Agenda and draft minutes

Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 16 November 2021 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 Paul Gillett (Co-opted Member) and John Coleman (Assistant Director for Children and Families).


Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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No declarations of interest were made at the meeting.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 229 KB

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The minutes of the meeting of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 19 October 2021 were agreed as an accurate record to be signed by the Chair.


Public Speaking

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No members of the public had registered to speak.


Question Time

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Question 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 Learning and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services.


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 Jeff Morgan (Portfolio Holder for Children, Families and Education) informed the committee that Ofsted was due to commence an inspection of Children’s Services on Monday 22 November 2021. This visit has been known of for some time. As a result, it has been possible to undertake a considerable amount of preparatory work. Any inspection can be stressful, stated Councillor Morgan, but the Council will demonstrate the very best of what it does.


Councillor Pete Gilbert observed that officers and members should be prepared to present the most accurate impression of services. In response the committee was informed that Ofsted inspectors are trained to assess that which they see and not to rely on what they are told.


Mark Ryder (Strategic Director for Communities) informed members:


1)  that education services will work closely with John Coleman’s team around the inspection.


2) That a workshop had recently been held on school admissions systems. Run by Vanguard, the session had attracted considerable engagement by head teachers.


3) Five workshops concerning schools’ capacity have recently been completed. Each workshop covered a separate district/borough area.


Councillor Jo Barker thanked officers for the school sufficiency workshops and asked that they be held on a regular basis. Councillor Jeff Morgan stated that the briefings mark the start of longer-term engagement with members. Officers had needed to be able to triangulate the intelligence they had gathered concerning school sufficiency with members’ own experience working in their communities.


Councillor Marian Humphries had been unable to attend the meeting in her area. She was informed that she would not be at a disadvantage at the second meeting because of this.


SEND Inspection - Verbal Update from Officers

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The Chair welcomed Duane Chappell, Strategy and Commissioning Manager (SEND & Inclusion) and Rachel Barnes (Delivery Lead, Change Hub Lead) to the meeting. Between them Duane and Rachel briefed the committee on the SEND and Inclusion Change programme and the local area SEND inspection that had been undertaken in the summer of 2021.


Members were informed of an anticipated increase in demand for SEND services of 14%. This will significantly increase the service’s overspend to around £95m. To build momentum a number of projects delivering rapid results were identified. These included the reduction of the number of panels from nine to two and a review of the service’s structure to make sure that staff are in the best place to deliver an effective service.


The vision for SEND and inclusion was set out in the meeting and the three phases of the change programme explained. The committee was informed that Warwickshire needs to introduce a whole system change to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND. For this to happen there needs to be a focus on promoting inclusion in mainstream settings, giving schools the skills and resources to meet the needs of learners, and building the confidence of parents and carers.  To aid in the delivery of this over 30 projects will take place up to 2023.


Regarding the local area inspection, the committee was informed that in July 2021, Ofsted & CQC visited Warwickshire to assess how the local area fulfils their responsibilities for children and young people with SEND age 0-25. (The local area includes WCC, CCG, Public Health, NHS providers, early years’ settings, schools and Further Education providers). The inspection final report was published on 23 September on the council’s website.


Although several areas were commended, there are significant areas of weakness that the local area needs to address.  A Written Statement of Action is being co-produced with partners, parents and carers showing how the council will deliver the improvements needed.


The committee was informed of a series of strengths identified by the inspection. These were:


• Commitment of leaders to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND


Children and young people with SEND achieve positive educational outcomes. A high proportion remain in education, training and employment


• Attendance rates are very positive and fixed term exclusions have reduced dramatically


• Leaders understand the strengths and weaknesses with an accurate, well-informed and detailed self-evaluation


Leaders have developed and started to implement an ambitious change programme, which identifies what needs to change and why


A series of significant weaknesses had also been identified. These were:


• Waiting times for ASD assessments, and the support for children and young

people awaiting assessment and following diagnosis of ASD.


• Relationships with parent/carers and communication and co-production at a

strategic level.


• Incorrect placement of some children and young people with EHC plans in

specialist settings, and mainstream school leaders’ understanding of why this

needs to be addressed.


• Uptake of staff  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Outdoor Education and Learning Strategy pdf icon PDF 426 KB

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Sarah Tregaskis (Service Manager – Education Service Delivery) introduced the report along with the draft strategy and appendices.


Councillor Dahmash, acknowledging the closure of the Marle Hall facility in North Wales asked what should be said to people who miss it. In reply the committee was informed that outdoor education is about more than one facility. Marle Hall was a facility and not a provision. It had not been widely used by schools in recent years. The strategy aims to open up opportunities for more schools to pursue outdoor education activities.


Councillor Pete Gilbert observed that very often outdoor education relies on having a teacher with a passion for it. It is an important element of the curriculum and should not be overlooked. Schools, he added, need to work with the County Council. Would the strategy ensure that outdoor education is included in the curriculum? Councillor Gilbert closed by suggesting that there is a role for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in monitoring future outdoor education provision.


In reply, Sarah Tregaskis stated that a part of the delivery plan is a proposal to set up a professionals’ network for Warwickshire. This will bring schools and teachers together to share practice and obtain feedback. A recent survey had found plenty of activity going on already.


The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places overall responsibility for health and safety on educational visits with the employer. Where Warwickshire County Council is the employer; which includes community schools, community special schools, voluntary controlled schools, maintained nursery schools but not academies, foundation, voluntary-aided or free schools, WCC provides support to schools via the web-based system EVOLVE to facilitate the efficient planning, management, approval, and evaluation of visits.


One school that operates a forest school approach has offered to provide training for other schools wishing to follow this route. One school that operates a forest school approach has offered to provide training for other schools wishing to follow this route.


Councillor Brian Hammersley recognised the difficulties of providing outdoor challenges and activities in a climate of blame and litigation.


Councillor Jerry Roodhouse suggested that outdoor education had been given a low priority for some time. The closure of Marle Hall had brought it to the fore. A clear definition of outdoor education and provision is required, and it will be important to monitor delivery of the strategy over time.


Councillor Roodhouse challenged the status of the emerging strategy. At one stage it was to have been a sub-strategy of the Education Strategy, but this had been considered inappropriate. It should, he suggested, be a corporate strategy signed off by the Leader of the Council. It would then sit at a high level with other corporate documents.


Councillor Jeff Morgan agreed that it would be useful if the strategy included a definition of outdoor pursuits. Some activities that were undertaken in the 1970s would not be considered acceptable now he added. The committee was reminded that outdoor activities are not a statutory service. Nevertheless, they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 317 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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Members considered the committee’s work programme. Councillor Pete Gilbert requested that the committee undertake a body of work to review why some children in certain communities, struggle with education. It was agreed that this would be considered at the next Chair and Group Spokes meeting.


Any Other Business

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Date of the next meeting

The next meeting has been scheduled for 8 December 2021 @ 10am


(Please note that this is a joint meeting with the Adult Social Care & Health OSC). 


The meeting will be held at Shire Hall, Warwick.


Meetings for 2021/2022 have been scheduled as follows –


·         22 February 2022 at 10am

·         11 April 2022 @ 10am


Meetings for 2022/2023 have been scheduled as follows –


·         14 June 2022 @ 10am

·         27 September 2022 @ 10am

·         8 November 2022 @ 10am

·         14 February 2023 @ 10am

·         11 April 2023 @ 10am

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The next meeting of the committee will be held at 10am on 22 February 2022.