Agenda and draft minutes

Children, Young People & Learning Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday, 12 June 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Time Square, Market Street, Bracknell, RG12 1JD. View directions

Contact: Louise Connelly  01344 354047

No. Item


Election of Chairman


RESOLVED that Councillor Mrs Birch be elected Chairman of the Panel for the Municipal year 2019/20.


Appointment of Vice Chairman


RESOLVED that Councillor Brossard be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Panel for the Municipal year 2019/20.


Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 134 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 20 March 2019.


RESOLVED: that the Minutes of the Children, Young People and Learning Overview & Scrutiny Panel held on 20 March 2019 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.


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.


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 urgent items of business.


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.


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


Domestic violence pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Sophie Wing-King, Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator at Thames Valley Police will give a presentation to members about domestic abuse. The presentation will include the national context, local context, local strategy and action plan, support for perpetrators and victims (children, young people and adults), awareness raising and projects spanning Berkshire East/Thames Valley.


Members of the Adult Social Care, Health and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Panel have been invited to attend this item to ensure a holistic approach to domestic abuse by the Council.


The Chairman welcomed members from Adult Social Care Health and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Panel who attended as it was recognised this issue cut across adults and children.


Sophie Wing-King, Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator (Bracknell Forest and Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead) and Alison O’Meara, Head of Community Safety, Bracknell Forest Council gave a presentation to members which included a definition of domestic abuse, national and local context; local strategy and action plan; support available to perpetrators and victims; awareness raising schemes around the Borough and projects spanning Berkshire East/Thames Valley.


The following points were also made:

·        Members were informed the definition of Domestic Abuse was changed in 2015 to include coercive behaviour.

·        The Thames Valley Police (TVP) Domestic Abuse Unit would support 16-18 year olds, not just 18+, which was not a national policy.

·        Nationally there were 400 homicides annually. The majority of domestic homicide victims were women. According to Safelives data produced in 2014 police forces received a call every 30 seconds about Domestic Abuse.

·        30% of Domestic Abuse incidents start during pregnancy. A family with a child less 18 months was considered a high risk factor and a family withi a children under three years old was 25% more likely to experience Domestic Abuse.

·        At least one child in every reception school class living with DA in home during their life. TVP worked with local children’s centres to target these families.

·        There had been a slight decrease in non-crime (verbal arguments) incidents recently.

·        There had been an increase in Domestic Abuse crime (i.e. Actual Bodily Harm).

·        TVP were inspected last year and it was flagged TVP were not recording some Domestic Abuse crimes correctly, which was thought to contribute the rise in the number of Domestic Abuse crime.

·        It was noted how important it was to ensure people could report incidents of Domestic Abuse.

·        29% of Domestic Abuse crime in Bracknell Forest was repeat victims. This number was thought to be relatively low compared to other areas in Thames Valley but TVP were currently looking to understand repeat rates better.

·        Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA) was a victim focused charity working in the Borough which received 213 new referrals last year.

·        The majority of these referrals were standard or medium risk but BWA would support anyone, including male victims.

·        Most people supported by BWA were aged 25-44. This accounted for two thirds of their referrals.

·        They received 12 male referrals last year.

·        70% of clients had children and a number of those children were on a Child in Need or Child Protection Plan or were in foster care.

·        An Executive group and forum existed to allow information sharing with partners, such as children’s social care, and linked into the Local Safeguarding Children Board and the Community Safety Partnership.

·        Bracknell’s Domestic Abuse Strategy would run until 2020 but was reviewed quarterly.

·        There was training available for practitioners such as an introduction to Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) and Domestic Abuse Stalking and Honour Based Violence (DASH) training.  Two training  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Directorate overview pdf icon PDF 456 KB

Members will be provided with an overview of the People Directorate.



Rachel Morgan, Assistant Director: Education and Learning gave a presentation about the work of the People Directorate in Bracknell Forest and, specifically, how the work fits with the work of this Panel.


