Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - MS teams

Contact: Kelly Sutherland 

Media

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Items
Note No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

To elect the Chairman of the Children’s and Education Select Committee for the ensuing year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Kelly Sutherland, Committee and Governance Manager, welcomed everyone to the meeting and called for nominations for Chairman. Dev Dhillon was nominated and seconded and in the absence of any other nominations was declared Chairman of the Children’s Services and Education Select Committee.

 

RESOLVED:  That Mr Dev Dhillon be elected as Chairman for the ensuing year.

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

To appoint the Vice-Chairman of the Children’s and Education Select Committee for the ensuing year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Dhillon thanked all the staff in Children’s and Education Services who had faced an extremely challenging period due to the coronavirus pandemic.  A large number of services were provided by frontline staff; the officers and senior management team had worked tirelessly to provide the best service possible.

 

Mr Dhillon proposed Mrs Julie Ward be appointed as Vice-Chairman; Mr Arif Hussain and Mr Niknam Hussain seconded the proposal.

 

RESOLVED:  That Mrs Julie Ward be appointed as Vice-Chairman for the ensuing year.

3.

Apologies for Absence/Changes in membership

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that Mr Robert Jones had sent his apologies for the first part of the meeting and joined the meeting at 3.00 pm.

 

The Chairman advised that the Select Committee was able to have parent governors as co-opted members; Mrs Sutherland explained that she would contact the Legal team to clarify the process and update the committee.

 

The committee members introduced themselves and stated the area they represented.

4.

Declarations of Interest

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following declarations of interest were made:

  • Mr Arif Hussain - governor of the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe.
  • Mr Dominic Barnes – his wife worked in the Education Department at Buckinghamshire Council.
  • Mr Niknam Hussain – advised as a consultant on a number of home to school transport companies.
  • Ms Sally-Ann Jarvis – worked for an academy school.
  • Ms Emily Culverhouse – helps run the Chesham Youth Council.
  • Mr Brian Foster – director of Haddenham Youth and Community Centre.

 

2.10

5.

Covid-19 Update pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The Committee will receive an update on the Covid-19 response in connection with Children’s Services and Education.

 

Contributors:

Mr Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

Mrs Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Education

Mr Tony Green, Cabinet Member for Youth Provision

Mr Tolis Vouyioukas, Corporate Director, Children’s Services

Mr Richard Nash, Service Director – Children’s Social Care

Mr Simon James, Service Director - Education

 

Papers:

Covid-19 Update report

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman explained that a Covid-19 update would be provided at this meeting; however, there would be further opportunities to scrutinise the Council’s response to the pandemic.  On behalf of the whole committee, the Chairman extended his thanks to all staff in Children’s Services and Education who had been working extremely hard on the front line during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Mr Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services stated it had been an extremely challenging time for the Service as the officers had to be set up to work from home, in a very short space of time, to enable continued contact with vulnerable children via Face time, texting and WhatsApp; these methods had proven to be an efficient, effective and accepted means of communication for the children.  The Service had kept the Department for Education (DfE) and OFSTED informed throughout.  The planned OFSTED monitoring visit in May 2020 would be rearranged for when it was safe to do so. 

 

Mr Shaw commended the whole team, in both education and children’s social care; he particularly thanked the staff who had been working in the schools which had remained open during the pandemic and the officers who had undertaken home visits under extreme circumstances.  Mr Shaw was confident that the senior management team knew what needed to be improved upon and that there was an improvement plan in place.  Regular contact had been made with approximately 80% of the known vulnerable children but the team were aware that the real challenge would be the children who were not known to the service and it was anticipated that there could be a rise in the number of referrals when more children returned to school. In addition, recruitment of social work staff continued to be a priority.

 

Mr Tolis Vouyioukas, Corporate Director, Children’s Services, referred to the detailed report provided in the agenda pack and emphasised that following the lockdown announcement; immediate action was taken to ensure all teams were able to work remotely.  Mr Vouyioukas praised the schools which had accommodated the children of key workers and vulnerable children.  The Service had achieved contact with over 96% of cases (paragraph 1.6) and Mr Vouyioukas stressed the importance of ensuring the momentum of improvement continued.  A recent staff survey had shown that over 88% of staff in Children’s Services were happy and felt supported.  The senior management team had been in touch with DfE at least three times a week to understand the guidance and expectations.  Regular meetings with the chairs of school partnerships had also taken place.  It was anticipated that 80% of primary schools would be open by week commencing 8 June 2020, in accordance with public health guidance.

