Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee - Tuesday, 21st January, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: The Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX

Contact: Stephanie Davis
02087266000 x84384  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence from any members of the Committee.



Councillor Bernadette Khan sent her apologies and Councillor Patricia Hay-Justice was in attendance in her absence.

Councillor Gareth Streeter sent his apologies.



Minutes of the previous sub-committee meeting pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2019 as an accurate record.



The minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2019 was signed and agreed as an accurate record subject to the following amendment:


That the minutes reflect the presence of the following officers who were in attendance:

Rachel Carse, Interim Head of Employment and Skills Delivery

Kerry Crichlow, Programme Director, Children’s Improvement Journey

Robert Henderson, Executive Director Children Families and Education



Disclosures of interest

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.



There were no disclosures of interest.



Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.


There was none.



Actions List Update

Discussion on the actions arising from previous meetings.


It was acknowledged that the items that did not have completion dates or comments had now been updated.


Following attendance of some members of the committee at the ‘Respect’ training that took place ahead of the meeting, the Chair fed back to the sub- committee that the training provided key insight on how to better hear and include the voice of the child in its work


It was commented that the Children’s complaints report had not been presented to the sub-committee and the Chair informed Members that a decision had been made for this to be taken at the Scrutiny and Overview committee to look into in depth.



Education Budget pdf icon PDF 436 KB

To receive and review the proposed 2020/21 Education Budget.

Additional documents:


The Head of Finance introduced the report which detailed the components of the 2020/21 Budget. The total allocation for Croydon which is regulated by the Department for Education (DfE) was £364.306 million for the four blocks for 2020/2021.


Following the 2020/21 Spending review the Chancellor delivered a statement which was followed in more detail by the Minister for School Standards which confirmed the Governments’ commitment to a £7.1 billion increase in funding for schools by 2022/23. This included £700mil more in 2020/21 to support children and young people with Special Educational Needs, increased Early Years spending by £66mil and £400mil for Further Education.


In 2020/21 Croydon would see an increase of £21.3mil in the level of DSG funding compared to the previous year.


The DfE made a commitment that the introduction of the national funding formula, which has been delayed since 2017, would come into place in 2021/22.


As required, Croydon submitted its five year DSG Recovery Plan. The DfE’s letter of response informed the Council of an increase to the High Needs Block allocation for 2020/21, and that allocations for 2021/22 and 2022/23 were under review. As a result the Council conducted a detailed revision of its previously submitted recovery plan which would be submitted to the High Needs Working Group as well as the Schools Forum later this month.


It was asked what the new funding formula would mean for Croydon. Officers said that it meant that nationally every pupil would receive the same basic funding. The effects of this formula would be different in every Local Authority (LA), and the Council was doing all it could to mitigate any adverse impact of the new formula.


It was commented that whilst the Governments commitments for £7billion increase in funding for schools was welcomed, there was still a concern over the large deficit that has been accumulated by many schools in previous years. In particular, concerns were raised for Primary Schools who it was felt would not receive real term increases.


It was question if the Council would request reinstatement of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (USAC) costs from government, officers responded that the education provision of UASC was covered by the DSG but the budget did not cover social care costs.


It was questioned if the government should be lobbied for reinstatement of the PFI costs of a particular Croydon school and how much of a burden this was on the Council’s Budget. Officers said a benchmarking exercise took place every five years which was due to be revisited in 2021 and costs associated with this particular PFI would be reviewed.  Part of the funding from the DSG covered this cost and the council covered some of the affordability gap.


In response to a Member question on how confident the Council was that place planning for pupils was accurate, officers said that places at schools were allocated on criteria for schools and parental choice. There were often instances of surplus places in schools, pictorial maps of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/20


Education Standards pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a summary of the performance of children and young people in Croydon schools for the academic year 2018/2019

Additional documents:


The Interim Head of Standards Safeguarding and Inclusion presented the report and the following was noted:


·         Croydon’s performance in Early Years and Key Stage one was higher than the national average for the fourth consecutive year.

·         NEET figures were better that the national average but youth engagement remained a challenge.

·         Instances of permanent exclusion were lower than the national average but figures were not low enough, as such, improvements were needed in this area.

·         Croydon still experienced high rates of exclusions for Black Afro- Caribbean boys and White British boys receiving the Pupil Premium. The inclusion team was working on intervention and discussions were taking place with head teachers on identified trends.

·         Two school advisers had been appointed to support schools.

·         There was a renewed focus on provision of Post 16 technical skills provision.


Following presentation of the report, the Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report.


In response to a Member question on what was being done to improve sixth form provision in order to increase life chances and best outcomes for young people in Croydon, officers responded that a review of sixth form provision was being conducted to look into issues in detail and how best to tackle identified problems. It was acknowledged that there were many sixth form providers in Croydon and some had reduced their curriculum in order to be competitive whilst many experienced funding pressures.


It was further commented that the situation was affecting children in current Post 16 provision and the review must be conducted urgently as they required improvement to be made to quality of offer now in order to meet their needs, with a need for sufficient class sizes and access to pool of effective teachers. Officers said that the Council was encouraging more collaborative ways of working between the providers, having open dialogue and expressing concerns. There had been increased capacity within the Not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) team to support, undertake preventative work and develop engagement.


Questions were raised on the number of schools that had recently been inspected by Ofsted and what support had been given to schools, day nurseries and childminders who had received qualify deficit Ofsted ratings. Officers agreed to circulate data on all Croydon schools last inspection dates and Ofsted ratings.


