Agenda and minutes

Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 13 June 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Helen Barnsley  Senior Democratic Services Officer


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Apologies were received from Councillor Penny-Anne O’Donnell and Nigel Minns.


Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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There were none.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To receive the minutes of the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny meeting held on 26 April 2023 and of the Annual Meeting of the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny held on 16 May 2023.

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The minutes of the meetings held on 26 April 2023 and 16 May 2023 were approved as a true and accurate record.


Public Speaking

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There were no public speakers.


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 Cabinet 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 told members that Johnny Kyriacou had joined the Council as Assistant Director for Education. She said Duane Chappell had recently left the Council, and the position of Head of Inclusion was in the process of being advertised. In the meantime Ross Caws had been appointed as her interim replacement.


Councillor Kam Kaur said Nigel Minns had met with Ofsted the previous day as part of the Council’s Annual Conversation. She stated initial feedback from the meeting had been positive, although there was an acceptance there were some areas where more improvement work was needed.


Corporate Parenting Panel Update

The Portfolio Holder for Children & Families 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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A verbal update was provided by Councillor Sue Markham. She said the Voice influence and change team had presented their report to the most recent Corporate Parenting Panel to outline the work they had completed in the last three months. This included a fun day for siblings, as a key area of work had identified the importance in maintaining and building the relationship with siblings when they are not always living together. There would be a Refugee Celebration Event on June 19 and a care experienced and carers fun day taking place in July.


The Committee was told that Deena Moorey the Virtual School Head presented her annual report to the Panel. Evidence showed that when children enter care earlier and have stable placements and educational settings, they are more likely to achieve well. Gaps in attainment were more apparent in secondary school. It had been agreed to have an agenda item and presentation on the increase in children missing from care at the next Panel meeting.


Councillor Sue Markham said placement stability had been identified as a key area for improvement. A wrap around service supporting carers had been introduced and the number of children in care had reduced; however there had been a recent increase in teenagers entering care and it had been acknowledged that it can be difficult to identify an appropriate placement.


Regarding long term stability, Councillor Sue Markham said fewer children had plans of adoption and there had been a significant increase in the number of Special Guardianship Orders being made with family members and foster carers. Members were told there was a need for more foster carers so the Council had the ability to match children with carers and have choice of placements.


Responding to a question from Councillor Clare Golby, John Coleman (Assistant Director, Children and Families) said there were myriad reasons for the increase in adolescents entering care. For those aged 16-17 it was mainly due to a breakdown in family relationships and the family asking them to leave home. However officers were working to encourage young people in such a situation to stay in the family setting as often this would be better for them rather than being put into care. For younger children, the reasons for being put into care were more varied. There had been an increase in mental health issues and instances of self harm. John Coleman said there were instances of children being taken into care due to being victims of exploitation outside the home environment. He said there were no real hotspots for this happening and it was a countywide issue.


Q4 Integrated Performance Report pdf icon PDF 126 KB

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The item was introduced by Becky Hale (Assistant Director, Strategy and Commissioning). She told members that of the 22 key business measures of relevance to the remit of the Committee, 16 were on track or had been completed. There were a number of positives, with the key business measures relating to the number of children subject to a child protection plan and applications for school places being highlighted as particularly good areas of performance.


There were two service areas where performance was static and four where it was declining. One of the performance areas that was not on track to be met related to the under 18 conception rate. Becky Hale said the most recent data was from December 2021 and a lot of targeted work had been taking place since then to improve the figures and understand the root cause of the current ones. One of the static performance areas related to the number of under 18s being admitted to hospital due to alcohol. Becky Hale said there had been a slight improvement but admission rates in Warwickshire were notably higher than the national average. Targeted work was taking place in the Nuneaton and Bedworth and Warwick districts due to these being particular outliers. A new liaison officer was in the process of being recruited to work with the Council’s commissioning provider, Compass. This was a priority as part of the Strategic Drug and Alcohol Partnership. Instances of self harm was another area of concern where targeted action was taking place as the key business measure was not on track to be met.


John Coleman said the percentage of care leavers in education, employment or training had decreased overall during the last year. However there was an interesting trend that had emerged when the data was analysed in more detail; the percentage of 17-18 year olds in care in education, employment or training had decreased but the figure for 19-20 year olds had increased. The reasons for this trend were being investigated. The number of careers advisors in the children in care team had been increased. John Coleman said around 45 per cent of children in care were unaccompanied asylum seekers, and although they had been engaging in education courses they were not able to work. There were further concerns however as they would generally take shorter courses; additionally there was limited availability for English as a Second Language courses. John Coleman said addressing this issue was an area of priority.


