Agenda and minutes
Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Panel
Monday, 22nd November, 2010 5.30 pm
Venue: Brunswick Room - Guildhall, Bath. View directions
Contact: Mark Durnford 01225 394458
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and asked the Panel to introduce themselves to the assembled members of the public.
EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE
The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.
The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Apologies were received from David Williams (Diocese of Bath and Wells) and Peter Mountstephen (Primary School Representative).
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST UNDER THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972
Members who have an interest to declare are asked to:
a) State the Item Number in which they have the interest
b) The nature of the interest
c) Whether the interest is personal, or personal and prejudicial
Any Member who is unsure about the above should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer prior to the meeting in order to expedite matters at the meeting itself.
Councillor Dine Romero declared a personal and non-prejudicial interest in relation to agenda item 12 – Medium Term Service and Resource Planning 2011 – 2014. Councillor Romero’s children currently attend Moorlands Infants and Ralph Allen Secondary School.
TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN
The Chairman announced that at the Full Council meeting that took place on November 16th 2010 it was agreed that the Cabinet would be asked to allocate an additional £53,000 of top-up transitory funding as part of the 2011/12 Council budget. This sum would be divided between services at Radstock Youth Centre, Keynsham Youth Centre (known as Time Out), and to provide bridging funding to support the ‘Off The Record’ Counselling Service.
ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE BUSINESS OF THIS MEETING
At the time of publication no notifications had been received.
The Chairman announced that seven members of the public and two Councillors were present who wished to make a statement to the Panel on the subject of the proposed cuts to the Youth Service.
Amanda Leon from the Radstock Action Group addressed the Panel (A copy of her statement can be found on the Panel’s Minute Book). A summary is set out below.
Radstock Youth Centre provides a vital professional service to and for young people in the town and the surrounding areas. Radstock Action Group asks this panel to agree to maintain current provision in the forthcoming financial year. The effect of the proposed cuts will reduce provision from one full time youth leader and .84 ft of part-timers to just four hours a week. We would like to draw your attention to the following points:
1. Youth work is done by professionally qualified people appropriately trained with skills, expertise and sensitivity
2. The Youth Centre is central to the life of young people in the town
3. Services, including outreach work, range from emotional, health and social support to activities which promote creativity and social responsibility. They are delivered through workshops on topics such as sexual health, drugs, employment and healthy living. Recreational and creative activities include music, carpentry, cooking, sports and many more.
4. There is a welcoming and supportive drop in programme where young people can seek help on anything that is of concern to them. Staff are there to give professional guidance and, through links with other agencies, can refer young people on if necessary
5. There is no doubt a link between anti-social youth behaviour and lack of services – Radstock has virtually no problems with youth anti-social behaviour – within the last year Norton Radstock Town Council invited the police to a meeting. In the course of the discussion, the police said they could not fault young people who were almost always well-behaved and responsive. We put this down to the fact that young people feel supported, valued and part of the wider community, something fostered by the Youth Club
6. In the current difficult economic climate, with the shortage of homes and jobs very acutely felt in Radstock, it is essential that we value our young people, we encourage them to feel confident and positive about themselves and their future – closing the one service in the town which is there exclusively for them gives the exact opposite message and can only have a negative effect on their well-being
7. Radstock has a purpose built Youth Centre which enables group activity and private/confidential discussions with individuals. We fear that this very valuable facility may be removed and reallocated to other services. We are totally opposed to any such move and ask the panel to ensure that this is not implemented.
Tess Daly asked how often the centre was used currently during the week.
Nathan Powney replied that the centre currently had activities going on within it everyday.
Hariett Lines addressed the ... view the full minutes text for item 57.
The Panel confirmed the minutes of the previous meeting as a true record and they were duly signed by the Chairman.
This report is the final report that draws together the background research, survey results and the results from focus groups with parents/carers.
The Overview and Scrutiny Projects Officer introduced this item to the Panel. She informed them that the Task and Finish Group had recently met with the Citizens Advice Bureau, at which they highlighted areas of good practice between their respective reports.
She said that although some schools do consult with parents on uniform issues the Task and Finish Group would like to see this done more so across all schools. In particular they felt that parents of prospective pupils should be contacted regarding uniform information.
On the issue of affordability it was felt that most parents were happy with the cost of uniforms and were more concerned with the price of school meals, childcare and school trips.
