programme. The Director of Children’s Social Care explained that schools participating in the programme saw significant benefits, and that SWIS was 80% funded by the Department for Education and 20% by the local authority and schools. Members heard that in an ideal world with no funding restrictions early help schemes designed to work with families where they were often were the most effective; schemes such as SWIS added significant costs due to having to operate from multiple locations. The Sub-Committee heard that in response to the financial challenges of Croydon and the challenge in recruiting qualified social workers, there had been a shift in approach to ensure that non-social worker roles could deal with cases, where appropriate, to free up qualified social worker capacity. This approach was supported by the Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership, and had not been decided in isolation.


The Sub-Committee asked how demand on the Front Door compared with neighbouring boroughs. The Head of Service, Access Support and Intervention explained that meetings with neighbouring boroughs and police colleagues were regular but, as they were smaller than Croydon, demand was significantly less. Not all enquiries to the Front Door led to referrals into the Children’s Social Care system and partnership working was important to ensure that other interventions and services in the Croydon community were tried first; this approach was embedded in current MASH transformation activity. Members asked if data was compared with statistical neighbours, and were informed that this was the case and was done on a regular basis through a monthly dashboard.


The Sub-Committee asked how the effectiveness of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/22


Cabinet Report - Education Estates Strategy pdf icon PDF 75 KB

For the Sub-Committee to consider whether there are any considerations or concerns it may wish to submit to the Cabinet during its consideration of the Strategy.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee considered a paper set out on pages 31 to 134 of the agenda, which provided a report due for consideration at Cabinet on 25 January 2023 on the Education Estates Strategy for Pre-Decision Scrutiny. The Director of Education introduced the Head of Service, Early Years, School Place Planning and Admission, who summarised the report.


Members asked about the increase in children in Elective Home Education during COVID and whether these children would likely return to schools and, if so, whether there would be capacity to readmit these children. The Director of Education explained that there had been a capacity increase to monitor and support children in Elective Home Education at the Council, and that some parents / carers decide to apply for their  child to attend mainstream schooling during the transition from primary to secondary school. These numbers are difficult to predict, and as such additional capacity was maintained at schools, but this needed to be carefully planned so as to not impact on schools’ budgets.


The Sub-Committee asked about plans to deal with surplus school places and what powers the Council had to deal with this with a large number of academy schools in the borough. The Director of Education explained that the local authority was responsible for school place planning; the Head of Service, Early Years, School Place Planning and Admission explained that the Council was working with all schools through meetings with schools with the highest surpluses, and through locality clusters, to discuss  and plan work on school place planning. A School Organisation Advisory Board is being set up and would be representative of all partners; this would look at the criteria of how the Council would need to work with schools to reduce places. Work had already been done with a number of schools to manage their surplus spaces, with the main route being a reduction in the Published Admission Number (PAN). Members heard from the Head of Service, Early Years, School Place Planning and Admissions that the Council was still mindful of schools’ overheads in terms of maintaining necessary surplus and were exploring ways to harness this spare capacity through provision of enhanced learning units, early years provision or community based activities. There were a number of other options that would be considered such as federation mergers, reductions in class sizes or reorganisation of schools.


The Head of Education Services explained that they worked with Local Authority (LA) Maintained Schools who were in or at risk of budget deficit; surplus places was a common issue for these schools. All LA Maintained Schools submitted a yearly budget forecast, and those predicting a deficit submitted monthly returns that were scrutinised. Members heard that termly meetings were held with the leadership teams of these schools to explore solutions.  Additional support was is also offered including using a Department for Education financial advisor, looking at class sizes and other possible efficiencies. Common issues with school finances were managing surplus places, rising energy costs, rising staff costs and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24/22


Cabinet Report - Education Standards 2022 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

For the Sub-Committee to receive the summarised performance of children and young people in Croydon schools for the academic year 21/22.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee considered a paper set out on pages 135 to 166 of the agenda, which provided a report due for consideration at Cabinet on 25 January 2023 on Education Standards 2022 for Pre-Decision Scrutiny. The Head of Education Services introduced and summarised the report. Members heard that there were limitations to what the Council could do to produce improvements, and the national context was that this responsibility was now largely focussed on the schools enacting improvements themselves and via school to school support. The Sub-Committee heard that an Education Partnership Board had first been proposed to schools in 2020 to a positive reception. The Board would be made up of schools and key partners who would work to agree what local priorities were and enable greater school-to-school support and collaborative working. A draft terms of reference had been drawn up with a working group made up from representatives from a number of different schools and school types. Soft engagement with key partners had begun with those schools which were thought would be most difficult to reach and engage with the work of the Board, and the response had been encouraging. The Board would be launched in spring 2023, ready for being operational from the commencement of the new academic year.


Members commended plans for the Council to encourage schools to work together through the Education Partnership Board, and asked how schools had been engaged, noting the heavy workloads of Head Teachers. The Head of Education Services explained that Head Teachers had been engaged, but this had been alongside Business Managers, HR leads and governors. The Sub-Committee heard that engagement with schools had improved over the pandemic as the Council had been offering additional support. The Director of Education explained that a weekly newsletter to schools had been started during the pandemic, and the appetite had been for this to continue; this included information on lots of areas and helped to maintain an open conversation with Head Teachers.


Members asked how many schools would be needed to buy into the work of the Education Partnership Board for it to be effective, and the Director of Education explained that it was important that all schools felt represented on the Board. The Education Partnership Board set up costs would be initially Council funded, and possibly, the Council could continue to contribute  funding for the first year or two years; this was contrary to other areas where schools were required to pay into the model from its inception.


The Sub-Committee asked about young people who were not making expected progress from some specific groups. Members heard that some of these cohorts were very small, while others were very school and setting specific. The Head of Education Services explained that work was done with schools to identify cohorts of children who were underperforming to develop improvement action plans, to pair schools for peer support and to encourage collaborative solutions.


Members asked about ‘Virtual Schools’ support available for looked after children up to 18 and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25/22


Early Help, Children's Social Care and Education Dashboard pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To receive the Early Help, Children’s Social Care and Education Dashboard.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee considered a report set out on pages 167 to 172 of the agenda, which provided the Early Help, Children’s Social Care and Education Dashboard.


On CYPE 24, Members heard that there was a responsibility to track and report on all 16 and 17 year olds in the borough; this included both ‘Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET)’ and ‘Not Known’. NEET levels had increased, but ‘Not Known’ levels had fallen which indicated data quality had improved. Of this cohort, around a third were not available to participate in Education, Employment or Training due to long-term illness, care duties or travel abroad. A large cohort were in this group due to mental health and anxiety, which was driving complexity in these groups, caused in part by education disruption during the pandemic. The largest cohort of NEETs were white males, but this did not strongly correlate with those missing attendance from schools.


On CYPE 01, the Sub-Committee heard that this was increased due to the quality of initial assessments; it was hoped that changes in processes in September 2022 to the Family Assessment Service would improve these figures over the long term, but it was acknowledged that recruitment for this area was difficult. The Director of Children’s Social Care explained that partnership working was strong and a number of these re-referrals were often as a result of education non-attendance, which needed additional work through changes in practise.


On CYPE 05, the Chair explained that they would like to see an explanation of this figure in the report to the next Sub-Committee.



Work Programme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To consider any additions, amendments or changes to the agreed work programme for the Sub-Committee in 2022/23.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee noted the report.