Agenda and draft minutes

Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 2 June 2020 6.30pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Teri Reynolds, Democratic Services Officer 

Note: Please note that any member of the press and public may follow proceedings at this ‘virtual’ meeting via a weblink which will be set out below ahead of the meeting. 

Media

Items
No. Item

11.

Election of Chairman

To elect a Chairman for the 2020/21 municipal year.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee was invited to appoint a Chairman for the 2020/21 Municipal Year.

 

Decision:

 

Councillor Kemp was appointed as Chairman for the 2020/21 municipal year.

 

Councillors Cooper, Howcroft-Scott and Johnson requested that their abstention from the vote be recorded.

12.

Election of Vice-Chairman

To elect a Vice-Chairman for the 2020/21 municipal year.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee was invited to appoint a Vice-Chairman for the 2020/21 Municipal Year.

 

Decision:

 

Councillor Opara was appointed as Vice-Chairman for the 2020/21 municipal year.

 

Councillors Cooper, Howcroft-Scott and Johnson requested that their abstention from the vote be recorded.

13.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ahmed, Aldous, Barrett, Carr, Osborne and Chrissy Stamp and from Akinola Edun and David Lane (Parent Governor representatives).

14.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 5 March 2020.

Minutes:

The record of the meeting held on 5 March was agreed and signed by the Chairman as correct.

 

Councillors Cooper, Howcroft-Scott and Johnson requested that their vote in favour of this decision be recorded.

15.

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/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report. 

Minutes:

There were none.

16.

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping pdf icon PDF 471 KB

Members are invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct. Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 6.

 

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

There were none.

 

Other significant interests (OSIs)

 

There were none.

 

Other interests

 

There were none.

17.

Ofsted Update Report - Children's Services in Medway pdf icon PDF 231 KB

This report provides the Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a progress update on improvement activity since the Ofsted Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Director of People – Children and Adult Services introduced the report which updated the Committee on progress of improvement activity since Medway’s Ofsted Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services. He highlighted the additional resource that had been provided to the directorate, the realignment of the service, the work of the Improvement Board, the work with partners in practice and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. He explained that the Council was beginning to move into the second phase of the improvement journey where progress needed to be firmer, go further and go faster, adding the improvement plan would be refreshed accordingly.

 

The Children’s Commissioner then addressed the Committee, explaining that she had submitted an update report to the Minister, to provide some independent external assurance in light of the cancellation of the Ofsted monitoring visits due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  The Commissioner added that she would submit her formal 6 month review report to the minister in July.  She expressed her view that the Council had responded well to the challenges faced by Covid-19 and reflected on strengths that had been established as a result, such as the improved working relationship with schools.  She added that there had been clear improvements in the service and in the priority given to it across the Council.  As progress continued, she would be seeking, amongst other aspects, demonstrable change in all aspects of political and corporate leadership.

 

Members then raised a number of comments and questions, which included:

 

·       Thanks to staff - a number of Members expressed their thanks and appreciation to staff for their hard work and maintained support to Medway’s vulnerable children and families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

·       Evidence of progress – comments were expressed of the need for clearer evidence to demonstrate progress and outcomes.  In response the Director confirmed that measuring impact was a focus of the Improvement Board also and it was something officers were working on to develop the best way of demonstrating real impact.  A scaling model was being developed to show the distance travelled in relation to progress which could be shared with Members.  The refreshed Improvement Plan would also look substantially different and would update some of the progress measures which were still showing as outstanding within the appendix to the report, but had since been completed.

 

·       Impact of Covid-19 – in response to a query about how the pandemic had impacted on the improvement journey, the Director commented that the pandemic had resulted in some impact to the trajectory of the progress but that continued momentum was being maintained, which had been recognised by Ofsted.  He added that the referral rate of safeguarding concerns had dropped since schools had been closed but this was beginning to rise again as lockdown began to be eased.  The phased return of schools would help in terms of possible spikes in referrals as would improved partnership working to manage the service post lockdown. He also stated that through the lockdown the Council had worked closely  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Medway Youth Justice Partnership Strategic Plan for 2020 - 2023 pdf icon PDF 807 KB

The Medway Youth Justic Partnership Strategic Plan (attached at Appendix 1 to the report) will cover a 3 year period form 2020 - 2023 and has been co-produced with Youth Justice Partnership Board (YJPB) members and influenced by national research and evidence of effective practice and has taken examples across National Partnerships.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Head of Partnership Commissioning, Resources and Youth Justice introduced the report which presented the draft Medway Youth Justice Strategic Partnership Plan for consideration.  He highlighted the three aims of the plan, the successes of the Youth Offending Team (YOT) and areas for improvement.  He explained that the YOT had been inspected earlier in the year and the outcome of the inspection would be published on 4 June 2020.

Members then raised a number of questions and comments, which included:

 

·       Post 16 provision – in response to a question about what was being done to mitigate the large reduction in post 16 provision, officers confirmed they were working closely with the Medway Skills Partnership Board and had been successful in some funding bids to develop alternative options. This remains a significant challenge.

