Agenda and minutes

Children’s Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board - Thursday 2nd March 2023 5.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Suite. View directions

Contact: James Hughes  Democratic Services


No. Item


Note from the Chair pdf icon PDF 62 KB

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Cllr Gibbin said he would circle back to the plan moving forward under Item 14 but reminded members that this board faced a significant challenge in supporting the Children’s Services team in their improvement journey.


He also thanked Cllr J Tildesley and Cllr A Rebeiro for their service to the board and wider Council as they would not be seeking re-election.



To receive any apologies.

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Apologies were received from Cllr Laura McCarthy and Mr Barrie Hall.


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.)

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None declared.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 287 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 5th January 2023.

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The minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting held on Thursday 5th January 2023.



The minutes were unanimously agreed.


Action Tracker pdf icon PDF 359 KB

To receive and review the Action Tracker.

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Members welcomed the creation of the Action Tracker and were happy to see it added as a standing agenda item.



The board noted progress made or updates given on items on the Actions Tracker.


Questions and Deputations pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To answer questions and hear deputations, if any, asked by any resident of the Borough pursuant to Standing Orders (Item 12).


A reminder that deputations wishing to be heard shall send to the Chief Executive by 12 noon on the day before the meeting their desire to attend, a notice in writing stating the nature and object of the application or representation proposed to be made.


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There were no questions submitted under Standing Order 9. There was one request to make a deputation under Standing Order 12, however, the resident wished to delay the request until the next meeting.


Appointment of Parent Governor Representative (For Information Only)

The board is informed that Ms Kate Goode has been appointed as a Parent Governor Representative as per The Parent Governor Representatives (England) Regulations 2001.  Due to there being one applicant and one vacant seat, no election was held. Ms Goode will serve a four-year term ending Friday 5th February 2027.




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The board welcomed Ms Kate Goode as a new Parent Governor Representatives. Ms Goode introduced herself and looked forward to working with the Board during her term.


Children's Social Care Plan pdf icon PDF 184 KB

For the board to be sighted of the draft Children’s Social Care Plan and to feedback on it before submission to OFSTED.

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The Director of Children’s Service (DCS) introduced the report. He stated that OFSTED had received a copy of the plan this week (W/C 27/02/2023) but that the Council had yet to hear back from them. The Assistant Director – Improvement (AD-I) stated the Children’s Social Care Plan was high level and that sat beneath it would be individual service plans which were more detailed. The plan focusses on three pillars; stabilising the work force, quality of practice and an early help offer.


The questions from the Board were as follows:

·  Kate Goode – Is there a commitment from partner agencies to the plan?

o  DCS – The results of the OFSTED inspection and the following Children’s Social Care Plan were all within our gift in so much as it focuses on what the Council does in Social Work Practice. Work with partners is covered in a separate Partner Plan.

·  Kate Goode – How is recruitment within the service going post the publishing of the OFSTED inspection?

o  DCS – Recruitment is an issue nationally and you would be hard pressed to find a Local Authority who wasn’t struggling to recruitment now. Over the next few weeks, the service will be launching a micro-site aimed at attracting people to come and work at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and the leadership team had recently met with staff on the issue of renumeration. However, whilst recruitment is an important part of the puzzle, we have to focus on the retention of the staff we have and staff that join as without retention then we will always be in the same situation.

·  Cllr A Burrow – I like the 3 priorities, I think the first two are the most important. Are you getting the support from HR on the stabilising of the work force?

o  DCS – We have a close relationship with them, and they have a clear enthusiasm to tackle the problem with us. Ultimately if we don’t crack the problem, it remains a problem for them, so we are all invested in getting a stable work force.

·  Cllr Y Clements – I think it would be useful for the board to have the statistics on vacancy rates, I asked for these at the last meeting, and I am yet to receive them. Separately I also think we should have the OFSTED rating printed on every agenda pack for this board as a reminder of what our focus needs to be. As well as this there seems to be a lot of boards doing a lot of things, can we have a list of who sits on them and their contact details?

o  DCS – It will be another two and half years roughly before we are fully reinspected so it will be a long time before we see movement out of inadequate. In relation to the list of boards yes, we can provide that, and I will include what the board does or is responsible for.

ACTION: DCS to provide the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Educational Outcomes for Looked After Children VS Non Looked After Children pdf icon PDF 220 KB

To measure whether there is a disparity in educational outcomes between the groups.


