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To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 15 September 2020.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 15 September 2020 be approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest and Party Whip
Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interests and the nature of that interest, including the existence and nature of the party whip, in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.
Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.
Any Member with an Affected Interest in a matter must disclose the interest to the meeting. There is no requirement to withdraw from the meeting when the interest is only an affected interest, but the Monitoring Officer should be notified of the interest, if not previously notified of it, within 28 days of the meeting.
Councillor Mrs Birch declared a personal interest as the spouse of the Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing.
There were no indications that members would be participating while under the party whip.
Urgent Items of Business
Any other items which, pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman decides are urgent.
There were no items of urgent business.
To receive submissions from members of the public which have been submitted in advance in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.
No submissions had been made by members of the public under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.
Meeting as the Crime and Disorder Committee, to receive a presentation on, and to consider: the performance of the Community Safety Partnership and the priorities in the Community Safety Plan for the coming year. Timothy Wheadon, Chair of Community Safety Partnership, Alison O’Meara, Head of Community Safety and Superintendent Felicity Parker, Local Police Commander Bracknell & Wokingham have been invited to attend.
Members of the Commission have submitted the following questions:
· What enforcement has taken place to give our residents peace of mind that their safety is taken into account?
· Has there been a rise in anti-social behaviour within our recreational areas and what steps have taken place?
· Recently there was several incidents of serious unsocial behaviour in Westmoreland Park concerning young people drinking etc. and a similar situation in the Town Centre. When such incidents occur what is the policy of the police taking action and would you support a ‘No alcohol’ notice at a cut off time to be agreed?
Timothy Wheadon, Chair of Community Safety Partnership, Alison O’Meara, Head of Community Safety and Superintendent Felicity Parker, Local Police Commander Bracknell & Wokingham had been invited to attend. Meeting as the Crime and Disorder Committee, the members present received a presentation on the performance of the Community Safety Partnership and the priorities in the Community Safety Plan for the coming year.
In response to the questions submitted in advance and arising from discussion it was noted:
· the approach to hotspots for antisocial behaviour was explained which involved a partnership problem solving group to use its multi-agency membership to consider the appropriate response – this would be applied to the identified area at Westmoreland Park to prepare for possible future activity
· responses were based on consideration of risk to public safety and needed to be proportionate with longer term solutions of approaching schools, speaking to parents and engaging youth workers more appropriate in some instances
· a previous presentation to the Commission had stated that the aim was for more reported crimes to be recorded but it was explained that the crime data process changes were most significant in domestic violence figures due to the volume involved rather than increases seen on crimes such as burglaries
· there was now a dedicated Criminal Investigation Department (CID) team investigating crimes for the local area
· support services were wrapped around domestic violence victims and their children to reduce the level of retraction statements and evidence-based prosecutions were used to charge offenders
· the figures for the volume of domestic abuse retraction statements would be provided
· the partnership’s strategy was a holistic approach to community safety and prevention and there were no specific percentage or numerical targets within the plan
· the local policing target was to reduce residential burglaries by 5% this year, with 15% over three years and a 3% reduction had been achieved the previous year
· the outcome rate was approximately 15% of residential burglaries last year with just under 12% this year to date
· awareness and signage schemes were in place to stop cycling in the town centre and neighbourhood police officers were aware of an increase in the use of electric scooters and would be tackling this appropriately
· residents were encouraged to ring 101 or complete the Thames Valley Police online reporting form in order for local intelligence to be collated
· the Partnership’s approach was to make drug dealing as difficult as possible and activities involved targeting hot spots
· maintaining a clear approach to responding to child sexual exploitation continued to be a priority for the Community Safety Partnership
· an awareness campaign including social media posts and videos was being launched this week to encourage people to recognise the signs of exploitation and know how to raise concerns
The Chair thanked the representatives of the Community Safety Partnership for their attendance.
Education and schools related mental health
The Commission has invited Councillors Dr Barnard, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Learning and Birch, Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing to attend to discuss Education and schools related mental health.
The Commission is keen to understand how schools have responded to the health pandemic for example use of ICT for tuition, protection of teachers during lessons, student motivation, plans for future exams and the impact of the pandemic on students mental health and those of their families.
Members of the Commission have submitted the following questions:
· Schools are relying heavily on IT for tuition.
o Is there enough Internet capacity operating in our schools?
o Is the connection stable and reliable?
o Do all students have access to stable networks at home?
o Do all students have access to a suitable device to access the work set or virtual lessons at home?
o What support is given to households with siblings and not enough devices?
o Are our schools able to integrate their IT for easy access for teachers?
· Are the teachers adequately protected during lessons?
