Agenda and minutes

Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 25 January 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Helen Barnsley  Senior Democratic Services Officer

Note: Rearranged from November 2023 


No. Item



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The Chair was unavoidably delayed and was not present at the start of the meeting.  It was agreed that Helen Barnsley, Senior Democratic Service Officer would start the meeting, covering apologies, disclosures of pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests, the minutes of the previous meeting and public speaking.


It was agreed that Councillor Jerry Roodhouse, Vice-Chair, would chair the meeting, starting at Item 3 until Councillor Marian Humphreys arrived.



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Apologies were received from Councillor Penny-Anne O’Donnell and Phil Johnson (Co-optee and Chair of Stockingford Local Governing Body).


Apologies were also received from Uju Okereke, Public Health Consultant.


Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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Councillor Clare Golby confirmed that she had submitted updated disclosure forms to the legal team but that they did not affect any items on the agenda for the meeting.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 144 KB

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The minutes of the meeting held on the 19th September 2023 were agreed as a true and accurate record.


There were no matters arising.


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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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 confirmed that, in relation to early year entitlement and provider rates, work is progressing well and there are plans for a briefing note to be circulated as soon as ready. It was confirmed that the fair access protocol launched was last week and has been well received by head teachers and further amendments will be taken forward. Councillor Kaur asked that her thanks to the teams across the council who had been involved were noted.


Councillor Sue Markham, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families, confirmed that the council’s bid to become a sector led improvement partner (commissioned by the Department for Education) had been successful. This means that the service will be able to support other authorities to improve and is a great indication of the confidence in Warwickshire’s children’s services. There are details to finalise, but this is a great news story.


Councillor Jeff Morgan asked if there would be any link between being a sector led improvement partner and future gradings from OFSTED inspections. John Coleman, Director of Children & Families Service confirmed that there would not be a direct link other than to be a sign to OFSTED of the confidence in Warwickshire.


In relation to Warwickshire children’s homes, it was confirmed that four have now been completed, with the second home due to open in April 2024. There is another home that the council is hoping to acquire.

Councillor Markham confirmed that she had visited a Loudmouth session – a programme with the aim of preventing the exploitation of children in Warwickshire. The Committee noted that sessions run for a range of ages and if any member would like to join future sessions, to contact John Coleman.


Corporate Parenting Panel Update pdf icon PDF 964 KB

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


The following reports have been included for your information –


·         CiCC, CLF & Voice, Influence and Change Team Update

·         Work Programme for the Corporate Parenting Panel

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Councillor Sue Markham, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families presented a brief overview of the reports that were included in the agenda pack for today’s meeting. Points from the report such as the introduction of mental health boxes, consultation with young people in relation to the redesign of the access to records process and recent Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) training for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) were highlighted to the Committee.


In relation to the RSE training, the Committee noted that sessions had been very well attended and were a good introduction to cultural differences related to this topic.


Following a question from Councillor Clare Golby in relation to the number of UASC in Warwickshire, it was confirmed that there is a mandatory national scheme in place which requires all local authorities to support a number of UASC equivalent to 0.1% of their overall 0 – 18 population. For Warwickshire, this equates to 119 UASC. It was noted that 40% of all of Warwickshire Care Leavers are UASC and that funding is received for each placement.


Councillor Golby asked a follow up question in relation to the placement of UASC out of the county. John Coleman, Director of Children & Families Service agreed to provide further information in relation to Councillor Golby’s question. In addition, Councillor Golby asked for further information in relation to the pathways taken by UASC once they arrive in Warwickshire, including (age) verification processes. It was agreed that this information would be shared with the Committee.


Councillor Jeff Morgan requested feedback from users of council run schemes, such as grandmentors. It was agreed that this information would be circulated to the committee.



Quarter 2 Integrated Performance Report pdf icon PDF 134 KB

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John Coleman, Director of Children & Families Service gave an overview of the slides as a summary of the performance which is further covered in the report.


The Committee was pleased to note that the majority of performance related to this committee is on track. The following points were highlighted –


      In relation to Education, the majority of measures are on track and performing well. There has been an increase in good/outstanding performance in primary schools.


      The number of nursery school places being taken is improving, although still not yet at target. Work is underway to promote free nursery places and make sure that people know that they are there to be taken up.


      It was confirmed that 94.9% of care leavers are now in education, employment, or training.


      Health Care Plan performance remains static and is approximately 8% below the national average. Officers acknowledged that this is an area with work to focus on. This will be covered in Item 6 – SEND Analysis.


      It was confirmed that the Children in Care numbers are not on track. Consideration is being given to a potential review of the target to see if it remains realistic.


      In relation to some targets showing red, it was confirmed that some data is only provided annually so will not be 100% accurate at certain points throughout the year.


Following a question from Councillor Barbara Brown in relation to the low number of child protection plans in place, and a concern that could potentially mean that some children at risk have not been identified, John Coleman confirmed that the Warwickshire system is extremely robust. There are quarterly thematic reviews undertaken with outside agencies such as the police to ensure that the system remains robust.


Councillor Sue Markham, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families, asked if Warwickshire’s performance was better than some other authorities because of the decision taken to keep early help and intervention in place. It was confirmed that other authorities have had to make the difficult decision to stop early help and intervention programmes; mainly due to budget/funding pressures. Warwickshire has been able to maintain a high level of investment.


