Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 16 May 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Laura Powick  Email:

No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 112 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 7 March 2024.

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meeting held on 7 March 2024 were approved as a correct record.



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.


Cllr Dr Andrew Miller declared an interest as a foster carer for Gloucestershire County Council (GCC).



Update on the Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review - Child X Report pdf icon PDF 422 KB

At the County Council meeting on 20 March 2024, a request was made for a scrutiny task group to review the issues raised in the Child X Report. It was agreed by Council that the proposal be referred to Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


The Committee to receive an update on the Child X Report, and to decide whether to establish a scrutiny task group or arrange for a dedicated scrutiny committee meeting to consider the issues raised.


Additional documents:


4.1      Ann James, Executive Director of Children’s Services, presented the report, which had been produced in response to a recommendation from full Council, at its meeting on 20 March 2024, for the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee to consider the request for a scrutiny task group to review the issues raised in the Child X Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review (LCSPR) Report.


4.2      The report provided the context for the safeguarding arrangements for Gloucestershire, and an overview of the Child X LCSPR and resulting multi-agency action plan.


4.3      The report recommended that Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee received twice yearly reports and briefings by the Executive Director of Children’s Services, supported by the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (GSCP) Business Manager, regarding the number, detail, progress and learning from any GSCP local learning review, rapid review or LCSPR. These would be held in closed session to prevent the identification of any children involved.


4.4      The concern raised by members that they were not given prior notice of the publication of the Child X LCSPR was recognised. Members were assured that arrangements were being put in place to ensure members received advance notification of the publication of LCSPRs going forward.


4.5      Ann James assured members that partners were embedding the learning from the safeguarding practice reviews and were progressing the resulting action plans. She highlighted that many of the themes raised by the rapid reviews and LCSPRs were not unique to Gloucestershire and reflected the complexities of looking after children presenting with traumatised behaviour against an inadequate care market.


4.6      Members were advised that the GSCP and its Executive was overseen, challenged, and held to account by an independent scrutineer.


4.7      Ann James welcomed the opportunity to share learning and progress with members, and welcomed the support and challenge members could provide in addressing learning from any safeguarding practice reviews going forward.


4.8      Attention was drawn to the recommendations resulting from the Child X LCSPR which had been included as an appendix to the report. The GSCP Executive would oversee its implementation and receive regular updates on progress.


4.9      A member queried the target date for completion of action 3.1 of the Child X LCSPR action plan. This would be clarified following the meeting.


ACTION – Ann James


4.10   A member expressed the view that twice yearly briefings would not be sufficient to address the issues raised and supported the establishment of scrutiny task group. They emphasised that the task group should involve members outside of this Committee, as well as the importance of members taking the issues raised seriously. They proposed that the task group should have a wider remit to address the implications relating to the risk register, as well as relating to commissioning.


4.11   Ann James advised the Committee that LCSPRs were relatively rare occurrences and reiterated the value of the Committee receiving the proposed twice yearly briefings, which would provide a broader overview of serious incidents and provide members with the opportunity to scrutinise  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Youth Work in Gloucestershire pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To receive an overview of youth work in Gloucestershire, from a statutory and voluntary perspective.


4.1      Ann James introduced the report which provided an overview of GCC’s duties in relation to the provision of youth work; an overview of the delivery of youth work by the Council as part of its commissioned youth support provision; an outline of the current tender process for Council commissioned youth support services; and plans for the future, including the development of the ‘One Plan for Children and Young People in Gloucestershire.’


4.2      Members were informed that the Council was currently in the process of retendering for its youth services, which would be delivered through a hub and spoke model comprising a county wide lot covering statutory service elements, alongside 3 locality lots.


4.3      This inclusive approach to youth services would sit alongside the family hub model, providing a ‘universal front door’ for all to use, with targeted elements sitting behind it.


4.4      The importance of youth services was recognised, particularly in the post-pandemic era. Research highlighted the importance of youth work and services in terms of developing safe communities and developing the skills in young people to be able to take part in society as they moved on into adulthood.


4.5      It was acknowledged that the Council did not know enough about the youth services which were being provided on a voluntary basis across the County. Mapping of current voluntary provision would be carried out to enable the Council to build and develop its youth offer.


4.6      Members were also informed of the importance of coproducing services with families and children and young people.


4.7      It was noted that a youth strategy would be developed with the sector and young people which would set out the Council’s plans for youth work and services, including how partners would work together to deliver an accessible offer across Gloucestershire.


4.8      Cllr David Drew declared a personal interest as a volunteer for The Door youth charity in Stroud. Cllr Dr Andrew Miller also declared a personal interest as a volunteer for Abbey Church in Gloucester.


4.9      A member asked when the tender process would be finalised, raising a concern that the current contract would be ending soon. In response, it was explained that Gloucestershire was unique in that it delivered its youth justice services through an outsourced arrangement, which limited the market. The evaluation period had been extended to enable providers to submit evidence on their capacity and experience in delivering for the most vulnerable children in the County. However, staff who were delivering for the County’s children and were experienced in their field could be reassured that they would be supported.


4.10   Following a query, Verona Crossfield, Commissioning, provided further clarification on the model for youth services provision going forward.


4.11   It was confirmed that preliminary conversations were being held relating to Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations.


4.12   One member praised the report but challenged that the Council was behind the curve in harnessing the work being delivered by the voluntary sector.


