Agenda and draft minutes

Children and Young People's Services Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 29th September, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Virtual meeting with restricted public access

Contact: Ann Little on 033 022 22654  Email:


No. Item


Committee Membership

The Committee is asked to note the change to its membership as below:


·       Cllr Emma Evans has been appointed to the Committee as a substitute (Conservative).

Additional documents:


18.1     The Committee were asked to note the change to its membership with Cllr Evans being appointed to the Committee as a substitute (Conservative) and to welcome Cllr Evans to the meeting in her role as substitute for Cllr Bennett.


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:


19.1     In accordance with the County Council’s code of conduct, the following declarations of interest were made for Item 7 Performance and Resources Report – Quarter 1:


·       Cllr Burgess declared a personal interest as a member at Crawley Borough Council.

·       Cllr Linehan declared a personal interest as the parent of a child with an EHCP.

·       Cllr Mercer declared a personal interest as the Chair of the Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust.

·       Cllr Smith declared a personal interest as the parent of a child who uses school transport and has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).


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:


20.1     The Chairman raised the Woodlands Meed school project as an urgent matter and asked the Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills, Cllr Nigel Jupp to update the Committee on recent developments.


20.2     Cllr Nigel Jupp gave a brief resume of the project so far for new members to the Committee and updated that the necessary legal agreements had not been signed in time for the work to begin over the school summer holidays.  There remained a small number of areas to be finalised and the design work had progressed considerably.  The Cabinet Member stated there was no lack of commitment from the County Council and he remained hopeful that legal agreement was close and that the programme and costs could be agreed, and a formal works contract could be entered into.   


20.3     The Cabinet Member agreed to keep the Committee and all County Councillors updated and reminded them that the dedicated Woodlands Meed update page would keep them up to date.


20.4     A Committee member referred to an email which had been circulated to members of the Committee from the Woodlands Meed Governing Body. The Cabinet Member agreed to include Committee members in the response to the points raised in the email.


Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee pdf icon PDF 104 KB

The Committee is asked to agree the minutes of the meetings held on 30 June and 20 July 2021 (cream paper).

Additional documents:


21.1     Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting held on 30 June 2021 be approved as a correct record and that minutes of the meeting held on 20 July 2021 be approved with one amendment to item 13.1, first bullet point, to correct the text to read Horsham District Council.


21.2     Several members raised the circulation of the Early Help Redesign Communications Plan to Committee Members and asked when there might be an opportunity to scrutinise it.  The Chairman agreed that any comments on the Plan should be emailed to him, the Cabinet Member and Democratic Services to pass on to the service.



Responses to Recommendations pdf icon PDF 87 KB

The Committee is asked to note the responses to recommendations made at the meeting meetings on 30 June and 20 July 2021 from Cabinet Member for Children and Young People.

Additional documents:


22.1     The Committee welcomed the responses to the recommendations made by the Committee at the meetings on 30 June and 20 July 2021 and the information they contained.


22.2     Under item 1 of the response to recommendations of 30 June 2021 Committee Members were concerned about how support for children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing was practically translating.  The Executive Director of Children Young People and Learning reminded that Committee that the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) service was run by the National Health Service Sussex Partnership and perhaps that could be raised with the Health and Adult Services Scrutiny Committee.  She did let the Committee know that a communication was planned with all County Council members which might answer many of the questions.  The Committee agreed to see that and decide if there were any areas for future scrutiny. 


22.3     The Committee restated the importance of this issue for young people and were keen to see how the threads of the child experience drew together with social care, safeguarding, schools and special educational needs.


Children First Improvement Update - Workforce pdf icon PDF 212 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 June 2021, with a focus on workforce including the Social Worker Pay Offer and the Management Assessment programme.

Additional documents:


23.1     The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Russell, introduced the item reporting that she was pleased the Committee were reviewing the workforce area.  She reported that work had resulted in the County Council being a more stable place for employment and the new Social Worker offer, which replaced the interim package, had gained a 98% take up by eligible staff.  This showed a strong commitment from staff to the improvement journey.


23.2     The Children First Transformation Director, Mr Clark, led the Committee through the headlines in the report and then members of the Committee asked questions and a summary of those questions and answers follows:


·       The extensive staff engagement had been with all staff to ensure all needs were met, staff were supported through training and supervision sessions and the service offer improved.  All staff were being trained in motivational interviewing and the broad range of training opportunities were constantly updated.


·       The staff survey had been right across the workforce and had received a higher response rate than ever before.  There were some areas of improvement raised, such as technology not working consistently, less face-to-face peer support and feelings of isolation, many of which related to the pandemic arrangements. Each team has a representative on the Recovery Group and who feeds back ideas and top tips to their team. The next survey was programmed for January 2022 and information from that could be shared with the Committee.


·       All Members would receive an update on the Early Help Redesign proposal progress so they can keep residents updated.  The health service is looking to retain about 10 centres separately from the County Council.  Libraries are retaining many health provisions and voluntary and community groups. Work is underway looking at the most sensible use of the non-retainedEarly Help centres with asset plans for each centre being collated and reviewed.