Following a question from Councillor Justin Kerridge in relation to staffing issues, John Coleman confirmed that there is a national issue concerning social worker recruitment. There is a new strategy underway relating to recruitment and retention. The Committee noted that Warwickshire County Council has its own programme for recruitment including graduate and apprenticeship placements. In addition, there is a wellbeing policy and counselling support for all social workers.  It was confirmed that a new campaign is ready to launch, and a briefing will be circulated to members in the next few weeks.


It was confirmed that of the £15m overspend in the children and families service, £6m is attributed to an overspend in staffing. The Committee noted that the need to employ agency social workers had contributed to the overspend. The investment in Warwickshire children’s homes will ease  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


SEND Analysis pdf icon PDF 219 KB

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Ross Caws introduced the report which highlighted the developments over the last year. The following points were highlighted –


        The report outlines the outcomes across the SEND population – broadly positive in attainment and progress. There are issues around attendance and exclusions as highlighted in the report.


        In relation to the Delivering Better Value Programme, it was confirmed that Warwickshire County Council was asked to be part of the programme along with 55 other authorities. Each authority had an overspend on the High Needs Block. The programme has been a positive experience for gathering evidence in a consistent way, across local authorities, for the reasons for the overspend. In addition, the programme has provided a five-year forecast for future spend.


        The Committee noted that significant increases were forecast, not just in case loads but also with the associated costs for different placements; for example, cost for state school placement vs independent specialist educational provision where costs can be double.  This information will be reported back to the DfE.


        The following four projects were submitted for grant applications - inclusion framework; development of the workforce within mainstream schools; accelerating resource provision; and digital infrastructure.


        Training for staff in schools has been picked up as a key area for focus. Investment in mainstream schools and staff is a key part of the Delivering Better Value Programme.


        In relation to the Written Statement of Action following the OFSTED inspection in 2021, it was confirmed that five areas for progression were identified.  Good progress has been made across these areas, but they are unable to be signed off until the next OFSTED inspection.  There is a new inspection framework in place and Warwickshire County Council’s next inspection will be some time in the next five years.  This is down to OFSTED and not the DfE or the council.


Following a question from Councillor Justin Kerridge, it was confirmed that resource provision is an area the council must continue to support and invest in.  In addition, the need for specialist provision is increasing and likely to continue to increase. Warwickshire County Council’s aim is to ensure that all children are placed in appropriate settings as part of the programme.





Councillor Brian Hammersley raised a question in relation to the figures presented in the report and asked if there was any known reason for the increase over the last 5 years in the numbers of people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) SEND diagnosis and why this was increasing so rapidly.  Councillor Hammersley questioned why so many people now seemed to have such needs compared to when he was at school.  He expressed concern at the budget overspend this created which was not affordable to the Council or other Councils, with Councils continuing to expend money and having no control over costs. Cllr Hammersley questioned whether we should go back to the source of the problem to address the spend pressures.  In response, Ross Caws confirmed that not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Achievement of Warwickshire Children and Young People in Statutory Assessments 2023 pdf icon PDF 459 KB

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Leah Adams, Head of Early Years and School Effectiveness presented an overview of the report and presentation.


The changes to how statutory assessments have been undertaken are fully explained in the report, but to summarise, the aim was to stabilise and get back to normal after the disruption of covid.


The following points were made to outline the work undertaken by the education team.


        Education Strategy is currently under development. It was confirmed that part of that work includes a review of the school effectiveness strategy which is due to be launched in September 2024.


        The school effectiveness team will focus on the performance in each of the districts and boroughs in Warwickshire and as a result will be able to provide the committee with performance at a district level rather than a county level.


        In relation to the new school model, it was confirmed that education teams and children & family teams will work collaboratively to ensure the best results. The work will focus not just on schools but will also include nurseries. The virtual school is included in the work being undertaken.


        The Committee noted that the complexity of needs within early years is widening. There is an ambitious delivery plan underway. The focus is at the stage before school starts; to ensure that any support needed is already in place.


        Overall, early years children are performing well but with the incredibly ambitious plan, there is always room for the performance to be better.


        The Committee noted that external factors can influence the performance, including managed moves. Officers are looking at how exclusions can be prevented and are attending network meetings.


        In relation to disadvantaged children, the Committee’s attention was drawn to the gap between National non disadvantaged and Warwickshire Disadvantaged children. Moving forward, this will be an opportunity for the team to use the information from top performing districts and apply it to better support the disadvantaged children.


        Confirmation was given in relation to the Warwickshire Educational Board and that the right partners are all part of the board.  Nigel Minns added that the Board acts as a single method of engagement and that Directors and Executive Directors are also part of it. It was agreed that the Board is a step in the right direction for improving the issue of communication. The aim is that the Board will help to break down any remaining barriers and that key partners can all work together.


        Councillor Brian Hammersley asked if the lack of retention of head teachers is having an impact on what officers were trying to achieve. Leah Adams confirmed that some head teachers are leaving to support education in other areas but that it should be noted that some multi academy trusts can offer greater opportunities. The job of a head teacher is challenging and getting more so.


        It was confirmed that there is a pastoral and support offer made to all head teachers within Warwickshire and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Work Programme and items on the Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 115 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.


The Chair asked that if members of the Committee had any requests for topics to be added to the work programme for future meetings, they should contact Helen Barnsley, Senior Democratic Services Officer.



Any Other Business

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Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on XXXXXXX

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The next meeting will be held on the 27th February 2024.

The meeting will be held at Shire Hall, Warwick.