Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence was received from Cllrs
Cooper, Stamp and Thorne.
Record of meeting PDF 341 KB
To approve the record of the meeting held on 6
The record of the meeting held on 6 January
2022 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as correct
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.
There were none.
The Chairman welcomed Victoria
Aspin, Teacher Representative and Lenny Williams, the Church of
England Diocese representative who join the Committee as Co-opted
Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping 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 4.
There were none.
Other significant interests
There were none.
In relation to item 5,
Councillor Opara disclosed that her business had been involved with
and benefitted from the Kickstart scheme. Her business has a
partnership with CXK.
Attendance of Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools PDF 264 KB
This report details the areas covered by the
Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools for the period from
April 2021 until March 2022. In the case of education services, it
covers the academic year 2020-2021 and activity during that year
and then the first half of the current school year.
Councillor Martin Potter, Portfolio Holder for
Education and Schools was in attendance and took questions from the
Members raised several questions and comments
- Workforce – a question
was raised on what measures had been taken to ensure that the
teaching workforce on term time only contracts received the
settlements they deserved through the annual pay award. The
Portfolio Holder said that negotiations with the GMB was ongoing,
and an agreement had been reached with Unison. It was important to
maintain political agreement on issues as complex as pay.
It was highlighted
that Medway Council was not engaging in training of Newly Qualified
Teachers (NQT) and it was asked what impact this would have on
retention of staff. It was alluded that this may (might) have had
an impact on the number of NQTs that successfully completed their
induction in 2020/21. The Portfolio Holder said that Medway had no
provision in place as a training provider as they would have to
partner with a university to ensure availability of expertise for
delivery of training programmes.
- Schools COVID Recovery
– in response to a question on what steps were being taken to
stabilise the workforce post COVID, the Portfolio Holder stated
that the Council continued to work closely in partnership with
headteachers and school leaders to discuss issues and provide
- COVID Recovery Spend –
it was asked what was being done by schools on COVID recovery extra
provision for pupils. The Portfolio Holder said that the decision
on utilisation of the additional catch-up funding was left to
individual schools. One of the schemes that was currently in place
was a Medway wide literacy scheme to address issues with literacy
which had been identified as a national cause for concern. The
outcome of schools working together and sharing best practice
through a system led programme that was not directed by the Council
was yet to materialise but the work to date was encouraging.
- Assessments – in
response to concerns raised regarding assessments in primary
schools which had not taken place since the pandemic, the Portfolio
Holder assured members that the focus and aspiration were to return
as soon as permittable to a stage of resuming assessments as the
data currently in use was 2019 data which was extremely out of
- Mental Health Practitioners
– in response to a question on the impact the eight mental
health practitioners that were being trained and would be based at
schools across Medway would have, the Portfolio Holder said that it
was too soon to provide a detailed answer. The possibilities were
however welcomed, and it was encouraging that practitioners would
be based in schools at the frontline working directly with teachers
and providing support to children and young people.
- School Transport – it
was challenged that responsibility for payment of school transport
to the temporary Maritime Academy site in Stoke should not lie with
the Council and responsibility should lie with the Department for
Education in this instance. The Portfolio ...
view the full minutes text for item 714.
Attendance of Portfolio Holder for Children's Services (Lead Member) PDF 246 KB
This annual report provides an account of the role of the
Lead Member for Children’s Services as identified in the
Department for Education Statutory Guidance on the Roles and
Responsibilities of the Director of Children’s Services (DCS)
and the Lead Member for Children’s Services (LMCS) (DfE
2012). This report details the areas covered by the Lead Member for
Children’s Services and covers the period from February 2022
until March 2023.
Councillor Josie Iles,
Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services was in attendance
and took questions from the Committee.
Members raised several
questions and comments which included:
Improvement Plan – it was asked
what assurance could be given of the department’s ability to
sustain the improvements made to date now that it was no longer
subject to monitoring of Special Education and Disabilities (SEND).
The Portfolio Holder stated that whilst sufficient progress had
been achieved which resulted in no longer being subject to
monitoring visits, they would continue to receive support as well
as appropriate challenge where necessary. It would be an ongoing
process through various work streams to sustain progress such as
sustained support to the parents’ and carers’ forum and
continued review of practices.
- High Needs Block
Deficit – it was challenged that
the Committee had been assured six months ago through a detailed
report on tackling the high needs deficit and was now being advised
that this could not be resolved. It was asked what was being done
to hold the department to account on the Ten-year recovery plan.
