Venue: County Hall, Chichester
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Declarations of Interests
Members and officers must declare any pecuniary or personalinterest in any business on the agenda. They should also make declarations at any stage such an interest becomes apparent during the meeting. Consideration should be given to leaving the meeting if the nature of the interest warrants it. If in doubt please contact Democratic Services before the meeting.
52.1 In accordance with the code of conduct, Mr Lea declared a personal interest in item 5 (Forward Plan of Key Decisions), item 6 (School Funding) as a member of Mid Sussex District Council.
The Committee is asked to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 4 December 2019 (cream paper).
53.1 The following amendments to the minutes of the meeting held on 4 December 2019 were agreed: -
· Page 9, bullet point two to read “Members familiar to the site agreed the fabric of the buildings and facilities were poor and totally unfit for purpose.”
· Section 49.5, a sixth recommendation to be added - “Requests that the Business Planning Group consider, for each meeting of this committee, bringing forth an update on Woodland’s Meed to that committee meeting.”
The Committee is asked to note the responses to recommendations made at the 4 December 2019 meeting from the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills – to follow.
54.1 The Committee considered responses to recommendations made at its last meeting from Mr Jupp, Cabinet Member for Education & Skills, who told the Committee: -
· Progress was being made on proposals for the Woodlands Meed College site with a discussion on this to be had by Cabinet at its meeting in public on 28 January
· Only option 1 would be considered as it states in the Special Educational Needs & Disabilities Strategy that due to inclusive policies Woodlands Meed College should only accommodate 100 students – copies of the Strategy would be made available to committee members
· The independent specialist survey had already been initiated with consultants appointed and inspections beginning shortly – the Cabinet Member would be in attendance for the first inspection
· The Cabinet Member was confident that money would be available to bridge any funding gap
· Discussions with relevant parties would take place to solve the issues with access to the site
54.2 Summary of responses to committee members comments and questions: -
· The report on proposals for Woodlands Meed College that was to be discussed at the Cabinet meeting on 28 January would be made publicly available
· The positive work that was happening would be in line with the view of the Committee
· The issue of access would be resolved, but it was confirmed that no planning application had yet been submitted
· The inspection report was expected before the 28 January – the Cabinet Member would consider this so that a decision or the direction of travel could be decided at the Cabinet meeting on 28 January
54.3 Resolved – that the Committee notes the response by the Cabinet Member for Education & Skills.
Extract fromthe ForwardPlan dated 27 December 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.
55.1 The Committee considered the Forward Plan of Key Decisions.
55.2 Resolved – that the Committee requests a special meeting be arranged with the Performance & Finance Scrutiny Committee to discuss the proposed decision on the Adoption of the West Sussex Children First Strategic Approach.
Report by the Director of Law and Assurance.
The Committee are asked to consider and discuss the recommendations of the TFG and agree a response to the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, prior to decision by Cabinet.
56.1 The Committee considered a report by the Chairman of the Small Schools Task & Finish Group (copy appended to the signed minutes) which was introduced by the Chairman, Ms Flynn, who told the Committee: -
· The Task & Finish Group had been concerned that data was challenged by the schools as being incorrect and the short timescale for Members to consider the information
· The Group had been helped by feedback from public meetings and additional information
56.2 The Committee felt the recommendations should be future facing and not a replacement for the scrutiny that did not take place on 4 September 2019
56.3 The Cabinet Member for Education & Skills told the Committee that he accepted the recommendations of the Task & Finish Group and that there were no plans to carry out a similar exercise on any other schools in the immediate future.
56.4 Resolved – that the Committee endorses the report of the Small Schools Task & Finish Group.
Report by the Director of Law and Assurance.
The Committee is asked to consider the draft Cabinet decision report and provide comment to the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills prior to the formal decision being taken.
57.1 The Committee considered a report by the Director for Education & Skills (copy appended to the signed minutes) which was introduced firstly by Mr Jupp, Cabinet Member for Education & Skills who told the Committee that he recognised the important input by school governors and the informative public consultation meetings. He added that the Cabinet would consider the proposals on 14 January and make a collective decision on the proposals.
57.2 Paul Wagstaff, Director of Education & Skills told the Committee: -
· The smallest schools benefitted least from Government funding, which was low for all West Sussex schools
· Schools whose viability was at risk had been identified and offered four options, apart from Rumboldswhyke, which could only be offered two options due to its OFSTED judgement of inadequate
· Consideration had been given to feedback from public meetings, the consultation, stakeholders, the diocese and the Task & Finish Group – it had then been analysed and checked by another authority
· If the proposals were supported by the Cabinet, further consultation would take place in February on the three schools that could face closure
57.2 Mrs Urquhart, Member for Angmering & Findon spoke about Clapham & Patching Church of England Primary School:
· Clapham & Patching School had struggled with pupil numbers for some years and although it had around 50 pupils, many came from outside the area - restrictions on development in the South Downs National Park made it hard to increase numbers locally
· A new school planned for Angmering would put more strain on places at Clapham & Patching
· The school, which was rated as ‘Good’ by OFSTED, accepted change was needed, but would like consultation on the possibility of becoming an academy considered as well as closure
· Any consultation on becoming an academy would need to be completed before the end of the academic year so that parents were not put off applying for places at the school or lower pupil numbers would increase the likelihood of the school closing
· Discussions were taking place with a multi-academy trust – due diligence was expected to be completed by the end of January with feasibility established by mid-March. If this showed academisation was the best option for the school, this could be agreed before the decision to close the school had to be made, whereas any extra delay could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of closure
· Any request for academisation had to be agreed by the Regional Schools Commissioner – the Council could not make that decision
· Any decision made at Cabinet on 14 January would have to clear the call-in period before taking effect, by which time it was hoped due diligence would be completed
· Six weeks was the statutory length of time for consultations
· The Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) Strategy will enhance provision for children with special needs by providing more special support centres (SSCs), including at St Margaret’s School in Angmering
· The Council would work ... view the full minutes text for item 57.
