Venue: Online via YouTube - any member of the press and public may view the proceedings at this virtual meeting via this weblink https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7DDSVoAIgTnwgp0Ku8iFLQ
To receive any apologies.
There were no apologies.
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.)
There were no declarations of interest.
Questions and Deputations
To deal with any questions or deputations received.
There were no questions or deputations.
To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 13th January 2021.
The minutes of the previous meeting, held on 13th January 2021, were presented.
That the minutes of the previous meeting were approved as a correct record.
To update members of the Children’s Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board on the challenges and responses from the Children’s Services Directorate in supporting children, families and schools during Covid-19.
The Board received an update on the challenges and responses from the Children’s Services Directorate in supporting children, families and schools during Covid-19.
The Assistant Director for Inclusion and Additional Needs provided an update on the following points:
· Continuing support for schools and early years settings during Covid-19.
· The ongoing communications with the school community throughout the pandemic.
· The comprehensive range of measures to support remote learning.
· The volume of outbreaks and school attendance levels recorded during the third lockdown, as well as at the return of school on 8th March.
· Members were also informed of the measures undertaken to step back up vulnerable children’s tracking arrangements, as well as providing free school meal options.
Members raised the following queries and observations:
· Members queried what extra support could be provided to pupils with additional needs, including anxiety, to encourage their return to school. Members also expressed their concern about children wearing masks for extended times, especially pupils with additional needs.
· The Assistant Director for Inclusion and Additional Needs confirmed that support for pupils with anxiety had been a major area of focus. It was explained how a school refuser pathway had been established, where they had funded the Educational Psychology Service and Specialist Inclusion Support Service to provide a broad range of different support offers, based on the needs of individual children and families. They had refocused the role of the Education Enforcement team, whereby they were supporting the attendance of vulnerable pupils and putting in place individual support, where required, to encourage them back into a school setting.
· The Assistant Director for Inclusion and Additional Needs explained that, in regards to children wearing masks, they had to ensure adherence to national guidelines, whilst also taking into account the individual needs of the child. It was recognised that children may need to take breaks from mask wearing, outside in a safe environment.
· Members queried the mental health support in place for School staff and questioned whether there were any ongoing issues.
· The Assistant Director for Inclusion and Additional Needs explained how there was a comprehensive support package in place for Schools – the Human Resources team sent out updates and a bulletin each week, detailing how to access mental health support. This was routinely monitored; which demonstrated the support was being accessed. Support for staff was also considered at the weekly schools cell meetings with head teachers.
· Members highlighted the impact of the lockdown upon pupils with additional needs, including for their families. They queried how the SEND community was feeling at the moment and also questioned the access to Educational Psychology support.
· The Assistant Director for Inclusion and Additional Needs explained how the pressure on these families was recognised and it was emphasised the increase in demand for SEND support was a national issue. Officers were developing a roadmap – to support both the immediate return to school now, as well upon an ongoing basis. There was also evidence regarding the social and emotional impact of the lockdown ... view the full minutes text for item 31.
To provide an update on the work of the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership in Solihull.
The Independent Scrutineer presented the report, which updated on the work of the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership in Solihull, since the last report received in March 2020.
The report updated Members on how the LSCP had had to revise its ways of working, due to the pandemic, with the use of virtual platforms to hold multi-agency meetings. The Board was also informed how, since June 2020 the LSCP had had to complete six Rapid Reviews, which concerned serious incidents where children had been seriously harmed or had died in Solihull.
Members were also updated on how the LSCP’s anticipated priorities for 2021/22 were Exploitation; supporting implementation of the All-Age Exploitation Reduction Strategy and Neglect; improving outcomes for children and young people.
The Chairman detailed how a member had submitted a number of detailed questions, upon the work of the LSCP, in advance of the meeting. It was explained how it had been agreed for these questions to be shared with the 3 Safeguarding Partners, inviting them to respond.
The Chairman noted it would be the last time the Independent Scrutineer joined a Scrutiny Board meeting, following 4 years in the role – he requested to put on record his thanks to the Independent Scrutineer for all the work he had undertaken on behalf of the Borough.
Members raised the following queries and observations:
· Members highlighted the All-Age Exploitation Reduction Strategy, requesting clarification as to whom this included. They also asked for confirmation regarding the different types of exploitation this Strategy covered.
· The Independent Scrutineer explained how the Strategy covered all types of exploitation – including child sexual exploitation (CSE), as well as criminal exploitation, such as county lines and modern day slavery. There was also a significant focus upon children making the transition into adult services and support. It was also explained how a Safeguarding Adults Review (SAR) had previously been commissioned, following the death of a 20 year old – the findings of this review had underpinned the development of the Strategy.
· Members queried the introduction of the new Exploitation Reduction Procedures and Toolkit.
· The Assistant Director for Children, Young People and Families detailed how the Exploitation and Missing Team was sited within the Family Support Service, and considered children, young people and families that might require multi-agency or social care support. It was explained how cases were considered by the Solihull Exploitation Panel, who reported to the Exploitation Reduction Board. It was explained how the Assistant Director, as well as the Director of Children’s Services and Skills were represented on this Board, to ensure clear oversight and governance arrangements. The Board had recently approved the new Exploitation Toolkit and this was being launched to coincide with the national child exploitation awareness day on 18th March. This was being accompanied by the Exploitation Reduction Capability Framework, which was intended to help organisations to assess the training, learning and development needs of their staff.
· Members queried the use of the Graded Care Profile tool, Solihull’s endorsed tool for assessment ... view the full minutes text for item 32.