Councillor David Speirs addressed the Panel. He wished to thank the Overview and Scrutiny Projects Officer for all the work she had done on the report. He spoke of he was pleased to discover that the majority of parents did not use the cost of a uniform when choosing a school for their child to attend, however there did seem to be some confusion over which parts were compulsory and which were not.
Councillor John Bull commented that he thought the report was both thorough and imaginative. He also welcomed the introduction of a School Uniform Charter.
Councillor Marie Brewer commented that she felt recommendation 9 “Encourage all parents/carers to donate school uniform/PE kit items for reusing when they are no longer needed” should be highlighted throughout all schools.
The Chairman thanked all the Councillors and officers who had taken part in the review.
The Panel RESOLVED to:
i) Approve the report as written
ii) Issue the recommendations response table to the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Chris Watt. The Cabinet Member has six weeks to respond to the proposed recommendations.
This report provides Councillors and Overview & Scrutiny members with a report on the Council’s Area Assessment of Family Poverty which every local authority is required to do and which was commissioned by the Local Strategic Partnership.
The Early Years and Extended Services Manager introduced this item to the Panel. She informed them that the Child Poverty Act had introduced a statutory requirement for responsible local authorities and their named partners to:
· Make arrangements to cooperate to reduce and mitigate the effects of child poverty in their local areas.
· Prepare and publish a local child poverty needs assessment.
· Prepare a local child poverty strategy based on the needs assessment and in consultation with children, parents, and organisations representing children and parents.
She added that Bath & North East Somerset Children’s Services had approached the task by being clear that children are not born poor but are born into poor households – or become poor by their adult parent’s circumstances. This assumption therefore led to a particular approach on how the local authority would meet its new duties but also ensure that the issues raised by the Assessment would be addressed in services over and above those in Children’s Services.
A temporary support officer completed a desk exercise of reviewing what data was already known about local poverty and in particular child poverty. This was greatly helped by the recently published Children’s Needs Assessment 2009. As part of the School Uniform Task & Finish Group the temporary member of staff was required to undertake focus groups with parents who lived in areas of greatest social deprivation in the authority to ask about school uniforms but also to seek their views on other barriers experienced as a result of their child’s poverty.
As a result of the tasks undertaken above it was decided towards the end of the summer that a separate Child Poverty Strategy would not have sufficient weight to tackle the emerging findings from the Assessment: namely that there are numerous factors that impact on a family’s poverty including mental and physical health; employment; housing; education and crime. Wherever children’s outcomes in general fall below the local and national average poverty is a major contributing factor. It was therefore proposed that the Local Strategic Partnership were charged with considering the outcomes of the Area Assessment of Family Poverty as part of the Sustainable Communities Refresh. This was agreed at the LSP Executive in October 2010.
Councillor David Speirs addressed the Panel. He spoke of the need to break the cycle of poverty and called for a cashless system to be introduced with regard to free school meals. He added that low income families should be made more aware of the childcare services that are available to them.
Councillor Dine Romero commented that she felt it was fantastic to see the work of RE:generate commended within the report.
Councillor Rob Appleyard asked if the figures within the report covered both Radstock and Westfield or Radstock solely.
The Early Years and Extended Services Manager replied that she would check with her colleagues and reply in due course.
Councillor Eleanor Jackson asked for clarification of the figures used on page three of report as she believed there to be a significantly ... view the full minutes text for item 60.
This report sets out the headlines of pupil performance in 2010 at ages 5, 7, 11, 16 and 18. Currently the data for Key Stage 4 and Post 16 is provisional. Performance figures for all key stages are provided within the attachment to this report.
The Head of School Improvement and Achievement introduced this report to the Panel. She gave them a summary of key points from within the report.
Early Years Foundation Stage
The majority of children continue to attain securely within the Early Learning Goals and achieve good outcomes across all areas of learning. Targeted intervention and support for all schools and settings has resulted in improved outcomes for the most vulnerable children particularly in their communication, language and literacy skills.
Key Stage 1
Pupils continue to attain well and results are consistently significantly above national averages. Standards in reading, writing and mathematics at all levels(2+,2b+ and 3) have improved against the national trend and are the highest in Bath and North East Somerset to date.
Reading is a strength in Local Authority schools and results are the highest in the South West. 91% of pupils achieved the national expectation of Level 2+, compared to 88% nationally.
Priorities for Key Stage 1
Maintain the focus on narrowing the gap between outcomes for specific groups and all children (FSM, BME and Children in Care).
Key Stage 2
Changes in results this year should be interpreted with caution as only 33 schools administered the 2010 tests. The Department for Education (DfE) has published results for these schools as well as teacher assessment for all schools.
