Agenda and minutes

Children’s Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board
Thursday 10th June 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Civic Suite, Solihull

Contact: Joseph Bright, tel: 0121 704 6055 

Items
No. Item

33.

Election of Chairman for 2021/2022

Minutes:

The following nominations were received and seconded:

·  Councillor M Gough

·  Councillor S Ashraf MBE

 

  RESOLVED

That Councillor M Gough be elected Chairman for the 2021/22 Municipal Year.

34.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman for 2021/22

Minutes:

Councillor Mackenzie was confirmed as Vice-Chairman of the Children’s Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board for the 2021/22 municipal year.

 

35.

Apologies and Substitutions

Minutes:

The following apologies were submitted:

Councillor Hamilton (Councillor T Hodgson – substitute).

Councillor Rebeiro (Councillor Hogarth MBE – substitute).

 

36.

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:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

37.

Questions and Deputations

To deal with any questions or deputations received.

Minutes:

There were no questions or deputations.

 

38.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 289 KB

To receive the minutes of the previous meeting held on 10th March 2021.

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting, held on 10 March 2021, were presented.

 

  RESOLVED

That the minutes of the previous meeting were approved as a correct record.

39.

Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills - Priorities for 2021/22 DOTX 75 KB

This report sets out the priorities of the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for 2021-22 in relation to his responsibilities and the services provided by the Children’s Services and Skills and Public Health Directorates.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills presented the report, setting out the priorities for 2021-22, in regards to his priorities and the services provided by the Children’s Services and Skills and Public Health Directorates.

The Cabinet Member detailed the following priority areas of activity and development:

·  Developing and implementing the Joint Additional Needs and Disability Strategy to improving outcomes for children and young people with additional needs.

·  Bringing the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant back into balance

·  Reducing the number of Children Looked After and implementing the Sufficiency Strategy to secure permanency and placement arrangements for those children and young people.

·  Implementing the Ofsted Action Plan following the November 2019 Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS).

·  Continuing to support children and young people being exploited or at risk of exploitation.

·  Focusing on supporting young people into education, employment and training.

 

Members raised the following questions and observations:

  • Members highlighted the priority area of bringing the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools grant back into balance. They requested further information on the plans to support this priority area.
  • The Assistant Director for Inclusion and SEND detailed how there were a number of strands of work to support the demand for the High Needs Block, which included the following:

o  The Joint Additional Needs and Disability Strategy, which was focused upon improving outcomes for children and young people, whilst ensuring the best use of resources available. It was explained how this Strategy consisted of a number of different components, which included the following:

-  Reshaping education agenda – here, there was a greater focus upon early help and support for families, to improve outcomes, as well as prevent issues escalating to statutory intervention.

-  An Early Years Strategy – there was, again, here a significant emphasis upon early interventions, identifying the child’s needs and the required support at the earliest opportunity, to prevent escalation later in life.

-  Inclusion Strategy – here the objective was for a broader range of children’s needs to be met in mainstream school settings, as well as reduce the need to use independent specialist placements.

-  A graduated approach to supporting children and young people, ensuring they were able to access the right support at the right time, reflecting their changing needs throughout their education.

-  The development of an Accessibility Strategy – this focused upon enabling more children with additional needs and disabilities to access mainstream education settings, reducing reliant upon specialist out-of-Borough placements, further away from the child’s community.

-  A specialist commissioning strategy – here, the objective was to create additional specialist places within the Borough, with a number of separate projects running at that moment. This included the development of an Autism Free School, which was due to open in September 2022.

-  An overarching SEND improvement journey – this was a 5-year plan, scheduled to be published at the end of the summer.

 

40.

OFSTED Action Plan Update - Inspection of Local Authority Childrens Services pdf icon PDF 185 KB

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

 

This action plan has been kept under regular review and has formed a part of a number of discussions during the intervening period with Ofsted during the summer and autumn of 2020, as well as January and May 2021; the latter being our formal Annual Conversation as part of the Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) statutory regulatory framework..

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director for Children, Young People and Families presented the Ofsted Action Plan update, following the inspection of Local Authority Children's Services in November 2019. It was explained how the action plan had been kept under regular review and had formed a part of a number of discussions during the intervening period with Ofsted, the most recent taking place in May 2021 – Ofsted had confirmed they were happy with the progress made against the action points identified.

 

Member raised the following queried and observations.

·  Members welcomed that progress had been completed against a significant majority of the actions identified with the Plan. They noted that the following two actions were on-going and queried the potential timescales for completion:

o  Triangulate direct feedback from carers through audit and quality assurance of the training offer to identify areas for development and barriers to access.

o  Liaison with judiciary about pathways to support SGO process to remove any avoidable delays.

·  The Assistant Director for Children, Young People and Families explained how they were currently working with the Workforce Development team and the Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (LSCP) in regards to the first action point and anticipated this to be completed in the summer.

·  The Assistant Director for Children, Young People and Families explained that, for the second action point, they were continuing to work with the Courts to establish new pathways for Special Guardianship Orders (SGO’s). There was focus upon carers who wished to support family members, to enable them to pursue an SGO, rather than having to go through Care Orders. It was noted how the Courts would be moving out of a Covid restricted process, and, as a result these potential changes were being pursued with the Local Family Justice Board and local partners.

·  Members highlighted the arrangements for return to home interviews following episodes of children or young people going missing. They noted the Department for Education statutory guidance, which stated the interview should be carried out within 72 hours of the child or young person going missing and queried the Council’s performance against this target.

·  The Assistant Director for Children, Young People and Families confirmed he did not have the performance data to hand and would look to clarify outside of the meeting. He explained how children and young people may have multiple missing episodes. As a consequence, a return to home interview may be offered to the child to consider a number of missing episodes, especially when they occurred within a close timescale. It was noted that, in some instances, the child may not wish to speak to the return to home interview providers and, instead, preferred to engage with their Social Workers.

·  Members flagged up page 26 of the agenda, which detailed the work being undertaken with the judiciary in regards to Special Guardianship Orders (SGO’s). They queried what oversight arrangements would be in place when any SGO’s were pursued, to ensure the welfare of the child. A Member also expressed concern in regards to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Children's Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board Work Programme pdf icon PDF 157 KB

The purpose of the report is to provide the Children’s Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board with a draft Work Programme for the 2021/22 municipal year, for review.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Board was invited to consider a draft work programme for the 2021/22 municipal year. Members raised the following points and observations:

·  That an update be scheduled on the latest Mental Health support offer within the Borough. In addition to emergency and crisis support, it was requested for the update to focus upon early help to support children and young people with their emotional wellbeing and mental health, including provision via schools.

·  That the item scheduled on ‘Development of Solihull’s Joint Strategy for Children and Young People with Additional Needs’ be updated, to include a meeting in advance with the North Solihull Additional Needs Parent Support Group, in addition to Solihull Parent Carer Voice.

·  That the update on ‘Development of new provisions within Solihull for children and young people with SEND’ be expanded to consider the development of all alternative education provision within the Borough. Item to include the services and support delivered via Solihull Academy.

·  That the scope of the item scheduled on ‘Support for young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)’ be expanded, to consider careers advice to all young people within the Borough, as well as engagement between educational facilities and local employers.

 

RESOLVED

That the Children’s Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board approved the work plan, as submitted, subject to the addition of the points raised by Members above.