4.13   One member asked about the location  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Review of Care for Disabled Children pdf icon PDF 151 KB

To receive an update on the review of care for disabled children, including an update on the SEND Peer Review, remodelling, challenges and investment.


6.1      Julie Miles, Assistant Director for Children and Families East, and Naomi Adams, Head of Service for Disabled Children, provided an update on the remodelling and transformation of the disabled children’s service.


6.2      It was noted that the Council had made significant investment into the service. The funding had been confirmed as permanent from this year, to enable the service to grow, to deliver essential care packages, and provide uplifts in direct payments.


6.3      Generally, children with Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs) or who attended a special school used the service, which included short break provision at Hartwood House for 8- to 18-year-olds and through the family link service for children under the age of 8.


6.4      The service was currently being remodelled to ensure that children worked with the same social worker throughout their journey. The service worked alongside multi-agencies regularly to support the children.


6.5      The service was being remodelled in coproduction with the families using the service and would be based on the vision of the right service for the right child, first time, every time. It was noted that the recent SEND inspection had commented on the shared vision of service leaders, recognising the ambitious strategic plans which were designed to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND in Gloucestershire.


6.6      It was explained that the service was being remodelled to ensure that it was inclusive, accessible, and able to meet demand. Currently 400 children were using the service. The new structure of the service would include 3 social worker teams and 3 early help teams. There would be two posts in the front door service to support families in accessing disabled children’s services. A role for a specialist social worker was being developed, as well as for two direct payment workers. It was hoped that the new structure would increase capacity, improve the quality of support provided, and reduce the number of complaints from families, some of which were dissatisfied with the number of hoops they currently had to jump through to access the service.


6.7      In terms of progress so far, a big recruitment drive had been undertaken to recruit to the new team structure, and weekly consultation meetings were being held with the wider children and families’ teams on assessments for disabled children.


6.8      Next steps included developing the scope of the front door positions and improving the capacity for short breaks to meet demand.


6.9      Cllr Paul McLain declared a personal interest as a previous foster carer for children with life limiting and complex needs and for previously providing short breaks for GCC.


6.10   In response to a query relating to the transition of service users from children to adult services, it was explained that a good transition process was in place, and that conversations were held with adult services about children from the age of 14 to ensure they were aware of their needs. 


6.11   Following a query, clarification was provided on the role of the direct  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Quarter 3 2023/24 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 348 KB

To consider the Quarter 3 2023/24 Performance Report.


Members are encouraged to email any questions in advance by Monday 13 May 2024.


Additional documents:


7.1      The Quarter 3 2023/24 Performance Report was taken as read.


7.2      One member expressed concern regarding the increasing number of permanent exclusions from schools, and the impact on the life options for excluded children.


7.3      In response, Kirsten Harrison, Director of Education, advised members that there were a wide number of factors contributing to the increase in permanent exclusions, including changes in social attitudes and behaviours post-pandemic, funding pressures within schools which have often resulted in cuts to pastoral care and support staff, and increasing mental health and social and emotional needs amongst children and young people. It was noted that some behavioural management practices that had worked previously were proving less effective given the social changes post-pandemic, and schools were reviewing their behaviour management approaches. In the case of permanent exclusions, despite their best efforts, they were increasingly reaching the point where they had to balance the needs of the majority against the individual child, leading to an increased number of permanent exclusions. The best way to address the issue would be having the services and resources to intervene at the earliest opportunity, however this was difficult to undertake when resources were pressured and were currently still taken up by demand at the higher ends of the system. 


7.4      In response to a further query, it was understood that at a national level, focus was being given to SEND and attendance.


7.5      A member added that there was evidence that parent and school relationships had also broken down in more cases post pandemic, which was exacerbating the problem.



WORK PLAN pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To review the Committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.


When making suggestions, members should consider the reasons for and expected benefit of scrutiny’s involvement.


For reference, please find the link to the Cabinet forward plan below:


Forthcoming Decisions (


6.1      The Committee’s Work Plan to be updated as follows:

·       An update on progress against the actions from the Child X LCSPR to be added to the agenda for the meeting on 7 November 2024.

·       An update on permanent exclusions to be included as part of the update on school attendance scheduled for the meeting on 7 November 2024.

·       The Fostering Annual Report to be received at the meeting in January 2025.

·       An item on Academisation, including the impact on and the role of the Local Authority, would be included on the agenda for the March 2025 meeting.

·       The Bright Spots Survey Results to be presented at the March 2025 meeting.

·       A presentation on specialist youth provision from the new youth services provider to be included on the agenda for March 2025.

·       An item on Child Safety Online, including an overview of the issues and how they can be addressed, to be included on the agenda for the January 2025 meeting. 

·       An item on Child Friendly Gloucestershire to also be included on the agenda for January 2025.

·       The second part of meeting on 7 November 2024 to be held in exempt session for the Committee to receive the first of the twice yearly private briefings on GSCP local learning reviews, rapid reviews and LCSPRs.




To note the dates of future meetings (all meetings to start at 10am):


18 July 2024

12 September 2024

7 November 2024.


6.1      The Committee thanked Becca Rogers, the Ambassador for Vulnerable Children and Young People, for her time on this Committee.


6.2      Cllr Mark Mackenzie-Charrington was also thanked for his work on the Committee as he would be taking up a position on Adults Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee instead.


6.3      The Committee noted the dates of future meetings.