Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Services Select Committee
Wednesday, 17th July, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: County Hall, Chichester

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

Webcast: View the webcast

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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19.1   The following personal interests were declared:


·       Mr High declared an interest in item 5 (Adoption of an Improvement Plan for Children’s Services) as a member of his family has an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP).

·       Mrs Flynn declared an interest in item 5 (Adoption of an Improvement Plan for Children’s Services) as a member of her family has Special Educational Needs (SEN).


Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee pdf icon PDF 79 KB

The Committee is asked to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 19 June 2019 (cream paper).

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20.1   Resolved that the minutes of the last meeting held on 19 June 2019 be approved as a correct record and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Extract fromthe ForwardPlan dated 8 July 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.

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21.1   The Committee considered a tabled paper which was a new version of the Forward Plan dated 11 July 2019 (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.


21.2   Rachel Allan, Senior Advisor Democratic Services, advised that the Formation of a Regional Adoption Agency, Small Schools Assessment and SEND and Inclusion Strategy 2019-2022 decisions would be previewed by the Committee in September.


21.3   Resolved – that the Committee notes the Forward Plan.


Adoption of an Improvement Plan for Children's Services pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Report by the Director of Children’s Services.


The County Council’s Children’s Services were the subject of an inspection by Ofsted in late February/early March 2019.  The report detailing the inspection outcome was published on 8 May 2019 with the inspectors finding the overall effectiveness of Children’s Services to be ‘inadequate’.


In response, an Improvement Plan is being developed to address the findings of the report and set out how the County Council will implement the necessary measures to deliver improvement within Children’s Services. 


The Committee is asked to consider the draft Cabinet Member decision report, and the appended draft Improvement Plan document, and provide comment to the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People prior to the formal decision to adopt the Plan being taken later in July 2019.

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22.1   The Committee considered a report by the Director of Children’s Services. Heather Daley, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Change, provided an update on the workforce of Children’s Social Care. The Committee heard the following key points:


·       The vacancy gap had reduced from 18.5% to 7%.

·       10% of the current workforce were agency staff. This would be held until caseloads reached the right level.

·       There was a better view in the service of where the recruitment and caseload hotspots were, and a central record of full-time equivalent posts, vacancies and projections for leavers had been established.

·       The average leavers per month had reduced from 7 to 2.

·       The recruitment and retention incentive for existing and new staff had an 85% take-up. The service was considering contingency for the remaining 15% who hadn’t signed up to the scheme should they choose to leave.

·       The Newly Qualified Social Worker initiative and apprenticeship scheme were proving effective with increased recruitment in these areas.

·       Good progress had been made with the management of sickness and long-term absence, with 0.8 FTE on long-term sick. The remainder of the absent staff cohort were for reasons of career break, suspensions or maternity.  

·       With a learning needs analysis and correct supervision and training in place, embedded work could now begin.


22.2   The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People thanked the Director of Human Resources and Organisational change and wider team for the significant progress made against the workforce challenges. He noted that when an authority receives in an inadequate rating it was common to lose staff, particularly in the context of a large competitive market. The reward and development opportunities now in place would enable staff to undertake their roles with high satisfaction, with the children and young people of West Sussex the beneficiaries of that better work.


22.3   Members of the Committee asked the following questions regarding the update on workforce in Children’s Social Care:


·       The Committee asked for current number of caseloads per social worker. The Director of Children’s Services advised there was still some variation, but broadly speaking it was approximately 20 per social worker. He added the administrative support for social workers proposal would help with the management of caseloads.

·       Members were pleased to hear that the vacancy gap had decreased by 11% and considered if these posts were held by permanent or agency staff. The Executive Director People Services advised it was a combination of both.

·       The Committee noted although agency staff were helpful in the short term, there was some concern about longer-term arrangements. The Head of Social Care advised that the agency staff were deployed as teams rather than individuals which demonstrated a commitment, and that the agency cohort were considered as part of the stable workforce. The recruitment campaign had also been successful, and learning would be taken from this process.

·       Members asked if a vacancy gap under 10% was in line with other authorities. The Director of Children’s Services advised this was not uncommon, and the Director  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


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.

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23.1   Members of the Committee suggested that the BPG consider Elective Home Education as an item for future scrutiny.  


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 11 September 2019 at 10.30 am at County Hall, Chichester.  Probable agenda items include:


·         Regional Adoption Agency

·         SEND Strategy


Any member wishing to place an item on the agenda for the meeting must notify the Director of Law and Assurance by 30 August 2019.


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24.1   The Committee noted that the next scheduled meeting will be held on 11th September 2019 at 10.30am at County Hall, Chichester.