Agenda and minutes

Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 27 September 2022 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Helen Barnsley  Senior Democratic Services Officer


No. Item



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Councillor Kam Kaur (Portfolio Holder for Education)


Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 270 KB

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Councillor Brett Beetham noted that he was yet to receive any information of the breakdown he requested on the Voice of Warwickshire survey.


Councillor Marian Humphreys queried whether there was an update available for the pilot scheme where teachers were given manuals to cope with the causes of disruptive children. Nigel Minns (Strategic Director – People) stated that ‘Lost at School’ pilot was based on work by Dr Ross Green. It was going ahead with 34 schools and was going really well; it included collaborative training and proactive solutions model which included guidance for teachers. It is designed to address the root causes behind challenging behaviour.


The minutes were approved as a correct record.


Public Speaking

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Question Time

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Questions to Cabinet Portfolio Holders

Up to 30 minutes of the meeting are available for members of the Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee to put questions to the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Education and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children & Families.


The work programme attached lists any briefings circulated to the Committee since the last meeting and any items listed in the Council’s Forward Plan for decision by Cabinet or individual Cabinet Portfolio Holders over the coming months.

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This was covered in 3(b)


Updates from Cabinet Portfolio Holders and Assistant Directors

Cabinet Portfolio Holders and Assistant Directors are invited to provide any updates they have on issues within the remit of the Committee.

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Councillor Jeff Morgan (Portfolio Holder – Children & Families) informed the committee that the children’s home in Stratford had not opened yet because Ofsted had not conducted a site visit. All DBS checks had been approved and it was ready to open. The second children’s home will be in Leamington and will be decorated and cleaned after the current tenants move out. The third home will be in East Nuneaton. A possible forth children’s home would be in North Warwickshire and would be for children with disabilities.


John Coleman (Assistant Director – Children & Families) added that they had learnt lessons from opening the Stratford children’s home and it was the first one Warwickshire County Council (WCC) opened since 1986. The registered manager had already been appointed for the Leamington home and it had been advertised for the Nuneaton home. All homes will be open by December 2023.


Councillor Isobel Seccombe (Leader of the Council) informed the committee that there were two processes with admissions. One is the change from children going up to schools with older pupils e.g. children going from primary school to secondary school. This went better this year than the previous year. The other admissions process is the in-year admissions which is when children move schools but this not being because of their age e.g. when a child within the county wants to move schools to another one or a new child in the county needs a school placement. These kinds of admissions are done throughout the year and they stay fairly static each year. In March 2022, the Council moved to a new online admissions system which will be beneficial in the long term. 11 out of 26 staff members in the admissions team left by summer 2022 and the team leadership did not raise the time delay issue of the system and moved on too. Vacancy data was not sent it by 1/3 of Warwickshire’s schools and they were closed during the summer holidays so they could not provide this data.


When the Leader and Portfolio Holder were made aware of these problems the Leader requested daily updates. The team worked hard to clear the backlog despite the phones ringing and lack of staff. The Council has a legal requirement to place children within 14 school days which was met for everybody as school holidays do not count in these dates. Councillor Seccombe requested a report into the project to investigate what went wrong.


In response to Councillor Barbara Brown, Councillor Seccombe stated that the team was not fully staffed but the system was working now.


In response to Councillor Jill Simpson-Vince, Nigel Minns said that the admissions team had been working long hours under a lot of pressure to deal with the in-year admission issue that the service they should be able to provide had slipped. These standards should return to normal now for schools with other queries. Councillor Seccombe requested that any issues schools had during this period should be fed back to her.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3(2)


Children and Families Workforce Strategy Review (including Social Worker Health Check)

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Jo Davies (Service Manager (Practice Improvement) summarised the two reports:

·   There was a national shortage of social workers

·   5000 social workers left the profession in 2021

·   National vacancy rates in 2021 went up 7% which was the highest in the 5 years

·   Social workers employed by agencies increased by 3%

·   Local Authorities/Trusts in the West Midlands were experiencing difficulties recruiting social workers, especially more qualified ones 

·   This resulted in a competitive employment market with employers using additional payments to employ or retain social workers

·   This has been made more difficult because of the current economic climate

·   WCC focused on showing how good the Council was to work for by reducing caseloads and making them manageable, investing money in professional opportunities for social workers and improving the quality of supervision and career development opportunities

·   They focused on supporting social workers in their career by launching the Children and Families Academy which provides development opportunities across the workforce and prioritises the practice model of social work progression

·   In May 2021 two new roles were introduced (Level 5 social worker which models decision making and social work practice and Enhanced Team Leader which focuses on strategic leadership and management responsibilities). Both have a competitive salary for the region and have been positive developments

