Agenda and minutes

Children & Young People Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 28th January, 2020 10.30 am

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Paul Spencer - Senior Democratic Services Officer  Senior Democratic Service Officer


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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Margaret Bell, Jonathan Chilvers and Pam Williams, from John McRoberts (Parent Governor representative) and from Ian Budd, Assistant Director, Education Services.



Members’ Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 279 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 24 September 2020.

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That the minutes of the meeting held on 24 September 2019 are approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.



Public Speaking

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Different Futures - Two Year Report pdf icon PDF 14 KB

Different Futures supports parents who have had multiple children removed from their care.  This is part of our strategy to reduce the need for children to be in care.  The report is to update members on the progress and outcomes for parents and children.

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It was reported that Different Futures worked with birth parents who were no longer able to care for their child due to adoption or kinship care. Dedicated project workers offered a two-year support programme, with the option to access aftercare for an extra year if that support was still required. They sought to address individual needs to improve the current situation for the clients such as housing/homelessness, debt, mental health issues, drug/alcohol issues and employment. This assisted clients to become able to provide care for any future children.


The project coordinator and three project workers were funded by the County Council. The end of year 2 report provided a high-level overview of key performance data. The appointment of a third full time project worker, would allow the project to work with more parents across the county. The financial implications were reported, including the end of year savings for years one and two, which were cost avoidance rather than cashable savings. The annual report would be distributed across partner organisations and through wider circulation.


Questions and comments were invited, with responses provided as indicated:


·         The Chair commented that the statistical data was positive and to be congratulated.

·         It was confirmed that the savings shown in the report were cost avoidance savings for the County Council. There would be further time and savings for the police, courts and health services, amongst other agencies.

·         The additional project worker would give further capacity. The £44,000 investment was expected to yield a further £300,000 of cost avoidance savings.

·         There was a continual dialogue with clients and one of the conditions concerned using long-term contraception.

·         Information was sought about the potential numbers of families requiring assistance. It was projected that there would be about 36 cases for the next two-year period. Previously, there were approximately 120 cases per year.

·         Individual, tailored support was often required and some was specialist, with long waiting times. A fund had been established to commission some of the specialist support, where this was required.

·         The longer-term aims of the project were discussed. Some clients had decided not have further children. For others, the intensive support had helped to improve their lifestyles, mental health and housing security, as well as giving them a clear understanding of why their children had been removed previously. They would be asked to undertake a pre-pregnancy assessment and would be better equipped to raise children in the future.

·         It was confirmed that the cost avoidance savings were year on year.

·         Understanding the overall cost avoidance and time savings for other agencies would be useful. This information could be sought for inclusion in future annual reports.

·         It was confirmed that after the two-year programme there was the option to access aftercare for an extra year if that support was still required. However, the aim of Different Futures was to help people to be independent.




That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee notes the 2018-2019 Different Futures end of year two annual report and the progress made against respective  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Update Children's Social Care Cultural Change pdf icon PDF 195 KB

A presentation on the cultural change occurring in Children's Social Care.  Information about the restorative practice and new pathway to change assessment.

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The Committee received a presentation from John Coleman, Assistant Director, Children and Families. The presentation covered the following areas:


Children and Families Transformation – Restorative Practice                                      

·       Overview, circles, restorative conversations,

·       Working WITH children, young people and their families and partners

·       Working towards safe uncertainty


Children and Families Transformation:                                                                                 

·       Programme management approach of phased changes

·       Timeline


Restorative Approaches in Warwickshire

·       Our values

·       Our restorative tool: the pathway to change

·       What this means for supporting children (child in need)

·       What this means for protecting children (child protection processes)


Costs and Benefits            

·       Current costs of the transformation process

·       Benefits – experience of customers, partners and staff;

·       Reducing bureaucracy;

·       Improving outcomes for the service


Children and Families Transformation – Next Steps


Questions and comments were invited, with responses provided as indicated:


·       It was questioned if comparable performance information was available for other local authorities. Restorative practice was a model being implemented by other authorities, with evidence that earlier support and prevention work was reducing service demand. However, each area had differing demands and issues, so direct comparison wasn’t possible.