The Committee learned that Schools and the small number of maintained nurseries that the Council held responsibility for liaised with a senior member of the school effectiveness team at fortnightly support meetings. The officer supported providers by working with them on governance issues, leadership and management. Areas of concern were outlined and if needed, course of action that the council would take if improvements were not made.


It was further challenged that the same support would not be available for Academy schools and officers said that a positive relationship with Academies was maintained.  The Council was confident in its ability to raise concerns and Academy schools were willing to work with the Council as needed. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/20


Children's Improvement Plan Update pdf icon PDF 216 KB

To receive an update on the Children’s Improvement Programme.

Additional documents:


The Executive Director of Children Families and Education provided an update on the Children’s Improvement journey which included the following:

·         The service has experienced a decrease in the number of audits that had been conducted that were inadequate and Camden agreed that they had been progressing in a positive way.

·         Caseloads in social care and early help had reduced below target which had impacted on social workers ability to deliver high quality work.

·         Targets in Assessments had improved with 24% reduction of children on child protection plan.

·         There has been significant reduction on cases in care proceedings. 12 months ago Croydon had 108 cases which was above the London average. There had since been a 55% reduction as practitioners were focused on working with families instead of removal of children.

·         The service had experienced a 44% improvement in initial health assessments, 91% of CIN reviews completed on time and 85% of plans up to date.

·         There were still areas in need of significant improvement. Care and pathway plans remained below target. Leaving Care and LAC teams were also further behind on their improvement journeys whilst supervision across the service remained inconsistent and was an area of priority.


A Member commented on the positive steps taken to improve core areas and that this was a reflection of better management driving superior practice. The teams and Cabinet Members’ efforts to improve the service was recognised and praised.


It was asked what further challenges was experienced in the retention of staff. The officer responded that Croydon still had a long way to go in delivering outcomes. An international recruitment campaign was due to be launched in a bid to widen efforts to recruit staff to reduce the percentage of locum vacancies which although had improved from 44% to 38% still required significant reduction.


A Question was raised on what was being done to support middle management and address any issues with performance. The Officer said that there were still improvements to be made by a small number of management staff and a robust support programme was in place to assist them.


It was asked when it was envisaged that children in CIN would be seen within 10 days and how would the target be achieved. The officer responded that it was hoped that this would be achieved within the next three months. Children on CP plans were treated a priority and take up most of social workers time, this was the main reason the target had yet to be met.


It was questioned what the improvement plan would look like in the next three months. The officer responded that it was anticipated that the full Ofsted inspection would have taken place and the plan moving forward would be shaped from the outcome of the inspection.


At the conclusion of this item the Chair thanked the Officers for their attendance at the meeting and their engagement with the Committee and questions.



Children Young People and Families Plan pdf icon PDF 885 KB

To review the proposed Children and Families Partnership Plan.


(Presentation to follow)


The Executive Director of Children Families and Education delivered the presentation and the following points were noted:


·         Croydon had a Children Young People and Families Plan which ended in 2018 and whilst as of 2010 there was no longer a statutory responsibility for local authorities to have a Plan, it was decided following discussions that it would be beneficial for Croydon to continue to have one in place.


·         It was recognised that Croydon had multiple multiagencies that had different priorities and it was important to bring those priorities of partnership together in one place to promote collective ownership under one agreement as was proposed by the Plan.


·         The multiagencies that operated in the Borough were all critical in improving outcomes and this partnership would reinforce that duty in a way that demands that services work together. The priorities selected for areas of focus would be priorities that had a partnership implication.


·         A Consultation would be launched for six weeks around the objectives of the plan and intelligence gathered would feed into the draft plan which would be presented to Cabinet in March 2020.


A Member asked if Head teachers would be consulted, the officer responded that head teachers would be consulted as they had engaged in initial consultations regarding the plan. It was envisaged that all service providers for young people would engage and provide their feedback. The draft plan would be presented at the head teachers’ conference in March 2020.


It was suggested that school governors be contacted and involved in the consultation. Arrangements should be made for communication regarding the consultation to be circulated in school bulletins.


There was challenge regarding the timeline of presentation of the item at scrutiny and it was highlighted that there was no opportunity for the draft plan to be presented to Scrutiny after the consultation process if it was to be tabled at March Cabinet meeting. As a result it was reinforced that early notification of proposed plans be brought to the attention of scrutiny in order to inform work programming and timetabling.


Officers were thanked for their attendance and contributions to the meeting


Information request by the Sub-Committee


·         Details of Consultation to be circulated




What Difference has this meeting made to Croydon's Children

To discuss the findings from this meeting and the expectations for Croydon’s Children.


At the conclusion of discussions, the following points were made:


Detailed thought and discussion had to take place to determine how to capture the voice of the child in meetings as this was currently not occurring.


It was imperative that the Sub-Committee look at ways of engagement with young people and encourage them to attend meetings. Suggestions made included the use of technology, approaching schools and their schools councils.


It was important to focus on understanding of roles as corporate parents, in particular celebrating life events of young people as there was a risk that not enough effort was being put into supporting all the other aspects of children’s lives and too much emphasis had been on execution of statutory functions.




Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 55 KB

To note the work programme for the remainder of 2019/20 Municipal Year.

Additional documents:


The Chair informed the Sub-Committee that he would be having a meeting with the Executive Director of Children Families and Education to discuss in detail the items proposed for the remainder of the meetings for this municipal year