Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 17 September 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.


Cllr Brian Robinson declared a personal interest as the provider of holiday accommodation for people with a disability.



Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 85 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 16 July 2020 were agreed as a correct record.


Education and Covid-19 pdf icon PDF 104 KB


3.1       The Acting Director of Education informed the committee that all schools in Gloucestershire have opened to all pupils in line with DfE expectations. It was explained that all schools were asked to complete an attendance return daily to the DfE. However, not all were doing this - 5 of the 300 schools have not reported at all and 23 schools had not reported this week (week commencing 14 September 2020); all were being followed up by either the council or the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC).  It was therefore clear that the attendance data we have access to, and was being reported, was understated.


3.2       Members were informed that on Friday 11 September 2020 there was a 90.5% overall attendance rate from those schools submitting their data (254 schools out of 300). This included 87.5% attendance from children with an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) and 87.6% from children open to social care. Across the 2019 autumn term the average attendance rate was 95% and we have no reason as yet to believe that should not be around the same level this year.


3.3       Overall the return to school in Gloucestershire has been extremely successful, exceeding national attendance rates significantly in all areas: 11.2% higher for children with EHCP; 8.9% higher for overall attendance; and, 8.5% higher for children known to social care. 


3.4       The committee was informed that attendance this week had started to dip slightly as positive Covid-19 cases began to have an impact. There were currently 220 children in Pates Grammar School and 30 children in Warden Hill Primary School self-isolating; 15 schools have attendance less than 80% and Inclusion Officers were working with those schools to understand why if not Covid-19 related. Officers from across children’s services were working together with schools to understand why any vulnerable child was not attending school following the established Covid risk assessment process (including any risks associated with children being at home full time) and to take steps to encourage parents to send their children to school.


3.5       It was explained that nationally, whilst most children have returned to school, there has been an increase in parents choosing to home educate their children – in the majority of cases this is due to parental anxiety around the spread of Covid-19 (especially where close family were vulnerable); but some children have been able to engage much more with remote learning. In the first half of September there had been a net increase of 110 children added to the home education register; in comparison in September 2019 when there were 56 new children added to the register.


3.6       It was noted that these children were of all ages and from all districts. Whilst September usually saw a high number of children becoming EHE (Elective Home Education), it must be assumed that Covid-19 was the reason for over half of these cases. Schools have been asked to encourage parents to remain on roll and talk through any mitigation to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Disabled Children and Young People Action Plan pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Services for Disabled Children and Young People were highlighted as a concern by Ofsted in their Monitoring Letter (March 2020).


4.1       The Head of Service, Disabled Children and Young People’s Service, gave a detailed presentation of their report; the challenges of Covid-19 had been significant.


4.2       A significant factor had been utilising ICT more effectively. A lot of contact time has been undertaken using ICT; some children have absolutely loved it. Staff had dressed up and sang songs to engage with the children and young people.


4.3       Work to address the majority of actions identified in the action plan was underway, and additional activity would be added as the plan progressed. It was explained that performance management, using LiquidLogic, was becoming much more embedded, and officers recognised the importance of this approach.


4.4       The instability in the workforce had been a significant factor. However the Head of Service informed members that the service was now no longer reliant on agency staff. Engagement with families had improved, reflective supervision was now being used more and proving to have a positive impact on behaviour.


4.5       The Head of Service acknowledged that transitions remained a concern. A draft strategy had been developed and has been shared with adult social care colleagues. It was explained that conversations with families would start before the young person was 14. Officers would work with the young person and their family considering matters such as their aspirations for the future, and support families in honing their thoughts ideas. A Transitions Panel was in place and was aware of the young people coming through. Availability of suitable accommodation was an issue, and could impact on when the young person was able to start their placement. It was emphasised that the strategy involved a whole systems approach.


4.6       Members were pleased to note the work in place to take the service forward, and the team was now in a stronger position. However it was commented that that the full inspection had taken place over two years ago and it had therefore been disappointing to read the monitoring letter from the visit earlier this year. The Head of Service acknowledged this but did comment that verbal feedback had been received at the time of the visit and the contents of the letter had been something of a surprise. The Director of Children’s Services reminded members that Ofsted had been asked to look at this service as we knew that it was struggling, and had wanted to share plans with them. 


4.7       The service worked closely with the parent/carer forum, and did undertake surveys to try and capture the parents’ voice. Parents and young people also sat on interview panels where possible, and would score the candidates, eg using emojis if necessary.


4.8       The committee agreed that it would need to revisit this matter again to consider how the action plan was being moved forward. It was agreed that the latest version of the action plan be shared with committee members (the one in the agenda pack was incorrect and was removed from the website after the meeting).


4.9       The committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Performance and Quality Assurance: Distance Travelled pdf icon PDF 371 KB


The committee recognised that it was not able to complete the agenda for this meeting and had hoped to hold an additional meeting in due course to consider the outstanding items. The following week Ofsted announced that it would undertake a focussed visit from 6 to 8 October 2020. Committee members agreed that it would be better to meet after this time to receive and consider the outcome of this visit. Information on the date and papers for this meeting would be available on the council’s website in due course.


Quality Assurance Framework: Progress Update Report pdf icon PDF 319 KB


Please see minute 5.


Performance Monitoring pdf icon PDF 694 KB


Please see minute 5.



Revenue Budget Monitoring pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:


Please see minute 5.



Committee Workplan 2020-2021 pdf icon PDF 49 KB


Please see minute 5.