Agenda and minutes

Children’s Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board
Monday 13th January 2020 6.00 pm

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive any apologies.

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs Wild submitted her apologies.

2.

Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicting Interests from Members

To receive declarations of interest from Members in accordance with the Code of Conduct (Members are directed to the guidance attached.)

Minutes:

Mrs Hildreth made a declaration of interest as a Governor of St George and St Theresa’s School.

 

3.

Questions and Deputations

To deal with any questions or deputations received.

Minutes:

Mrs Middleton made a deputation on behalf of the Whitefields Action Group (WAG) regarding the proposal to expand St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School. She raised a number of concerns and view points on behalf of WAG, which in summary included the following:

·  Concerns were raised regarding the decisions made by the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, in respect of the proposal for St Augustine’s School, at his decision sessions on 23rd May and 25th September 2019. Mrs Middleton believed that a number of key points had been omitted and raised concerns regarding the engagement of the Catholic diocese.

·  If the proposal was approved it would lead to breaches of the Councils other responsibilities, such as managing finance and resources effectively.

·  The number of School places should increase where there are new housing sites and should not put pressure on infrastructure.

·  It was felt the proposal was contrary to the Councils own policies, such as the Council’s transport plan and the Clean Air Strategy.

·  The Council should consider the required number of educational establishments only after publishing its Local Plan.

·  That there had been flaws in the decision making process and it was requested for the Scrutiny Board to scrutinise the original decision.

 

Following the deputation, Councillor Gough responded:

·  The Scrutiny Board had no decision making powers – this rested with the Executive, the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills.

·  There was no formal item on the agenda regarding the proposals for St Augustine’s School.

·  The points raised in the deputation would be forwarded to the Cabinet Member, who was looking at the proposals to expand the School on educational grounds – however, it was emphasised it was for the Council’s Planning Committee to consider issues around traffic congestion, parking and air pollution, when they looked at the expansion of the building on the School site.

 

Members agreed for School place planning to be considered as part of their future work programme.

 

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 165 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on

Minutes:

The minutes of the Scrutiny Board meeting held on 5th November 2019 were presented.

 

  RESOLVED

The minutes of the meeting held on 5th November 2019 were approved as a correct record.

5.

Budget Framework 2020/21 – 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 225 KB

To seek comments on the budget proposals identified for 2020/21 to 2022/23 within the Children, Education and Skills cabinet portfolio, to go forward to the Resources and Delivering Value Scrutiny Board in January and the Full Cabinet in February 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Children’s Services and Skills Finance Manager presented the report to the Board. Members were requested to give specific consideration to the budget  saving proposals identified for 2020/21 to 2022/23 within the Children, Education and Skills Cabinet Portfolio, to go forward to the Resources and Delivering Value Scrutiny Board in January and the Full Cabinet in February.

 

The Children’s Services Finance and Skills Manager detailed the work undertaken by the Budget Strategy Group – he explained how this Group had considered pressures within this portfolio and supported recommendations for the following allocations from the budget strategy reserve:

·  £1.2m to support the recovery plan for the High Needs Block of the Dedicated School Grant;

·  £1.5m to top up the children’s social care reserve in 2020/21.

 

It was also noted the Budget Strategy Group had agreed not to seek any new savings from children’s social care for the 2022/23 budget .

 

In considering the report Members raised a number of queries and observations, which in summary included:

·  Members welcomed the £1.5m to top up for  the children’s social care reserve in 2020/21 – they queried what measures would be undertaken beyond this point to help manage pressures and demand. The Children’s Services Finance and Skills Manager explained the preventative work being undertaken, highlighting the Connected Carers Pilot as an example. He detailed how they were looking at building their own fostering capacity and reducing dependency on higher cost placements.

·  Members requested clarification regarding the on-going work to ensure support for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC). The Children’s Services and Skills Finance Manager detailed how changes to the Under 18 funding regime for USAC from the Home Office had resulted in a increase in grant. He detailed how there was still the on-going issue of funding for over 18 USAC, which was currently insufficient to cover costs – he confirmed the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive continued to engage the Home Office on this.

·  Members queried the on-going work to support the recovery plan for the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant.  The Director of Children’s Services and Skills detailed a meeting held between herself, the Chair of the Schools Forum, the Chair of the Governors and the Chair of the Schools Strategic Accountability Board, to establish a collaborative approach going forward. She also explained how they were setting up a Head teachers reference group, facilitated by a SEND specialist, to also seek their input on the recovery plan.

·  Members questioned the early year provider rate for nurseries and expressed concerns this appeared to be low compared to other Local Authorities (LA). The Children’s Services and Skills Finance Manager explained how early years formed part of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), which was ring-fenced and didn’t form part of the budget proposals detailed in the report. He emphasised how the comparatively lower rate reflected that we were a low funded LA. Following a query from Members, the Children’s Services Finance Manager confirmed there was on-going lobbying of  Central Government  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Solihull Local transformation of Children and Young Peoples Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Services pdf icon PDF 276 KB

To provide a progress update for Children’s Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board regarding the local transformation of emotional wellbeing and mental health services for children and young people in Solihull.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Service for Commissioning for Children and Young People presented the report, providing a progress update regarding the local transformation of emotional wellbeing and mental health services for children and young people in Solihull. It was also noted the report provided updates on a number of areas the Board had raised when they previously considered Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Services for Children and Young People:

·  Mental Health Information

·  Support for Parents

·  Support for Primary Schools

·  School Nurses

 

Members raised a number of queries and observation, summarised as follows:

·  Members welcomed how young people, members of the Youth Council and OVOS (our Children in Care Council) worked together to hold a conference focusing on the mental health of children and young people in Solihull. They queried the next steps and whether there were plans to hold similar events again.

·  The Head of Service for Commissioning for Children and Young People explained how a young person on the Local Transformation Board had recently written out to Schools that attended, to seek updates on the progress made since the conference. The Local Transformation board had also initially considered holding a future conference to coincide with World Mental Health Day, with a focus upon transitions and the 14-25 age group.

·  Members requested confirmation the views of children and young people as service users were taken into account. The Head of Service confirmed they did focus on co-design and delivery of services and detailed how Solar held forums for young people. It was also explained how funding had been agreed for Solar to appoint a young person as an apprentice, a peer support worker. She also emphasised that, as part of the work to develop an integrated service model for Birmingham and Solihull, it was critical to ensure the involvement of children and young people. The roles of OVOS and the Youth Council were also highlighted.

·  A Member highlighted cases where people may require hospital treatment and received support a significant distance out of the Borough. The Member queried the work being undertaken to reduce this. The Head of Services explained that NHS England had conducted a review of all hospital beds across the country for mental health support, to ensure the correct levels of provision. It was emphasised this had resulted in a greater level of provision overall.

·  A Member raised the total referrals to Solar by referral source. They queried the volume of referrals from School Nurses and the Local Authority Social Services appeared low, compared to the level from GPs. The Head of Service detailed how there may still be the perception there was a requirement for a referral from a GP in order to receive support – she emphasised there was on-going work to change this perception. The Head of Service also explained that, for low-level interventions School Nurses could provide support themselves.

·  A Member flagged up how the School Nursing team completed health questionnaires at school entry and Year 6. They questioned the reasons why there may  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.