Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee
Tuesday, 17th September, 2019 6.30 pm

Venue: The Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX

Contact: Stephanie Davis
02087266000 x84384  Email: stephanie.davis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

37/19

Apologies for absence

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

 

Minutes:

Apologies received from Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick, Councillor Mary Croos was in attendance in his absence.

Apologies received from Dave Harvey.

38/19

Minutes of the previous sub-committee meeting pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2019 as an accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held pm 18 June 2019 was agreed and signed as an accurate record.

39/19

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.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Callton Young declared that he was Chair of Governors at St Giles school.

40/19

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.

Minutes:

There was none

41/19

Actions List Update

Discussion on the actions arising from previous meetings.

 

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that there were no outstanding items on the Action List to be discussed.

42/19

Children's Improvement Plan Update pdf icon PDF 622 KB

To receive an update on the Children’s Improvement Programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Children, Families and Education introduced the report and the following was noted:

  • The department successfully negotiated a further monitoring visit for 16 October 2019 instead of the final inspection. This was agreed by Ofsted due to the changes made to the leadership of the department.
  • Substantive progress had been made since January 2019 and the last monitoring visit noted an improvement in overall quality of practice.
  • There were still some inconsistencies in practice in some areas of the service.
  • Private fostering arrangements practice was highlighted as poor by Ofsted. Resourcing and further work was being done to address the inconsistencies presented.
  • Child Protection cases had reduced from 600 a year ago to 100. This is a vast improvement.
  • The quality and regularity of supervision of staff had improved although it was recognised there was still a lot of progress to be made.
  • Caseloads in some services were still above target.
  • The strategic vision of the service is clear, the department was focused on being a solutions led and not reactionary service.
  • Increased investment was being made in Early Help to identify children and families that need help much earlier.

 

In response to a question for clarification on the assessment team vacancy rate of 80% and whether there were interim posts, officers responded that this was interim/agency rates. There had been some issues with senior management in the service which had been resolved. The team currently had excess number of staff which would be reduced gradually over the next few years.

 

It was questioned how confident the service was on the figures presented regarding the number of private fostering cases. Officers responded that whilst they were not confident that the figures were accurate, Croydon was doing well in trying to identify private fostering arrangements. In order to identify further cases, all partners needed to be vigilant and proactive in identification and reporting of concerns.

 

A Member commented that the report showed that 59% of children’s immunisations were not up to date and questioned how this would be addressed. Officers responded that this was an area of priority and work was being done by Early Help through a joint workshop to look at current processes. Additionally exploring alternative ways of working together more effectively to address the numbers of children not immunised.

 

A question was raised on what the sustainability of the service would involve and officers responded that the transformation and sustainability of the service would be based on early intervention. Currently, as a result of the Ofsted judgement, Croydon was conducting more assessment and S47 than any other borough and using up a lot of resources. This was attributed to social workers are being over cautious. It was envisaged that this would improve in time through social workers and senior managements increased confidence in their judgements.

 

It was commented that the reduction of child protection cases was evidence that the service was moving in the right direction with its preventative work.

 

The Sub-Committee came to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42/19

43/19

Croydon Safeguarding Children's Board Annual Report pdf icon PDF 355 KB

(To Follow)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of the Children Safeguarding Children Board presented the annual report and the following was noted:

  • This was the final report ahead of the new safeguarding arrangement and it was extended to include information on activities over the summer months of 2019.
  • The report outlined how the new arrangements would work, it has been published.
  • Three multiagency priority groups had been established.
  • In order for the partnership to be effective, they would need to challenge each other where appropriate.
  • There had been substantial learning from the vulnerable adolescence review conducted and the review was influencing the work of other departments.
  • The voice of the child was an underdeveloped area in Croydon and more had to be done.
  • The formal launch of the new arrangements would be 25 November 2019, this coincides with Practice week and would be an opportunity for the partners to engage with staff.

 

It was asked what the Board’s definition of a child ‘off roll’ was, officers responded that this was a child/children not in school for a number of reasons. The most vulnerable were those that had come off the school roll, stopped attending for various reasons and were not in another setting with the LA unable to track their whereabouts.

 

A Member highlighted concerns for children at risk of exclusions and suggested that a case be made for schools to be more accessible for children after 4pm through various therapeutic services. Officers said that issues of mental health were a strong theme highlighted by the review. Evidence did show that some schools handled exclusions every well and put in support over and beyond what was statutorily required.

