Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 8 June 2022 6.30pm

Venue: St George's Centre, Pembroke Road, Chatham Maritime, Chatham ME4 4UH. View directions

Contact: Teri Reynolds, Democratic Services Officer 

Media

Items
No. Item

30.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Opara and Van Dyke.

31.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 353 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 3 March 2022 and the record of the Joint Meeting of Committees held on 18 May 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The record of the meeting held on 3 March 2022 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as correct, subject to Maria Beaney, Finance Business Partner, being added to the list of officers in attendance.

 

The record of the Joint Meeting of Committees held on 18 May 2022 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as correct.

32.

Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances

Minutes:

There were no urgent matters but the Chairman suggested swapping the order on the agenda of items 7 (Council Plan Performance Monitoring & Risk Register Review Quarter 4 2021/22) and item 8 (Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) Update Report), to which the Committee agreed.

33.

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 4.

 

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

The Democratic Services Officer confirmed that dispensations were in place for the following:

 

Victoria Aspin (Teacher) had a DPI in item 5 (Annual Report on School Performance 2019 to 2020) due to her employment at Abbey Court School but relied on a dispensation that had been granted by the Councillor Conduct Committee, allowing her to participate in the item.

 

Carl Guerin-Hassett (Headteacher) had a DPI in item 5 (Annual Report on School Performance 2019 to 2020) due to his employment at The Hundred of Hoo Academy but relied on a dispensation that had been granted by the Councillor Conduct Committee, allowing him to participate in the item.

 

Lenny Williams (Church of England Diocese representative) had a DPI in item 5 (Annual Report on School Performance for Academic Year 2020 to 2021) due to his employment at St Margaret’s Junior School but relied on a dispensation that had been granted by the Councillor Conduct Committee, allowing him to participate in the item.

 

Other significant interests (OSIs)

 

The Democratic Services Officer confirmed that a dispensation was in place for Georgina Bentaleb (Parent Governor representative) as she had an OSI in item 5 (Annual Report on School Performance for Academic Year 2020 to 2021) due to her position as Parent Governor at New Road Primary School but relied on a dispensation that had been granted by the Monitoring Officer, allowing her to participate in the item.

 

Other interests

 

There were none.

34.

Annual Report on Schools Performance for the Academic Year 2020 to 2021 pdf icon PDF 177 KB

The Medway Annual Schools’ Performance Report 2020-21 is attached at Appendix 1. This report summarises the activity in Medway’s schools to raise achievement during the academic year 2020 -21.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

 

The Assistant Director, Education and SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) introduced the report which summarised the activity in Medway’s schools to raise achievement during the academic year 2020-21.

 

Members expressed their disappointment that the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) had been unable to attend the meeting and the Chairman had written a letter on behalf of the Committee to confirm its disappointment.  The Democratic Services Officer undertook to collate questions from the Committee to send to the RSC who would then respond formally.

 

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

 

·       Government’s Schools White Paper – reference was made to the Schools White Paper, particularly in relation to the possible forced academisation. In response officers confirmed that feedback from the RSC had been that academisation would not be forced and would only occur when schools underperform. She also referred to high quality teaching and aspirational targets and suggested the RSC be asked about how they would support schools on their journey to achieve them, confirming that the RSC had met with primary headteachers earlier that day about that very issue.

 

·       Government’s SEND Green Paper – reference was made to the SEND Green Paper and officers confirmed that they were consulting with schools on their views and as part of their SEND Strategy review considering its impact and the role of schools.

 

·       PRUs and children with EHCPs – in response to a question about children with Educational Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) being placed in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) officers confirmed this did not happen as a PRU was not the right place for children needing long term additional needs. However, there were occasions when children who had been excluded and placed in a PRU then secured an EHCP. Officers undertook to provide information in the SEND report, scheduled for later in the year, on the numbers of children that had previously been declined an EHCP while in mainstream school and had later been provided one while placed in a PRU.

