Agenda item

Attendance of the Portfolio Holder for Children's Services

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 their ambitions for their areas of responsibility, how they have and will undertake political challenge and leadership and what their priorities and ambitions are for the year ahead. It covers the period from April 2023 until February 2024.




Councillor Adam Price, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services was in attendance and took questions from the Committee.


Members raised several questions and comments which included:


Members were pleased that the voice of children and families continued to be heard and taken into consideration.


Support for Medway Youth Council - it was asked how future members of young people that represent Medway, could be better supported. The Cabinet Member thanked the Youth Council following attendance at their annual conference that took place on 26 January 2024.  There was continued support through the work done by the Mayor, visiting schools and utilising the Medway Parents and Carers Forum, to encourage more young people, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds to come forward to join the Youth Council.  The excellent work that the Medway Youth Council did was celebrated and promoted at every opportunity.


School Transport - it was asked if the issues with school transport had been resolved and if alternatives to streamlining the current process had been explored. The Cabinet Member informed the Committee that all issues were discussed at the School Transport Board. School Transport was a statutory service and any changes made were consulted on. Parents were asked to come forward with suggestions on streamlining the service and a list of suggestions had been collated that would be explored. In terms of the various routes used during journeys, more work had been done with the providers to map out and test that routes avoided roadworks and there was confidence that some of the issues previously experienced would not occur again.


Youth Offending - it was asked what oversight there was on the situation at His Majesty’s Youth Offenders Institution Cookham Wood and the Youth Offending service. The Cabinet Member reassured Members that there was management oversight of the institution and discussions had taken place with the external advisor on the situation which needed time to turn around.  A visit to Cookham Wood was planned for the near future. The Youth Offending team was thanked for the open night event that took place on 23 January 2024 which was well attended by Councillors. The work of the team and difference made to the lives of previous offenders was commended.


SEND and EHCP- it was commented that requests for EHCP’s had reduced by 45% and it was asked what 2.6% funding increase meant for overall provision. Additionally, thoughts were sought on the Chancellors’ budget announcement for new special free schools. The Cabinet Member said that there were already some free schools in Medway, with construction underway for a special school that would provide 100 extra places, 50 for children with autism and 50 for children with social and emotional needs. The budget announcements for new special free schools were noted and we would await any further opportunities this may mean for Medway. The provisions made by the Council for more SEND children being able to attend mainstream schools was welcomed but it was important that specialist support continued to be provided in each setting. The re-opening of Eden House was positive in ensuring more in-house provision locally, for Medway children.


It was further asked how the impact of the reduction in EHCP’s were being monitored. The Cabinet Member reminded Members that part of the national movement in reducing the number of EHCP’s was for provision of resources in mainstream schools to support need. The impact of this would be monitored closely.


It was commented that it was vital to monitor the situation and ensure that children with SEND and those on ECHP’s do not fall through the gap through their transition to adulthood.




The Committee noted the report.

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