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Declarations of interest
Members of the Committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or
personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.
Please see note (a) at the end of agenda.
2.1Cllr Andrew Miller declared that he was a foster carer for Gloucestershire County Council.
To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd October 2023.
3.1 The minutes of the meeting held on the 23rd October 2023 were approved as a correct record.
3.2 Discussing the Action Sheet, the Chair requested for the Cabinet Member for Children’s Safeguarding and Early Years to bring an update on the previous meeting’s recommendation to January’s meeting.
ACTION – Democratic Services/ Cllr Stephen Davies
To provide an overview of the Annual Safeguarding Report.
4.1The Chair invited Dave Jones, Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership Business Manager, to provide an overview of the Annual Safeguarding Report. The following points were highlighted:
· The Working Together 2018 statutory guidance placed a shared and equal duty on the Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board, Gloucestershire Constabulary and Gloucestershire County Council for the safeguarding of Gloucestershire’s Children.
· The Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership (GSCP) was formed in April 2019 in keeping with the requirements of the Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 framework.
· The Officer confirmed that there had been many new publications and acts which had affected how GSCP worked.
For more information on the activity of the GSCP over the last twelve months, view the agenda report pack.
4.2It was explained that every child’s death in Gloucestershire was investigated at an Initial Child Death Review meeting which included all relevant partners e.g. constabulary, schools etc. If any suspicion of safeguarding issues were identified at that meeting, then the Serious Incident Notification Process would be started. However, it was stated that most child deaths in Gloucestershire were not caused by safeguarding issues.
4.3Responding to a Member’s question, the Officer confirmed that children in care’s deaths would be investigated by the GCSP until their eighteenth birthday. However, it was confirmed that national guidance was increasingly in favour of CSP’s investigating children in care deaths until they were twenty-five years old. The Officer confirmed that last year, GCSP investigated the death of a care leaver who was over the age of 18.
4.4A member raised concern about the increase in the neonatal death statistic from the previous year particularly as nationally, these had declined. The Officer confirmed that GCSP were in the process of investigating why this figure had increased. The management group at GSCP were in the process of creating a data report to document their findings. The Member asked if the Committee could see the report once it had been released and the Officer agreed to include this in next year’s annual report.
ACTION – Dave Jones
4.5A member asked who was responsible for investigating stillbirths which were caused by issues in pregnancy such as alcohol. The Officer stated that the Health Safety Board Partnership would investigate these occurrences which included a pre-birth assessment which identified risk factors.
4.6Responding to a Member’s question about information sharing, the Officer confirmed that the National Child Mortality Database was the umbrella partnership for all CSPs and that all GCSP data was shared with the database which was then shared with the regional area.
4.7When asked about whether the GCSP was notified of a successful prosecution of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), the Officer confirmed that for each case, there would be a strategic discussion with the GCSP to review the risk. However, he added that not every case would become a full safeguarding review as not all cases would meet the threshold.
4.8Responding to a Member’s question about training provision, the Officer confirmed that the Practice Development Team ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To note the attached performance report.
Members are encouraged to send any questions in advance by the end of the day on Monday 6th November 2023.
5.1The Performance Report was taken as read and Paul Shallcross, Director of Safeguarding and Care, and Kirsten Harrison, Director of Education, answered the Members questions.
5.2A Member raised concern about underperformance particularly in the referrals section of the report. The Officer confirmed that referrals was an area that remained a concern and they were currently trying to understand what was causing the underperformance. It was confirmed that all immediate safeguarding referrals were raised instantly.
5.3A Member asked for more information about the increase in exclusions. The Officer stated that this was a national trend particularly in relation to primary schools. She suggested that this increase had been since the pandemic, potentially, due to the change of societal behaviour and parental attitudes towards the importance of school education. The Officer confirmed that the focus at alternative provision schools in the county were centred around getting students back into mainstream schools. The Altus School was opened in September 2023 and combined two previous alternative provision schools to create a flexible, child-centred environment for excluded children. The Chair identified that scrutiny work on exclusions had been undertaken prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and it was decided that this would be sent to the panel for background information.
ACTION – Democratic Services
To note the draft Gloucestershire Childcare Sufficiency Duty Report.
This report is to be taken as read and members will be allocated time to
6.1 This item was taken as read and Kirsten Harrison gave a short summary of its content.
6.2 Answering a Member’s question about whether schools could provide the gap between nursery and early years provision, the Officer confirmed that the new government legislation stated that from 2025, schools should provide 8:00-18:00pm wraparound care for all students. Therefore, she believed there was not enough resources or facilities in most schools to be able to achieve this and to also provide an extra early years provision.
6.3 In response to a question, the Officer confirmed that GCC would not be required to provide early years provision. Instead, she stated that they would encourage external providers through giving business support such as expertise and financial support including start-up money and assisting with finding buildings.
6.4 Responding to a Member’s question about the reduction of childminders, the Officer confirmed that there was tension between how childminders work with GCC’s early years services and Ofsted particularly around the management of safeguarding as unlike nurseries, the childminder’s first point of regulation was Ofsted. The Officer stated that she had raised this disconnect with His Majesty’s Inspectorate for Early Years for the Southwest. The Officer also confirmed that GCC offered additional training sessions for potential childminders but the scale of provision that would need to be available to rectify the situation was not possible within the department’s budget. The Committee recognised that as a sector, the early years sector was significantly undervalued for the work that it did.
To review the Committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at
7.1 The Chair stated that Cllr Andrew Gravells MBE, Chair of Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, wanted to purpose a Task and Finish Group between the Children and Families Committee and the Health Scrutiny Committee on children’s mental health. It was confirmed that they would need to create a formal scoping document which would be considered by Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It was stated that the desired outcome of the Task and Finish Group would be to identify gaps within children’s mental health provision and to create recommendations for Cabinet.
7.2 Multiple Members of the Committee raised concern that they felt it was already understood that the gap in provision was due to the lack of funding and that they struggled to see whether a task group would therefore be able to produce helpful recommendations.
7.3 A few Members suggested narrowing down the scope of the task group or focusing on alternative provision that could be put in place to fill the gaps.
7.4 The Chair stated that he would be meeting with Cllr Andrew Gravells and the Officers to discuss the proposal.
7.5 The Chair requested that the TellMi app services were added to the work plan for May’s meeting.
ACTION – Democratic Services
7.6 The Chair also requested that for information items in January, Member questions were pre-submitted prior to the meeting.
ACTION – Democratic Services
7.7 Members requested that Officers from Alternative Provision centres were invited to attend the January meeting or that links to Alternative Provision schools were listed in the agenda for Members to view before the January meeting.
ACTION – Democratic Services