Officer: Robert Henderson
Key decision: no
The Leader took minute number 102/19 and minute number 103/19 together at the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learning introduced the report informing Members that the Improvement Board had been introduced in 2017 in response to the Ofsted findings and was attended by multi-agency partners. The Cabinet Member thanked the Chair of the Board, Eleanor Brazil, for her work in improving children’s services in Croydon.
Whilst the letter from Ofsted following a recent visit could not be published during the Pre-Election Period, the Cabinet Member summarised the findings which were that the inspectors were positive about improvements being made in the service and recognised the accelerated pace of improvement. Staff members were thanked for all their hard work in improving children’s services, and while improvements had been made the Cabinet Members stressed the council was not complacent and recognised that it was still on the improvement journey.
The Independent Chair of the Improvement Board, Eleanor Brazil, informed Members that she had been involved with Croydon’s improvement journey for over two years and during that time she had witnessed an enormous amount of hard work across the council and its partners to improve children’s services. Whilst the Ofsted focus was on children’s social care it was stated that fixing the service was a whole service solution with the council, social workers, partners, families and the community working together.
The Board had sought to ensure that partners were aware of the importance of their work and themed discussions which had been important to focus the discussions. By starting on getting the basics right the Board had then been able to move to looking at quality and hearing from service heads about how their service was performing and improvements which had been made. The focus was ensuring the right systems were in place which, the Independent Chair stated, would hopefully lead to her role no longer being required after the next Ofsted inspection.
Ensuring services were the best they could be for the vulnerable young people of Croydon remained the focus of all improvements. The Leader thanked the Chair and all those involved in driving improvements in children’s services and confirmed that the letter outlining Ofsted’s findings from the latest visit would be published following the General Election. It was further noted that the important joint working and partnerships would support further improvements and was commended.
Members who had sat on the Improvement Board, stated that they had seen the direction of travel change and that an important cultural change had taken place in the department following the appointments of the Executive Director of Children, Families & Education and the Director of Early Help and Children’s Social Care. It was further recognised that hearing from staff reference groups and schools had supported the work of the Improvement Board and that it was hoped that these voices would continue to be heard.
The Chair of Scrutiny & Overview Committee confirmed that children’s improvement and safeguarding had been two important issues for scrutiny over the previous two years and thanked officers and the Boards for fully engaging with the scrutiny process. It was recognised that there was a drive to ensure detail and quality and scrutiny had developed a greater understanding of its role and expectation which had enabled more effective scrutiny of the service. The Chair of Children & Young People Scrutiny Sub-Committee confirmed that the role of scrutiny had improved and further improvements and scrutiny would take place. Whilst it was recognised the service had improved there was a strong feeling of no complacency. In response, the Leader thanked scrutiny for its work on continuing to challenge the service and improvements being made.
The Leader of the Council delegated authority to the Cabinet to make the following decisions:
RESOLVED: To note the work of the Improvement Board in helping drive improvements in children’s services.