Agenda item

Early Help CSC and Education Dashboard

To receive the Children’s Social Care and Education Dashboards.

(To follow)


The Director of Early Help and Social Care introduced the dashboard and following the presentation, Members had the opportunity to ask questions.


It was asked what the update was on staff morale in terms of recruitment during this period of strict Covid restrictions. Officers said that there had been some success with recruitment in children with disabilities team. HR was assisting with revamping the job advert, with the social worker and advanced social worker roles being profiled separately. The retention fee for Croydon had been reduced in line with the current budget. The pressures on current staff amidst vacancies was acknowledged and all was being done to manage the recruitment process as quickly and efficiently as possible.


It was asked if there had been any mental health concerns among staff and what the response was to address issues. Officers said that all staff had been impacted emotionally by the pandemic in particular due to the longevity of the situation. Some staff has lost colleagues as well as family members and there was supportive resources provided by the Council, the professional body of social work and the unions providing independent support. There was in house mental health support available and it had been made clear that managers had to support staff to access the support as and when needed.


In response to a question on what could be done better to improve services. Officers said that there had been challenge and pressure with referrals and re- referrals. Senior officers were conducting analysis of re-referrals to explore whether they were being made as a result of the same issues or new issues and what could be done to mitigate matters.


It was asked if the Council’s financial pressures was impacting getting children off the Child Protection register or compromising the quality of care received. Officers said that service managers reviewed cases thoroughly and challenge decisions where necessary. If a child was returned to CP a written report was sent to the director detailing why the child had been returned to a CP plan. Mangers are made aware and clear of risks,  and decisions were not made on the basis of finances.


Then Chair thanked officers for the response to questions


The Interim Director of Education presented the Education dashboard and it was noted that there had been instances of more permanent exclusions this month, all of which were being followed up. The Head of Virtual Schools was working closely to support the schools to find alternative pathways to permanent exclusions.


It was asked how the effectiveness and value for money provision for SEN pupils was determined. Officers said that annual reviews were conducted to determine effectiveness of provision. Reviews were conducted in conjunction with families. The Elective Home Education reviews were also conducted annually with assurance sought that the child, parents and LA were confident that this was the best situation for the child and for many this was a successful and positive arrangement. Reviews had been a challenge during lockdown and as a result there was a current backlog which the department was addressing as a priority through bringing in additional resource to manage the process.


It was further asked what actions followed where a child was being electively home educated and the provision was inadequate. Officers said that where the child was on an EHCP plan, the LA was able to intervene due to its statutory responsibility but in other instances, the LA had limited power due to parental choice and decision. A referral could be made through safeguarding route but there was limited quality assurance on outcome due to lack of LA role and responsibility.


It was commented that the percentage to Pupil Referral Unit schools at 100% that were outstanding provisions was an achievement that should be celebrated.


The Chair thanked officers for their responses to questions.


The Sub-Committee came to the following conclusions

1.    The Education dashboard was lacking information on SEN reviews and it was important that the dashboard  be inclusive  of all the children in Croydon that we serve

2.    The percentage of PRU that are rated by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding was an achievement to be celebrated. Additionally the overall high quality of both primary and secondary schools in the borough was commended.

3.    The steps that were being taken to address vacancy rates in Children’s Social care was encouraging.

4.    Commended the continued use of technology where it enables more efficient and effective service provision.


The Sub-Committee recommended that

1.    Future dashboards contain information that accurately reflects the landscape for SEN children and the Chair to reach an agreement with the Interim Director of Education of the level of information to be shared.

2.    Including data on 19-21 year old NEETs to enable comparison against national benchmarks


Supporting documents: