Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 29 November 2022 6.30pm

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

Contact: Stephanie Davis, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Mahil, Akin Edun (Parent Governor Representative) and Clive Mailing (Roman Catholic Church Representative).



Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 353 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 29 September 2022.


The record of the meeting held on 29 September 2022 was agreed and signed as correct by the Chairman.



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.


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.


Disclosable pecuniary interests


There were none.


Other significant interests (OSIs)


Councillor Opara declared an OSI on Item 5 (The Current State of the Custodial Estate for Children in Medway) due to being a business partner with CXK and also Item 9 (Not in Education, Employment of Training (NEET)) and would leave the room during discussion of the item due to core business dealings.


Councillor Tejan declared an OSI on item 7 (Draft Capital and Revenue Budget 2023/2024) as the report mentions Kyndi and he a Director of Kyndi LTD.


Other interests


Councillor Osborne declared an interest on Item 10 (Update of Safety Valve Intervention Programme) as the report mentioned his employer.



The Current State of The Custodial Estate For Children in Medway pdf icon PDF 241 KB

This report advises Members of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the current state of the custodial estate for children in Medway. At the moment the estate consists solely of one children’s prison, HMP Young Offender Institution Cookham Wood in Rochester. However, the Government’s plan is that a second custodial establishment, a secure school run by Oasis Restore, will open in February 2024 on the site of the old Medway Secure Training Centre close to Cookham Wood. Members should note that this plan is subject to Treasury approval in February 2023 and may therefore be affected by any central government budget decisions before that date.


This report summarises the national context of custody for children, updates members of the committee on the most recent inspection of Cookham Wood, provides an accompanying report from the Youth Custody Service on Cookham Wood, and from Oasis Restore on their plans for the Secure School, and summarises the main work of the Safeguarding Children Partnership in respect of the secure estate.

Additional documents:



The Independent Scrutineer for Secure Estates and the Principal Director of Oasis Restore introduced the report which advised the Committee on the current state of the custodial estate for young people in Medway and added the following:

A point was made in the report regarding the failure by the youth custody service to publish information about safeguarding reviews when things went wrong in their establishments and following lobbying, Government reversed this decision two weeks ago and details of safeguarding would now be published going forward. This was a positive step in the right direction.

In relation to Oasis Restore, the Secure School would be the fourth option for children to be placed though youth custody. Other options remained, such as secure children’s homes, youth offending institutes (YOI) and secure training centres would remain in place. The Oasis Restore Secure School would not fall under the same arrangements as His Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) YOI but accountability arrangements would fall under the inspection of Ofsted (for secure children’s homes), Ofsted (in relation to Education) as well as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for its health arrangements. The Secure School would look after 49 children across 3 homes with 12 flats ranging between two and six bedrooms. Senior Leadership posts (Directors) had been recruited to, with a recruitment campaign due to commence for approximately 200 staff next year.

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

Apprenticeships - it was asked if the young people would be given the opportunity for apprenticeship training and the Principal Director of Oasis Restore said that there were vocational pathways in place that would form part of the curriculum and part of the transition arrangements had a real focus on Education, Training and of Employment.

Accountability - it was commented that Cookham Wood YOI, following its most recent analysis, it was apparent that the situation had deteriorated and there was a real concern about the lives on the young people impacted by the core circumstances that resulted in them being detained. This was a national problem and not limited to Medway. It was vital that an independent mechanism be put in place to hold the prison service to account. The Independent Scrutineer informed the Committee that there was a process in place where the Chief Inspector of Prisons could, if a level of deterioration was reached, for urgent notification to the Secretary of State for Justice be made to request for specified improvements to be made. It had never been used in relation to children’s prisons but had, at least once, in respect of secure training centres and this would be the ultimate sanction on poor performance.

In the past, the Director of Children’s Services had called together a meeting of all responsible Local Authorities to discuss the care of children in a previous secure centre and this produced an action plan that was needed at the time.

It was further suggested that the Governor and Head of Safeguarding be requested to attend  ...  view the full minutes text for item 413.


Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) Annual Report 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 173 KB

The purpose of this report is to present the Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) Annual Report 2021-22 to the Committee. The report provides an overview of the work carried out by the MSCP in the last year. It sets out the key achievements of the partnership against its key priorities and gives an overview of the learning and improvement role of the MSCP including case reviews that have been undertaken. It also includes a section from the Independent Scrutineer, Rory Patterson


The report was presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board on 17 November 2022 and will be presented to the Community Safety Partnership in line with the Joint Working Protocol between the boards in Medway.

Additional documents:



The Business Manager for Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership introduced the third annual report which detailed the work undertaken by the Medway Safeguarding Children’s Partnership over the last year.

The multiagency training offer which influenced the effectiveness of safeguarding children in Medway for professionals and volunteers working with children continued to receive high uptake. In the last year, virtual training sessions had taken place which was attended by over 550 delegates and over 360 delegates had attended conferences and learning events. The E-learning platform continued to be accessed by and increasing number of delegates with over 45,000 courses completed over the year.

Neglect remained a key area of focus and priority for the partnership with the importance of a whole multiagency approach at the forefront of its objective. The Neglect Strategy was published last year, and a conference was held. A champions network was launched to shared good practice and learning.

The Independent Scrutineer of the Safeguarding Children’s Partnerships added that Medway was ahead of other Local Authorities by including accountable officers in regular meetings and this had been important in providing line of sight and understanding of where and with whom accountability of safeguarding laid. While resources were tight, the partnership and the small business unit continued to be efficiently run by officers and partners who were passionate about sharing learning and improvement of practice. The quality of reports on serious incidents provided to the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review panel was commended. There were, however, challenges on how to evidence impact and what metrics would be used to judge the impact in areas of safeguarding, this was a national challenge that was not limited to Medway. Recruitment and retention remained an area of risk for Medway as well as nationally across the country and was a systemic challenge to safeguarding.

Members then raised comments and questions including the following:

Issues within the partnership - in response to questions on whether there had been any recognisable issues within the partnership or any challenge with transparency, the Independent Scrutineer said that the partnership was generally open and transparent, he had not found any resistance and was given access to explore all areas. The Independent Scrutineer had found that he was welcomed by all the agencies and when he experienced any instances of defensiveness, this usually dissipated quickly once entered into dialogue as to what they were trying to achieve. Medway Leadership Team was also very open and transparent. 

Engagement of school leaders – it was asked how, as stated in the report, what more could be done to enable headteachers to influence strategic direction of the partnership. The Independent Scrutineer said that the headteacher voice should influence the agenda as they worked with children every day in a way that strategic leaders did not. It was valuable to have that thinking to shape the safeguarding agenda in Medway, capture their views and enable them to influence the priorities set. It was vital to support headteachers to share views on how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 414.


Draft Capital and Revenue Budget 2023/2024 pdf icon PDF 402 KB

This report sets out the Council’s draft capital and revenue budgets for 2023/24. In accordance with the Constitution, Cabinet is required to develop ‘initial budget proposals’ approximately three months before finalising the budget and setting council tax levels at the end of February 2023.


The draft budget is based on the principles set out in the Financial Outlook 2023/24 considered by the Cabinet on 18 October 2022.


Additional documents:




The Committee considered a report setting out the Council’s draft capital and revenue budget for 2023/24. The Chief Finance Officer advised that it had been prepared prior to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement so did not reflect the impact of the announcements made.

When the financial outlook was prepared, it assumed that ringfenced education grants would increase by £5 million. In terms of costs of services, the draft budget reflected additional pressures in children’s social care and education of net £16 million increased budget requirement.

The core schools’ budget in England would increase following the Chancellor’s announcement, £2.3 billion in 23/24 and £2.3 billion in 23/25

Members then raised comments and questions which included:

Safety Valve Intervention Programme - it was asked how the financial issues and impact from the high needs block deficit would affect the general budget, what was charged to the account that the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) say should not have been charged and given that the DfE required yearly reporting why was the charge not picked up earlier.

The Chief Finance Officer said that the high need deficit had been a matter of concern for a long time and was grateful for statutory override as once confirmed, it was highly likely that the government would follow with another form of support. There had been a difference of opinion between the Council and the DfE as to whether the services which had been charged to the DSG (Education Psychology and SEND Social Work Teams) were appropriate charges to that grant, totalling £2.9 million of annual spend. The latest budget monitoring for the current year already reflected the impact of putting this sum back in to the general fund. Medway produced a return to government of the spend on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) every year and so it was not clear how this was not identified by the government following previous years’ returns. Officers were working to further understand the circumstances regarding this.

The Assistant Director Education and SEND added that internally, officers were working to review historic decisions of HNB spend in certain areas, which had increased Medway’s deficit at a greater rate than it otherwise would have, which was done at the time to prevent taking vital funding away from schools and children. Officers undertook to share with Members any findings from that. The safety valve intervention had been submitted to the Secretary of State for approval and it was expected to be signed off in December 2022.

It was clarified that there were two strands of work taking place, one was on the safety valve and the other was a paper that was being taken to the Schools Forum on high needs funding. It was requested that the Schools Forum paper be shared with Committee Members and that an update on the safety valve also be provided, once a final decision from the Secretary of State had been made.

The Finance Business Partner added that the statutory override was expected to come  ...  view the full minutes text for item 415.


Children and Young People's Plan pdf icon PDF 228 KB

The Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP) sets out our partnership vision and priorities to support and help young people in Medway over the next 3 years. The plan has been based on consultation with children, young people, carried out through the Child Friendly Medway initiative. This plan applies to a wide range of organisations that are committed to making children’s lives better, including Children’s Services, Health, Police, Schools, and voluntary and community organisations. It is important that these organisations work together to better meet the challenges and utilise resources in an efficient and cost-effective way.


The Children and Young People’s Plan sets out the overarching direction we need to take in partnership to enable children and young people in Medway, to reach their full potential.


Additional documents:



The Head of Improvement introduced the report which provided the draft Children and Young People’s Plan, which set out the partnership vision and priorities to support and help young people in Medway over the next three years.

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

  • Measuring progress – the view was expressed that Health and Wellbeing Board should not be the only body to monitor progress in delivering the plan, given its children and young people focus and that progress should also be scrutinised by this Committee. Officers were supportive of the Committee wanting to monitor progress of the Plan but explained that the Health and Wellbeing Board was also appropriate because of the partnership role in delivering the plan. It was also explained that the Improvement Board was multi-agency, but at a time when the Improvement Board was no longer needed, it was suggested that Medway may want to set up a Children and Young People Partnership Board to ensure cross partnerships.


  • Children’s voice – in response to a question about how officers would ensure that the voice of young people would be heard, Officers confirmed it was a focus. Child Friendly events had been successful in bringing together groups of young people and their families, in seeking their views and it was important to continue and expand on those opportunities. 


  • The voice of SEND children – concern was raised about how effectively the voice of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) would be heard and disappointment was raised in the Medway Parent and Carer Forum not being consulted on the CYPP.  Officers confirmed that consultation was done through partners via the Improvement Board and through the Child Friendly Medway work which had captured the views of a broad range of Medway’s children and young people, which they were confident had included children with SEND.  Officers confirmed they would welcome the opportunity to look at anything that may have been missed and undertook to liaise with the MPCF to ensure their views were reflected the plan.


  • Wider partner detail – suggestion was made that the plan should include an explanation of school governors and it was also raised that dentistry and the difficulty for some young people in gaining appointments should be covered. Officers explained that the CYPP was an overarching high level plan for more focussed partner plans to sit underneath and, therefore, such detail might be better picked up within service plans which feed through. 