 

·       Levels of mixed race young people in PRUs – it was queried why there were high levels of mixed race ethnicity young people placed in PRUs.  Officers confirmed this was the case and matched the national picture but were uncertain of the reasons why.

 

·       Persistent absence – there were a number of questions asked regarding persistent absence and officers confirmed that a detailed report on this issue would be presented to the next meeting of the committee. It was confirmed that since the production of this report the latest data of absences had been published and Medway’s rate of persistent absence for 2020-21 was 13.4%, compared to 12.8% nationally and that Medway’s primary schools were performing much better than its secondary schools. In addition, officers confirmed they needed to assess the data to remove Covid related absences in order to enable meaningful comparisons with pre-pandemic data.

 

·       Interventions – where schools had been identified as a cause for concern, officers confirmed that in relation to mainstream schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.

35.

Missing Children pdf icon PDF 208 KB

This report provides an overview of Medway’s Children Services response to Children that go Missing from Home and Care.  The paper will consider information and data for children who went missing during the period April 2021- March 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Head of First Response and Targeted Services introduced the report which provided information and data about children who went missing during the period between April 2021 – March 2022.

 

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

 

·       Out of area children – in response to a question about the monitoring of out of area children, officers referred to the data set out at 3.14 of the report and confirmed it was still an area of focus for improvement and that dialogue was ongoing with other authorities to develop joint working protocols to support each other. It was also confirmed that most children were not missing for more than 12 hours and therefore missing education was not a direct concern.

 

·       No record of return home interviews – concern was raised that still 3% of incidents related to no record of return home interviews. Officers confirmed that this was an improved figure and that many of the incidents related to families not engaging. Where parents declined the offer, this was recorded as such but where families did not engage this was put down as not recorded. Officers reassured members that where return home interviews were closed down without the family engaging, management oversight occurred so that if there were causes for concern these were followed up.

 

·       Unaccompanied asylum seekers – concern was raised about the increased vulnerability of this group of young people. Officers confirmed that this group were identified as potentially being at greater risk of going missing and were risk assessed to identify and mitigate against any increased risks.

 

·       Best practice – in response to a question about learning from best practice officers confirmed that learning across the Southeast network was ongoing and encouraged.

Decision:

 

The Committee noted the report.

 

36.

Medway Safeguarding Children Plan (MSCP) Update Report pdf icon PDF 168 KB

The purpose of the report is to update the committee on the work of the Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) during 2021-22 and to provide members with an update on the MSCP Strategic Plan 2022-23 and Business Plan 2021-23. The report has been written in accordance with the joint protocol between strategic partnerships in Medway. The MSCP Annual Report 2021- 22 will follow later in the year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

 

The Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) Business Manager introduced the report which updated the committee on the work of the Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) during 2021-22 and provided members with an update on the MSCP Strategic Plan 2022-23 and Business Plan 2021-23. He also explained that the representatives from the Clinical Commissioning Group, the Police and the Independent Scrutineer had given their apologies.

 

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

 

·       Violence against young women and girls – reference was made to a survey conducted by some Councillors in Rochester, the findings of which had been provided to the Chairman of the Community Safety Partnership. Officers confirmed that violence against women and girls would be added as a priority from September 2022 and welcomed the opportunity to consider the findings of the survey.

 

·       Structure of the partnership – in response to a question about the structure of the partnership and how it had responded to the legislative changes, officers confirmed that the new arrangements had been implemented in September 2019 in response to the Wood Review. It was also acknowledged that the annual report, due at the November meeting of the Committee, would include more detail around the governance and structure.

 

·       Secure estate – members expressed their concern about the rate of progress at Cookham Wood and suggested a separate report on the issue and the secure school.

 

·       Neglect – acknowledgement was made about neglect and the challenge it presented. Officers confirmed it was a major focus of the improvement plan and of the wider partnership. It was added that the Department for Education had provided funding to support a multi-disciplinary team which would go live later in the month and would focus on research capacity to enable a better understanding of how to tackle neglect.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee noted the report.

37.