 

·       Reducing young people entering custody – in response to concerns raised around Medway’s performance in this area, officers confirmed it was an area of focus.  Improved working relationships with Police would assist by them referring young people earlier, for example when the Police take no further action support from YOT could then help prevent that young person from further involvement in crime. The YOT was also working with the Courts in delivering the Intensive Surveillance Support Programme which enabled Young People to be better supported in the community. The new Adolescent Service within Children’s Services would also be working with complex young people who were not open to the YOT and it was hoped this, along with work by Medway Task Force, the Violence Reduction Unit and other interventions planned, would have a positive impact.

 

·       Data lag – in response to a question about the lag of data, officers explained that this was a difficulty nationally due to the release of data from the Youth Justice Board.

 

·       Management of case stepdowns – in response to a question, officers explained that the new Early Help and Adolescent services within Children’s Social Care would help in terms of supporting a child and their family where they were no longer the responsibility of the YOT but still needed some level of intervention to work through any continuing vulnerabilities to avoid re-offending behaviours.

·       Visiting the YOT – in response to a request officers were supportive of Members visiting YOT as well as observing the work done within communities once social distancing eased.

 

·       Gang activity – in response to a comment regarding gang activity in Medway officers confirmed that this was a concern and work with partners was ongoing to reduce the ability of gangs to operate effectively in Medway. The YOT worked closely with the Community Safety Partnership on this issue and following a successful bid with North Kent (KCC), the service would be working in partnership with community and school settings to address this area.

 

·       Support for young people with ADHD and/or dyslexia – given the high prevalence of these conditions amongst young offenders, it was asked if specific support would be provided to such young people working with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Medway Youth Council - Annual Conference Report pdf icon PDF 143 KB

This is a report from Medway Youth Council Annual conference held in November 2019 on the subject of Climate Change and protecting the environment. The Youth Council hope to inform the committee by presenting this report about the knowledge, thoughts and actions of young people in Medway in respect to climate change and the environment and their concerns for the future.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Medway Youth Council (MYC) Chair introduced the report which provided the Committee with the findings of the MYC Annual Conference on Climate Change.  It had highlighted that protecting the environment had been a key priority for young people and provided an effective platform for the young people of Medway to voice their views on issues affecting climate change. The conference had enabled Medway Youth Council to gather a reliable representative range of feedback from young people, enabling them to effectively represent and work on these issues.

 

In terms of outcomes, the MYC Chair explained that MYC would work with schools and community groups to conduct an annual audit of the waste they produced and recycling levels. Alongside the audit MYC would monitor progress in relation to improvements in recycling, reductions of non-recyclable waste and help promote classroom climate education.

 

A suggestion was made that the report should be shared with primary schools and this was welcomed by the MYC Chair who undertook to explore ways of doing this.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee thanked Medway Youth Council for the report and recommended that it be reported to full Council and the Climate Change Advisory Group.

 

Councillors Cooper, Howcroft-Scott and Johnson requested that their votes in favour of the decisions be recorded.

20.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 230 KB

This item advises Members of the current work programme and allows the Committee to adjust it in the light of latest priorities, issues and circumstances. It gives Members the opportunity to shape and direct the Committee’s activities over the year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Democratic Services Officer introduced the report which updated the Committee on its current work programme.  She drew the Committee’s attention to section 5 of the report, which updated the Committee on actions it would take to maximise its effectiveness in the scrutiny of Children’s Services.

 

Officers confirmed that performance data workshops and member training events could be resumed now that Members had been provided with the relevant equipment to participate in remote meetings. Officers also undertook to explore ways of how outcomes of the workshop meetings could be reported to the main Committee in a public forum.

 

During discussion of the work programme the following suggestions were also made:

·       to include a report to the July meeting on how the services relevant to this Committee had dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic.  It was also suggested that other overview and scrutiny committees may wish to have similar reports relevant to their remits.

·       Surge classes – reference was made to a possible Cabinet report on this issue and it was suggested that the opportunity to scrutinise this be considered at the next pre-agenda meeting.

·       Grammar School Places – the Democratic Services Officer undertook to liaise with officers about when this issue would be ready to bring forward as it had been listed on the work programme for some time.

·       Maximising Committee time – a suggestion was made that the Committee should make better use of its time to scrutinise matters which could have the greatest impact and receive less information reports via main Committee meetings, which could instead be sent via briefing notes.

Decision:

 

The Committee:

·       agreed the work programme as set out at Appendix A to the report, subject to the addition of a report on how services relevant to the remit of this Committee had been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

·       noted the update in relation to additional scrutiny activity set out at section 5 of the report.

·       requested officers to feedback to the Committee, via the next agenda-planning meeting, in relation to the scheduling of reports on surge classes and on grammar school places.

 

Councillors Cooper, Howcroft-Scott and Johnson requested that their votes in favour of the above decision be recorded.