  • Partnership working – reference was made to the risk identified in the report regarding the failure to align priorities with partners.  In response to a question about ensuring the plan was robust enough to work through transitional arrangements and also highlighted financial risk.  Officers explained that a partnership forum was important and confirmed that finance was a risk for all.  The strategic objectives were kept at a high level so partners could sign up to them, while recognising that resources may be limited and therefore partnership  ...  view the full minutes text for item 416.


Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) pdf icon PDF 489 KB

This report provides an overview of the current performance in Medway in respect of young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) and provides a summary of the work underway to support young people into appropriate programs and opportunities, post-16.


Additional documents:



The Skills and Employment Programme Manager introduced the report which focused on tracking destination of 16/17 year olds not in education or training and gaining an understanding of not knowns. Part of the challenge was tracking at the right pace and speed. In September, in any school year, there was usually a spike of unknowns and time was spent trying to resolve these. The NEET figure was always rolling and never static.

Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) – in response to a question on what was being done to support young people with SEND who had difficulties getting placements, the officer said that they worked with three providers in the area and there were good outcomes achieved for young people. There was also supported employment offers in place for young people from 16 plus with learning disabilities and autism.

The Assistant Director Education and SEND added that for children with SEND and with EHCP plans, the numbers fluctuated as if the option was made for them not to be in education, the EHCP ended.  A post 16 review took place by an independent person for all NEETS to make sure that they could start to fill gaps due to the loss of the European Social Fund. Funding for the service was transient and if providers could be identified, then work could be done on securing funding.

Aspiration Officer – it was commented that the Aspiration Officer post which was temporary should be permanent. The officer said that the Aspiration Officer was in place to support care leavers into education and training, seven care leavers had joined apprenticeships in the last month. This post was funded from an external pot and a business case was being developed for the position to be made permanent.

Identification of NEETs – in response to a question on what could be done to identify young people in danger of becoming NEET prior to age 16. The officer said that a pilot with different schools on preventative measures was taking place through Medway and Kent careers hub which helped schools improve their careers pathways.As this work grows and develops, it is anticipated the number of NEETs will come down. It was an aspiration for increased NEET preventative work, and they were looking at ways this could be achieved. Funding of programmes to support this work remained the biggest challenge.

Identification of children with needs was on the department’s work plans to do the work over the summer before they leave school, so they do not become NEET.

Gaps in comparative scorecards – it was asked what work was being done to identify what was being done across the region that Medway was not doing that affected the achievement of 19-year-olds. The officer said that the data from the Department for Education (DfE) scorecard was historic as this year’s data had yet to be published. There had been a large proportion of red and ambers on the registers due to a lack of cleansing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 417.


Update on the Safety Valve Intervention Programme pdf icon PDF 393 KB

This report will outline the plans submitted to the Department for Education (DfE) to recover the Council’s budget deficit on the High Needs Block (HNB). These plans have been submitted to the DfE with a request for £17.7m investment as part of the Safety Valve Intervention Programme (SVIP), to support the delivery of these plans.


Additional documents:



The Assistant Director, Education and SEND introduced the report which outlined plans submitted to the Department for Education (DfE) to recover the Council’s budget deficit on the High Needs Block (HNB).

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

Level of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) – clarification was sought on the position in Medway compared to the national average and how the demand for EHCPs could be appropriately managed. Officers said that the only provisions that an EHCP was needed for were special schools and resource provisions. The forecasted figures showed a diminishing growth which took account of a dip in the population and the considerable work that was being undertaken with mainstream schools to support them in taking children and young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND). This would result in earlier intervention and reduced demand for EHCPs as parents’ confidence in the system grew. It would also result in fewer children in special schools where this was not necessarily the best provision for them as they could be catered for in mainstream schools.

Lessons to be learnt from Kent’s SEND provision – officers advised that the situation in Kent would be considered, and Medway would review and evaluate its own system in light of the new SEND inspection framework which placed a greater emphasis on the views of parents and young people.