To understand if more can be done to support Looked after children.

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The Assistant Director – Education (AD-E) presented the report alongside the Head of Service Education Outcomes & Intervention (HoS EOI) and the Virtual School Head Teacher (VSH). The AD-E highlighted how the service reports on this yearly, but the last few years had been difficult due to Covid. He highlighted how up until 2019 the service was making big improvements in the outcomes for Looked After Children.


The questions from the Board were as follows:

·  Cllr S Gethen – What does a virtual school look like?

o  HoS EOI – The school doesn’t directly deliver education to Looked After Children but they support their school staff to make sure the school is delivering the best quality education to that Looked After Child.

·  Kate Goode – Does this service provide for children who have left care i.e they have been adopted?

o  VHS - This report and reporting statistics only focus on Looked After Children but yes the service does provide advice and guidance to those Looked After Children who have left care.

·  Kate Goode – Do we collect data on SEMH aspects as well or just purely academic statistics?

o  HoS EOI – This is something that the child’s Personal Education Plan would pick up. The Virtual School would pick up on SEMH triggers i.e. attendance by the softer reporting is picked up the actual school i.e. is the child attending/accessing SEMH sessions.

·  Cllr B Groom – Do we have the capacity in the service? Are we currently only meeting what we need to do to be compliant and missing some of the softer support that could be offered?

o  VSH – PEP plans are statutory, and we are good at holding the schools to account on them and ensuring we cover some of the softer support that the children can access. Looked After Children are always involved in these conversations to make sure their voice is heard.

o  HoS EOI – We are looking to build more capacity into the service team to cover the increase in caseload that we have seen. But it was a positive that OFSTED did comment on the level of challenge the service provides to schools on the personal education plans and we don’t want to lose that good level of challenge.

·  Cllr A Burrow – I want to commend you for aiming for the national ambition but all I hear is that Solihull has some of the best schools in the country and I wonder if our results are better than that national ambition whether we should use our results as the target?

o  HoS EOI – We do hold the data to be able to use our measure as a target. We are now in 2022 roughly in line with the national outcomes, we don’t stand apart particularly as a borough now. In some measures, in GSCE results, in the past we have sat above and our Looked After Children have also sat above so that is a demonstration that we are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Educational Outcomes for Looked After Children VS Non Looked After Children - Appendix 1

Any member wishing to ask a question relating to the private appendix please make sure you indicate this to the Chair.


Appendix 1 presented for information only.



Chairman To Move

That the meeting of the Children’s Services, Education and Skills Scrutiny Board be adjourned for 20 minutes.

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The meeting was adjourned.


Delivery of Solihull's Joint Strategy for Children and Young People with Additional Needs & SEND: Peer Challenge Outcome DOTX 84 KB

Delivery of Solihull’s Joint Strategy for Children and Young People with Additional Needs


For the Board to scrutinise the delivery of the Strategy and allow opportunity for Member input.


To scrutinise the delivery against the ‘I’ statements set out in the Strategy, from the perspective of the child and young person.


SEND: Peer Challenge Outcome


For the board to be informed of the outcome of and recommendations made by the SEND Peer Review that occurred in January 2023.

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For the purposes of this item the Delivery of Solihull’s Joint Strategy for Children and Young People with Additional Needs was taken first with the SEND: Peer Challenge Outcome taken after as a separate item.


Delivery of Solihull’s Joint Strategy for Children and Young People with Additional Needs

The Assistant Director – Education presented the context behind this report. SEND services across all of the country is in crisis. The Government released its response to theSpecial Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) green paper consultation – the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan. The Head of Service SEND (0-25) (HoS SEND) then presented the report.


Before questions were taken Cllr D Gibbin thanked Solihull Parent Carer Voice for their annual gathering of partners on Wednesday 1st March as he always found it helpful to hear from those on the ground. He asked that the Democratic Services Officer circulate the Government’s response to members of the Board.


Question from the Board were as follows:

·  Kate Goode – The drop-in sessions that were held were warmly received by Parent Governors and I wanted to know if we could run something similar to schools?

o  HoS SEND – We did offer this to schools; however, they were poorly attended and the feedback we gained was that it was difficult for staff to have to leave the school site to go to the events. So, we are looking at how we can put on a ‘roadshow’ to reach those schools and the staff within them.