·       Progression for Social Workers to either management or higher performing social work roles is still possible.  The removed limits on the higher end social worker level means they can provide mentoring to less experienced members of staff to provide consistency and encourage quality assurance.


·       Delayering of the structure and improvements to the scheme of delegation now meant that decision making was improved and quicker.


·       Caseloads had been stabilised through performance monitoring of case work through monthly analysis and by the Commissioner at the monthly Improvement Board.  Recent comments by Ofsted suggested caseloads appeared to be about the right level.  The difficulty with caseloads comes more from complexity rather than numbers.


·       Customer Feedback is collected through a range of methods and is something the service want to develop particularly as part of the family safeguarding model.  Ofsted use several different ways to form a judgement including speaking to individual children, parents, carers and partners. Children’s homes are normally inspected twice a year.  The Assistant Director – Corporate Parenting explained that the Corporate Parenting Panel (CPP) has key groups engaged with it, including the Children in Care Council (CiCC) and the Care  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Performance and Resources Report - Quarter 1

Additional documents:


24.1     The Committee examined the performance and resources report (PRR) prepared by the Director of Finance and Support Services, which set out the Council’s corporate performance, finance, savings delivery and business performance for the services within the remit of this comment from April to end of June 2021.


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


·       Free School Meals – All children up to the age of seven receive universal free school meals, however unless parents or carers, who are eligible for non-universal free school meals, register, the schools do not gain the associated Pupil Premium.  The guidance for applying is being revised. Action: The Committee requested that further detail on trends for Free School and neighbouring comparative detail be included in future PRR reports. 


·       Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) – The Committee welcomed the improving picture for the number of young people classed as NEET.  Action: The Director of Education and Skills agreed to provide more comparative figures for the quarter 2 report to set more context for future reports.


·       Care Leavers in employment, education or training – Covid 19 had had significant an impact on the availability of opportunities for care leavers.  A core activity for the County Council is the Civil Service internship for young people 18-30 years of age and apprenticeship opportunities both within the County Council and within district and borough councils.  The Care Leavers Apprenticeship Engagement Forum has received funding from the Department for Education to run a training partnership with the University of Chichester.  A module is being worked up for care leaving young people to enable them to take up higher level apprenticeships.


·       The Committee noted that seven of the priorities in Keeping Vulnerable People Safe were rated red and hoped to see an improving picture in the next quarter report.  The Committee agreed that Graph 1 (Performance by Priority) should be updated to identify which portfolio the performance measures fell into.


·       The Committee were told that discussions were in progress on the unallocated Covid-19 funding and the Committee would be updated once allocations had been made so that it could be made aware of any funding that would be used in the Children, Young People and Learning Portfolio. 


·       The project to lease vacant properties to reduce intentionally homeless costs was a focus of activity for the property estate workstream. 


·       Catch Up Funding is supplied by the Government direct to schools who are responsible for using and monitoring the benefit.  A reduction in Ofsted inspections over the pandemic had reduced the information available on performance by schools.


·       The Committee suggested that the tone of the reporting could be adjusted to reflect that high increases in demand within the service were being met for minimal increases in cost. Action: The Children First Transformation Director agreed to speak to corporate colleagues to reflect this.


·       The increase in the cost of home to school transport for children with EHCPs had risen greatly over the last  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Work Programme Planning and Possible items for Future Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 153 KB

The Committee is asked to agree its draft work programme (Appendix A), which reflects the outcome of the discussions at the Committee’s Business Planning Group meeting held on 10 September 2021.


The Committee is asked to review the Forward Plan entries relevant to its remit (Appendix B) and whether it wishes to enquire about any of the forthcoming decisions within its portfolio.

Additional documents:


25.1     The Committee discussed the items on the Work Programme 2021/2022 and made the following amendments:


·       Add Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing – A briefing to be provided to the Committee on the current provision to identify any potential areas for scrutiny with the Health and Adults Social Care Scrutiny Committee.


·       Attainment Gap – Report to include the position on data from academies and faith schools in the county.


·       Needs Assessments and EHCPs – Process, Practice and Delivery – The Committee agreed to the establishment of a Task Force Group (TFG).  The Business Planning Group were asked to scope up the work and produce a timeline and terms of reference.  The following members volunteered to be part of the TFG: Cllr Baldwin, Cllr Charles, Cllr Linehan, Cllr Mercer, Cllr Smith and Cllr Sparkes.



Requests for Call-In pdf icon PDF 50 KB

There has been one request for call-in to the Scrutiny Committee within its constitutional remit since the date of the last meeting. A report on the call-in is attached.


The Director of Law and Assurance will report any requests since the publication of the agenda papers.

Additional documents:


26.1     The report on the call in was noted.



Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 1 December 2021 at 10.30 am.  Probable agenda items include:


·       Attainment Gap in West Sussex

·       Children First Improvement Update

·       Performance and Resource Report – Quarter 2


Any member wishing to place an item on the agenda for the meeting must notify the Director of Law and Assurance by 19 November 2021.

Additional documents:


27.1     The next meeting will be held on 1 December 2021 at 10.30am.