Risk implications – further clarification was sought as a number of the risks identified in the report were not in the Council’s control. Officers said that there was a much more detailed risks and assumptions paper which could be shared confidentially with Members.

Parents’ right to a named school for a child with an EHCP – Officers advised that, where a school was chosen by parents, they would consult with the school in question, and it would only be named if it was an appropriate school for the child or young person.

Hospital provision – more information was asked for on the provision of education for children in hospital, officers advised that a number of places were available. The situation with regard to alternative provision was under review, including outreach and reintegration. This would address the needs of those children and young people who were anxious about going into school following the Covid pandemic.

Additional capital funding for the delivery of the Safety Valve plan – asked for an update, Officers advised that a bid for £7.2 million had been submitted to the DfE.


The Committee noted the report.



Council Plan Performance Monitoring & Risk Register Review Quarter 2 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Medway’s Council Plan 2022/23 sets out the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Q2 2022/23 on the delivery of the programmes and measures which fall under the remit of this committee which are: People and Growth (Appendix 1).


This report also presents the Q2 2022/23 review of strategic risks (Appendix 2).

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The Assistant Director, Children’s Social Care 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:


It was important to acknowledge the improvements made with ILACS 7 which had been red for a long period of time and social workers were to be commended for the hard work done.


Raising Aspirations - in response to a question on what was being done to improve outcomes and raise aspirations of young people, in particular, the 25% that were missing targets as indicated in the report, the Assistant Director Education and SEND said that any issues identified within a LA maintained school, the School Effectiveness Team would provide support. If the school was an Academy, the Regional School Commissioner (RSC) would be notified of any concerns.


Ofsted Inspections - it was asked if any work was being done with schools which had not been inspected for a long time that held good or outstanding gradings, in light of the fact of the recent Ofsted inspections which had resulted in down grading of 3 Kent Grammar schools. The officer said that the School Effectiveness Team worked with all Medway maintained schools, highlighted any concerns, areas of improvement, and provided support as necessary.


Data – it was asked why data for this year’s absence level had not been used in the report. The officer said that this was the most recent complete published data set.




The Committee noted the report.





OFSTED Monitoring Visit Children's Services pdf icon PDF 263 KB

This report summarises the feedback from the recent Ofsted Monitoring Visit which took place on the 21st and 22nd September 2022, with a focus on disabled children


Additional documents:



The Assistant Director Children’s Social Care introduced the report whichsummarised the feedback from the recent Ofsted Monitoring Visit which took place on the 21st and 22nd September 2022, with a focus on disabled children.

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

Unregistered Placements – concern was raised regarding the children living in registered placements until more suitable provisions were identified. The Officers acknowledged the concern and agreed that there were consistently a small number of children living in unregistered placements, these were children with the most complex needs and due to shortfalls in the foster care and residential market, it was difficult to find placements for children. The Committee was assured that children in these placements were given greater oversight including regular visiting by social workers, strengthened risk assessments and commissioning oversight of providers completed. Ofsted was notified of the placements.

Inconsistencies with quality of assessments - the officer agreed that this was an issue as highlighted in the improvement journey. One of the factors was due to the Mosaic forms which were time consuming and over complicated and created a barrier for social workers. The form was currently being rebuilt with input from staff and it was hoped this would assist in managing some of the inconsistencies.

Transitions – it was asked why transitions in all parts of the service were an issue. The officer acknowledged the issues with transitions, which was attributed to having complex systems, with different services, all with a different focus and work was underway to align the services. There were still many barriers to overcome.


The Committee noted the report.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 179 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.

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The Democratic Services Officer introduced the report which provided the latest work programme information for the Committee.


It was requested and agreed for a briefing note be requested from the Youth Service on an update on the Raising Youth Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) service.




a)    The Committee agreed the work programme as set out in Appendix 1 to the report.

b)    That a briefing note update be requested from youth service on the Raising Youth CIO.