Agenda and minutes
Venue: Civic Room - Level 2, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR
To approve the record of the meeting held on 20 January 2011.
The record of the meeting held on 20 January 2011 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as correct.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Andrews, Carr, Clarke, Val Goulden and Maisey and Jim Grogan (Roman Catholic Church representative) and Clare Murray (LINk representative).
Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances
The Chairman will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report.
There were none.
Declarations of interest
(a) Personal interests under the Medway Code of Conduct.
A Councillor who declares a personal interest in a matter, including the nature of the interest, may stay, speak, and vote on the matter.
(b) Prejudicial interests under the Medway Code of Conduct.
A Councillor who declares a personal and prejudicial interest in a matter, including the nature of the interest, must withdraw from the room and take no part in the debate or vote on the matter.
Councillors who have declared a personal and prejudicial interest may make representations, answer questions and give evidence before leaving the room but only if members of the public are allowed to attend for the same purpose.
If an interest is not declared at the outset of the meeting, it should be disclosed as soon as the interest becomes apparent.
(c) Whipping – the Council’s constitution also requires any Member of the Committee who is subject to a party whip (ie agreeing to vote in line with the majority view of a private party group meeting) to declare the existence of the whip
There were none.
The report provides the committee with a background to anti-bullying activity in Medway and nationally and provides detail of the work carried out by the countering bullying task group.
There will be various external organisations at the meeting to contribute to the debate on countering bullying.
The Chairman welcomed everyone present to the meeting and officers introduced the report, summarising its content and the findings of the Countering Bullying Task Group.
Representatives from the following groups then gave a brief introduction about their organisation and its role in relation to countering bullying: -
· Beatbullying – carry out campaigning work and work predominantly with schools and in youth settings, do lots of peer mentoring courses including cyber mentoring;
· Bigfoot Education Arts – provide drama workshops to primary and secondary schools, helping students to understand different types of bullying and to have empathy for both the victims and the bullies;
· JustDifferent – talk to children and young people about disability and focus on the positives of being different;
· Local Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) based at schools and colleges – work closely with school Family Liaison Officers (FLO), Student Advocates, Peer Mentors and other colleagues that can provide support and advice. Where schools use the School Information Management System (SIMS) incidents are recorded on this;
· Medway Mediation Service – train young people to be mediators which proves very empowering for young people and teaches them to be empathetic, take responsibility for their actions and find resolutions. In addition it provides restorative justice conferencing, which is a powerful tool in bringing together the victim and bully in order to understand the hurt caused and provide closure to the issue;
· Show Racism the Red Card – provide advice in primary and secondary schools through workshops or physical activity sessions, such as football to educate students in understanding what racism is and why it is wrong. The charity also provides teacher-training events to empower teachers to engage in racism issues;
· Glencoe Junior School – The school’s anti-bullying lead explained that when she arrived at the school it had some challenges with bullying. She became the anti-bullying lead and ran the school’s council, which provides various assemblies relating to racism, children’s rights and all types of bullying which empower other students. There were various ways in which children could report problems, such as approaching the anti-bullying lead or FLO or using a post box in the school or sending an email. She added that parents were very confident to speak to staff about incidents and in the school’s ethos and procedures in addressing bullying. Some pupils of Glencoe added that bullies need to be shown the pain they cause victims and understand the consequences. The whole school community need to learn and understand body language and to listen;
· Sir Joseph Williamson Mathematic School – a student gave his view that culture in a school was key in tackling bullying. He felt there was not a significant problem with bullying in his school because of its strong culture of addressing issues and strong discipline;
· Medway Youth Parliament – A representative raised concern about cyber-bullying, particularly in relation to a new application on facebook called ‘formspring’, which enabled users to leave anonymous comments. She also suggested that many young people were unsure of ... view the full minutes text for item 822.
This report sets out the proposed work programme previously agreed by the committee for 2010/11 and also informs Members about key activities relating to the scrutiny of children’s health.
The Chairman explained that group leaders had been consulted on the possibility of cancelling non-essential meetings of the Council in the purdah period leading up to the local elections in May. In relation to the next meeting of the committee, scheduled for 5 April 2011, the Chairman recommended that this be cancelled.
Concern was raised that if Professor Munro’s final report was released following her independent review into child protection there would be a long delay in a report on its implications being presented to the committee. The Director of Children and Adult Service undertook to provide the committee members with a briefing note if the Munro report is published before the local elections and would also include it in the content of member briefings on safeguarding and children services which would be provided as part of the member induction programme after the election.
The committee agreed that: -
a) the Child Protection Monitoring Group is disbanded and the scrutiny of safeguarding children is continued as detailed in section 6 of the report;
b) officers provide a member briefing on safeguarding and Members’ role as corporate parents after the local elections in May 2011;
c) the proposals in relation to the NHS National Review of Paediatric Cardiac Surgical Services in England, will not be classified as a substantial variation in Medway and therefore a joint regional or national Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee will not be required;
d) the Director of Children and Adults Services, in consultation with the Chairman and opposition spokespersons of this committee, consider the consultation of the NHS National Review of Paediatric Cardiac Surgical Services in England, following its launch on 28 February 2011, and forward any comments to the SEC HOSC network;
e) a member briefing note be provided on the outcomes and implications of the Munro Independent Review into Child Protection in England if it is published before the local elections in May 2011;
f) Member briefings on safeguarding and children services, as part of member induction programme after the local elections in May 2011, include the outcomes and implications of the Munro Independent Review into Child Protection in England.
The Portfolio Holder for Children’s Social Care will be in attendance to give account of performance within the remit of his portfolio.
The Portfolio Holder for Children’s Social Care informed Members of areas of development within his portfolio, which included: -
· Increased workloads of social care staff;
· Restructuring of the Integrated Area Teams (IAT);
· Increases in staff in Children’s Social Care Services;
· Family Group Conferences;
· Recent unannounced inspection by Ofsted;
· Ofsted’s rating of Medway’s adoption and fostering services, the Old Vicarage and Aut Even;
· The art show produced by Medway’s looked after children at the Brooke Theatre.
The Committee then asked the Portfolio Holder various questions, which included the following issues: -
· Clarification that administration support staff had also been increased;
· Concern that staff would be encouraged to join other neighbouring authorities;
· Resilience in place for if partner support is reduced;
· Managing transition for young people to adult services;
· Statistics measured against referrals made;
· How benefit changes would affect looked after children leaving the authority’s care;
· Measuring the effectiveness of the IAT restructure;
· How courts are challenged in relation to length of time for court proceedings.
The Committee thanked the Portfolio Holder for Children’s Social Care for his attendance.
This report presents Members with quarter three performance update against indicators and actions agreed in the Council Plan that are within the remit of this committee.
The Director of Children and Adult Services introduced the report to the committee and answered Members questions, which included: -
· Concerns about figures relating to road traffic accident fatalities involving children and young people and the possibility of adding a report on this issue to the work programme for 2011/12;
· Concerns relating to key stage 2 figures and how schools will be supported to achieve good results against raising floor targets;
· Support provided to child minders to ensure quality of care;
· Testing for under age purchasing of alcohol;
· Reductions in unemployment amongst young people.
In response to some of the questions from Members the Director for Children and Adult Services explained that in relation to road traffic accident fatalities the two key groups were very young children and young people who were new drivers. Regarding key stage two she stated that it was important for schools and Children Services to be self-aware in order to improve standards. Furthermore, the Director undertook to forward the concerns around testing for under age purchasing of alcohol to the Medway Safeguarding Children Board in order for them to consider exploring any other measures taken by other authorities that Medway could learn from.
The Committee noted the report.