Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Services Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 10th March, 2021 11.30 am

Venue: Virtual meeting with restricted public access

Contact: Ann Little on 033 022 22654  Email:  ann.little@westsussex.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

48.

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

48.1     No declarations of interest were declared.

49.

Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee pdf icon PDF 166 KB

The Committee is asked to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 7 January 2021 (cream paper).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

49.1     Resolved – that the minutes of the meeting held on 7 January 2021 be approved as a correct record and that they be signed by the Chairman.

50.

Urgent Matters

Items not on the agenda which the Chairman of the meeting is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency by reason of special circumstances, including cases where the Committee needs to be informed of budgetary or performance issues affecting matters within its terms of reference, which have emerged since the publication of the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

50.1     No urgent matters were raised.

 

50.2     The Chairman invited the Director of Education and Skills to give a brief update on the full reopening of schools which had commenced on 8 March 2021.  The Director reported that return numbers were above national and regional averages and that no issues had been raised by schools. 

 

50.3     The Director also reported that work was progressing with schools to provide food vouchers to all eligible children over the Easter Holidays.    Easter activities were also being planned for disadvantaged children.  Funding for mental health first aid training in schools was available, particularly to help to support children as they return to school. 

 

50.4     The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Cllr Nigel Jupp, reported that schools had appreciated the 2-week notice period given by the Government to prepare for the return to school and congratulated officers on the work being done on the Easter meals vouchers scheme.

51.

Responses to Recommendations pdf icon PDF 97 KB

The Committee is asked to note the responses to recommendations made at the 7 January 2021 meeting from the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People on

 

a)   Children First Improvement

b)   Early Help Redesign;

c)   National House Project. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

51.1     The Committee welcomed the responses to the recommendations made by the meeting on 7 January 2021 and the information they contained.

 

51.2     The Committee highlighted the importance of reaching young people to gain their feedback as part of the Early Help Redesign consultation.  Members of the Committee had received the communication plan for the consultation and were asked to let officers know if there were other stakeholders who could be added to the list.

52.

Inclusion in West Sussex pdf icon PDF 697 KB

Report by Director of Education and Skills.

 

The purpose of this agenda item is for the Committee to scrutinise the County Council’s approach to inclusion.   

 

The Committee is invited to explore what is working well, how objectives are being met and identify areas for improvement or focus.  Key areas for Committee discussion include:

 

·       The performance of the SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2019-2024 against its action plan;

·       The proposed plans for Alternative Provision for Children and Young People in West Sussex; 

·       Schools approach exclusion and how the voice of the child is heard. 

 

The meeting will take a 40 minute break.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

52.1     The Committee considered a report by the Director of Education and Skills setting out the County Council’s approach to inclusion.

 

52.2     The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Cllr Nigel Jupp, introduced the item reminding the Committee that the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Inclusion Strategy 2019-24 was now 18 months into its five-year term, and asked the Committee to look at how implementation was proceeding.

 

52.3     The Director of Education and Skills introduced the report which highlighted the key focus of the SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2019-24 and the aim to identify children’s needs early and to focus on pathways to overcome issues of transition.  The Director thanked all schools and officers who had been able to pursue the longer-term priorities of the Strategy despite the pandemic.  The Chairman and Committee Members endorsed these thanks.

 

52.4     The Director reported that there had been a national increase in the number of children being identified as needing support and that those children had increasingly complex needs.  The number of children being supported had also risen due to the extension of support of young people with Special Educational Needs Statements from 19 years to 25 years.  However, the Government had not provided any additional funding to cover those added years.

 

52.5     The Committee heard that officers had worked with schools to produce the guidance they wanted and would find helpful.  The approach focussed on improving mainstream processes and ensuring the right specialist support was in place.

 

52.6     The Committee heard from Mrs Val Evans, Chief Executive of the West Sussex Parent/Carer Forum, who highlighted the following:

 

·       Welcomed that the Forum had been involved from the beginning in the Co-production of the Strategy.

·       The Strategy was both robust and wide-reaching, and good progress was being made, particularly where teams were child centred. 

·       There could be wider marketing, for example in the launch of the Local Offer website and the co-production and promotion of the Easy Read version of the Strategy. 

·       There could also be more focus on providing tools and information to young people and families, especially on promoting the message and evidence around the importance of inclusion and how this is the best for most children with SEND.  

 

52.7     The Committee heard from Mr Mark Wignall, headteacher of Downlands Secondary School and a member of the SEND and Inclusion Strategy Board.  Mr Wignall highlighted the following:

 

·       Good Progress had been made on the Strategy 2019-24, especially in the context of the current pandemic. 

