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Election of Vice Chairperson
The committee to consider whether it wishes to elect a Vice Chairperson.
1.1 The Chairman informed the committee that he thought it would be more appropriate to defer this decision until later in the council year to allow new members and the new committee settle into their roles, and be better able to consider whether a Vice Chairperson was necessary.
1.2 However the Liberal Democrat members on the committee disagreed with this view and proposed and seconded Cllr Jack Williams.
1.3 The Labour member felt that should the Chairman be unavailable for a meeting it would be sufficient to elect a Chairperson on the day.
1.4 As there was no one view across the committee membership on this matter the Chairman asked members to vote on whether they wished to defer the election of a Vice Chairperson. The outcome of the vote was that the committee would defer the election of a Vice Chairperson.
1.5 In response to a question the Chairman explained that he wanted the committee to have regular work planning meetings to plan the committee’s work.
Declarations of interest
Please see note (a) at the end of agenda.
Richard Castle declared a personal interest as a governor at Gastrells Community Primary School.
Cllr Brian Robinson declared a personal interest as a governor at Dene Magna School, as a member of the Management Committee of the Gloucestershire Alternative Provision School, and as a Foster Carer.
Charlotte Blanch declared a personal interest as an adoptive parent, and as Headteacher of the Catholic School of St Gregory the Great.
Cllr Phil Awford declared a personal interest as a governor of Minsterworth Church of England Primary School.
The minutes of the meeting on Thursday 9 March 2017 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Co-option of the role of Ambassador for Vulnerable Children and Young People
The role of Ambassador for Vulnerable Children and Young People was co-opted onto the committee in 2015. This has added value to debates as the Ambassador brings the voice of the child and young person directly into the committee room.
The committee to consider co-opting the of the Ambassador for Vulnerable Children and Young People onto the committee for the duration of this council (2017-2021).
The committee agreed to co-opt the role of Ambassador for Vulnerable Children and Young People on to the committee for the duration of this council (2017 – 2021).
Ofsted Inspection of Safeguarding and Care Services - Interim Briefing
The Ofsted Inspection report will be published on the Ofsted website on 13 June 2017.
The Director of Children’s Services will inform committee members on the process in place to respond to the findings of the inspection report, in particular the role of the Improvement Board.
The committee will have the opportunity to debate the inspection report in detail at its meeting on 13 July 2017; and to consider it’s role in the improvement journey.
5.1 The Chairman explained that the Interim Director of Children’s Services (DCS) would take the committee through the process and procedure required by the council in response to the findings of the Ofsted Inspection Report.
5.2 The Interim DCS informed the committee that having been judged to be inadequate the council would receive an Improvement Notice, which was a non-statutory intervention. It was explained that this meant that the Department for Education (DfE) recognised that (with support) the council has the capacity to improve. To support this process the council has been allocated an external consultant who would work with us three to four days a month for the coming year.
5.3 The council was required to establish an Improvement Board (IB) and the make-up of this Board would be determined in consultation with the DfE Advisor. This Board would meet monthly to review progress in relation to leadership and management, and help and protection; and the entire Improvement Plan would be reviewed on a quarterly basis. The DfE would review progress in 6 months time. A number of workstreams would report into the Improvement Board:-
Ø in Care and Care Leavers
Ø Leadership and Management
Ø Help and Protection
Ø Children Education
Ø Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board (GSCB) Multi Agency Improvements
5.4 The council was required to submit its Improvement Plan to the DfE by 20 September 2017. Ofsted would undertake quarterly monitoring visits to review progress against the Improvement Plan and to undertake case file audits; these visits would be over two days. The council could expect Help and Protection Services to be re-inspected in 12 to 18 months time.
5.5 The committee was assured that immediate action had been taken with regard to the cases identified during the inspection. Action has also been taken to address the drift and delay in cases, including the delay in getting minutes and actions from child protection conferences out promptly.
5.6 Members were deeply concerned with the findings of the inspection report. It was noted that the outcome of the Ofsted inspection in 2011 had been poor and the recommendations from that inspection had been taken forward seemingly to no avail; and it was suggested that there were potential learning opportunities from this earlier work. The Interim Director of Children’s Services informed the committee that there had been a lot of work to address the 2011 inspection, but that, in retrospect, this had been too centralised and had not engaged the frontline sufficiently. It was also important to bear in mind the 20% increase in demand and the fact that 50% of the social worker workforce were newly qualified. The Interim Director of Improvement and Operations informed members that in 2011 issues relating to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) were not so prevalent, and similarly there was now a better understanding and recognition of the impact of the ‘toxic trio’ (domestic abuse, mental ill health, drug and alcohol misuse).
The committee to receive a presentation.
6.1 It was noted that as this was the first meeting of the committee in the new council it was important to set out the landscape of children’s services to inform new members of the committee. The detailed presentation by the Interim Director of Children’s Services, and Head of Education, included the council’s statutory duties, the legislative background, the role of the local authority in education, and how the budget was allocated. (For information the presentation slides were uploaded to the council website.)
6.2 In response to a question members were updated on the current position with regard to section 20 placements. Members were pleased to note that the Interim Director Improvement and Operations has already met with the Bristol family court judge to discuss concerns that he has previously raised regarding practice at the council. The judge was happy to work with the council, and had offered to undertake a workshop with social workers to support their knowledge, understanding and expectations of the court process.
6.3 Members agreed that it was good to be able to draw on the data from the Online Pupil Survey (OPS). It was good to see that the OPS was showing that there was less bullying, although it was of concern to see that less young people reported being happy, were less confident about the future, and that some young people reported regularly feeling so worried about something that they could not sleep at night.
6.4 The education landscape has changed dramatically and it was important that committee members have a clear understanding of the council’s role in this regard. It was noted that the committee expected to take a detailed look at this matter at the September 2017 meeting, and would use this opportunity to follow up on the issue of Permanent Exclusions as requested by the committee in the previous council.
6.5 There was clearly a lot of work for the committee to take forward, and the detail in the presentation had helped members to identify items (in addition to safeguarding issues) for future consideration. It would be important to prioritise the committee’s workload and the committee would therefore be undertaking regular work planning meetings. Items identified at this meeting were: -
Ø Children and young people’s mental health (as indicated by the OPS)
Ø Youth Offending System
Ø Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)
Ø Role of the local authority in education, and the national funding formula
Ø High needs strategy
Ø Permanent exclusions
Ø Children and young people educated at home
Ø Early years provision
Ø Demand on the system