·       The Portfolio Holder for Education & Learning praised the initiative, the benefits to families and for staff. The documents showed that 7,500 hours of time had been saved. It was questioned how this time was being utilised and whether it gave a financial or capacity saving. The time saved would make caseloads more manageable for social workers, who were then able to spend more time with each family, to build positive relationships. In the longer-term, this could help to manage demand for services.

·       Formal information sharing amongst agencies was discussed. There were child protection strategy meetings where agencies met formally to share information, but this process could be used more efficiently. Where appropriate a formal case conference also took place. Officers explained the revised working arrangements which sought to avoid previous duplication, with all agencies now sending information to the family ahead of the formal conference, which was a significant change. This was acknowledged as the best way forward, but provided tighter deadlines, as there were only 15 days between the strategy meeting and child protection conference.




That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee notes the presentation.



Closing the Gap pdf icon PDF 155 KB

Update on the Closing the Gap Board and revised delivery plan including report on the £500k DfE Strategic School Improvement Fund bid 'narrowing the gap in Warwickshire' Sept 17 to July 2019

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This item was introduced by Sophie Thompson from Learning and Performance Administration. It was reported that academically, Warwickshire was a high achieving county at key stage 4. However, it reflected the national pattern that disadvantaged pupils performed at a lower level. This situation had remained unchanged despite a variety of initiatives.


For the first time in several years, the gap between poorer pupils and their peers at GCSE had stopped closing. The ‘Closing the Gap’ project was established in January 2015 in response to the challenge of closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers in Warwickshire. A table showed the attainment gap at various academic stages and recent trends over time in the gaps at these key stages.


The Closing the Gap project was reviewed in summer 2018 to evaluate the progress made. The project board concluded that the impact of the work could not be measured with headline data, because of ongoing changes in assessments. However, without the work of the project, the gaps might be larger.

Research showed that disadvantaged learners often faced multiple barriers. The board monitored progress in a number of areas, which were set out in a further table within the report and covered: school improvement, SEND and inclusion, economy and skills, public health, education entitlement team, children looked after, school governance, poverty strategy, widening participation in higher education and early years.


Sophie Thompson referred to the board’s key projects and current focusses. These included the use of different measures to assess the gap in attainment. She spoke of the Nuneaton Education Strategy, work with admissions to afford priority to disadvantaged pupils and tracking pupils through to their GCSE examinations. Achieving a good level of development was discussed, especially the gaps identified in pupils at reception school age and how those pupils made progress through to the end of primary school. Evidence showed that this gap was not addressed.


A verbal update was provided on the Department for Education (DfE) monies secured for a Strategic School Improvement Fund. This had provided for £500,000 for two years from 2017 to 2019. Work had been undertaken through six teaching schools in Warwickshire and the University of Warwick on leadership development, work with governors, boys’ reading and maths problem solving. Support was provided to 35 schools. The assessment of the work undertaken was rated positively both throughout the project and afterwards by the DfE. An outline was given of the impact of the project, its positive outcomes and ongoing development of the initiatives embedded into schools. There had been limited performance information to date, so continued monitoring of impacts would take place.


Councillor Hayfield considered this to be an important strand of work that had been well led. Where attainment gaps were identified, it seemed difficult to address them. It was not understood why the various initiatives were not improving academic success for the cohort. It was not just about specific schools in deprived areas. However, it was disproportionate in terms of children looked after  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Question Time

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Questions to Cabinet Portfolio Holders

Up to 30 minutes of the meeting are available for members of the Committee to put questions to the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children.


The enclosed report 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/Heads of Service

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


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Work Programme pdf icon PDF 112 KB

To consider the enclosed work programme, updated following the meeting of the Chair and Group Spokespersons.

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Members noted the work programme as submitted.


Any Urgent Items

At the discretion of the Chair, items may be raised which are considered urgent (please notify Democratic Services in advance of the meeting).


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Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting has been scheduled for 10.00 am on 28 April 2020, Shire Hall, Warwick.


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It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee would take place at 10.00a.m. on 11 February 2020 at Shire Hall, Warwick.


The Committee rose at 11.45a.m.