Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee
Tuesday, 15th September, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: This meeting is being held remotely; to view the meeting, please click here

Contact: Stephanie Davis
02087266000 x84384  Email: stephanie.davis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

31/20

Apologies for absence

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

 

Minutes:

Apologies recived from Councillor Sue Bennett.

 

Apologies received from Dave Harvey who cofirmed that his term on te Sub-Committee had ended and that the teacher unions joint committee has nominated Josephine Copelan d as the teacher representative on Scrutiny.

 

 

32/20

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.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest

33/20

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.

34/20

Action list update

Discussion on the actions arising from previous meetings.

Minutes:

The Chair provided a brief update on the action list and it was noted that all priority actions were up to date. There were a small number of rolling actions which remained opened and would be resolved as soon as possible.

 

35/20

Update Report: Early Help and Children's Social Care pdf icon PDF 618 KB

To receive an update on the measures and provision in place to support Croydon’s vulnerable children following lifting of Covid-19 lockdown.

Minutes:

The Director for Early Help and Children’s Social Care presented the report and the following was noted:

 

  • Contacts had reduced over the lockdown period, this had now begun to rise with August figures in line with numbers experienced before lockdown. Referrals had increased but not spiked.
  • There were concerns in managing some of the challenges experienced by families which had not come to light due to children not being in sight of services such as schools and addressing these was priority for services.
  • The issues experienced by Kent County Council have had a London wide impact.
  • In order to sustain service improvement a quality assurance framework was implemented to enable senior management to retain focus on practice.
  • There had been a reduction in the number of heads of service, with those remaining in post continuing to work to deliver improvements.
  • One of the strengths of the department was its systemic practice, which included a successful bid for the social workers in schools project, the impact of which was expected to be extensive.
  • Work continued to address the impact of Covid 19, in particular on the mental health and wellbeing of children.
  • A focus visit was expected from Ofsted in the autumn. This was due to various reasons including the Council’s financial challenge, the resignation of the Executive Director and incidents that had occurred since the inspection.

 

Following the presentation, the Chair and the Sub-Committee thanked officers for all the work they had done in serving the needs of Croydon’s children, and in particular recognised the role of Robert Henderson as well as Nick Pendry in bringing the service forward and driving improved standards of professionalism.

 

 

A Member questioned how the department was managing the difficulties of protecting children at serious risk during the lockdown period. Officers said that as soon as the lockdown had been announced they reassessed all Child Protection (CP) and Child in Need (CIN) cases and appointed priority numbers. All Priority 1 children continued to have direct visits from social workers in full PPE and officers were confident in ensuring the safety of the most vulnerable children identified. There was reasonable confidence that the safety of children on CIN plans was maintained as best as possible, although visits for those children could only be maintained through virtual means. The risk was that these children may have become more at risk during the Covid period and this may not have been identified due to a lack of face to face visits. There had been a spike since the end of lock down in referrals of adolescent children due to the impact of issues as a result of Covid.

 

Additionally since the end of restrictions there had been an increase in gang activity, exploitation of adolescents and knife crime which had not been present during the lockdown period.

 

It was asked how the department was securing permanent placements for the considerable number of children ordered by the courts and with children awaiting adoption. Officers advised that there had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35/20

36/20

Children's Social Care and Education Dashboards pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

The Chair explained that several meetings had taken place between himself and the Programme Director for the Improvement Journey to finalise what the dashboards should look like and the data required.

 

The Chair requested a set of diagnostic indicators to be presented at each meeting which would enable Members to be able to identify areas that required in depth discussion and scrutiny. It was suggested that the Sub-Committee use this version for a few months before adding any other parameters.

 

The Director of Early Help and Children’s Social Care presented the Children’s social care dashboard report and the following was noted:

 

  • Performance was tracked around a number of areas including LAC, Caseloads, CIN and referrals to Early Help.
  • Increase in assessments completed within 44 days
  • Since lockdown performance in completion of visits has been assisted by virtual ways of working.
  • Face to face visits with children on child protection plans had remained consistent including during the lockdown period and plans have been recorded in line with deadlines.

 

 

The Interim Director of Education presented the Education dashboard and the following was noted:

 

  • This was the first time that had created a dashboard and this would be useful in identifying trends and comparisons in areas such as attendance, elective home education and attendance.
  • Going forward, elective home education and children missing from education would be included in the dashboard.
  • The dashboard would enable regular information to be shared in areas of quality such as a school’s Ofsted ratings.

 

Following presentations, the Sub-Committee took the opportunity to ask questions.

