Agenda and minutes

Children’s Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board
Thursday 17th September 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Online via YouTube - any member of the press and public may view the proceedings at this virtual meeting via this weblink

No. Item



To receive any apologies.


Councillor Hamilton and Co-opted Member Mrs Hildreth submitted their apologies.


Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicting Interests from Members

To receive declarations of interest from Members.


Councillor Butler made a declaration of interest, on the basis he worked for a company that had liaised with several schools in the Borough regarding provision of facilities.


Questions and Deputations

To answer any questions, if any asked by any resident of the Borough pursuant to Standing Orders.


No questions or deputations were submitted.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 390 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 9th June 2020.


The minutes of the Scrutiny Board meeting held on 9th June 2020 were presented.



The minutes of the meeting held on 9th June 2020 were approved as a correct record.



Cabinet Portfolio Holder Priorities 2020-21 DOTX 142 KB

This report sets out the priorities of the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for 2020-21 in relation to his responsibilities and the services provided by the Children’s Services and Skills Directorate.

Additional documents:


The Chairman confirmed this item was being deferred until the November meeting.


OFSTED Action Plan Update : Inspection of Local Authority Childrens Services pdf icon PDF 181 KB

In November 2019 Solihull MBC’s services for children in need of help and protection, children in care and care leavers was inspected by Ofsted.  Following the outcome of this inspection and receipt of the inspection report in January, a draft action plan was forwarded to Ofsted in April 2020.  This report provides an update on the continuing progression to address the areas identified within the improvement plan.


The submission of the subsequent action plan was in draft as agreed with Ofsted as a consequence of the COVID pandemic.  This action plan has been kept under regular review and formed a basis of a recent discussion with Ofsted.  A further meeting with Ofsted is due in the Autumn to review and reset the action plan.


Additional documents:


The Chief Business Officer for Children’s Innovation and Development presented the report, updating Members on the continuing progress to deliver the Ofsted Action Plan, which was based upon the inspection report provided in January 2020.


Members raised the following queries and observations:


·  Members queried whether there was a potential risk of not progressing and delivering any of the actions identified within the Ofsted Action Plan.

·  The Director of Children’s Services and Skills confirmed that, despite the pandemic, they had been able to progress a significant volume of actions identified within the plan. In a number of instances, they had completed the actions. The Director of Children’s Services and Skills highlighted, in particular, they had made progress in regards to Ofsted recommendation 6 – the timeliness of reviews of children in need of services at level 2 in the disabled children’s team. She detailed how they had had ongoing communications with Ofsted on the delivery of the Action Plan, following receipt of the inspection report.

·  Members highlighted Ofsted recommendation 2, which concerned the timeliness of strategy meetings and inclusion of all relevant partners, including the Police. They queried how the Police had engaged in strategy meetings during the Covid-19 outbreak.

·  The Head of Service for Referral, Assessment and Child Protection explained that, in response to the Ofsted report, they met with multiple Police representatives to consider engagement and participation. He detailed how they had worked with the Police during the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, to respond to the various challenges faced. Overall, from a Head of Service perspective, he was pleased with the response of the Police following both the Ofsted Inspection and lockdown. He also explained that, as part of the Action Plan, they also completed in depth audits of Strategy meetings and engagement, with a focus on the attendance of all partners and professionals – the most recent audit completed in August demonstrated improvement, with some further areas of progress required. They would continue to monitor this upon a quarterly basis.

·  Members highlighted how the take up of return home interviews following episodes of going missing had increased significantly, with young people more likely to engage virtually. They queried how officers were engaging virtually with the young people, both in regards to the welfare return interviews, as well as generally.

·  The Head of Service for Looked After Children and Adoption explained Social Workers were still meeting young people face-to-face where it was appropriate and safe to do so. She detailed how, for virtual meetings a variety of media platforms had been used, from the telephone to Webex, WhatsApp video and Skype. It was explained that, after the following Friday, the Government’s Covid-19 flexibilities in regards to statutory visits were ending – as a result, Social Workers would be conducting the majority of their visits with children and young people face-to-face. The Head of Service confirmed they would continue to pursue virtual forms of engagement with young people, where it was appropriate in light of Covid and in their best  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Children's Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board Work Programme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 153 KB

To provide the Children’s Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board Work Programme for the remainder of the 2020/21 municipal year, for review and approval.

Additional documents:


Members were invited to consider the proposed work programme for the Board, for the rest of the 2020/21 municipal year. The following points and observations were raised:

·  It was noted the Cabinet Portfolio Holder Priories report for 2020-21 would be scheduled for November.

·  It was taken into account that a further report on the delivery of the Ofsted Action Plan and development of a performance scorecard would be presented at the January Scrutiny Board meeting, to be included as part of the update on Children’s Safeguarding arrangements.

·  Members requested for a meeting with a Local Additional Needs Support Group to be held prior to the November Board meeting.

·  Members requested for an update on the Commonwealth Games and upskilling opportunities for local young people – it was agreed for this point to be raised with the support officer for the Stronger Communities and Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Board.





The Children’s Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board endorsed the work programme for the remainder of the 2020/21 municipal year.