Agenda and minutes

Children, Young People & Learning Overview and Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Fourth Floor, Easthampstead House, Bracknell. View directions

Contact: Derek Morgan  01344 352044

Items
No. Item

56.

Election of Chairman

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Councillor Mrs Birch be elected Chairman of the Panel for the municipal year 2017/18.

 

            COUNCILLOR MRS BIRCH IN THE CHAIR

57.

Appointment of Vice Chairman

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Councillor Brossard be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Panel for the municipal year 2017/18.

58.

Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 156 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Children, Young People and Learning Overview and Scrutiny Panel held on 25 April 2017. Examination and test performance data requested at the last Panel meeting is appended to the minutes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 25 April 2017 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

59.

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 and must not participate in discussion of the matter or vote on the matter unless granted a dispensation by the Monitoring Officer or by the Governance and Audit Committee.  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.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest relating to any items on the agenda, nor any indication that Members would be participating under the party whip.

60.

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.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business.

61.

Public Participation

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.

Minutes:

No submissions had been made by members of the public under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.

62.

Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel pdf icon PDF 153 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting of the above Panel held on 23 June 2017 which are to follow.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel held on 23 June 2017 were noted.

63.

Quarterly Service Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To consider the latest trends, priorities and pressures in terms of departmental performance as reported in the QSR for the fourth quarter of 2016/17 (January to March 2017) relating to Children, Young People and Learning, giving particular attention to outcomes of Ofsted school inspections, numbers of children looked after, in need and subject to protection plans, and foster placements and movements.

 

Panel Members are asked to give advance notice to the Overview and Scrutiny Team of any questions relating to the QSR where possible.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced this item by referring to the recently issued Ofsted Inspection report on Bracknell Forest Council’s services for children.  The Inspectors judged the department to be ‘good’ overall, with its work with looked after children, adoption performance and the experience and progress of care leavers all judged to be outstanding.  Inspectors found that children in the borough benefit from ‘highly aspirational, committed senior managers and political leaders who place them [children] firmly at the centre of their decision making’.

 

On behalf of the Panel the Chairman thanked and congratulated all the staff of the department for their hard work, which had been recognised fully in the Ofsted report.  The Panel was happy to note that the report had made a point of commending the contribution of all staff and referred specifically to the rigorous scrutiny of the quality of services for children exercised by the Panel.  These comments were echoed by the Executive Member, who indicated that after further consideration of the report in discussion with partners, there would be an opportunity in the autumn for the Panel to consider it more fully and look in detail at the Ofsted recommendations and action plan.

 

Turning to the Quarterly Service Report (QSR), the Panel considered the latest trends, priorities and pressures in terms of departmental performance for the fourth quarter of 2016/17 (January to March 2017) relating to Children, Young People and Learning.  The Chief Officer: Children’s Social Care made a presentation to the Panel about the Council’s services for children, reporting particularly on a number of areas in which the Panel had expressed an interest.  The total number of children looked after, children on child protection plans and children in need had risen substantially over the last year to almost 800.  There were currently 152 children on child protection plans (down from a peak of 171 at the time of the Ofsted inspection) and 136 children in care.  Ward data showed where the greatest number of children looked after or on child protection plans were located.  The majority of looked after children were placed in Bracknell Forest foster care.  A resume of the range of court work involving Children’s Services was given; most areas were experiencing a big increase over the last few months.  During April to June 2017, there were 27 care proceedings cases involving 44 children.  There were 47 cases currently in court (more than all other Berkshire Authorities except Reading) of which 7 had proceeded beyond the 26 week timetable.  There were a variety of reasons for an increase in the complexity of a case which in turn extended the duration of the proceedings.

 

Arising from questions and discussion, the following points were noted:

  • There were approximately 60 social workers, some part time (including managers up to Chief officer level) currently in post, organised in various teams.
  • There was a good, stable work force in post but the recent increases in the numbers of children requiring the Council’s services presented a considerable challenge, which was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Statements of Purpose For 2017/18 and Annual Reports for 2016/17 for the Following: pdf icon PDF 179 KB

-       Adoption Service

-       Private Fostering Service

-       Larchwood Short Break Unit

 

Panel Members are asked to give advance notice to the Overview and Scrutiny Team of any questions relating to the Statements of Purpose and Annual Reports where possible.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received for information a report presenting the Statements of Purpose 2017/18 and Annual Reports 2016/17 for:

  • The Adoption Service
  • The Private Fostering Service
  • Larchwood Short Break Unit

 

The Panel noted that as a result of the Government review of Adoption, Adopt Berkshire was moving forward with plans to become part of a regional adoption agency – Adopt Thames Valley, which was to include Oxfordshire, Reading and Swindon as participating authorities.  Oxfordshire would be the Host Authority.  This would provide economies of scale and create greater choice while maintaining the standards of Adopt Berkshire and the opportunity for local people to support local children.

 

The Panel was reminded that Larchwood was a short break unit, providing short breaks, respite care and activities in the community for children with complex needs who had a learning and/or physical disability.  As some members had not visited Larchwood, it was suggested that a visit be arranged at a convenient time during the next few months.

65.

Work with Young Carers

To be briefed in respect of the Council’s work with young carers.

 

Minutes:

The Head of Prevention and Early Intervention gave a presentation to the Panel on the service to provide support to young carers under the age of 18, or to young adult carers up to age 25.  This included an assessment of what needed to change in order to prevent them from undertaking ‘excessive or inappropriate’ caring responsibilities which could impact on their welfare, wellbeing, education, or social development.

 

The service was co-ordinated by a Strategic Group, comprising a wide range of partners, who had developed terms of reference, a Young Carers Strategy, guidance for professionals and other appropriate protocols designed to underpin a range of provision to support young people in a caring role.  The service was supported and endorsed by both The Carers Trust and The Children’s Society.

 

The Panel noted the profile of young carers in the Borough:

  • 190 young carers (107 female; 83 male)
  • 39 young adult carers
  • 48 had their own diagnosis of needs
  • 133 have had Children’s Services interventions
  • 26 were on Child Protection Plans
  • Young carers were tracked via schools, areas, gender, ages and ethnicity
  • Severe mental health issues account for 50% of the young carers providing care to an adult

 

The Panel received information about the family assessment for young carers, which enabled the right advice and guidance to be offered, with targeted support or referral to the Early Intervention hub if appropriate.  The Young Carers in Schools Award, produced and regulated by The Carers Trust and The Children’s Society, had been introduced.  This featured bronze, silver and gold awards and had been very successful, producing noticeable improvements in the self-confidence of and attainment by young carers.

 

The Panel recognised that while details of the profile and support for young carers had been provided, the carers themselves did not identify as a group, nor did they wish to do so.

 

The Panel thanked Karen Frost for the interesting and informative presentation.

66.

Working Group Update Report

To receive a verbal update in respect of Panel working group activity.

 

Minutes:

Owing to the lack of Scrutiny support at present, the review of Early Intervention Services had yet to get under way.  The Chairman reported attendance at a very interesting conference on the Pupil Premium, with some excellent speakers providing lots of practical ideas for schools, teachers and parents.

 

The Panel was informed that the latest Pupil Premium data would not be available until the end of July.  A consultation about the Pupil Premium covering 13 schools in the Borough had been carried out and the results would be reported to the Panel in September.

67.

Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 106 KB

To consider scheduled Executive Key and Non-Key Decisions relating to Children, Young People and Learning.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel considered and noted the scheduled Executive Key and Non-Key Decisions relating to Children, Young People and Learning.