The Executive Director
of Children Families and Education introduced the item and the
following was highlighted:
Education Directorate and strong community of diverse schools who
work together very well and will be key going forward in response
post pandemic was commendable.
of social work practice due to introduction of the systemic model
of practice which was vital in improving the Ofsted judgement from
inadequate to good had made significant difference to the service
which was demonstrated through ongoing case audits.
still areas of weakness with increased vacancy rates in frontline
services and management which was being addressed through ongoing
work with HR department.
care team which was judged as requiring improvement remained an
area of priority.
the budget remained a challenge.
Ofsted visit would cause a lot of work and anxiety for staff and
would require a lot of resources.
Members had the
opportunity to ask questions.
Assurance was sought on
the governance of the delivery plan and it was asked what
Scrutiny’s role was in the process. Officers said that they
worked to ensure that the information provided was the same as
presented to others such as Cabinet and the Improvement Board in
order to maintain proportionality. The governance of performance
framework and management sat within existing frameworks with
savings projects for different areas of the service embedded in the
A Member further
challenged that the delivery plan which was good in terms of
overview sets out a number of issues, primarily the oversight of
the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee was not mentioned.
This would give an indication that there was no role for Scrutiny
and this was unacceptable given that the role of other committees
had been mentioned in the Plan.
Officers acknowledged the challenge and said that there was more
work to be done to finalise how Scrutiny and governance of the
overall plan would fit together. This was a live plan and some
details had changed since the report was written. The Executive
Director added that Scrutiny did indeed have a vital
It was asked what level
of engagement took place with children and families in formulating
the Plan as it was important that reports reflected the voice of
service users and that the Council was listening and engaging with
its residents. Officers said that children and families were
involved in putting together the key principles of the systemic
practice which had fed into the Delivery Plan.
A question was asked
what processes followed when a family or young person had criticism
of an aspect of the service. Officers said that as part of audit
processes, built conversations between children and carers were
recorded and evaluated as part of the quality assurance process.
The thematic learning enabled issues to be raised and dealt with
and as audits were conducted by managers, if serious problems were
highlighted, they were escalated through senior line management.
There was some ongoing thoughts and conversations taking place as
to how to involve corporate parenting into the process to sit
alongside work from the youth engagement team, outreach work and
the complaints process which all feed into the audit
In response to a
question of whether there was a reduction on finances for Children
in Need due to financial pressures of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking
Children (UASC). Officers said that there were controllable and
uncontrollable elements of finance for UASC. There was no control
in the numbers that presented to Croydon but the Council was able
to manage the efficiency of commissioning of placements and review
of care package for these children. The details presented in the
report was to distinguish between uncontrollable cost drivers not
controllable within the parameters of the Plan.
It was added that it
was clear that Croydon had been providing a good service for UASC
but this had resulted on additional pressures and the external
funding received from the DfE and Home office was not sufficient.
This however had not impacted on the quality of services for local
children and there was constant lobbying and negotiation taking
place to receive proportionate remuneration to support
The Chair thanked
officers for their engagement with the sub-committee.
Request for info
The Bright Sparks survey which
details the experiences of young people to be circulated
The Sub-Committee came to the
It was very concerning that the role of Scrutiny was
not included in the assurance process of the draft Children
Families and Education Improvement Plan 2021-24
It was disappointing that the Children’s
Improvement Board work programme had been developed without
consultation with the Sub-Committee or GPAC on its own work
programme in order to avoid duplication
The Plan was well written and robust but some of the
language used was ambiguous. It was important that officers be
mindful of the language used which could leant to unintended
The Sub-Committee recommended
The Draft Children, Families and Education Delivery
Plan 2021-24 be reviewed to ensure appropriate acknowledgement and
inclusion of Scrutiny in its governance and assurance
The Plan to be circulated to all
Councillors with a briefing note that
explains the challenges and for all other department to follow this
lead when writing the plan for their service