Report by the Director of Law and Assurance.
The Committee is asked to consider the draft decision report and provide comment to the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills prior to the formal decision being taken.
58.1 The Committee received a report by the Director of Education and Skills (copy appended to the signed minutes).
58.2 Resolved – that the Committee: -
i. Agrees the proposals in relation to the local funding formula for mainstream schools as set out in the report
ii. Agrees to funding any transfer to the High Needs block, if approved by the Secretary of State for Education, by not increasing the basic entitlement unit value and the Minimum per Pupil Funding Level rates to the full National Funding Formula rates
Report by the Executive Director of Children, Young People and Learning.
The report updates the Committee on developments in the Children First Programme since its last meeting in December.
59.1 The Committee considered a report by the Executive Director of Children, Young People and Learning (copy appended to the signed minutes) which was introduced by Mrs Russell, Cabinet Member for Children & Young People who told the Committee: -
· The letter from OFSTED reporting on its monitoring visit to the Council was in line with the Council’s self-assessment. It noted tentative improvements in social work with children and the expanded senior leadership team’s progressing of plans for children in need whilst acknowledging areas of weakness remain
· The Cabinet Member thanked the staff of schools she had visited in the north of the county where she had learnt about relationships between the schools and social workers
59.2 Garath Symonds, Senior Improvement Lead, highlighted the following from the report: -
· The monitoring visit reported a clear vision and workforce stability with fewer social worker changes and caseloads more manageable
· Key areas of development included oversight and quality of social work specific to the designated officer function
· There were concerns over private fostering
· Service improvements included recruiting a permanent director for children, young people and learning, the number of leavers reducing and permanency planning
59.3 Jackie Wood, Assistant Director - Corporate Parenting, told the Committee: -
· Permanency was planning for children when they entered the care system regardless of their length of stay and supported them into early adulthood
· The Council was part of the regional adoption agency which had a large pool of adopters
· Permanency could be permanent fostering, adoption, living with family or friends or special guardianship
· The number of West Sussex children being placed with family was increasing with special guardianship parents getting the same services as adopters
59.4 Sarah Foster, Service Lead Fostering and Adoption, Jill Seeney, Advanced Practitioner (Fostering) and Melissa Paton, Adoption Practice manager, talked through a presentation (copy appended to the signed minutes) and showed two videos available online at https://youtu.be/CCobHATEEDY and https://youtu.be/8hHsy1b9kFo.
59.5 The Committee heard from an adopter who said: -
· 10 years ago transitions were set for 2.5 weeks and were well planned and structured, but there was no opportunity to meet the child before adoption
· Phone calls were allowed with the child’s foster family
· More recently when adopting a second child there had been a ten day transition and the adopter had met the foster family
· Now adopters can glimpse children before they go to the adoption panel and have play days with them so they get to know each other
· Contact is kept with the foster family for the children’s sake
59.6 Summary of responses to Members questions and comments: -
· Adopted children were placed in 38 households in West Sussex
· There was a pool of 300 adopters across the four authorities in the regional adoption agency, but there were still more children in need of adoption than adopters
· The wishes of the children were taken into account when considering adoption placements
· 17 children were known to be in private fostering arrangements
· The home moves experienced by children in care ... view the full minutes text for item 59.
The report informs the Committee of the Business Planning Group meeting held on 25 November 2019, setting out the key issues discussed.
The Committee is asked to endorse the contents of this report, and particularly the Committee’s Work Programme revised to reflect the Business Planning Group’s discussions (attached at Appendix A).
60.1 The Committee received a report by the Chairman of the Business Planning Group (copy appended to the signed minutes).
60.2 Resolved – that the Committee notes the report.
Possible Items for Future Scrutiny
Members to mention any items which they believe to be of relevance to the business of the Select Committee, and suitable for scrutiny, e.g. raised with them by constituents arising from central government initiatives etc.
If any member puts forward such an item, the Committee’s role at this meeting is just to assess, briefly, whether to refer the matter to its Business Planning Group (BPG) to consider in detail.
61.1 The following subjects were put forward for consideration by the Committee’s Business Planning group: -
· Home Education
· Services for children excluded from school
· Special guardianship children
· Recruitment and retention of school governors
· Retention of Children’s Services staff
· The allocation and funding of special educational needs and disabilities provision in early years settings
Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 4 March 2020 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 21 February 2020.
62.1 The next meeting will be held on 4 March.