· Key Stage 2: the gaps are as follows against English & Mathematics combined Level 4+:
· Free School Meals (FSM) gap has narrowed since 2009 by 7.7%
· Special Educational Needs (SEN) gap has widened by 0.8%
· Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) gap has narrowed by 2.4%. As numbers are very low schools and School Improvement Partners focus on the progress of individual pupils. Further analysis is needed for specific groups.
Key Stage 4
Unvalidated school reported GCSE results for the Local Authority show another increase in the proportion of pupils achieving 5+A*-C grades in any subject and the proportion for whom the 5 subjects including mathematics and English has also increased. The Local Authority is now among the 20 highest attaining nationally on both measures.
Participation in Post 16 education by young people in Bath and North East Somerset stands at 88%. This is substantially higher than national participation, and BANES is first among its statistical neighbours. A significant number of learners in the area attend schools in the independent sector.
Bath & North East Somerset had six schools which met the DCSF criteria (schools with persistent absence at or above 6.1%), three of which improved sufficiently to be removed from the category, with one only just missing the threshold to be removed. The DfE has abolished the Persistent Absence category target from September 2010.
The Chairman on behalf of the Panel asked for their thanks to be passed to all members of staff in Schools and staff within the Council’s Learning and Inclusion department.
The Panel RESOLVED to:
Note that pupils in Foundation stage, key stages 1, 2 and 4 ... view the full minutes text for item 61.
This report sets out progress on Care Matters implementation, current issues and performance in respect of children and young people in and moving on from care and proposed next steps for Corporate Parenting in Bath and North East Somerset.
The Care and Young People's Service Manager introduced this item to the Panel. He explained that the number of children in care had increased significantly, to 151 at the end of October 2010. This is 6 more than the 145 forecast in the course of 2009/10 on the basis of information available at that time about numbers of children coming through various routes.
He added that performancehad continued to be good or had improved and that this was evident through the PIs that continue to be reported. Placement stability has seen a sustained improvement; educational achievement continues to be generally average to good compared to children in care elsewhere; participation in education, employment and training (EET) for care leavers has seen a significant improvement to around 60% and the number of care leavers in suitable accommodation in March 2010 was the highest yet achieved locally at 93%. Our recent fostering inspection has judged the service to be outstanding for the second time. This sustained or improving performance builds on the ‘good with outstanding features’ judgement of the JAR in 2008 and is being achieved despite significant workload pressure arising from the increase in children in care.
He concluded by informing them that Care Matters comes to an end in March 2011 so there will be a need to draw up a fresh Corporate Parenting Strategy. A renewed 3 year Corporate Parenting Strategy could set out a slimmed down locally determined set of measures and targets, focused on outcomes and key underpinning measures.
Councillor Chris Watt, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services addressed the Panel. He spoke of the amazing service that the foster carers provide and wished to also highlight the roles that the Care and Young People's Service Manager and the Divisional Director for Safeguarding, Social Care and Family Services play in leading the team so excellently.
The Panel RESOLVED to:
(i) Note the progress made on strategies for children and young people in and moving on from care
(ii) Support the next steps set out in the report.
The draft Children’s Service Medium Term (Service & Resource) Plan (MTSRP) is presented for consideration by the Panel.
The Children’s Services Director introduced this item to the Panel.
He informed them that during the current financial year (2010-11) the service had to deal with a 24% reduction in Area Based Grant, this was announced by the Government in early June. For the service this amounted to £798k reduced within year.
He explained that within the Council each department has been given a cash savings base target and stretch target for 2011/12 of about 5% and 10% respectively (based on gross spend – the figure based on net spend is about double this percentage).
The base target is for savings in the region of 5% of gross spend and over the next 3 years is as follows:
· 2011/12 £984k
· 2012/13 £954k
· 2013/14 £178k
He then highlighted some areas from within the plan.
· Key to the future development of the youth service is an underlying principle that the youth service will support and where necessary build the work of the voluntary sector, working closely with them as partners within both the voluntary and private sectors and other departments within the Council to ensure that there is a sufficient “Youth Offer” available to all young people. It is proposed that there will also be a new full time permanent role of “Voluntary Sector Development Worker” directly managed by the Principal Youth Officer to oversee this important work in the future.