 

It was further commented that training for exclusion boards was inconsistent with some very good and others not so. Officers said that it was important that the quality of the exclusions board be consistent. The Vulnerable Adolescence review drew a compelling correlation between children that had been excluded and those that went on to receive a criminal record.

 

The Chair asked for suggestions on topics that the sub-committee should be looking into and was not. Officers replied that they were unsure how clear the sub-committee was on exploitation and county lines and that this may be an area for the sub-committee to delve into further.

 

A Member asked what advice could be given to the sub-committee in order to fulfil its role to hold the partnership to account. Officers responded that the executive group was fundamental to the success of the partnership and they would meet every month. In its questioning, Members should be checking what the partnerships had done individually but also collectively. Members should ask the partnership to evidence that their meetings are solutions focused and impact positively on safeguarding. Additionally what they were doing to address long standing issues such as quality and quantity of health assessments of looked after children.

 

It was commented that the voice of the child examples were powerful in the report and going forward all reports should follow the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43/19

44/19

Draft Education Estates Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 913 KB

To receive the draft Education Estates Strategy update which details the Council’s performance in meeting its statutory duty for sufficiency of school places prior to its presentation at Cabinet.

 

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim director of education presented the Draft report which was due to be presented at Cabinet and detailed the following:

  • The mainstream pupil projection of available places vs school capacity and approve the proposed three year school supply strategy.
  • The temporary expansion of Smitham Primary by one form of entry from September 2019.
  • The delegated decision taken by the Executive Director of Children Families and Education , in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Learning to close St Andrew’s CofE High school from August 2020.
  • The updated SEND supply strategy for the next three academic years.
  • Completion of the refurbishment of Cotelands PRU building at John Ruskin College.
  • Croydon commissioned by the EFSA to lead on the delivery of Addington Valley Academy.
  • An update on the partnership with Croydon College on the establishment of local post 16 places.
  • The continued expansion of secondary autism enhanced learning provision at Oasis Arena.
  • The proposed feasibility option regarding Red Gates, St Giles and Priory Special Schools.
  • Update on fire safety works at Croydon community schools
  • The updated Schools’ Maintenance Plan for 2019/20.
  • The updated Capital Programme Spend.
  • The number of children who received their first or top three preference schools for 2018/19 admissions to primary and secondary school.

 

It was noted that there was limited capacity in the south of borough whilst the north has excess capacity and it was questioned if the LA had the ability to do anything regarding this. Officers said that whilst there were north and south planning of spaces, families could exercise their right to send their children to any school of their choice irrespective of location. This did make school place planning complicated and schools have to make decisions based on forecasts and seek advice on reduction of their PAN but the LA was clear on ensuring provision of enough school places for children in the borough.

 

A further question was asked on the record of a child’s school journey and it was requested that officers provide a map of excess places. Officers responded that primary school places have to be allocated for children within a certain mileage of their home, this was not always the case with secondary allocation. Children were admitted based on admissions criteria and not catchment. It was agreed that Map of excess school places would be provided to Members.

 

It was commented that it was important that primary school children were allocated a local school place to enable them to walk to school and if unable to attend a local school, travel provisions to be made. Officers responded that there was enough school places for children to retain a local place but parents were able to make decisions to send their children to schools out of the borough. Children are able to travel for free on buses and trams.

 

A Member questioned what was being done regarding schools that wanted to admit over their agreed PAN’s due to them being their own admissions authority. Officers responded that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44/19

45/19

What difference has this meeting made to Croydon's Children

To discuss the findings from this meeting and the expectations for Croydon’s Children.

 

Minutes:

Members noted the following from the meeting:

  • The Sub-Committee would like the opportunity to influence the 2019/2020 Croydon Safeguarding Children’s Board Annual report in terms of what is presented and to ensure that the voice of the child was captured throughout the report.
  • The discussions that took place and recommendations made on the Call-In meeting of the proposed closure of St Andrews school that took place at the Scrutiny and Overview Committee meeting on 17 September 2019 was robust and sought accountability as intended from the decision makers.
  • There has been notable improvements on Members’ style of questioning, holding officers to account and asking them to demonstrate the effects on the community and children of their decisions.
  • Officers can make improvements on how information and data is presented.
  • The attendance of all members of the Sub-Committee at all meetings was important.

 

46/19

Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 15 KB

To agree the work programme for the 2019/20 municipal year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The items on the agenda for 5 November 2019 meeting were confirmed.

 

It was also confirmed that the Sub-Committee would receive an interim not a final report from the Task and Finish group at the 5 November 2019 meeting.

47/19

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

 

Minutes:

This was not required.