The new structure included six Assistant Directors within Nikki Edwards, Executive Director: People Directorate:

Rachel Morgan - Assistant Director: Education and Learning

Sonia Johnson – Assistant Director: Children’s Social Care Operations

Sarah Gee - Assistant Director: Early Help and Communities

Thom Wilson – Assistant Director: commissioning

Melanie O’Rourke – Assistant Director: Adult Social Care Operations

Tony Dwyer – Interim Assistant Director for Mental Health and Out of Hours Service, Adult Social Care

Cynthia Folairn – Consultant for Public Health


All heads of service had been appointed. Those directly related to Education and Learning were:

o   Kashif Nawaz – Head of Children’s Support Service (i.e. special educational needs, educational psychologists, autism services)

o   Sharon Jones - Head of School Standards (i.e. school improvement, governor services, community and adult learning)

o   Chris Taylor - Head of Education, Property and Place (i.e. property , school sufficiency and admissions)

o   Gary Steele – Interim Business Relationship Manager (i.e. Can do support services to schools)


Those directly related to children’s social care operations were:

o   Peter Hodges – Head of Life Chances (i.e. fostering and YOS)

o   Mandeep Gill, Interim, Head of Family Safeguarding (all age family safeguarding teams)

o   Lou Richer – Head of Access and Specialist Support (i.e. children with disabilities and community short breaks

o   Andrew Ellery  - Service Lead for Front Door Operations and Transformation  (i.e. MASH)


The other posts spanned children’s and adults services. A People Directorate vision was currently in draft form.



·        Louise Connelly to publish Directorate slides with the minutes.




Young carers pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Members will receive a presentation about the number of young carers in Bracknell Forest and service provision available.


In response to a request from the Chairman members received a presentation on the number of young carers in the Borough and the support and service provision available to them. Sarah Gee, Assistant Director: Early Help and Communities explained young carers cared for adults or helped care for siblings with physical as well as mental health issues.


The following information was shared with members:

o   Members were informed there were 184 young carers in the Borough as January-March 2019. 122 were over the age of 14. 99 were female, 80 male and 5 had not disclosed their gender.

o   From April-June 2019 another five young carers had been identified to date. The number of newly identified young carers January to March 2019 was 17.

o   A barrier to parents/carers being identified and receiving support may be fears of having services involved (e.g. social services.)

o   Nationally, young carers had significantly lower attainment in education, the equivalent to nine grades lower than their peers. 

o   National figures also showed one in every twelve teenagers were likely to have some sort of caring role.

o   There were likely to be two young carers in every classroom.

o   The local authority has a duty to offer an assessment on the appearance of need, the person being cared for does not need to be receiving services for this to apply.

o   The Council was working towards a more holistic whole family approach via the People’s Directorate.

o   Jenny Plumb, Targeted Youth Work Assistant - Young Carers had seen an increase in referrals from adult and children services in recent months due to raising awareness across the Council about Young Carers.

o   The priority was to safeguard children and young people by ensuring they were not providing inappropriate amounts/types of care – financial/personal care, etc.

o   Each response was different - may signpost to specialist services  such as SIGNAL –advice to young adult carers, ELEVATE – who support young people who are at risk of not being in employment, education or training and aged 14 plus. MENCAP – siblings group. They may also refer to a youth worker for one to one support or a universal youth group.

o   Consultation with children and young people had identified they wanted to access the same groups as their peers rather than have specific ones set up for them. The council has a duty to ensure Young Carers have the same opportunities as their peers.

o   The Nationally recognised Memorandum of Understanding is an agreement between adult and children services, to work together in identifying and supporting young carer. We also have a multi-agency strategy group that includes internal and external partners, their role is to champion young carers’ needs and bring to fruition the action plan. 

o   The action plan was currently being refreshed as was the handbook for staff to help them identify young carers.

o   Schools were considered key to identifying and supporting young carers. BFCs ambition was to support all of Bracknell’s senior schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Youth Crime pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To review the findings about youth crime from the recently commissioned Bracknell Forest Community Safety Partnership’s (CSP) Strategic Assessment of all crime and disorder from October 2015 to September 2018.


Members are asked to consider if there is a need for further analysis of youth crime in the Borough.


Members received a report about youth crime following a recently commissioned Strategic Assessment of all crime and disorder from October 2015 to September 2018 by Bracknell Forest Community Safety Partnership (CSP).


It was agreed members would interrogate this data further in September when Thames Valley Police had been invited to attend.



·         Chairman to ensure Youth Crime on agenda in September.








Special guardianship pdf icon PDF 278 KB

Sonia Johnson, Assistant Director, Children’s Social Care will give a presentation to members about achieving permanency (placements) for children and young people in Bracknell Forest.


