Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Services Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019 10.30 am

Venue: County Hall, Chichester

Contact: Natalie Jones-Punch on 033 022 25098  Email:  natalie.jones-punch@westsussex.gov.uk

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

36.

Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee pdf icon PDF 183 KB

The Committee is asked to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 11 September 2019 (cream paper).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

36.1   Members requested that under minute 29.6 it be added that a vote took place by the Committee as to whether to hold the Small Schools Task and Finish Group or not.

 

36.2   Members requested that further clarification be provided in minute 31.2 regarding if Woodlands Meed was still due to open in 2021.

 

36.3   Resolved – that subject to the above amendments being made, that the minutes of the last meeting held on 11 September 2019 be approved as a correct record and that they be signed by the Chairman.

37.

Responses to Recommendations pdf icon PDF 121 KB

The Committee is asked to note the response to the recommendation made at the 11 September 2019 meeting from the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

37.1   The Chairman drew members attention to the response from the previous Cabinet Member for Education and Skills. He noted his intention for the Committee to undertake more proactive scrutiny and the role for the Business Planning Group (BPG) to play in this respect. Mrs Flynn requested that she join the BPG if there was a vacancy.

 

37.2   Resolved –

     i.        That the Committee note the response

    ii.        That Mrs Flynn be appointed to fill the vacancy on the BPG.

38.

Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 313 KB

Extract fromthe ForwardPlan dated 8 October 2019 – attached.

 

Anextract fromanyForwardPlan publishedbetween the date of despatchof the agenda and the date of the meetingwill be tabled at the meeting.

 

The Committee is asked to consider whetheritwishes to enquireinto any of the forthcoming decisions withinits portfolio.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

38.1   The Committee considered a tabled paper which was a new version

of the Forward Plan dated 22 October 2019 (copy appended to the signed

minutes). This version of the Forward Plan was not included in the

Committee papers as it had been published following the statutory

despatch of the agenda.

 

38.2   Members considered if the decision on the allocation of funding for project delivery at Woodlands Meed should be scrutinised by the Committee in consultation with members of the Mid Sussex County Local Committee (CLC). The Chairman sought the views of the Committee and there was support for a special meeting to be organised before the December Committee meeting and the decision being taken.

 

38.3   Members of the Committee requested that the in-house residential care strategy be revisited during implementation.

 

38.4   Resolved – that the Committee:

     i.        Ask Democratic Services to organise an additional meeting in November to scrutinise the Woodlands Meed decision.

    ii.        Ask the BPG to consider an item on the implementation of the in-house residential care strategy return to the Committee at the appropriate time.

  iii.        Notes the Forward Plan.

39.

Children First Improvement Update pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Report by the Director of Children’s Services.

 

The report updates the Committee on developments in the Children First Programmes since its last meeting in September.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

39.1   The Committee considered a report by the Director of Children’s Services. The newly appointed Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Jacquie Russell, introduced herself as the lead member for the portfolio however the Leader, Paul Marshall, would retain the statutory responsibility for the area for the current time.

 

39.2   The Director of Children’s Services introduced some of the new leadership team who each outlined their areas of responsibility as follows:

 

Ø  Sally Allen – Deputy Director – Frontline teams including the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and social work teams.

Ø  Jackie Wood – Assistant Director Corporate Parenting – fostering and adoption, residential care and placements and Children Looked After (CLA).

Ø  Ann Marie Dodds – Assistant Director Early Help – Early Help Hubs, young carers, Voice and Participation, Pause and Care Leavers.

 

39.3   The Director of Children’s Services advised the Commissioner’s report was expected at the end of October and a review would be published once the Secretary of State had made a decision for future service delivery. The following update was provided on workforce and caseloads:

 

·       The workforce had stabilised and staff were committed.

·       The vacancy gap was now under 2%.

·       Caseloads were reducing enabling better quality practice.

·       Benchmarking data was being gathered.

 

39.4   The Committee considered the following points in discussion:

 

·       Members considered what recruitment processes were in place to reduce the reliance on agency staff. The Deputy Director advised the service were working with the communications and IT teams to create a more savvy approach to recruitment. A change in imagery had resulted in more hits on the website and social media was enabling the campaign to reach out further than West Sussex.

·       Members asked if there were specific teams with a vacancy gap bigger than 1.8%. The Deputy Director advised some areas were more challenging to recruit to, such as Assessment and Intervention and therefore these teams consequently had higher caseloads, but that these were coming down. The Deputy Director advised part of that solution to bring these down was the use of agency staff.

