Agenda and minutes

Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 26 April 2023 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Helen Barnsley  Senior Democratic Services Officer


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Apologies were received from Councillor Jo Barker, Councillor Barbara Brown and Councillor Marian Humphries.


Apologies were also received from Councillor Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Children & Families.


Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Minutes from the meeting held on the 14th of February 2023.

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The minutes from the meeting held on the 14th of February 2023 were agreed as a true and accurate record.  There were no matters arising.


Public Speaking

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There was no pubic speaking.


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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There were no questions to the Portfolio Holders. 


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 Kam Kaur, Portfolio Holder for Education provided an overview to the Committee in relation to Primary School Places.  On the 17th of April 2023, offer letters were sent out via electronic letters, with less than 90 sent out via post.  It was confirmed that robust planning and support from ICT meant that parents/carers received guidance to accept offers made.


The Committee noted that 500 calls were received on Offer Day with 90% answered – an increase from last year.  Following a question in relation to unplaced offers (offers made for a school that was not a preferred choice), it was confirmed that only 1% of offers were unplaced but that every child had a place in a Warwickshire school.  It was agreed that Councillor Kaur would send out further information as a briefing note.


John Coleman, Assistant Director - Children & Families confirmed that there had been a recent inspection focused on the services for young people aged 16 to 25 years old.  The final report is due to be published on the 9th of May and will be shared with the Committee.  It was noted that there are no further inspections expected until the Inspection of Local Authority Children's Services (ILACS) in 2024.




Corporate Parenting Panel Update

Portfolio Holder for Children & Families is invited to provide an update on the work of the Corporate Parenting Panel.


To include an update from the Children in Care Council and other forums.



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Councillor Jeff Morgan (Portfolio Holder for Children & Families) sent his apologies for this meeting so this item will move to the meeting on the 19th of June 2023.


Quarter 3 Integrated Performance Report Quarter 2 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 112 KB

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John Coleman, Assistant Director - Children & Families presented the performance report to the Committee who noted that 11 targets were currently on track, with 5 targets not on track.


The following highlights were presented –


o   The target for Child Protection is on track.

o   Children in Care is also on track.  Warwickshire has the lowest number of children entering care in the region.  The Committee noted that there is a lot of work in supporting families so that they can safely care for their children.

o   The 6-to-8-week health care check remains an area on concern.  The performance is not on track

o   Warwickshire saw 86 conceptions to under 18s which is a reduction of 10 from 2020.  This is slightly above the National average.  The Committee noted that the data is not the most up to date but were reassured that officers were working on being in a position to present more up to date information.

o   The Committee was happy to note that performance in relation to NEETs was continuing to improve.


In relation to education, Nigel Minns, Strategic Director People Directorate confirmed that while performance in this area is not on track, members of the Committee have been made aware of the issues and are aware of the improvement plan that is in place.  It was confirmed that recent data shows a significant improvement in this area.  In particular, in relation to the issues of summer 2022 and school placements, the new system is now working well and is having a positive effect.


Following a question from Councillor Brett Beetham, it was confirmed that there had been an overspend of the budget within the Children and Families Service area.  Officers are currently reviewing the data but believe that the main area of the overspend is in relation to staffing and agency costs and the cost of residential care.  The Committee noted that these costs were not in relation to the number of children in care but in the cost of each placement.  It was agreed that there will be a more detailed report at a future meeting.


John Coleman Assistant Director - Children & Families confirmed that opening of council owned children’s homes will reduce costs for the service.  In addition, the homes will provide knowledge and reassurance that good quality care is being provided and at a reduced cost to the Council.  There will also be a reduction in the use of external foster placements which will also result in savings to the council. 


It was confirmed that there are more resources in place for Early Help services with a high number of families receiving support.  Officers are determined to focus on this area of work and are aiming for continuous improvement.  It was noted that there is a waiting list for early help support, but members were reassured that families are kept regularly updated with progress and will receive some level of support every week.

Following a question from Councillor Justin Kerridge, Nigel Minns confirmed,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Outdoor Education and Learning Strategy progress report pdf icon PDF 125 KB

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The report was presented to the Committee by Sarah Tregaski -Service Manager - Education Services Trading, Development and Delivery and Laura Greenacre - Delivery Lead – Education Services Development.


It was confirmed that the strategy was launched in June 2022 and so far has been very well received.  It was also confirmed that the budget has been approved from three years.


The following points were highlighted –


·         There has been an upward trajectory with engagement with more schools engaging

·         There are 92 different organisations subscribed to the newsletter

·         Officers are working to identifying good practice and share with colleagues

·         60 professionals attended a recent online training session with very positive feedback.  Attendees stated that they feel more confident providing outdoor education in their own available space.

·         Officers have plans in place for the next two academic years with additional plans to identify further spaces that can be used.

·         There are three potential schools that are interested in being champions for the strategy.


Following questions from Councillor Pete Gilbert and Councillor Jerry Roodhouse in relation to potential additional providers for the strategy, it was agreed that officers would contact the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and local commercial providers of outdoor activities.  It was noted that officers have been in touch with colleagues at the District and Borough councils to look into how they would work with Warwickshire County Council.


Councillor Pete Gilbert commented that while it was good news that the strategy was in place for an additional year, it should really be a continuous offer from the Council.  A commitment from members of the Committee was agreed that they are committed to the outdoor strategy and that the impetus must be maintained.