Shade Agboola (Director of Public Health) said a programme had been implemented to address declining rates of children who were receiving checks from health visitors at 6-8 weeks old. Following discussions at the Health and Wellbeing Board an action plan had been devised, whereby families who had high needs or were classified as vulnerable would be prioritised. All families would receive a health check by the age of 13 weeks. Shade Agboola said recruitment of health visitors remained a national challenge. However of the cohort of students set  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Children & Family Centre Updates and Strategic Direction pdf icon PDF 250 KB

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The item was introduced by Rob Sabin (Lead Commissioner, Family Wellbeing), who explained there were 14 children and family centres in the county; one was operated by St Michaels and the remainder by Barnardo’s. An independent review of the centres had been undertaken in 2023, which concluded there was a good level of performance in relation to provision for 0-4 years; partnership working with speech and language colleagues; improved uptake in two year nursery funding for eligible families; and increased support for families experiencing hardship. However concerns were raised over outreach delivery and service provision for 5-19 years. Since the last update to the Committee work had taken place to improve performance in these areas, but they were still not meeting their key business measure target. Rob Sabin said commissioners and early help officers had been working with the providers and had developed an action plan aimed at improving performance, with a focus on outreach work and provision for 5-19 years. He said St Michaels and Barnardo’s had continued to develop partnerships with health and early help colleagues and this had helped to increase the levels of support for families in need. This included signposting guidance and advice for families, such as where funding grants could be accessed. Data showed the most common decile on the Index of Multiple Deprivation that attendees of the children and family centres came from was decile six. Data also showed there was an underrepresentation of people from rural areas using the centres, and existing community facilities were underutilised.


Responding to points raised by Councillor Justin Kerridge, Liz Entwistle (Commissioner, Family Wellbeing) said Barnardo’s had increased its levels of engagement across the Stratford district with a view to improving delivery of outreach services in particular. Some of the centres now used family link workers to help provide more specific one to one work with certain users. In some cases centres had previously used volunteers to run certain services, and the possibility of using volunteers alongside Council-led services was being looked at.


Councillor Jeff Morgan noted the current contract expired at the end of August 2024 and asked if a decision had been made on what would happen in terms of provision after this date. Becky Hale said this was being considered by officers and an update would be provided in due course. Councillor Jerry Roodhouse stated his belief that a robust discussion on future provision was needed. He also noted there appeared to be an unequal distribution of service provision across the county, and said he would have liked to have seen a fuller breakdown of the family centre budget based on district/borough area. The Chair agreed and asked officers to distribute the budget figures to the members of the Committee.


Responding to questions from Councillor Brian Hammersley, Liz Entwistle said the attendance figures shown in the report showed the percentage population of a district as a whole; for example if everyone from a particular IMD was attending a centre then the figure in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


OSC Customer Feedback Report 2022/2023 pdf icon PDF 339 KB

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The item was introduced by Matt Biggs, who advised members that since the report was published, additional data quality checks had identified some small updates to the figures quoted. He said that of the 212 complaints relating to children and families that were closed during 2022/23, 140, or 66 per cent, were remedied by providing an explanation; 72, or 24 per cent were remedied by providing an apology; in 22 cases, or 10.4 per cent, a service was provided; five cases, or 2.4 per cent, were remedied by changing a process; and in two cases, or 0.9 per cent, a financial remedy was given. The Committee was also told that in 2022/2023 apologies were the most common remedy and accounted for 93, or 71 per cent, of all complaints. Providing explanations accounted for 56, or 42.7 per cent, of complaints and providing a service accounted for 13, or 9.9 per cent of complaints. One remedy each referred to changing a process and a financial remedy, which was 0.8 per cent each. Finally, in relation to Education Services, lessons learned were recorded for 44, or 33.6 per cent, of closed complaints in 2022/2023; 17, or 13 per cent related to process adjustments; nine, or 6.9 per cent, addressed lessons regarding communication; and two, or 1.5 of the total lessons learned, related to application delays.


Matt Biggs said three ways of improving complaints management had been identified. The first was to manage them more proactively. Analysis showed that, particularly in relation to complaints regarding school admissions, some complaints could have been prevented if they had been handled differently. The second point was to establish the required outcome of the complaint. The third was use of empathy, and the importance of acknowledging that a complaint being made was a reflection of a customer’s frustration. This was particularly important to consider in issues where a child was involved.


Members were told a new admissions team lead had been appointed and was working to establish how complaints could be managed more effectively. It had been identified there were many part time members of staff in the admissions team, and some complaints had arisen from customers not having a named point of contact, or not being able to get in contact with the person they had made their initial enquiry with and having to repeat themselves and having the answer to their question delayed. It was highlighted that the report recorded 51 per cent of complaints relating to admissions were because of communication issues. Additionally, 46 per cent of complaints were resolved through an explanation of the problem. Matt Biggs said this demonstrated that a significant proportion of the complaints could have been prevented. To handle this officers were being given specific geographic areas to cover so their knowledge of the schools would improve, and to convey to parents when they would next be at work and therefore be in a position to answer their query. This would avoid the need for parents to have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Work Programme and items on the Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 121 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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Matt Biggs said an update to the Admissions Report would be made in September, giving members an update on the Improvement Plan and the transfer of pupils into primary and secondary schools. The Chair said she had met with the Chair of the Adult Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee to discuss work on collating information together.


Members noted the contents of the work programme.


Any Other Business

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There were no additional items of business.


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on 19 September 2023 @10am.


The meeting will be held at Shire Hall, Warwick.

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Members noted the date of the next meeting.