·       The Committee noted the requirement for children engaged with the service to experience consistency and considered the stability of agency workers within that context. The Deputy Director advised it was critical there was consistency for children and families, but noted the challenge of keeping agency staff in frontline teams such as the MASH. She advised this was improving however, and that in some cases agency staff had either become permanent, or left and then returned to WSCC on a permanent basis.

·       The Committee asked about the numbers of unallocated cases and those held by managers. The Deputy Director advised scrutiny of daily lists of unallocated and manager allocated cases was undertaken and responses sought from service leads around those. The Deputy Director further explained these cases tended to be in transition, and there was a clear line that there was to be no unallocated cases and a zero tolerance for managers holding cases. The Director of Children’s Services advised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

School Funding pdf icon PDF 170 KB

Report by the Director of Education and Skills.

 

The report provides initial information relating to the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) budget for 2020/21.

 

The Committee is asked to consider the information as set out in the report and consider the implications of the National Funding Formulae on the local funding formula for mainstream schools as well as the impact of funding on spending pressures for schools and on high needs expenditure and make comment to the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

40.1   The Committee considered a report by the Executive Director People Services and Director of Education and Skills. The newly appointed Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Nigel Jupp, introduced himself and advised that he looked forward to working in partnership with the Committee. The School Funding report was introduced by Andy Thorne, Strategic Finance Business Partner, who took the Committee through a presentation (copy appended to the signed minutes). The following key points were highlighted:

 

  • Nationally, school funding is set to rise by £2.6bn in 2020/21 which includes £700m for high needs and £66m for early years.
  • According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, spending per pupil has fallen by 8% over the last ten years. The recent three-year funding announcement represents a 7.4% increase in spending per pupil, which means in real terms per pupil spending levels in 2022/23 will be at about the same level as 2009/10.
  • Minimum per pupil funding levels are set to rise from £3,500 to £3,750 for Primary pupils, and from £4,800 to £5,000 for Secondary pupils in 2020/21. The primary rate will increase further to £4,000 per pupil in 2021/22.
  • For the first time since the National Funding Formula (NFF) was introduced in 2018/19, West Sussex will receive its full allocation next year as the government has removed the funding cap.
  • Excluding pupil growth, which will be announced in December, West Sussex will receive an increase of £24.5m on its Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) schools block next year. However despite this increase the county’s unit of funding rates still remain in the bottom 10 in the country.
  • 80, mostly secondary and larger primary, schools in the county will benefit from the uplift in the per pupil funding rates, however very few primary schools with less than 250 pupils will attract any of this additional funding.
  • Schools have yet to move to the ‘hard’ NFF when they will receive their budget allocations directly from the Department for Education. In the meantime, local authorities will still have some discretion over their local schools funding formula.
  • One area of the local formula which needs to be consulted on is the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG), which can be set at a rate of between 0.5% and 1.84%. This funding will help protect the smaller primary schools but will require a transfer of funds from the larger schools, who are gaining more through the formula changes, to support them.
  • The local authority is able to transfer up to 0.5% of their Schools block funding into other DSG blocks with the agreement of the Schools Forum. If there is a desire to transfer over the 0.5%, or Schools Forum do not agree to any proposed transfer up to 0.5%, West Sussex are able to make a disapplication request to the Secretary of State.
  • For the DSG high needs block, West Sussex will receive an increase of £7.5m (9.34%) in 2020/21. This additional funding will cover existing funding pressures, however, a request to transfer funds from the DSG schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Reduction in the Post-16 Support Service pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Report by the Executive Director People Services and the Director of Education and Skills.

 

The County Council has been identifying potential savings options to assist in closing the budget gap following reductions in government grant.  In this respect an assessment has been carried out on the impact of reducing the level of support of, or completely withdrawing from, provision of the Post-16 Support service.

 

The Children and Young People’s Services Select Committee is asked to consider the attached draft Cabinet Member decision report and provide comment to the Cabinet Member for Education and Skillsprior to the formal decision being taken later in November 2019.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

41.1   The Committee considered a report by the Executive Director People Services and Director of Education and Skills. The report was introduced by the Director of Education and Skills, Paul Wagstaff, who provided the following information to the Committee:

 

·       Local authorities have a statutory duty to track the destinations of 16 to 18-year-olds. WSCC currently go beyond this through one-to-one support, careers guidance and intervention for those not in education, employment or training (NEET).

·       WSCC has been identifying potential savings options following reductions in government grants. Post-16 support has been identified as a possible area for saving through reducing the level of support provided.