·       It was now time to focus on the impact and outcomes of the Strategy implementation on SEND learners and ensure there was focus on areas where less progress had been made. 

·       Highlighted the importance of Special Support Centres (SSCs) and asked if the current plans for those due to open in 2023 could be accelerated.

·       That the dashboard targets should be ambitious and benchmarked with national and regional statistics.

 

52.8     Members of the Committee then asked questions and a summary of those questions and answers follows:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Children First Improvement Update pdf icon PDF 138 KB

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

 

The report updates the Committee on the developments and progress made in the Children First Programme since its last update in January 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

53.1     The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Russell, introduced the item reporting that phase one of the improvement journey had been completed in 2020, phase two had started in January 2021 and that crucial plans would be implemented during the year.  The consultation for the Early Help Redesign had gone live and Members were asked to share the information as much as possible to enable members of the public and stakeholders to contribute.

 

53.2     The Children’s First Transformation Director introduced the report highlighting the following key areas:

 

·       Ofsted monitoring would continue, and the next focussed visit is programmed for 18/19 May 2021 looking at permanency for children looked after.  The next regular monitoring visit would likely be in the Autumn 2021.

·       The Children’s Commissioner had updated County Councillors on 22 February on the improvement progress.  The Commissioner would be monitoring progress against a set of criteria to provide a view and recommendation on whether the Children’s Trust was required.  The first formal review on progress would take place in July 2021.

·       The demand in referrals is expected to increase now schools have fully returned and numbers are being closely monitored.  Plans are being developed for social workers to return to face to face meetings.

·       Performance remained robust and the latest lockdown had seen little impact on staffing capacity.  Staffing statistics are regularly monitored and could be included in future updates.  All frontline staff had been offered Covid vaccinations.

·       A simplified management structure would go live in July 2021 along with the new social work offer.

 

2.28 pm Mrs Hill left the meeting.

 

53.3     Members of the Committee then asked questions and a summary of those questions and answers follows:

 

·       The major challenge in the next 12 months would be creating the right environment for social work to flourish and ensuring high quality support to children all the time from all workers whatever the issue.  Seeing progress would take time.

·       Working with families who were hard to reach, reluctant or who would not engage was a challenge.  There is statutory guidance for the local authority to decide when it is felt there is risk of significant harm.  If that threshold is not met parental consent is needed for any intervention but other work can be done with schools, agencies and support services.

·       Work on early identification included working with health visitors and partners and included pre-birth assessments.  The Family Safeguarding Model would target the 0-12 years.  Work was taking place on services for adolescents.

·       Work was progressing on the production of a Children and Young People Plan to improve the hearing of the voice of all young people and their families in the county.  Updates on progress would be given to the Committee.

·       The Committee were keen not to duplicate areas of feedback on the Improvement Journey, for example to County Council, and agreed to consider specific areas of the improvement work that they would wish to scrutinise at future meetings.  The Early Help Redesign consultation outcomes and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Work Programme Planning and Possible Items for Future Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 82 KB

The Committee is asked to review its current draft work programme (attached), which reflects the outcome of discussions at the Committee’s Business Planning Group (BPG) meeting on 22 February 2021.

 

The Committee is asked to review the Forward Plan entries relevant to its remit (Appendix A) and mention any items which they believe to be of relevance to the business of the Scrutiny Committee.  If any member puts forward an item for scrutiny, the Committee’s role at this meeting is to assess, briefly, whether to refer the matter to its BPG to consider in detail.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

54.1     The Committee reviewed and agreed the current draft work programme and the Forward Plan of decisions.

 

54.2     The Committee received an update on the Woodlands Meed College project from the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Cllr Jupp, who reported that a contract had been signed for the construction of the new building.  The planning application would be reviewed at Planning Committee on 30 March.  It was hoped to start work over the summer with building being completed in December 2022.

 

54.3     The Committee agreed to discuss School Place Planning at a future Business Planning Group to assess whether it was a priority to add to the Committee’s work programme. 

55.

Requests for Call-In

There have been no requests for call-in to the Scrutiny Committee and within its constitutional remit since the date of the last meeting.  The Director of Law and Assurance will report any requests since the publication of the agenda papers.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

55.1     There had been no request for call-in to the Scrutiny Committee within its constitutional remit since the date of the last meeting.

56.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 30 June at 10.30 am at County Hall, Chichester.  Probable agenda items include:

 

·       Early Help Redesign

 

Any member wishing to place an item on the agenda for the meeting must notify the Director of Law and Assurance by 17 June 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

56.1     The next meeting of the Committee would be on 30 June.

 

56.2     Any member wishing to place an item on the agenda for the meeting must notify the Director of Law and Assurance by 17 June 2021.