The Portfolio Holder stated that the report was clear that the
forecast did not turn out as expected, was being reviewed and would
form part of the SEND Strategy that would be presented to the
Committee at its next meeting. Officers added that the report
detailed why the high needs recovery plan would not meet its
forecast targets. The service continued to experience pressure such
as increased specialist provision which incurred high costs as well
as increased children with EHC plans. The expected percentage in
growth in High Needs funding over the next 10 years would be
significantly lower than forecasted, and the current plan would not
revolve the deficit issue in 10 years. To maintain the current
plans forecast, annual growth would need to be reduced by 50% and
this was not a viable option.
- it was highlighted that one of the concerns of the
Ofsted monitoring visits in 2021 and in the latest report was that
the electronic reporting system introduced in April 2021 was not
accurately recording data and the Portfolio Holder was asked how
confident she was in its accuracies. The Portfolio Holder stated
that as far as she was aware the data was accurate and had to be
looked at alongside the commentary provided which explained any
variances. Officers added that the issue with data was complex. A
new system was put in place in April 2021 and the introduction of
the forms with the practice model which mapped through the system
meant that the system would need to be reworked and mapped for a
considerable amount of time to ensure its efficiency and accuracy.
If data presented with any anomalies, they were addressed as they
were recognised, and changes were built into the system as
appropriate. Ofsted used a different reporting tool and the data
tool they used at the time of inspection highlighted some
inaccuracies. The data team was ...
view the full minutes text for item 715.
Medway Youth Justice Plan 2022-24 PDF 236 KB
This plan (attached at Appendix 1) is a completely new plan
(as opposed to the ‘Refreshed’ Plan submitted last
year. The Format of the plan follows guidance and headings provided
by the national Youth Justice Board in April 2021, detailing best
practice in the Youth Justice Plans completion.
The Youth Offending Team
Manager introduced the report which set out priorities and
arrangements for the next two years to ensure continued delivery of
the Youth Justice Partnership across Medway.
Members raised several
questions and comments which included:
A comment was made that
following a visit to the service and learning more about the work
that was being carried out, the priorities around issues with
identity were striking. The work being done to support young people
in understanding social context and forging their own identity
amidst deep issues of social anxiety was commendable.
- it was commented that the budget for the service
had increased significantly but the number of young people being
supported remained relatively low. The
officer stated that the cohort of young people supported was fluid.
At present 70 young people were being supported. All of them had
extremely complex and challenging needs hence the increase in the
- concern was raised at the data presented which was
12 months old and it was questioned how records and tracking could
be maintained with data sets that were out of date. The officer
stated that the re-offending data was produced by the Youth Justice
Board which had a complex system of gathering and tracking data
from the National data set. The issue with data was a concern for
all partners and was a regular topic of discussion at the local
Offenders – in response to
questions regarding the lack of targeted support for female
offenders despite a request for a Girls’ Strategy at the time
of inspection and a lack of intervention for girls in alternative
pathways away from crime, the officer acknowledged that most of the
intervention in place was targeted towards male offenders. Whilst
instances of reoffending in the female population were low, it was
agreed that more intervention and a responsive approach to tackle
female offending or reoffending was needed.
– the lack of representation of intervention
for LBGT offenders in the report was referenced and the officer
acknowledged this and said that the National data tool did not
capture data by LGBT offenders, this had been raised with the
- Referrals – in response to a
question on what the solution should be to address a lack of
referrals when the police took no further action against a young
person, the officer said that low referral rates were an issue that
the partnership board closely monitored. The service was trying to
identify why the police had a low referral rate and find ways to
build relationships and encourage them to refer when they were not
taking action against young
- The Committee noted
- The Committee
recommended the Cabinet to recommend Full Council to approve the
Medway Youth Justice Partnership Strategic Plan 2022 – 2024
attached at Appendix 1 to the report, including its priorities and
themes and details of its consultation process (attached at
Appendices 1 and 2 to the Strategic Plan).
Children's Service Improvement Update PDF 194 KB
This report provides a progress update on
children’s improvement activity with specific reference to
progress made against the Children’s Improvement Plan,
developed in response to the Ofsted report following the inspection
in July 2019, when the service was graded Inadequate. Three Ofsted
Monitoring Visits have taken place in May 2020, July 2021 and
The Assistant Director
Children’s Social Care introduced the report which provided a
progress update on children’s improvement activity with
specific reference to progress made against the Children’s
Members raised several
questions and comments which included:
Members praised the positive
progress that had been made by the service as evidenced in the
Ofsted letter that was published on 1 March 2022 and all staff were
thanked for their hard work, commitment, and dedication to
improving outcomes for children, young people, and families of
Medway. It was important for staff to recognise and celebrate their
- Recruitment - in response to concerns
on the impact of recruitment on the early intervention improvement
priorities, the officer said that an action plan was in place to
mitigate issues experienced in recruitment. Recruitment in social
care remained a problem that was not limited to social worker posts
and the impact meant that families had to wait longer for
assessment which was why the service was focused on short term
intervention work, and partnership work, in
particular with schools to mitigate the issues experienced
as a result of recruitment.