·       Two options have been identified; option 1 suggests reducing the level of support provided by the post-16 team by 50% from April 2021. Option 2 suggests complete withdrawal from the provision of post-16 support from April 2021.

 

41.2   The Committee considered the following points in discussion:

 

·       Members asked how the service tracked young people. The Head of Post-16 and Compliance, Danny Pell, advised that school data was provided to the county council which was followed up with the destinations to confirm if the young person had indeed transitioned to their further education, employment or training. The Head of Post-16 and Compliance advised there was a challenge for all local authorities in tracking those that don’t want to engage post school. Phone calls, email, social media and meetings were undertaken in order to re-engage and locate provision that meets their needs.

·       The Committee asked if either option would result in staff redundancies. The Director of Education and Skills advised the service was currently part funded by a European Social Investment Fund (ESIF). When the ESIF ends, some of the team who were employed on fixed term contracts would leave, and this would be the case regardless of any savings.

·       If the service was removed completely, the full team would be made redundant. If the 50% option was chosen, half the staffing budget would remain, staff would be consulted on what the future team would look like.

·       Members of the Committee asked if the service had the data on the proportional percentage of Children Looked After, Care Leavers and SEND who were NEET, and cautioned against the removal of the service from this vulnerable cohort. The Head of Post-16 and Compliance advised this data was available and tracked, and that grant funding had enabled a high level of support in these areas. To remove the service entirely would have a drastic impact on the most vulnerable.

·       The Chairman suggested at this point that option 2 (to completely withdraw from the provision of post-16 support) be removed from the proposal, the Committee agreed.

·       Members of the Committee further considered the potential consequences of option 1, and felt that even to reduce the service by half was not a sensible proposal in view of the local authority’s duty to look after the most vulnerable 16 to 18-year-olds.

·       The Committee asked how effective telephone and web-based interventions were and if there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Creation of Additional Special Support Centres pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Report by the Director of Education and Skills.

 

At a meeting of the Cabinet on 11 July 2019, a proposal to progress the expansion of specialist support centres (SSCs) for children with SEND (Phases 2 and 3), was supported to be progressed as part of the 2020/21 budget options.  This budget option also included the proposal to bring forward phase 3 to the same timescales as phase 2 i.e. all the SSCs would look to be built by September 2020.

 

The Committee is asked to consider the attached draft Cabinet Member decision reports and provide comment to the Cabinet Member Education and Skillsprior the formal decisions being taken later in November.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

42.1   The Committee considered a report by the Director of Education Skills. The report was introduced by Paul Wagstaff, Director of Education and Skills, who advised the purpose was to increase provision within the county for those with SEND to enable them to be educated locally in Special Support Centres (SSCs) attached to mainstream schools. The first tranche was currently in development with a proposal to undertake phases 2 and 3 at the same time.

 

42.2   A summary of members questions and their responses were as follows:

 

·       Members of the Committee asked if SSCs were Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) in the context of children with social, emotional or mental health (SEMH) needs. The Director of Education and Skills advised SSCs weren’t PRUs and that they were attached to or within the school.

·       The Committee asked if access to SSCs were permanent or short-term. The Director of Education and Skills advised it was being piloted currently but that it would likely be mixed with some time spent in an SSC and the rest in school, or if a child had an EHCP it could be a more permanent arrangement.

·       The Committee considered that 84 places seemed low for a county the size of West Sussex. The Director of Education and Skills advised there were already 32 SSCs around the county and these were additional spaces. This was the beginning of a 5 year SEND and Inclusion Strategy and that it was likely SSCs would be expanded further in the future.

 

42.3   Resolved – that the Committee:

 

1.   Endorses the recommendation to support the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills to approve the second phase of the project for opening additional SSCs places attached to schools for opening in September 2020 and bring forward from 2021 to 2020 phase 3 of the SSC investment programme.

 

43.

Requests for Call-In

The Children and Young People’s Services Business Planning Group (BPG) received a request to call-in the proposed decision by the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills concerning theSmall Schools Assessment (ES02 (19/20)– decision published on 25 September 2019. The BPG declined the request.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

43.1   The BPG received a request to call-in the proposed decision by the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills concerning the Small Schools Assessment (ES02 (19/20)) – decision published on 25 September 2019. The BPG declined the request.

44.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 4 December 2019 at 10.30 am at County Hall, Chichester. 

 

Any member wishing to place an item on the agenda for the meeting must notify the Director of Law and Assurance by 22 November 2019.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

44.1   The Committee noted that the next scheduled meeting will be held on 4 December 2019 at 10.30am at County Hall, Chichester.