 

The following key points were raised by the Select Committee members during discussion:

 

  • A member commented that the Children’s Centre programme had not been implemented due to the pandemic; however, Mr Vouyioukas clarified that the Family Support Service (para 1.9 of the report), which included Early Help, actually went live in September  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

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6.

Key priorities for 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 419 KB

The Committee will hear from the Cabinet Members for Children’s Services, Education and Youth Provision, who will outline their priorities for the next 12 months.

 

Contributors:

Mr Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

Mrs Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Education

Mr Tony Green, Cabinet Member for Youth Provision

Mr Tolis Vouyioukas, Corporate Director, Children’s Services

Mr Richard Nash, Service Director – Children’s Social Care

Mr Simon James, Service Director – Education

 

Papers:

Children’s Services Priorities

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Shaw listed the key priorities as follows:

 

  • Service improvement
  • Recovery from Covid-19
  • Budgetary control.

 

Cllr Tony Green, Cabinet Member for Youth Provision,  listed the key priorities as follows:

 

·       Recruitment of in-house foster carers

·       Improving the education and health of looked after children

·       The transition of children from childhood to adulthood. 

 

Cllr Cranmer listed the following  three key priorities:

 

  • SEND delivery and improvements
  • Improving education provision
  • Home to school transport.  (This responsibility was divided - Mrs Cranmer advised that whilst she dealt with the policy; the delivery came under the Logistics portfolio).

 

The following key points were raised by the Select Committee members during discussion:

 

  • A member asked for an explanation of how 90% of pupils attended a good or outstanding school as he felt the attainment gap had increased over the years.  Mr Vouyioukas explained that the figure of 90% was published by OFSTED. He reassured the committee that the schools and authorities were working together to narrow the attainment gap; it was a joint responsibility.  
  • A member asked if there were plans to improve the transition process for SEND children and children with EHCPs as they reached adulthood.  Mr Vouyioukas acknowledged that there were a large number of children and young people involved and that the Service was working hard to provide a seamless transition.
  • It was noted that it had proved difficult to recruit high quality social workers and this was a national problem. Mr Shaw explained that the Council was ‘growing’ its own social workers and a new group had been due to start in the Academy, but had been delayed due to Covid-19.  Mr Nash stated that he had been working hard over the last 18 months on the recruitment and retention of qualified social workers, as well as growing the academy.  The Service was in a much stronger position today than in the last two years; it was retaining more staff and the staff survey had indicated that staff felt supported.  Recruitment had also taken place from Canada and Australia and five social workers had started before the pandemic; discussions were being held to decide when another four would be able to start work.
  • Mrs Cranmer was pleased to report that after having similar recruitment difficulties, an additional 12 SEN Officers had been recruited in recent months, which had contributed to the tremendous improvement in the EHCP turnaround.
  • A member highlighted the increase in the number of looked after children being placed with in-house foster carers, which was good for the children and the Council’s budget.  Mr Nash stated that it was important for children to be placed as near to home as possible and stated that there had been an increase from 128 to 180 placements with in-house foster carers   Recruitment of new foster carers involved a significant amount of training.
  • In response to a question on the attainment gap, Mr James agreed to circulate an update on the position in Buckinghamshire compared with national figures and statistical neighbours.

ACTION:  Mr James

7.

Work Programme Discussion

The Committee will discuss possible items to include on the Committee’s work programme for the coming year.

 

Contributors:

All Committee Members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following suggestions were made for the work programme:

 

  • The Children’s Services Improvement Plan – members of the committee requested sight of the improvement plan before it was presented to Cabinet in July 2020 and suggested a supplementary meeting be held.  The Chairman advised that the improvement plan would usually come to the Select Committee after it had been to Cabinet and that members could ask questions at the Cabinet meeting.  Mr Vouyioukas added that the Improvement Plan was a ‘work in progress’ document and Children’s Services were accountable to the Improvement Board.  The Chairman agreed to look at the timing and process of the Improvement Plan and review the suggestion of an additional meeting.

ACTION:  Chairman/Mrs Sutherland

  • The Children’s Services budget and whether it was now sufficient to cover the improvement plan due to the impact of the pandemic.
  • The resilience of young people in education and care and how the effect of the pandemic on their education, attainment levels and ability to find work could be mitigated.
  • IT support and facilities provided for children being schooled at home.
  • Lessons learned during the pandemic that could inform and improve the Council’s practices moving forward.
  • The impact of Covid-19 on transitions between early year’s settings and reception and Year 6 to Year 7.
  • Work being undertaken to narrow the attainment gap.

Some annual updates would be included on the work programme.

8.

Date of next meeting

Thursday 10th September 2020 at 2pm

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

 

The date of next meeting was 10 September 2020.