Council Plan Performance Monitoring & Risk Register Review Quarter 4 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Medway’s Council Plan 2021/22 sets out the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Q4 2021/22 on the delivery of these priorities and the two priorities relevant for this Committee: People and Growth. This report also presents the Q4 2021/22 review of strategic risks.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

 

The Director of People – Children and Adult Services introduced the report and with the support of other members of the Directorate Management Team, gave updates relating to the indicators flagged as red within the report.

 

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

 

·       Staffing levels – in response to a question about how much performance results were impacted by staffing levels, officers confirmed that staffing remained a challenge in some parts of the system and was inevitably impacting on some of the data. In addition, some of the issues were impacted by family availability or a measured decision to see a child in the right environment. In addition, it was reported that the service had recently recruited newly qualified social workers as part of the focus on growing our own qualified workforce in Medway.

 

·       ILACS7 – concern was raised about the distance from achieving this target. Officers confirmed that when the authority started hitting this target, Members would be confident in knowing that practice was good. At this time the organisation was still on its improvement journey

 

·       Breastfeeding – in response to a question about peer support, officers confirmed that this had declined as a result of the pandemic and that the service was currently being reviewed which would hopefully see an increase in numbers.

 

·       Holiday Activity Fund – it was requested that the information on this be circulated when available. Officers confirmed that the procurement of providers had recently been completed and that information on sessions would be circulated once available.

 

·       Free school build – it was asked if these projects should be on the risk register. It was confirmed by officers that the cost of free schools were met by the Department for Education and therefore the only risk to the Council was regarding issues such as school transport budgetary impacts and place planning risks where projects were delayed.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee noted the report.

38.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 117 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 provided the latest work programme information for the Committee.

 

Members requested an update on the questions and subsequent responses to the school place planning report that was circulated for information.  Officers undertook to update the committee.

 

A suggestion was also made that the Excess Weight report, due to be submitted at the next meeting of the Committee, could be provided as a briefing note.

 

Lastly it was suggested that the Committee receive a briefing note updating them on the Youth Service.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed the work programme, as set out at Appendix 1 to the report.

39.

Exclusion of the press and public pdf icon PDF 111 KB

This report summarises the content of agenda item 11, which, in the opinion of the proper officer, contains exempt information within one of the categories in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972. It is a matter for the Committee to determine whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of document. 

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

A query was raised about the necessity to conduct the next item in private.  Officers confirmed that the relevant Cabinet report, on which the report was based, referred to legally professional privileged information which needed to remain private to protect the Council.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed to exclude the press and public during consideration of the exempt report on the basis that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

40.

Member's Item: Gillingham Football Club (GFC) School

This report sets out a response to the Member’s item, raised by Councillor Johnson, concerning the Gillingham Football Club School.

Minutes:

Background:

 

Members considered an exempt report which responded to a Member’s item, raised by Councillor Johnson, concerning the Gillingham Football Club School.

 

During the debate the following proposal was made and supported (it was explained that this proposal mirrored the recommendations made by the Business Support Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 10 May 2022 regarding a call-in (Queen Street development update):

 

“That the Committee:

 

1 – Calls on Cabinet to introduce a formalised, improved governance of significant (in terms of budgets over £100,000 or more than 3 years) projects in Medway.

 

2 – Calls on Cabinet to ensure all decision making is fully minuted to make sure that all the processes are transparent.

 

3 - Calls on Cabinet to enable appropriate monitoring of major projects using published milestones and a timeline.  

 

4 – Recognises the requirement to not have any services or projects tendered which are contrary to council policy”.

 

On being put to the vote the proposal was lost.

 

In accordance with Council rule 12.6, Councillors Adeoye, Cooper, Johnson, Howcroft-Scott and Osborne requested that their votes in favour of the proposal be recorded.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed to:

 

a)    note the report;

 

b)    support the recommendations made to the Cabinet by Business Support Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 10 May 2022 in relation to the call-in report of Queen Street development update (minute number 883/2022 refers);

c)    request a report back to the Committee explaining how and why the email records relating to the issue within the exempt report were unavailable.