Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Services Select Committee
Wednesday, 15th May, 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

1.

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:

1.1        The following personal interests were declared:

 

·       Mr Cloake declared a personal interest in item 5 (Ofsted Inspection of Children’s Social Care Services) as his wife is a social worker employed by West Sussex County Council (WSCC).

·       Mr High declared a personal interest in item 8 (Education and Skills Annual Report) as a member of his family has an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP).

2.

Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee pdf icon PDF 86 KB

The Committee is asked to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2019 (cream paper).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

3.

Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Extract fromthe ForwardPlan dated 1 May 2019.

 

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:

4.

Ofsted Inspection of Children's Social Care Services pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Report by the Director of Law and Assurance.

 

To enable members to consider the outcome of the recent OFSTED inspection of the County Council’s social care services, to understand the next steps for the Council and the governance arrangements for managing those, including the role of the Select Committee.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1     The Committee considered a report by the Director of Law and Assurance. The Chairman considered the report as a challenging and disappointing read and invited Louise Goldsmith, Leader of the County Council, to give some reflective words. A summary of the points made by the Leader were as follows:

 

·       The Ofsted report highlighted a devastating and painful snapshot of the service. This was a watershed time for Children’s Social Care.

·       It is unacceptable for any council that a service be deemed as a lottery, and that some children were not having a good experience.

·       A systemic approach was required throughout the whole council; everybody has a role to play in improving the service.

·       The voice of the child has been quiet, there has not been a relentless focus on this, as is required to improve.

·       The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) as a gateway to services, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Care Leavers, and efforts into risk and exploitation work were all highlighted as good in the report. Integrated Prevention and Earliest Help (IPEH) also had the right focus but had perhaps distracted from other areas. An inward look needed to be taken to learn from the successes and move forward.

·       Collective working for the Children Looked After (CLA) cohort will consider what can be done differently. The Leader had also spoken and apologised to the Children in Care Council (CiCC).

·       The lead inspector did accept that things were improving, but that it was not currently sustainable. Work was undertaken before the report was published, such as action taken at Full Council on 5 April 2019, to redesign the Corporate Parenting Panel (CPP).

·       The next snapshot inspection will show that the work put in together has improved the service.

 

4.2 The Chairman thanked the Leader for her summary and comments, and noted it appeared to be understood throughout the authority the importance of the action required going forward. Paul Marshall, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, made the following reflective comments:

 

·       The Cabinet Member felt it highly appropriate to offer a sincere apology to those families involved with the service. He added there was a big commitment to providing the best support possible, and thanked the team for undertaking what will be a very diligent piece of work.

·       The Cabinet Member and senior officers accept wholeheartedly the 12 recommendations made in the Ofsted report, and commit to undertaking these improvements.

·       Although the outcome is a disappointment, it was not unknown that the service required drastic improvement. Turbulence within the social worker cohort, and the closure of Seaside last year identified the need to make a step change, and develop a more robust Children and Family Services.

·       A peer review undertaken in the autumn of 2018 identified the service as fragile, which started several internally and externally led reviews.

·       Investment has been made into a social worker recruitment and retention programme to bring some stability to the cohort, recognising the tough working environment and significant caseloads.

·       £5m  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Redesign of the Integrated Prevention and Earliest Help (IPEH) service pdf icon PDF 1000 KB

Report by the Executive Director of Children, Adults, Families, Health and Education.

 

The purpose of the redesign is to improve the pathway children and families take into and out of services and develop a more targeted early help offer that is flexible to local need.

 

The Committee is invited to consider the review so far, the outputs from engagement activities and provide comments for the Cabinet Member to consider about the next stage of the review and redesign.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1     The Committee considered a report by the Executive Director of People. The report was introduced by Hayley Connor, Head of Integrated Prevention and Earliest Help (IPEH). The Chairman welcomed Daniel Sartin, Branch Secretary for UNISON, who had been invited to speak on this item. The Committee heard the following key points from the Head of IPEH:

 

·       A Cabinet Member decision in January signalled a review of the IPEH service. Both qualitative and quantitative data was gathered, and the Committee requested to review the direction of travel.

