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Contact: Susan O'Connell - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WELCOME & APOLOGIES
The Chair welcomed everyone present to the first meeting of the Children Young People and Education Scrutiny Panel. He was pleased to welcome the four members of the Youth Parliament who had joined the meeting. Apologies had been received from Councillors Bernie Lappage and Egin Erbil.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Committee are invited to identify any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests relevant to the items on the agenda.
The Scrutiny Panel will hear from the following, outlining priorities and areas of challenge:
· Cllr Rick Jewell, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services
· Tony Theodoulou, Executive Director People
Cabinet Members and Officers will be asked to leave the meeting at this point.
The Chair invited Councillor Rick Jewell (Cabinet Member for Children’s Services) and Tony Theodoulou (Executive Director People) to present to the Panel the local priorities for 2020/21.
Councillor Jewell began by recording his thanks to everyone for their work over the last three to four months; recognising the work of teachers, support workers within schools, carers, foster parents, council officers, volunteers in the Youth Offending Service and within the schools and community, parents children and young people, young leader and youth parliament members in the borough. Covid 19 had bought about real changes and challenges to everyday life. Councillor Georgiou seconded this and recorded his personal thanks and that of the Panel.
The key priorities are highlighted within the report and are as follows:
· Covid-19 recovery – pupil physical and emotional well-being.
· Improve school attainment and reduce exclusion from school.
· School Attendance – post lockdown
· School Ofsted Judgements
· EHCP pathway review
· Increase local education provision for children with SEND
· Recovery of social work services post lockdown
· Effectiveness of Early Help & Prevention services
· Improving Outcomes for LAC & Care Leavers
· Joint Service for Disabled Children – service developments
· Self-Evaluation of social care services
· Protect the most vulnerable residents in the borough from suffering abuse or neglect
· Scrutiny Reports – LADO/ Fostering/ Adoption/Annual Safeguarding Partnership Report
· Transition of Children’s Services to Dugdale Centre
· Enhance the involvement of Young people within our decision-making structure where possible ie shadow cabinets, mystery shopper type roles.
· Reviewing our Youth Offending Service (YOS) ie feedback from young people and parents etc
· Improving the role of our volunteers within the YOS and input into decision making where possible.
· Youth Services
The following points were highlighted by the Cabinet Member and Executive Director
1. The priorities have had to be adapted to post Covid 19 recovery and how young people’s education is looked at. These will be fluid going forward depending on how things progress especially is there are further lockdown procedures and schools have issues.
2. Schools have not yet been back a week and 10 schools have been affected by either confirmed or suspected Covid 19. In some schools this has meant that some children have had to be sent home already to isolate for two weeks. It maybe that this will be another year of disrupted education for children. This year’s cohort could experience similar disruptions to their education.
3. Attendance at school maybe an area that scrutiny would be interested in. Some parents have been desperate for their children to go back to school. Some children have yet to return to school. There has already been an increase in parents who are choosing to home educate their children and this maybe a concern, but this is too early to say at present. The local authority does have statutory duties towards children who are home educated.
4. Schools are the biggest priority, helping schools to provide education to young children in very challenging circumstances. Since the national lockdown the work of the department has been focussed on ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To agree and prioritise items for the new work programme. A blank work programme is attached for your reference.
The Chair formally invited members of the Panel and the Youth Parliament to raise any specific areas of interest. The Chair reminded members of the issues that have already been raised; issues around working with Covid 19 and going back to school; mental health; children and poverty/ Poverty and Inequality report; exclusions; attendance/ home education and supporting schools and Headteachers.
Further suggestions and discussions took place on:
1. Fostering- the effect of Covid on Foster carers and the possible effect on social workers. This has been a very difficult time.
2. Poverty should definitely be included on the work programme, working through Covid and post Covid must also be included. With regard to exclusions a suggestion was made to look at the work undertaken by the exclusions workstream.
3. Provision for children with special educational needs- looking at areas of pressure and cost such as sending children out of the borough
4. Youth gangs and violence, aware that the Crime Scrutiny Panel looks at this as a bigger picture. It was suggested that the panel look at the work undertaken on the Vulnerable Young Peoples Group. There was a further suggestion to look at this in a different way perhaps looking at what the local authority is doing around prevention/diversion. It was felt that there was not enough provision for young people. What can the local authority do to create a better environment for young people so that they do not get involved in gangs. This could all come together under youth provision and environment. Officers could provide details of what is available in the borough for young people to do. In 2016 with austerity there were substantial cuts to youth services expenditure with a reduction of £1.7 million which is about 80% of the budget. Since then the youth service has been steadily rebuilding getting money through grants raising income through hiring of youth centres to keep youth services in the borough going. The panel could look at terms of reference for this item including the work of the Vulnerable Children Group. A further suggestion was made to look at from the school’s perspective what is there already and what could there be more of.
The Chair then drew together the themes from the discussion as follows:
2. Mental Health
4. Covid 19 (opening of schools and working in a Covid 19 environment)
5. Supporting Schools and Heads of schools
6. Poverty and Inequality Commission (particularly the recommendations relating to children and young people report)
7. Special Educational Needs (focus on out of borough and costs)
8. Vulnerable children and young people youth provision and environment (within this Youth Parliament members asked what the council could do to assist young people getting jobs in addition to the government’s Kickstart project, and look at what young people are doing outside school in terms of clubs and extracurricular activities as Covid had effected what is available.
Members supported these items and the Chair will take these ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
For information the terms of reference for the Children, Young People and Education Scrutiny Panel are attached.
The terms of reference were noted.
DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS
To note the dates of future meeting as follows:
· Thursday 10 December 2020
· Wednesday 3 February 2021
· Tuesday 9 March 2021
The dates of future meetings were noted.