·  Cllr A Wilson – Priority 4 ‘I feel welcome, understood, valued, appreciated and included wherever I go…’ is about how the public perceive those with SEND. What actions are next to improve the public perception?

o  HoS SEND – We are seeking to focus on community spaces and how we can make them as accessible as possible.

·  Cllr D Gibbin – Are children social care invested enough in the strategy?

o  HoS SEND – The new inspection framework helps with driving the integration and multiagency work.

Action: Democratic Services to send out the new inspection framework.

·  Sajida Golby – 3.3 and 3.4 highlight the response statistics which seem very low when you consider how many people have SEND in Solihull. How can we make sure we get more answers moving forward and can we have a breakdown of age/location etc?

o  HoS SEND – Data breakdown would be useful, and we are looking at building this into the questions in the future to better allows us to track what services are being accessed by who. However, we didn’t on this occasion as there were already many questions in the survey.

·  Cllr S Gethen – Page 55 highlights a new referral pathway which if it works as I think will be very welcomed by the community. Can you please just expand on this? 

o  AD-E – Colleagues in the Integrated Care Board have designed this process where you will need a single referral and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Delivery of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Local Transformation Plan pdf icon PDF 174 KB

For the Board to review the ongoing delivery of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Local Transformation Plan and proposed next steps.


Members to receive an update on the Mental Health support for children and young people who have been granted, or are seeking, asylum in the Borough.

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The Senior Strategic Commissioning Manager (SSCM), Birmingham and Solihull ICB presented the report.


Questions from the board were as follows:

·  Cllr S Gethen – The current pathway for crisis support isn’t working, are we going to see an improvement?

o  SSCM – We have created a new service designed by families called EMPOWER. The service will look at de-escalating an issue before it becomes a Mental Health Crisis and will aim to support people who present as heading towards a crisis. There will be a wrap around whilst they are waiting for their appointments to help with support in the space between. We currently see around 70% of contacts presenting as an early help case and not a crisis so this service will hopefully help.

·  Cllr A Wilson – Page 87 talks about people with a learning disability are eligible for an in-depth annual health check with their GP from age 14. How confident are we that with the state of waiting times for GP appointments at the moment that this is deliverable?

o  SSCM – We know that people with learning difficulties have a shorter life expectancy, so it is important that they attend these health checks. GPs are paid to undertake them so there is an incentive for GPs to be making sure they happen, and we also have the data on hand to be able to track if it is happening. We have had instances where we have partnered high and low performing practices so best practice can be shared.

·  Cllr A Wilson – How confident are we that GPs understand the nuances of how certain medication to treat conditions can impact different SEND conditions?

o  SSCM – That is a little too technical for me to answer but I know that we have clinical leads for SEND needs who will be across the latest research and guidance who GPs can contact.

·  Cllr A Wilson – Do we have any work that is ongoing to target boys as they seem to suffer disproportionately compares to the West Midlands and National Average?

o  SSCM – They present in different ways for example it may be a change in their behaviour so it is important we can have a targeted response to pick this change up and then deliver the support needed. We have Kooth which is positive as it can be accessed from home. We are also undertaking a school audit now to see what we can develop in terms of a localised response to this issue.

·  Cllr B Groom – Picking up on where it states “Among 17 to 22 year olds with a probable mental disorder, 14.8% reported living in a household that had experienced not being able to buy enough food or using a foodbank in the past year, compared with 2.1% of young people unlikely to have a mental disorder.” Thinking about how the NHS has just had to survive one crisis in the form of COVID-19, is it ready to deal with the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Work Plan pdf icon PDF 477 KB

For members to receive the last Work Plan report for the Municipal Year 2022-2023 and review any remaining items on the plan with a view to defer them to next year’s work programme.

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Cllr Gibbin informed the board that work had started on drafting the Work Plan for the next Municipal Year. He advised that having looked at what other Council’s do the process in Solihull is not as developed and that he would be writing a report on what process this board could choose to follow when it came to work planning next year.


The Democratic Services Officer advised members that if they had items, they wished the board to consider in the next Municipal Year then they should contact them in the first instance setting out why they think it would be relevant for the board and what outcomes they wished to see from the board having looked at it. They also advised that they would be starting a monthly round up of relevant publications and data to support the board to stay on top of wider sector developments.



The board noted the Work Plan for the current Municipal Year and agreed to carry over the remaining two items onto the next Municipal Years work plan.