Sonia Johnson, updated members about how the Council tried to achieve permanency for children who were no longer able to live with their parent/s. Often people associated permanency with Looked After Children but all children needed a permanent home.


Members were informed that:

·         When a child was deemed unable to live with their birth parents the local authority would look at permanency, not just a house but a home.

·         Permanency had three aspects: legal, psychological and physical. 

·         Options to achieve legal permanency included Adoption; Child Arrangement Orders (often where families separated, especially if father not on birth certificate); Special Guardianship (granted through courts – can be requested privately but most commonly through the local authority); Long Term Fostering (a permanent option for some children) and Special Guardianship Orders to Connected Persons (not family members). 

·         The local authority became the legal corporate parent under Long Term Fostering but the birth parent still has legal parental responsibility. Only adoption removed the birth parent’s legal parental responsibility.

·         As of the end of May 2019 there were 155 Looked After Children in Bracknell, 22 of which were currently in Long Term Fostering placements. 8 children were made subject to Special Guardianship Orders and 5 children were made subject to Placement Orders (step before adoption).  Staff looked at how to achieve permanency for the child until they were 18 and numbers were small in the Borough.

·         It was noted a number of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) had broken down when grandparents had come forward and judged fit to look after a child but this had not lasted. This was thought to be a national issue and work was being done with the judiciary to make sure a long term fit was sort in the first instance. This may lead to a rise in adoption and lowering of SGOs nationally.

·         There were 53 families where the Council made financial contributions to help support the child, but no practical support given.


Following a discussion the questions and points below were raised:

·         Members queried how many of the 155 Looked After Children were resident in the Borough and were informed a number lived outside of the area due to lack of provision locally but they remained the responsibility of the local authority.

·         Sonia Johnson said she was pleased members had requested this paper as it had helped her to assess the number of permanently matched children in foster to the number of children in care proceedings at the moment.  She would have thought the number in permanent foster care would be higher and had undertaken to look at this issue more closely.

·         Members asked how long placement orders lasted and were informed things move at pace to find an adoptive family once a placement order had been granted. The average number of days from full care order to placement in adoption was 448 days.

·         The Judge had more control over a child with SEND and can request the local authority find a positive adoptive match within 9 months.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Quarterly Service Report (QSR) pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To consider the latest trends, priorities and pressures in terms of departmental performance as reported in the Quarterly Service Reports for the fourth quarter of 2018/19 (Jan 2019 to March 2019) relating to Children, Young People and Learning. 


Panel members are asked to give advance notice to the Governance and Scrutiny Team of any questions relating to the Quarterly Service Report where possible.

Additional documents:


It was noted the People Directorate QSRs were not contained in the agenda, only the Central Directorate QSRs. However, members had the following questions:


·         Members asked what the intention was for when the Kooth contract ended in September 2019. Kooth was an online chat form for children and young people with mental health issues. Rachel Morgan said she understood the question had been sent to Overview & Scrutiny Commission and an answer from Public Health was being prepared.

·         The contract to provide support to young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) would be ending in July 2019 and members queried who would be providing support following that date. Rachel Morgan informed members Kashif Nawaz was working with Elevate and other Berkshire local authorities to ensure support was in place.

·         It was noted there was a £67,000 pressure on the transport budget for home to school transport on page 55 of the Delivery QSR. Rachel Morgan explained SEND transport policy was currently being reviewed and that a response to this question was being prepared for the Overview & Scrutiny Commission.

·         Members were informed about recent school inspections in the Borough.

·         It was agreed the revised Learning and Improvement Strategy which was currently being consulted on would be brought to the Panel for comment.



·         Rachel Morgan to follow up with Public Health and Kashif Nawaz to ensure responses to the above questions would be ready for Overview & Scrutiny Commission.

·         Rachel Morgan to send the revised Learning and Improvement Strategy to members.




Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 136 KB

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


The Chairman informed members the intention was to send annual reports to members via email. Any issues that arose should be raised with the Chairman or the Governance and Scrutiny Co-ordinator.



Any other business


The Chairman informed members there would be a meeting of Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission and its Panels on 19th June to look at potential ways of making scrutiny more impactful. As part of this work the Chairman requested suggestions for future scrutiny work by the Panel. Members suggested SEND and Youth Crime/Drugs.