Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee
Tuesday, 5th February, 2019 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Stephanie Davis
02087266000 x84384  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence

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



Apologies received from Councillor Maddie Henson, Councillor Patsy Cummings attended in her absence.

Dave Harvey and Leo Morrel gave their apologies.


Minutes of the previous sub-committee meeting pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2019 as an accurate record.



The minutes of the meeting on 14 January 2019 were signed as an accurate record.


Disclosures of interest

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.



There were none.


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.


Action List Update

Discussion on the actions arising from previous meetings.


Officers were reminded of the actions that were still outstanding and required a resolution. Officers agreed to look into the items outstanding and provide updates.


Cabinet Member Question Time: Cabinet member for Children Young People and Learning pdf icon PDF 512 KB

Question Time with the Cabinet Member for Children Young People Learning, Councillor Alisa Flemming.

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member gave a presentation on aspects of her portfolio which included the following:


  • The priority and vision was for young people to feel safe
  • Focus on the improvement journey which was on an increasing level of pace
  • Change in leadership following the permanent recruitment of senior staff.
  • Improvement in Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in supervision
  • Implementation of the Early Help and Gateway Strategy
  • Completion of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Strategy with final papers to be presented to Cabinet
  • Increased representation of the voice of child through the work of the Young Mayor and the Child in Care Council
  • Ongoing challenges remained in the recruitment and retention of staff and the rising number of children in care proceedings.


In response to a Member challenge on the evidence of occurrence of actions as directed by the Line of Sight document, officers stated that actions were being carried out as directed and that a schedule of the activities carried out was being produced. The Chair requested that this information be circulated to the Sub-Committee after the meeting. Additionally the Chair asked for the monthly performance data that was gathered and reviewed by the Improvement Board be shared with the Sub-Committee.


A Member commented on the lack of progress made on recruitment and retention of staff and queried what further work was being done to address the challenges. Officers responded that this was a complex issue with high vacancy rates experienced in a competitive market. Human Resources (HR) was working to produce an attractive remuneration and welcome package. Additionally there had been a reduction in caseloads across the service and which would also help to attract staff. Strong leadership and guidance was important and there had been an emphasis on improving supervision due to ongoing inconsistencies of practice.


The conversion rate of locums was compared to other local authorities and when improvements would be seen was questioned. Officers replied that locum numbers in Croydon were high but that was to be expected given the Ofsted rating, the rate was currently 30% and improvement of 20% by 2020 was possible.


A Member challenged the likelihood of achieving a 20% conversion rate and highlighted that previous directors had attended scrutiny over a number of years giving reassurance that improvements would be made. Due to past experience the Sub-Committee was not reassured of the likelihood of the realisation of this promise and requested data which proved this task was possible. The Executive Director of Children Families and Education advised that an action plan on recruitment and retention of staff had been produced and was confident that 20% was achievable in 12 months.


The Chair said that it should be noted that good and outstanding local authorities also had high numbers of agency staff and this was not just specific to Croydon. What was important was whether there were safeguards in place to ensure that we had good quality locum staff. Officers responded that the quality of the locum’s in Croydon was good and that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12/19


Education Quality and Standards pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive the summarised performance of children and young people in Croydon schools for the academic year 2017/2018.

Additional documents:


The Head of Standards, Safeguarding, Learning Access and Inclusion introduced the report and pointed out the key aspects of the report which included the following:


  • Early Year Foundation Stage (EYFS) outcomes had been above the national average for a number of years and were in line with the London average.
  • Vocational outcomes at Level 3 remain high
  • Ofsted outcomes had been positive with a school moving to good status and one from good to outstanding.
  • The improvement programme and partnerships with schools were robust
  • Working on recognised key areas of development
  • Key Stage 5(KS5) outcomes remain a challenge with gaps to be closed between the highest and lowest achieving schools.
  • Challenge to close the gaps in outcomes by gender and ethnicity.
  • The Looked After Children (LAC) cohort improvement had risen but more work still to be done
  • Continued progress to be made to increase the number of personal education plans for LAC which is linked to outcomes


The report also included the next steps which were the following:

  • Inclusion funding
  • Maintaining of resources
  • Maintaining places in mainstream education for SEN children.
  • Funding a curriculum conference to take place to ensure good practice and steps being taken to closing gaps for boys and ethnic group through all key stages.
  • Continued improvement to personal plans for LAC


A Member asked what was being done to address instances of persistent absence in schools. Officers responded that in the last year a team around a school approach had been developed. Officers had been allocated to schools where instances of persistent absence and high rates of fixed term inclusions had been identified. Officers had been looking at data and working with a number of schools and this work would continue to be rolled out to more schools. Through work with independent officers and visits to schools they were raising the profile that this was an issue which was a priority and measures had to be taken to achieve improvement.


