Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Services Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 4th March, 2020 10.30 am

Venue: County Hall, Chichester

Contact: Natalie Jones-Punch on 033 022 25098  Email:


No. Item


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.

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63.1   No interests were declared.


Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee pdf icon PDF 154 KB

The Committee is asked to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 9 January 2020 (cream paper).

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64.1   Resolved – that the minutes of the meeting held on 9 January 2020 be approved as a correct record and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Responses to Recommendations pdf icon PDF 117 KB

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.

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65.1   The Committee considered a response to the recommendation made at the 4 December 2019 meeting from Nigel Jupp, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills. The Committee heard the following:


·       Following agreement at County Council to allocate £20m to the Woodlands Meed project over the next 4 years, £500k would be invested to explore designs and options over the coming months.

·       The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills had met governors and the head about how the project would proceed.

·       Project Board meetings would be held at the college comprising the project team, governors, head, architects and consultants. These meetings would be chaired by Andrew Edwards, Director of Property and Assets.


65.2   The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills answered some questions raised at the Central and South Mid Sussex CLC held on 3 March:


1.   Why has the decision been pushed back to May? The Cabinet Member advised that as with all decisions, Woodlands Meed was subject to an approved business case which would be worked up over the coming months. There were democratic processes to be adhered to.

2.   Can there be a milestone plan or timeline to measure progress? Regular updates would be provided to CYPSSC and the relevant CLC and further detail would emerge over the coming months.

3.   Plans should think of the future and the 100 pupil capacity should be reviewed. The Director of Education and Skills advised SEND strategy which had just been published considered the needs of the authority now and into the future. There was a broader range of provision for post-16 children and this should be made better use of. 100 pupil places was sufficient.

4.   A critical path analysis was required. The Director of Property and Assets, who advised they were not yet in a position to publish a programme with some outstanding issues to be resolved.

5.   Can the scheduled date of opening be brought forward? 2023 remained the date for completion, the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills advised he hoped it could be delivered on time and on budget.

6.   What are the contingencies if Woodland Meed cannot progress? The ambition is to progress with option 1, alternatives will be considered if required. There were some difficulties with regards to access to the site, discussions were ongoing with third parties to try and resolve this.

7.   Wil the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills attend the next Central and South Mid Sussex CLC on 15 June 2020? The Cabinet Member confirmed he would attend the CLC on 15 June 2020.


65.3   Resolved – that the Committee recommends the Director of Property and Assets apply for consent to Sport England and that the Committee receive a copy of this letter.


Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Extract fromthe ForwardPlan dated 19 February 2020 – 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:


66.1   The Committee considered a tabled paper which was a new version of the Forward Plan dated 2 March 2020 (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.


67.2   Resolved that the Committee notes the Forward Plan.


Children First Improvement Update pdf icon PDF 273 KB

Report by Executive Director of Children, Young People and Learning.


The report updates the Committee on developments in the Children First programme since its last update in January.



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67.2   The Committee considered a report by the Executive Director of Children, Young People and Learning. The report was introduced by Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People who provided an update on the happenings in the service and the upcoming work of the Corporate Parenting Panel. Lindsey Hannant, Head of Resourcing Organisational Development and Talent, gave the following update on the workforce:


·       There had been a spike in leavers in February 2020 including agency staff leading to an increase in the uncovered vacancy gap (which doesn’t take into account absences from those on career break, long-term sickness or maternity leave).

·       The service were receiving fewer applications, those that were received were significantly lower from the UK and more from overseas based social workers.

·       Human Resources (HR) were taking action to ensure the uncovered vacancy gap didn’t continue to increase, hoping it would stabilise at around 4 or 5%.

·       Exit interviews were offered to all social workers, between July 2019 and February 2020, of those offered, 16 accepted the interview.

·       The exit interviews identified three main reasons for leaving:

Ø  Dissatisfaction with the job, including workloads, environment, processes and challenge and support.

Ø  Personal reasons

Ø  Location/geography.

·       The service and HR have been working collaboratively to address the dissatisfaction element of leavers through looking at embedding better practice with personal supervision. January 2020 data identified that 94% of the workforce had personal supervision.


67.3   Lisa Reid, Senior Improvement Lead, gave an update on the Quality Assurance (QA) Framework. The Committee heard the following:


·       The QA Framework was currently being finalised to ensure robust social work practice.

·       A range of methods to gather qualitative and quantitative data had been used. Review audits would be undertaken to identify learning and areas which need further consideration through thematic auditing.

·       The service were seeking to update the Framework through a ‘back to practice’ model, which would give senior members and officers the opportunity to experience and reflect upon casework practice, feeding back into the learning and reviews.

·       Child Protection Advisors (CPAs) and Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) support and oversee plans to ensure that operational arrangements were robust, arrangements for CLA were suitable, and escalated where necessary.

