Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday 23 May 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Andrea Clarke 01452 324203 

Items
No. Item

19.

Declarations of interest

Please see note (a) at the end of agenda.

Minutes:

Cllr Brian Robinson declared a personal interest as a Foster Carer.

 

Cllr Dr Andrew Miller declared a personal interest as he has been appointed as a Trustee to the Board of Gloucester United Schools.

20.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 7 March 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman subject to the following amendment: Cllr Richard Boyles, Cabinet Member Children and Young People was in attendance.

 

21.

Academy Schools in Gloucestershire - The Role of the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) pdf icon PDF 728 KB

The Deputy Director Regional Schools Commissioners – South West will be in attendance to discuss the role of the RSC and to discuss what the RSC is doing to support improvement in Gloucestershire’s Academy Schools.

 

Information on Regional Schools Commissioners is available at this link https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/schools-commissioners-group/about.

Minutes:

21.1     Members were pleased to welcome Hannah Woodhouse, Deputy Director for the Office of the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) for the South West, and Heather Campbell, Office of the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West (Gloucestershire) to the committee. The committee congratulated Ms Woodhouse on her appointment to Director for the Office of the RSC for the South West which was effective from September 2019.

 

21.2     Ms Woodhouse gave a presentation outlining the Regional Schools Commissioner’s (RSC) vision for all children in the south west; the schools picture in Gloucestershire; the challenges in Gloucestershire; the role of Multiple Academy Trusts (MAT) in school improvement; how the RSC supports Academies; and the issues that were currently being worked on in Gloucestershire. (For information the presentation slides from the meeting were uploaded to the council’s website and included in the minute book.)

 

21.3     Ms Woodhouse drew attention to the number of Single Academy Trusts (SAT) in Gloucestershire (46). This was the largest number of SATs within the south west region; with nearly a quarter of south west SATs were in Gloucestershire. She explained that being a SAT could leave an Academy financially vulnerable and isolated. She stated that being part of a MAT offered more support and could better deliver school improvement. However, she felt that there were not enough MATs in Gloucestershire. It was also important not to over burden a MAT. She thought it would be important to encourage the development of more MATs in the county; whilst academies could join an out of county MAT it was always better that the support remained local.

 

21.4     Ms Woodhouse recognised that more needed to be done to support school improvement in the Forest of Dean area, and acknowledged the challenges in Gloucester City.

 

21.5     It was emphasised that schools were responsible for driving improvement. The RSC would only step in when schools were placed in special measures. Ms Woodhouse explained that she was not able to comment on individual schools in an open forum. This was accepted.

 

21.16   In response to questions Ms Woodhouse informed the committee that there was clearly still a role for local councillors to continue to challenge and support schools in their area. It was the role of the Academy Trust Board to prevent the school being placed in special measures. It was for the RSC to respond where this had happened and identify the right support for the school.

 

21.17   Members did not feel that the process for identifying a MAT for the school to join was not sufficiently transparent, and took too long, causing delays and concerns for parents and pupils. It was explained that when a school was found to be inadequate and placed into special measures the RSC did want to move quickly. There were different options depending on the individual circumstances and consideration would be needed as to which MAT would offer the best support to the school. Where there was more than one potential sponsor expressions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Care Leavers pdf icon PDF 173 KB

1.         To receive an update on the Care Leaver Offer.

 

2.         The Audit and Governance Committee received the Internal Audit Activity Progress Report 2018/19 at its meeting on 25 April 2019. The committee agreed to refer the section on the Youth Service Leaving Care Service to the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee for information and discussion.  

Additional documents:

Minutes:

22.1     Mark Bone, Head of Service, presented the detail of the local offer to the committee. He informed members that the presentation of the local offer on the website was very much influenced by the voice of young people.

 

22.2     Work on the care leaver offer was ongoing; further discussions with the district councils were scheduled to see whether the offer could be improved, for example, with regard to access to sport and leisure facilities.

 

22.3     In response to a question it was explained that the cost of the council tax exemption was approximately £10k (across all the district councils); the exemption only applied to those young people not already covered by benefits.

 

22.4     Members were concerned that the right accommodation was not available to care leavers. A member shared his experience of a facility within his division that was not now hosting the young people it was designed for, and the impact that this has on both the local community and the young people. It was felt that there was a clear gap with regard to an appropriate housing offer. The Head of Service acknowledged this position and informed the committee that there had been a considerable growth in the care leaver population; housing provision had not kept pace. He clarified that there was an ongoing piece of work with regard to housing and that this was referenced within the committee report.

 

22.5     With regard to the development of the mentoring scheme, discussed in the committee report, there were financial implications as additional resources were required. The Care Leaver Team was working closely with Commissioning on this matter. It was possible that this might have to wait until the next budget round.

 

22.6     Members were disappointed that the discussions regarding access to leisure facilities remained ongoing; this had first been discussed some years ago. It was explained that this was a complex picture. District Councils did not all have the same relationship with the leisure providers, so it was difficult to get a standard offer. However, the committee was informed that Mike Dawson, Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC) Chief Executive, had agreed to lead on this issue,  and TBC was currently piloting an offer to care leavers.

 

22.7     Care leavers could be very vulnerable with regard to homelessness; they could lose their home, or if they had chosen to return to the family home could find that this does not work out. Officers worked hard to prevent homelessness. The Head of Service did indicate that he would like the district councils to have a more proactive approach in this regard. Committee members discussed the role of district councillors as corporate parents. It was noted that the district councils were represented on the corporate parenting group and felt that this was sufficient. It was however noted that legislation stated that in two authority areas the corporate parenting responsibility was shared with all the local authorities. Members agreed that they had a clear role to play in driving forward change and could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 78 KB

The committee will discuss the work plan at the close of the main meeting.

Minutes:

The committee noted the work programme.

 

A work planning session was held on the rise of the committee meeting. The updated work programme would be included in the agenda pack for the committee meeting on 18 July 2019.