The committee to debate the report and consider how it wishes to engage in the improvement work.
To support the debate reports focusing on safeguarding performance for Quarter 4 2016/17, and the revenue outturn report 2016/17 are attached to the agenda.
The performance report can be found at pp a to b
The revenue outturn report can be found at pp x to y
10.1 The committee was pleased to welcome Claire Burgess, LGA Children’s Improvement Adviser, to the meeting to inform and advise the committee on how it might wish to frame its focus on the Ofsted Improvement Plan; and what support the LGA could offer the committee.
10.2 It was particularly helpful to members to see the learning from the work of the LGA and the ISOS Partnership ‘Action research into improvement in local children’s services: Practical implications for lead members and senior leaders’ (2016). This clearly laid out the three key steps when embarking on an improvement journey, the defining characteristics at each stage of the improvement journey, and the key questions that elected members would need to consider. This research also made clear that we were looking at at least a two year journey of improvement. (For information - the presentation slides with a link to this report are on the GCC website.)
10.3 Some members reported that they were receiving a number of emails from members of the public who feel that the inspection findings called into question the outcome of their complaint(s). These members stated that it was understandable that they were being contacted, as due to the inspection findings, members of the public would not necessarily have confidence in council officers. The Interim Director of Children’s Services and the Interim Director of Improvement and Operations indicated that they were also receiving a high volume of emails in this regard, and had asked the corporate Complaints team to contact other local authorities who have been in a similar position for advice and information on how they had responded. The outcome of this work would be shared with committee members. It was however emphasised that the management of complaints was a statutory process and regulations were clear on how the system must be managed. It was also important to recognise that complaints were managed by a central team independent of children’s services, and that complaints panels were independent.
10.4 It was agreed that the committee would include the Children’s Safeguarding and Care Service Complaints and Compliments Annual Report in its work plan.
ACTION: Andrea Clarke
10.5 In discussing its role in scrutinising the improvement process the committee was clear that it needed to be rigorous and constructive. The committee also agreed that although the council had agreed to invite the LGA in to undertake a review that it was also important that the committee understood how the council had got to this position. The committee would therefore invite the relevant parties to a future meeting to discuss this matter, and recognised that some of its activity might duplicate aspects of the LGA review.
10.6 The committee also agreed that it needed to ensure that it had a clear sightline down to the front line and would be exploring different approaches to achieve this; and would also hold additional committee meetings, as necessary, to ensure that sufficient scrutiny was given to the improvement plan.
10.7 Mr McCallum informed the committee that he had reported to the committee in 2016 on his concerns around the significant pressures on the front door, and the level of newly qualified social workers and the impact that this could have on the system, but had not felt that there had been a significant challenge from elected members at that time.
10.8 In closing the meeting the Chairman stated that it would be important to ask the ‘so what’ questions to challenge whether improvement was happening.