officer added that there was significant investment in the
principle social work team, with investment on the development of
staff by exploring ways to best support officers currently in
recruitment market for social work posts remained significantly
challenging despite investment and appropriate renumeration. There
needed to be a stronger National drive by the Department for
Education to tackle nationwide problems with recruitment of social
- Staff Reference
Group – in response to a question
on the frequency of meetings, types of issues raised and how they
were addressed, the officer said that group sessions occurred
frequently. Staff used the forum to openly discuss and raise a
different range of concerns and a quarterly event was being set up
by the leadership team to evidence the actions taken against the
concerns highlighted by staff.
Assurance – it was asked how often
audit of cases took place and the officer responded that the
service had a monthly audit programme in place. In addition, this
was supplemented with a random comprehensive sampling of different
cases. If data determined that records needed to be looked at
further, sample audits would be carried out. The department had
recently secured funds for extra audit capacity.
response to a question of clarification about the six month review process, the officer stated that
this was an independent review of a child’s plan which took
place with the child’s family and explored permanence
outcomes. According to the inspectors, this could be done better by
exploring outcome at the outset of the child’s plan. This
comment had been taken on board alongside all the other comments
and what could be done better to improve the service.
House – Members were informed that
Eden house, a home for children with complex needs with a capacity
for four children was now open with three young people in
residence. The children all ...
view the full minutes text for item 717.
Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report and Risk Register Quarter 3 2021/22 PDF 216 KB
Medway’s Council Plan 2021/22 sets out
the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices
summarise how we performed in Q3 2021/22 on the delivery of these
priorities and the two priorities relevant for this Committee:
People and Growth. This report also
presents the Q3 2021/22 review of strategic risks.
The report which
summarised the Council’s performance against delivery of its
priorities was introduced and Members raised several questions and
comments which included:
A concern regarding the
mechanics behind the changes in targets was highlighted
in particular regarding Ilacs 7. The comments made were noted by the
Director of People who stated that there was nuance associated with
was asked when the risk for the 10-year High Needs Block Deficit
Strategy downgrade occurred. The officer said the risk report was
updated in January 2022 when the
risk was downgraded as part of the high needs review and
intervention that would be put in place. The full details would be
shared as part of the full SEND Strategy report that would be
presented at the next meeting of the Committee
- Attendance in
schools – concern was
raised that 1 in 4 secondary school pupils in Medway was
persistently absent. Officers clarified that persistence absence
was absence below 90%, the data presented had not been updated
since the last quarter and was data for terms 1-4 of 2020/2021
during the height of the pandemic. Medway had a higher percentage
of absence related to COVID compared to National average. A fuller
report would be provided once after term 4’s data release
were made available. Internal monitoring
of attendance occurred through data provided by schools by choice
and the data showed that Medway’s current attendance was
below National Average.
- Breast Feeding
Target – targets were
affected by the pandemic and NHS staff; and it was asked what
further information in respect of peer support work could be
provided as the trends appeared to be worsening. The officer said
the indicator was red for Quarter 3 largely due to the impact of
COVID across staffing across all NHS organisations. Quarter 4 could
also remain red but should reduce back to green by Quarter 5. There
were other measures and a summary of
those figures would be provided to the Committee as a briefing. It
was difficult to determine the driver behind the impact as this was
still being explored to identify if there were a cohort of children
with lower rates of breastfeeding which would highlight the reasons
behind the impact.
- Healthy Weight
Summit – it was asked
how the healthy eating and cooking programmes could be extended
across the community. The officer said a range of courses took
place at different locations and he would come back to Members
about capacity to run other courses in other places.
Security - this remained an area
of great concern and should remain a priority. It was asked that a
training session be organised to which officers agreed.
The Committee noted the
Work Programme PDF 180 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.
The Democratic Services Officer
introduced the report and drew the Committee’s attention to
the upcoming Local Government Association Training that would take
place on 22 March 2022. Members were reminded to notify democratic
services of their availability to attend the training
A Member requested that an item
be brought at a future meeting on workforce and recruitment
planning for in- depth scrutiny. This was agreed by the Chairman,
Members of the Committee and Officers.
- The Committee
agreed the work programme as set out at Appendix 1
to the report.
- The Committee agreed
that a paper be brought to a future meeting on workforce and