·       Engagement activities took place all over the county, and involved a number of staff, partners and stakeholders.

·       Online surveys were completed, the feedback would be embedded in the overarching review and design.

·       Key themes to emerge from the engagement included the positive culture of IPEH, co-location with partners and linkages with MASH were identified as working well.

·       Areas signposted as requiring improvement included a lack of data sharing, duplication of work, and ineffective technology.

·       Four characteristics will be used to define the future operating model for IPEH:

Ø  A retained focus on core priorities in community settings, for example supervised contact visits in IPEH hubs of Children and Family Centres. This has added value in that it helps introduce families to other services

Ø  IPEH will be closely integrated with Children’s Social Care, the Healthy Child Programme, and Education.

Ø  IPEH to be closed aligned with public health priorities, recognising West Sussex as diverse having both urban and rural localities.

Ø  There will be clear, simple pathways for children, ensuring the interventions delivered are having the right impact.

 

5.2     The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People explained that IPEH worked with a number of partners, including the NHS, the voluntary sector and Education to deliver a range of services and both a universal level and at higher stages of intervention. He also told the Committee:

 

·       IPEH required a refocus of some support to areas demonstrating as having the greatest need, such as the coastal strip and Crawley. There were also pockets of demand in Horsham, Chichester and Mid-Sussex.

·       Some services could be more targeted at the preventative level. 

·       Efficiency saving required was indicated as £4.9m, however the priority is to ensure the voice of the child lives within the centre of the service. 

·       The arrival of Ofsted and subsequent outcome has allowed WSCC to reframe their services and review the offer.

 

5.3     Daniel Sartin from UNISON made the following points:

 

·       In January 2019, the Performance and Finance Select Committee identified a cut to the IPEH service. This sparked concern for UNISON, and for IPEH as an effective and highly regarded service.

·       The evidence base for this review and redesign was not available to UNISON. The previous IPEH review had been fractious, and the union wanted time to consider.

·       The risk of destabilisation carried consequences, such as staff anticipating redundancy, the impact on morale, and people leaving.

·       Improved listening and reflection would bring about the required change in culture.

·       The union  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Relinquishment of Beechfield Secure Unit pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Report by the Executive Director of Children, Adults, Families, Health and Education.

 

Following an analysis of the need in West Sussex for this type of accommodation, benchmarking against provision by other local authorities, and set against the wider review that is taking place of the in-house residential estate, the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People will be asked to agree that operation of a secure unit at the Beechfield site permanently ceases.

 

The Committee is asked to support the proposal to relinquish Beechfield Secure Unit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1     The Committee considered a report by the Executive Director of People. The report was introduced by Jackie Wood, Head of Children’s Social Care – placements. The Committee heard the following:

 

·       Beechfield Secure Unit did not run at a profit, and did not meet the need in West Sussex. Huge improvement would be required.

·       The opportunity to run the secure unit in partnership had been explored, but no expressions of interest were received.

·       Staff and members have visited other secure units throughout the country, which has contextualised and consolidated WSCC’s lack of requirement for this type of accommodation.

·       There was no obligation for WSCC to provide a secure unit. To re-open the site would require significant investment.

·       It is more appropriate to concentrate the focus at the present time on WSCCs in-house residential estate.

·       All 14 staff from Beechfield had been redeployed, there could be some risk of redundancy, but opportunities existed within the residential team.

 

6.2     The Chairman explained he felt there was no clear incentive to retain Beechfield given the information in the report. A summary of questions and responses considered by the Committee were as follows:

 

·       Members asked if the site could be used in a different way.  The Executive Director of People advised that in the last 2 years, only 4 children had been placed in the secure setting. She added the service for complex and high risk adolescents was providing a positive level of intervention and support.

·       The building was not fit for purpose, and the focus must now shift to the recommendations as laid out by Ofsted, in order to improve the more fundamental elements of the service.

·       The Committee recognised Beechfield was surplus to requirements, but in those extreme circumstances where it might be required, where would these young people go. It was discussed that secure accommodation tended to have detrimental effects on mental health, and that opportunities for alternative, preventative units were being explored as a preferential option. For those rare cases where it was absolutely necessary, an out of county placement could be sourced.