· Youth Services will make a reduction of £350,000 in the 2011/12 budget (from £1,055,000 to £705,000)
School Improvement and Achievement Service
· In year reductions in the Area Based Grant has resulted in 5 Secondary National Strategy Consultants posts(4.6FTE) being deleted from 1 January 2011 rather than 1 April 2011 when all grant funding will be withdrawn
· 5 (3.6 FTE) remaining primary consultant posts will be deleted from 1 April 2011
· Withdrawal of the Teacher Development Grant (TDA ) has resulted in the deletion of 0.5 Workforce Adviser post from 1 April 2011
· The Connexions service has contributed to the in year budget reductions in the Area Based Grant The Area Based Grants for children’s service were reduced by £798k in 2010-11 and it is anticipated that there will be further reductions in grants in 2011-12. The Connexions service has established a new structure for 2011-12 that results in 30% reduction in budget. This will be managed by a reduction in staffing of 8 FTE in the B&NES area out of a reduction of 52 FTE over the West of England area.
He commented that where other directorates would be making savings through efficiencies Children’s Services have to make savings through service reductions. He added that there is a strong possibility of further grant reductions from April 2011 which would give the directorate a rather more significant challenge.
Councillor John Bull commented that he was concerned over the reduction in the Student Support service. He added that he would welcome ongoing updates with regard to the Service Plan.
Tom Forrest asked if ... view the full minutes text for item 63.
This report presents the action plan compiled by the Safeguarding, Social Care and Family Service to respond to the statutory requirements and good practice recommendations reported in the Ofsted Inspection announced inspection of Bathand North East Somerset Council’s Fostering Service, which took place during 13th – 17th September 2010.
The Divisional Director for Safeguarding, Social Careand Family Services introduced this item to the Panel. He informed them that the Ofsted announced inspection of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Fostering Service had taken place during 13th – 17th September 2010.
The service was judged to be Outstanding which maintained the judgement from the previous inspection that was undertaken in December 2007.
The Chairman on behalf of the Panel wished for their congratulations to be passed back to the whole team.
The Panel RESOLVED to note the Inspection Report and the action plan and instructed the Divisional Director for Safeguarding, Social Care and Family Services to report on its implementation.
This report and the attached paper details the Draft Annual Report as at 9th November 2010.
The Divisional Director for Safeguarding, Social Care and Family Services introduced this item to the Panel. He informed them that the Local Safeguarding Children Board was now required to prepare and publish an annual report by April 1st 2011. The report will seek to inform the priorities and key actions within the Children and Young People’s Plan 2011 – 2014.
He added that progress on achieving key priorities and implementing its work programme will be reviewed by the business meetings of the Local Safeguarding Children Board; reported to the Children’s Trust Board, the Partnership Board for Health and Wellbeing and the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel; and critically appraised within the Annual Report for 2011/12.
The Panel RESOLVED to note that the Annual Report 2010/2011 will be published on 1st April 2011.
This report details progress in respect of the key indicators of child protection activity, it details the position at the end of the second quarter of 2010/11.
The Divisional Director for Safeguarding, Social Care and Family Services introduced this item to the Panel. He spoke of how the service was now engaged in work with the Munro Review Group (a national review of social work and child protection) and that he wished to offer them a more detailed briefing on this matter in the early part of 2011.
The Children’s Service Director added that the briefing could take place in late January / early February to encompass both the Munro Review and the Lean Review. He also wished to encourage all Councillors to act as Corporate Parents wherever possible.
The Panel is RESOLVED to:
(i) Note the report and the actions being taken in respect of current performance.
(ii) Request further performance reports from the Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board in order to maintain an overview of the Council, and partner agencies’, child protection activity and performance.
Cabinet Member Update
This item gives the Panel an opportunity to ask questions to the Cabinet Member and for him to update them on any current issues.
The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services addressed the Panel. He wished to comment on how confident he felt in the judgements of the Child Protection Team regarding parental suitability.
The Panel thanked him for his comment.
Children's Services Director's Briefing
The Panel will receive a verbal update on this item from the Director of Children’s Services.
The Children’s Services Director addressed the Panel. He informed them of the ongoing preparatory work relating to Academies – four workshops had taken place so far.
A Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching is due to be published on November 24th.
A Special Educational Needs and Disability Green Paper was outlined earlier in the year and is due to be published soon.
He spoke of how he had received a clear commitment from the Primary Care Trust that the issue of Children’s Health would not be forgotten in their reorganisation discussions.
The Panel thanked him for his update.
This report presents the latest Overview & Scrutiny Workplan for the panel.
The Chairman introduced this item to the Panel.
The Panel agreed to receive a briefing in late January / early February to encompass both the Munro Review and the Lean Review.