Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 16 July 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Web ex meeting. View directions

No. Item


Declarations of interest

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


Dr Richard Castle declared a personal interest as a member of the Plan4Sport consortium providing additional mental health support (Covid-19) to GCC.



Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 102 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 5 March 2020 were agreed as a correct record.


Children's Services Improvement Journey and Covid 19 pdf icon PDF 96 KB

The Committee will be joined by the Independent Chair of the Improvement Board and the council’s DfE Advisor.


The committee to discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the council’s improvement journey. Questions include: -

Ø  How did the council respond?

Ø  What has been the impact on vulnerable children and families?

Ø  What has been the impact on practice?

Ø  Have social workers been able to visit/see children and young people?

Ø  What has been the impact on the Improvement journey?

Ø  Has the council been able to progress the issues identified in the Ofsted Monitoring Letter (12 March 2020)?


Reports as listed below are attached to the agenda to inform members questions/lines of enquiry. It is not intended that these reports will be individually discussed: -

Ø  Improvement Board Chair – Update Report

Ø  Ofsted Monitoring Letter (March 2020)

Ø  Practice Improvement Update

Ø  Accelerated Improvement Plan Dashboard

Ø  Self Assessment

Additional documents:


3.1       Andrew Ireland, Chair Children’s Services Improvement Board, gave a detailed presentation of his report. He reminded members that at the time of his last report an inspection was potentially imminent. At that time his view was that the pace was not as he would want and that the outcome of an inspection would be too close to call. (NB. This report was included in the agenda pack for the extraordinary meeting on 24 March 2020. This meeting was cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The reports are available on the council’s website.)


3.2       A recent change in the senior leadership team had had the effect of a stronger sense of purpose and energy, and a clearer direction of travel; staff were responding positively to the change.


3.3       Mr Ireland indicated that he could not say that there was evidence of sustained improvement, but that there was a fresh drive, the focus on a forensic detail to practice was now clearer, and there were grounds to feel that things were moving forward.


3.4       The committee was informed that the way in which the council had approached the Covid-19 arrangements had identified many strengths. The strength of the communication channels with clear and consistent messages, and the speed with which the necessary ICT kit had been rolled out to enable staff to work from home were highlighted.


3.5       Members heard that the council had done well in comparison to others in getting vulnerable children to school. The new Accelerated Improvement Plan (AIP) was focused on the right areas, and was endorsed by the Children’s Services Improvement Board. The multi agency work had held up well, in particular the local NHS should be commended for maintaining the changes to children’s services, ie not reassigning these staff to the Covid-19 response. It was also stated that it was expected that there would be a surge in demand for children’s services once schools returned, and it was important that the council was prepared for this so that the improvement journey was not derailed. Mr Ireland reiterated that he could not point members to clear and unambiguous outcomes but was confident about the council’s progress.


3.6       In response to questions Mr Ireland explained that when discussing practice improvement this was more than the recording of cases. The evidence of audits over a period of time demonstrated the impact of the Essentials and Fundamentals training, with the recording of the purpose of visiting, and effectiveness of plans, being better identified. What was now needed was to drive inadequate practice out of the system and to get to a position where more than 50% of practice was judged to be good or outstanding. With regard to communication between managers and teams, even though staff were not able to see their manager face to face feedback was that staff did feel supported in a practical sense, and felt that there was greater stability and consistency.


3.7       The Director of Children’s Services (DCS) reiterated the timeline for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.