It was further commented by a Member that some Boroughs were investing in breakfast and after school provision to tackle issues of persistent absence. Officers responded that there were some schools in the Borough that offered this service. What was important was for schools to look at the barriers to getting children into school and putting measures in place to combat the barriers. The development of the Early Help Strategy would be key to achieving these improvements.


A Member questioned what the identifying factor was and what work was being carried out in the three schools that were reported to have a high number of exclusions. Officers advised that in all of the schools there were individual factors that led to the numbers reported. One of the schools did not have an historic high rate of exclusion and the figure was high as a result of one serious incident that resulted in a number of pupils being excluded. Intervention work with the police was taking place. In another of the schools a factor was leadership and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13/19


Education Budget 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 655 KB

To review the proposals for the Education Budget 2019/20.




The Head of Finance introduced the report which detailed the components of the budget for the coming year. The total allocation for Croydon which is regulated by the Department for Education (DfE) was £342mil for the four blocks for 2019/2020. The DfE announced that the implementation of the National Funding formula would be introduced as a soft formula for schools for next year.


It was further explained that the DfE had introduced a requirement for each authority to produce a three year recovery plan in the event that a 1% or more deficit was incurred in the year. Officers informed the Sub-Committee that Croydon as well as other local authorities would definitely have a deficit of more than 1% especially due to the high needs block. There were concerns at the lack of detail and guidance on this as yet and during consultation strongly expressed that three years was too short for a recovery period. They would continue to highlight that the suggested three years was more of a medium term programme of recovery.


It was explained to the Sub-Committee following comment by a Member that  when the DSG was introduced it was based on deprivation as well as other factors, and in 2005 the amount that local authorities received was frozen with additional spend plus adjustments made to the per pupil funding. This meant that the amounts received were locked in irrespective of changes to demographics and deprivation levels. This has been to some local authorities advantage but not to Croydon’s. However the New National Funding formula would mean that more recent demographic factors will be taken to account going forward.


It was expressed that it would be beneficial for the table that showed comparisons with other Local Authorities to include all of the London boroughs. Officers agreed to circulate this after the meeting.


It was noted that the report alluded to the funding differential between Croydon and other boroughs and question if there was any further documented evidence that would enable the Council to make a case to central government on the low funding allocation for the borough. Officers agreed to research this and report back to the Sub-Committee.


A Member expressed that the implications of the deficit that the DfE required local authorities to produce a recovery plan for was not quite clear and further clarify of this would be beneficial. Officers responded that there were concerns due to the lack of guidance from the DfE to date but that steps were already been taken such as early intervention on SEN to mitigate the high costs associated with the High Needs block. The LA will have to consider many factors in development of the recovery plan such as good commissioning, clear pathways, and financial implication to areas of service. Health, Education and Social care will have to work together on the plan.


It was further commented by a Member that a communication strategy with the residents of Croydon would have to be considered in the event that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14/19


What Difference has this meeting made to Croydon's Children

To discuss the finding of this meeting and the expectations for Croydon’s Children.


Members expressed that there have been various outcomes from this meeting which included the following:

  • Actions that’s needed to be completed were reinforced, in particular long standing items.
  • The additional challenge throughout the meeting reinforces the expectations of officers by Members.
  • The effects of change in leadership was evident in the loss of collective knowledge on service area and in instances where further information has been requested but not produced.
  • The social workers attendance and contribution to the meeting was beneficial and their experienced enabled members to form a picture of the service from frontline point of view/reference.
  • The Collaborative work of the Education department was good and the reports and response to questions were encouraging




Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To note the Work Programme for the remainder of 2018/19 municipal year.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee Noted the work programme for the remainder of the municipal year.