·       Sophie Carter, Principal Manager for Safeguarding, advised that a practice week was scheduled for the end of March. Practice week focussed on the experience and journey of children in West Sussex. It was an opportunity to undertake collaborative audits, observe case meetings, Personal Education Plans (PEPs) and look at a cross-section of social work tasks.

·       Jenny Brennan, Child Protection Advisor, advised that Child Protection conferences were an opportunity to scrutinise the quality of social work practice, and advisors were responsible for maintaining the quality of outcomes.


67.4   The Chairman welcomed questions from the Committee on the workforce and QA Framework. A summary of the main points from discussion were as follows:


·       Members considered the stress and pressure on staff and the knock-on implications. The Head of Resourcing advised there were ongoing discussions about ways to improve  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.


West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report pdf icon PDF 260 KB

Report by the Independent Chair of the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board.


The Committee is asked to consider the report, and to comment on whether any further scrutiny is required.

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68.1   The Committee considered a report by the Independent Chair of the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board. The report was introduced by Lesley Walker, Independent Chair, who highlighted the following:


·       The report spanned the period April 2018 to June 2019 as the last as a Board, and the first full year with Lesley Walker as the Chair. A new Partnership arrangement was established following this period and this replaced the Board.

·       A key achievement of this reporting period included neglect work following the Ofsted report of February 2019. A neglect working group was established chaired by Lesley Walker involving different agencies which developed a robust action plan. This included listening to children with protection plans, a measured impact framework and deep dive conversations with practitioners and children.

·       A further achievement included the development of the new statutory local safeguarding children partnership arrangements which comprised three lead partners: Sussex Police, Health (Clinical Commissioning Groups) and the Local Authority.


68.2   The Chairman welcomed questions from the Committee. A summary of the main discussion points were as follows:


·       Members requested clarity on the tangible differences between the board and newly established partnership. The Independent Chair advised she now took on the role of scrutineer for the partnership, there was a new structure and the focus now aligned with local need. The previous board was more prescriptive however now there was the opportunity to think about and respond to local need.

·       The Leader of WSCC advised the previous board was too larger group to give valuable direction. Now with three statutory partners, it was an equal partnership with shared responsibility.

·       Members asked if the partnership included work with the community, including voluntary groups and BAME communities. The Independent Chair advised the partnership was aware of new and emerging threats of abuse and that issues were filtered through district and borough councils. The independent Chair agreed communities were the best eyes and ears, that partners were working with an exploitation sub-group which had community and voluntary sector representation. District and boroughs, agencies and organisations were also asked what action they were taking and where evidence was weak, were questioned and asked to provide action plans. There is greater clarity now for what local authorities need to report and what the impact was.

·       The Committee considered the role of schools and identified them as a key engager with children and asked how the partnership ensured they could do this work? The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People advised the Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) had felt unsupported and that this had been raised with the service. The Early Help offer would strengthen work with schools with more link workers, and there was a dedicated phoneline from schools to the MASH. The Independent Chair advised she was visiting the DSL school network to measure engagement. There was still work to do to embed both the roles of education providers and local authorities.

·       The Committee asked how the public were informed of the partnership and its work. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.


Business Planning Group Report pdf icon PDF 121 KB

The report informs the Committee of the Business Planning Group meeting held on 21 February 2020, 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).

Additional documents:


69.1   The Committee considered a report by the Chairman of the Business Planning Group. The following point was raised:


·       Members requested that when Early Help proposals were in place that a session take place on this. The Cabinet Member advised she was considering the best model for this to happen, but that members would be involved and sighted on the proposals.


69.2   The Chairman advised members that a one off TFG would be established to consider the Education and Skills Annual Report and requested volunteers to sit on this.


69.3   Resolved – that the Education and Skills Annual Report TFG would comprise: Kirsty Lord, Karen Sudan, Stephen Hillier and Hilary Flynn as Chairman.




Possible Items for Future Scrutiny

Members to mention any items which they believe to be of relevance to the business of the Scrutiny 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.

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70.1   The following subject was put forward for consideration by the Committee’s Business Planning Group:


·       IT in Children’s Social Care.

·       Appropriateness of placements for SEND children.


70.2   Resolved – that that Committee notes the report.


Requests for Call-In pdf icon PDF 106 KB

The Committee is asked to note the reasons for the rejection of the decision call-in request made in January 2020 relating to the reorganisation of rural and small schools in West Sussex.


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71.1   Resolved – that that Committee notes the reasons for the rejection of the decision call-in request made in January 2020 relating to the reorganisation of rural and small schools in West Sussex.


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 7 April 2020 at 14.00 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 26 March 2020.


Additional documents:


72.1   The next meeting of the Committee would be held on 7 April 2020, at County Hall, Chichester.