 

6.3     Resolved that the Committee:

 

1.   Support the proposed Cabinet Member decision to permanently cease the operation of the Beechfield Secure Unit, and that it be declared surplus to service requirements, and asks that any proceeds from the sale of the site are reinvested in the Children Services budget.

 

7.

Education and Skills Annual Report pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Report by Executive Director Children, Adults, Families, Health and Education.

 

Each year the Education and Skills Service publishes an Annual

Report which highlights strengths and indicates areas for

improvement. Scrutiny of the summary of this report provides

members of the Children and Young People’s Services Select

Committee insight into the performance of the Service.

 

The Committee is asked to consider the changes in standards

being produced in schools and colleges in attainment, progress,

exclusions and retention, as well as the rationale for the next

years focus in refining how to improve standards.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1     The Committee considered a report by Paul Wagstaff, Director of Education and Skills. The Director of Education and Skills advised the Committee the report demonstrated the directorates improvement journey, outcomes achieved by schools, and the key priorities to embed the School Effectiveness Strategy. Mark Jenner, Head of School Effectiveness highlighted the following key points:

 

·       The report had been in creation for 18 months. Result data was validated in February.

·       The report had taken on a new format which clearly indicated targets, and the performance matched against those targets.

·       The School Effectiveness Strategy was now firmly in operation.

·       The report indicated the priorities that will mean further progress is made towards the targets set for 2022.

·       A Census survey indicated pupil numbers were continuing to increase.

·       There had been a significant reduction of sugar in school meals.

·       Pupils with EHCPs in West Sussex had a higher percentage of attainment (3.1%) when compared to England (2.9%).

·       Disadvantaged pupils in Crawley at KS2 were performing better than similar children nationally, however this was not reflected in other areas of the county, where this cohort were not meeting the national attainment levels.

·       The Virtual School remained at the centre of work for the Education and Skills team.

 

7.2     The Chairman thanked the Head of School of Effectiveness and the Director of Education and Skills, and congratulated them on the improving figures.  The Committee considered the following questions:

 

·       Members asked how the completion of timely EHCPs could be increased and improved. The Director of Education and Skills advised there were 2 measures for the completion of EHCPs; either 16 weeks for a review or 20 weeks for a new assessment. He advised that over 90% of these were completed within the appropriate timescales, and that WSCC was doing well to achieve this.

·       The Committee questioned what happened to excluded children. The Director of Education and Skills advised the Timpson report had indicated that CLA and children with SEND were more likely to be excluded. Harnessing an inclusive curriculum, better use of therapeutic support and awareness would help to avoid these exclusions. A culture shift needed to take place in order to understand why a child might behave in certain ways.

·       Members of the Committee considered if there was support for children with SEND in academies. The Director of Education and Skills advised any school with pupils with EHCP statements received additional funding to help meet the needs of the child. This was annually reviewed. Although there was no jurisdiction with academies, the local authority can challenge and approach the Regional Schools Commissioner.

·       Members asked how schools accommodated pupils with physical disabilities. The Director of Education and Skills advised there were currently 10 special schools within the county for those with very complex needs, and this provision was expanding with the Special Support Centre (SSC) proposal. He added all schools need accessibility plans.

 

7.3     Resolved that the Committee:

 

1.   Noted the content of the Education and Skills Annual Report, and asked to consider next years  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Business Planning Group Report pdf icon PDF 52 KB

The report informs the Committee of the Business Planning Group meeting held on 25 April 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).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1     The Committee considered a report from the Business Planning Group, which was held on 25 April 2019. The report was introduced by the Chairman, and Helena Cox, Senior Adviser Democratic Services.

 

8.2     Resolved that the Committee:

 

1.   Approved that Paul High be nominated to report to the Committee on the SEND strategy board.

2.   Would welcome a visit to the MASH.

3.   Noted the additions to the Committee’s Work Programme as stated in the report.

9.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 19 June 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 7 June 2019.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

9.1     The Committee noted that the next scheduled meeting will be held on 19 June 2019 at 10.30am at County Hall, Chichester.