·   Team leaders needed more training opportunities around their leadership so they commissioned a programme that all team leaders have attended and a monthly strategic group where they focus on workforce strategy

·   The two main sources of data are the Local Government Association (LGA) who do an annual health check and the DfE (Department for Education)

·   The annual health checks monitor performance standards against people's perceptions of those standards. WCC performed well with schools in a strong and clear social work framework that was recommended with Ofsted

·   They recognise the availability of support and supervision for social workers who felt they had the time/opportunity for their professional development

·   WCC identified five days a year for each social worker to support their CPD development, some will be mandatory and some for their own professional development, More work was being done around this

·   The survey had 90 questions and were scored between 0-100. They were then triangulated and scored against nine different themes

·   WCC scored well against eight themes and they one the scored worst on was Covid-19 related (73% satisfaction rate); this was caused by changes in Public Health. The survey was done December 2021

·   The other area of information received is the annual return to the DFA which is done annually in September. The data included a three-year profile around agency staff, vacancy and absence because they are indicators of the overall health of WCC’s workforce and average caseloads. This includes the ranges within the West Midlands as well as the national ranges

·   WCC reduced their agency usage and were below the regional and national averages as well as their workloads, vacancy rates were stable, turnover rates were 1% lower than the regional average

·   The amount of newly qualified and level  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Annual Social Work Health Check pdf icon PDF 400 KB

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This was covered in section 4.


Children and Families Workforce Strategy Review pdf icon PDF 100 KB

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This was covered in section 4.


Performance Progress Report Quarter 1 2022/2023 pdf icon PDF 95 KB

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John Coleman noted that there are 22 performance measures for CYP OSC and all of them were on track apart from six. Full details were in the report.


In response to Councillor Roodhouse, John Coleman said that the third party spend was not met because the original plan did not happen, but this was not being amended by reducing costs with building rentals. Maximising income is, when children there is a statutory duty for health services to contribute towards a care package. For children in residential care, the local CCG (clinical commissioning group) would make a financial contribution towards that package. In the past this was not utilised so more work with the health centre was being done. Contributing towards these costs made it possible to increase income. The education safeguarding training target had not been met because most of that is free as it partly paid by schools or the private sector where there was a target of £50,000. Elements of these income targets have been met.


In response to the Chair, John Coleman said there were more children on CPPs nationally because of national cases and rising awareness. A lot of auditing was done around this around the north of Warwickshire around domestic abuse issues. There were also more children needing support during the current economic climate. Work was being done differently to children at risk of CSE in a multi-agency way without a CPP. Councillor Simpson-Vince noted that it was important not to miss anything while trying to get this back on target.


Following a question from Councillor Simpson-Vince, Nigel Minns stated that some targets like the Early Help one would be met because of the work being done. However, targets like children of a EHC plan (education, health and care) would be more difficult to achieve because progress was slower because they had to stay at their placed schools. It was important to get the right help given at the right time which would be done by increasing resources to mainstream schools. 


In response to Councillor Humphreys, Nigel Minns stated that there was a national health worker shortage, roughly 6-7000 in the UK. A recovery plan was in place to look at alternative approaches and one of these approaches is to change the skills mix so they use a different range of people who can do these visits to enable them to get the capacity needed. However, this meant anyone who was not a health visitor who carried out a visit did not count towards the national statistics.

Following a supplementary from Councillor Seccombe, Nigel Minns said this target could be changed from the national to a local one to provide a clearer target.


In response to Councillor Kerridge, John Coleman noted that the number of children entering care had reduced by 1/3 because of the early support for the families keeping children safe. These reports are now aligned to the Council Plan, and it showed the ones that were not on track and what  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To consider the enclosed work programme, updated following the meeting of the Chair and Group Spokespersons. The programme includes an update from the Forward Plan showing items relevant to the remit of this Committee.

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Councillor Kerridge requested an update on the children and young family centres. John Coleman informed the committee that an independent review into these centres was imminent and will include the location of the centres. The outcome of this review could be presented at February’s or April’s meeting. Councillor Kerridge asked for the providers to provide outreach to the local areas. John Coleman agreed for feedback from this to be shared with the committee.  


Councillor Morgan requested that an update on the Virtual Schools be put on work programme for February.


Any Other Business

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Councillor Kerridge requested more clarification on how money was spent in each area in relation to the Council budget.


A discussion followed on paper copies of papers at meetings. 


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting has been scheduled for 8 November 2022 at 10am


The meeting will be held at Shire Hall.


Meetings for 2022/2023 have been scheduled as follows:


-       14 February 2023 at 10am

-       11 April 2023 at 10am

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8th November 2022 at 10am