 

In response to a question on the percentages of cases audited in Children’s services and the quality of those audits, Officers said that each round of audits demonstrated that the quality of cases was improving. In the last audit one case was rated as inadequate. More work needed to be done on how the data was presented to the Sub-Committee as reporting on a monthly basis did not provide a true reflection. Further work would be done with the performance team to ensure that statistically accurate data would be presented to Members on a quarterly basis.

 

Member’s sought reassurance that the dashboard format and presentation of data would remain the same to ensure consistency of metrics and comparison to enable appropriate scrutiny and officers agreed to this.

 

A Member commented that the department was leading in the use of KPIs and performance measures and that this was reassuring, as this has not been the case for a number of years.  The Chair was also commended for all his work with officers in pushing forward better access and sharing of information with the Sub-Committee.

 

It was suggested that the Croydon Digital Service could assist in ensuring that information was transparent and easily assessable to the public as well as Councillors. Additionally that comparative information could be accessed through the LGA Inform. Although Croydon was not a member of LGA Inform it was agreed that it would be beneficial for Councillors and officers to have membership  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36/20

37/20

Update on Reopening of Schools following Covid 19 Lockdown pdf icon PDF 654 KB

Report to follow

Minutes:

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

 

  • In preparation for re-opening, extensive work had been undertaken including staggered attendances and a multiagency approach on Covid Safety was undertaken by schools to ensure that there was robust measures in place to keep pupils and staff safe.
  • Schools worked over the summer to compile publications for parents and guardians on what to do if their children were sick. Schools also had clear guidelines in place on processes to follow in when they had suspected cases of Covid 19.
  • Attendance was good on the onset of reopening with some schools at 95% attendance. As schools has now been open for a number of weeks, there had been instances of decline in attendance due to sickness.
  • Children had been getting to school using public transport where they have not been able to walk or cycle. There are buses on most routes dedicated for school use only at peak times
  • The latest update received from Department for Education (DfE) on the discontinuation of Free School Travel was that it was likely to be delayed until further notice. There was a named person at TFL that the Council could contact to raise any issues or concerns.
  • There was a focus on the recovery of the curriculum and a project in place to address any trauma experienced by children. The group met in July and was due to meet again in October, with the work of the project monitored by the Council.
  • Overall it had been a positive start to the school year, although it was still the early stages of the academic year, schools and partners were working hard to ensure children, families and staff were all supported and their needs identified.

 

Following the presentation of the report, Members were given the opportunity to ask questions.

 

A Member asked a question on what measures were being taken in case of future lockdown measures to support the education of children as a result of school closures, in particular disadvantaged children. Officers said that schools were working to improve their blended learning offer which included virtual learning for children who had to isolate at home to ensure minimum disruption in their education when not able to attend school and learning from the experience of this during the lockdown assisted with preparation.

 

Concerns were raised about children not having access to equipment when working at home, with it advised that conversations were taking place with regional schools director to address this. Schools were currently reviewing the requirements to deliver blended learning including identifying the families that did not have access to Wi-Fi and how best to support them.

 

In response to a question on what support was in place to address challenges arising from the physical constraints of school buildings in order to maintain Covid compliance, officers said that schools worked together closely to assist one another during lockdown when there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37/20

38/20

Update on Task and Finish Group:Removal from Roll and Off Rolling in Croydon Schools

Chair of the Task and Finish Group, Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick to provide a progress update.

Minutes:

The Chair of the Task and Finish Group, Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick gave an update of the trajectory of the review and informed the sub-committee that the final report would be presented in April 2021.

 

There had been 2 interim reports presented to date. The final report would pull together all the findings and would demonstrate the voice of various sections of the community which had been captured over the course of the review.

 

39/20

What difference has this meeting made to Croydon's children

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

 

Minutes:

  • The Sub-Committee had embraced the new way of working, and virtual meetings have gone well including the preparatory meetings that took place which had been very effective.
  • The tenacity of Members in requests for information and following up had resulted in data being compiled as requested for the first time.
  • Officer engagement and willingness to share information had improved with relationships strengthened as they are taking the committees role more seriously.
  • Input and insight of the co-opted members had made a difference to meetings.
  • The Sub-Committee would continue to hold the Council to account  on its responsiveness to the needs of the community

 

40/20

Work programme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To note the work programme for the remainder of 2020/2021 municipal year.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that as well as statutory items for upcoming meetings, the Sub-Committee would continue to focus on Covid 19 response, service and budget impact.

 

The Chair took the opportunity to thank Councillor Gareth Streeter for all his support and contribution with the Sub-Committee and wished him well in the new roles he had been assigned to.