It was noted that schools can use the webpage to keep up to date with what was on offer across the county.  Officers agreed that more could be done to encourage more use of the website as well as doing more to encourage local businesses to come forward to promote their services on the site. Following further discussions in relation to the website, officers agreed to look into the possibility of adding search filters for the type of activities on offer.  It was agreed that the addition of filters may make the site more user friendly. 


Councillor Jill Simpson-Vince asked for clarification in relation to the measure of success, which is mentioned in the report, asking officers how this was going to be evidenced.  It was agreed that future reports would include a clearer presentation of the measure of success.


The officers thanked the Committee for all their comments and feedback stating that it had been very positive for them all.


The Chair agreed with the earlier comment from Councillor Pete Gilbert in relation to the need for the strategy to continue beyond the agreed three years.



School Attendance Performance Report - 2021/2022 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

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The report was presented to the Committee by Sarah Tregaskis, Service Manager - Education Services Trading, Development and Delivery and Nici Scott-Moylan - Team Lead Attendance Service.


It was confirmed that the report covered the last academic year up to the 21st July 2022. The data was published by the Department of Education on the 16th March 2023. The Committee noted that since the Covid Pandemic there had been significant disruption to school attendance in Warwickshire, and nationally. It has been identified as a high priority for officers/


It was confirmed that the Attendance Alliance is working with council officers on getting children back into school on a regular basis.  The joint approach is focusing on all schools and academies. Members noted that officers are collaborating closely with John Coleman, Assistant Director - Children & Families and Marina Kitchen, Service Manager for Early Help & Targeted Support Services. 


It was noted that the overall school absence rate had increased from 4.7% to 8.1% in Warwickshire. Prior to Covid, performance in this area had always been in line with statistical neighbours and nationally. The current review involves looking at why recovery from covid has been slower in Warwickshire in relation to attendance. Members learnt that North Warwickshire has the highest percentage of non-attendance in Warwickshire, and Warwick District has the lowest percentage.


The Chair commented that there has been a lot of concern about the recovery from covid and that the report highlights this.


Councillor Pete Gilbert commented that questions were raised about some of the decisions made by Warwickshire County Council and the Government in relation to the covid response. The data in the report suggests that members were correct in asking the questions at the time. Councillor Gilbert added that should there be a ‘next time,’ lessons must be learnt.


The Chair added that the information in the report suggests that those who are most vulnerable have been the worst affected. Sarah Tregaskis responded that there is still a lot of data that needs to be unpacked, and that the data is coming direct from the schools. Nici Scott-Moylan added that moving forward will involve a lot more collaborative working in order to get support to the most vulnerable as soon as possible. County officers are working to maximise a multi-agency approach to improve outcomes for children.


The Chair questioned how much was known at the time; for example, information on which children weren’t logging in for lessons, or didn’t have IT provisions must have been available.  Sarah Tregaskis responded that the data in the report was for the last academic year, when there was still a high number of covid cases. During the primary lockdown, officers were working closely with schools.  But it was an unknown period of time and a lot of lessons have been learnt that will be taken forward.


The Committee noted that more up to date information is now available that suggests that there has been an improvement in attendance across Warwickshire. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Up to date work programme to be presented to the Committee.


Items from the Forward Plan relevant to the remit of the Committee to be noted.

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The Committee noted and agreed that updated work programme and items on the Forward Plan relevant to the remit of the Committee.


Councillor Brett Beetham requested a report in relation to child exploitation in Nuneaton and Bedworth following recent coverage in the local news.  John Coleman, Assistant Director - Children & Families suggested that a briefing note would be more appropriate in the first instance due to the sensitive nature of the topic and live operations currently underway which the council needs to be sensitive of.  It was agreed that a briefing note would be sent to members of the committee.


The agenda for the next meeting of the Committee on the 13th June 2023 has the following items (in addition to the standing items including an update from the Corporate Parenting Panel and the Performance Report) –


·      School Admissions Review to include update on transfer offers and in year arrangements

·      Children & Family Centre Updates and Strategic Direction

Items for the work programme and future meetings of the committee will be discussed at the next Chair & Spokes meeting which will be held on 23 May 2023 @ 10am.


The meeting will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams


Any Other Business

Member Development Sessions relevant to the committee -


        OFSTED - How schools are inspected – 27th April at 2pm


        Overview Session on Education Services – 17th May at 2pm


        Children & Families - a brief overview (including Corporate Parenting) – 7th June at 10am


        Education Services (SEND) – Session 3 – 27th June at 3pm


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The Chair encouraged all members of the Committee to attend member development and training sessions that are relevant to the Committee –


·         OFSTED - How schools are inspected – 27th April at 2pm


·         Overview Session on Education Services – 17th May at 2pm


·         Children & Families - a brief overview (including Corporate Parenting) – 7th June at 10am


·         Education Services (SEND) – Session 3 – 27th June at 3pm (members were reminded that they do not have to have attend the previous sessions to go to the session in June)


Date of Next Meeting

The next Committee meeting will be on the 13th of June 2023 at 10am.


The meeting will be held at Shire Hall, Warwick.

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The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 13 June 2023 @ 10am


This meeting will be held at Shire Hall, Warwick.