· Is motivation becoming a real problem for students as they are dependent on virtual lessons and individual working rather than teacher guidance?
· Mental health
o How is this pandemic affecting student’s mental health?
o School’s safeguarding policies are dependent on multi agencies for help when necessary. Are the agencies coping with this growing demand and if not, what are we doing about it?
o What about the impact on parents/carers who were (and will likely again) try to manage three roles – parent, teacher, worker?
o Is there a plan for proper exams next year if we are still under a semi lockdown?
o Could the exams be held on a Saturday with extra separation of distance available?
o As our children were out of school for 4 months, may likely have further disruption this year, should 2021 exams go ahead?
o What funding is available for schools for extra processes that have been put in place to retain bubbles from September, for example extra cleaning, feeding children in their classrooms as opposed to the dining hall?
o Will there be any support for the loss of revenue from schools not being able to rent out their premises?
· How rigorous is the testing of older students and teachers and what plans are in place if anyone fails to protect the majority?
The Commission invited Councillors Dr Barnard, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Learning and Birch, Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing to attend to discuss Education and schools related mental health.
The Commission was keen to understand how schools had responded to the health pandemic for example use of ICT for tuition, protection of teachers during lessons, student motivation, plans for future exams and the impact of the pandemic on students mental health and those of their families.
In response to the questions submitted in advance and arising from discussion it was noted that:
· governors and leadership teams of schools were recognised for the swift adaption of the provision of education and responding to daily challenges
· the Bracknell Forest school community had pulled together during the pandemic to share good practice and had adapted their home working strategies and approaches which ranged from virtual assemblies, digital lessons to paper workbooks to be printed at home
· James Sunderland, Bracknell’s Member for Parliament had arranged for a group of primary and secondary Headteachers to a virtual meeting to discuss the challenges that covid-19 has brought into schools with Robert Halfen the Chair of the Education Select Committee
· schools had responsibility for procuring their own internet and resources but the real issue had been where households in the borough did not have access to broadband so schools had supported families where they could with laptops and 4G devices but it was recognised that they did not have ability to do this straight away and it was not always possible for every child within a home to have a device
· strategies for accessing work had continued and made school work accessible to those pupils isolating
· online access had been given to Oakwood Academy so virtual resources were available but challenge was to match provision to individual schools
· explanation of support provided to schools to undertake risk assessment, policy development and provision of PPE to protect the whole school community
· across the borough (as per national experience) it was acknowledged that motivation of students and engagement with remote learning varied day to day and subject to subject, noticeable that there was a minority who did not engage at all. Schools had used virtual assemblies, introduced a sense of fun, virtual cooking classes and quizzes with creative activities to engage students.
· Department for Education letter described that the impact was more significant on those young people with existing needs or issues and further emerging evidence that in others that the experience had helped them build resilience.
· Youthline had undertaken increased amount of online counselling and have moved their services moved to Portman Close site which has been beneficial with bigger rooms enabling face to face appointments
· 15 extra children were now being home educated and support was being provided to those families.
· Kooth services were available for young people to use mobile phones to engage with their peer groups in a safe environment
· There had been an increase in referrals of young people ... view the full minutes text for item 35.
To endorse the Education, Skills and Growth Overview and Scrutiny Panel’s draft Care Leavers Review report and its recommendations which is due to be submitted to the Executive on 10 November 2020.
The Commission considered the findings of the Education, Skills and Growth Overview & Scrutiny Panel’s review into Care Leavers.
Councillor Mrs Birch, Chair of the Panel shared the lessons learnt from the completed review:
· the duration of the review session was too long to be effective so not recommended
· unfortunate delay in finalising report had created opportunity for reflection and inclusion of impact of covid on careleavers
· report format focused on outcomes, clearly stated its findings and put the recommendations first
She concluded by thanking everyone involved in the review.
The Commission endorsed the submission of their report and recommendations to the Executive.
To consider formal agreement of the proposals for revising the Overview & Scrutiny work programme in light of the national health pandemic and for Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chairs to update the Commission on their progress.
The Overview and Scrutiny Commission considered the report which sought formal agreement on the proposals for revising the Overview & Scrutiny work programme in light of the national health pandemic. The Commission had been discussing a revised programme and the report pulled together revised priorities, updated scope for reviews, proposed timescales, virtual ways of working and the impact of the pandemic on affected services.
It was agreed that:
i) the proposed review scopes for Apprenticeships and Registered Social Landlords Review be commissioned; and
ii) the scope for each future review be brought back to the Commission before commencement to ensure they had been updated in light of the national health pandemic in terms of their focus, approach and timing.