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WELCOME & APOLOGIES
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting. Apologies had been received from Cllrs Vince and Ergin Erbil.
The Chair advised that agenda item number 4 has been moved to the meeting on the 18 January 2021.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Committee are invited to identify any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests relevent to the items on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive reports from Debbie Michael, Fostering & Permanence Service Manager. This includes:
· Fostering & Permanence Scrutiny Report
· Annual Panel Report of the London Borough of Enfield Adoption Service
· Fostering Panel Annual Report
· Coronavirus addendum to annual Fostering Report
· Report on Care Leavers Support
Debbie Michael, Fostering & Permanence Manager presented her report.
1. This is an update since a report was last presented to scrutiny in September 2019.
2. The Fostering and Permanence teams remain a stable staff group of experienced practitioners and managers.
3. The Fostering Service is divided into 2 areas; the recruitment and assessment of foster carers; and the support and development of foster carers.
4. Enfield is part of North London Fostering & Permanence consortium (NLFPC) made up of Enfield, Barnet, Camden, Hackney, Haringey and Islington. The boroughs work together and look at improving practice areas, training, recruitment activities and share foster placements wherever possible.
5. All Enfield’s approved foster carers have a named supervising social worker who will remain with them throughout their fostering careers and the children placed with the foster carers have their own looked after children social workers as well.
6. Fostering is one of the most heavily regulated services within social care. There is an independent fostering panel that continues to play an important role in monitoring compliance with all the statutory requirements under the fostering regulations and the Quality Assurance to ensure that the quality of foster carers that we have coming through the system are of the expected quality.
7. There are ongoing recruitment processes in place, the coronavirus pandemic has proved to be a challenging time to recruit foster carers. In the first few months of the pandemic recruitment was slow, this has now picked up again. Enfield is very competitive in comparison with the consortium boroughs. In the last financial year Enfield was top of the 6 boroughs in approving our target of 15 approvals.
8. Currently there are 141 foster families (including friends and families) within the service recruited and approved by Enfield and 171 looked after children placed with foster carers, 45% of all looked after children are placed with in-house foster carers. There are more children placed with in house carers than independent fostering agencies, the remainder of the children are in independent settings, including some in independent living.
9. Until October 2019 Enfield held responsibility for Adoption Services. Following a phased approach, the six consortium boroughs have joined together to form a Regional Adoption Agency (RAA), called Adopt London North (ALN). The recruitment and assessment of adopters and the matching of children with approved adopters on behalf of member boroughs is completed by ALN, who are based in Islington.
10.Links are still maintained with the RAA, regular meetings are held, and progress is monitored. Enfield still has responsibility for our own children and look at how services are being delivered to ensure that our children are placed with potential adopters in a timely manner. There is an Early Permanence Manager in Enfield in addition to Debbie Michael that maintain very close links to ensure that the children in Enfield are not disadvantaged in any way. The Executive Director, People and the Director of Children & Family Services are involved in strategic meetings with the respective Directors from ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
The reports are not attached to the agenda and will be circulated ‘to follow’.
This item has been deferred to January’s meeting.
COVID19 (OPENING OF SCHOOLS & WORKING IN A COVID19 ENVIRONMENT) PDF 96 KB
To receive reports from Peter Nathan, Director of Education. This includes:
· COVID 19 and the reopening of schools
· Sample risk assessment guidance for primary schools
· Information on weekly COVID cases in schools
Peter Nathan, Director of Education introduced his report.
1. Schools have been impacted since March 2020; schools have never really closed throughout this period. Initially it was the children of key workers and vulnerable children going into schools and then this was expanded in June to certain year groups. However, a lot of children did not go to school from, March until the beginning of term in September.
2. There has been a lot of work undertaken in this time including: meeting with schools and trade unions, the introduction of home learning and work on risk assessments.
3. From September 2020 all children came back to school. Many schools had staggered starts for the first couple of weeks of term reintroducing children back into school. Prior to this Headteachers had undertaken lots of work such as undertaking risk assessments covering every aspect of school life. The risk assessment is a live document with learning all the time. An example was given of mock exams undertaken in a hall, pupils were 2 metres apart and all wearing masks. However due to inadequate ventilation as an older school hall there were a number of cases of Covid.
4. The Director of Education and the Executive Director, People meet with headteachers weekly and with unions fortnightly to discuss the issues arising.
5. Schools now use ‘bubbles’ to prevent the whole school being sent home if there is a case. This is a complicated system for schools and there are a range of issues that need to be considered. If there has been a positive case the bubble has to isolate for 14 days.
6. There were not too many cases to start with, then there was a spate of cases in schools. The DFE helpline that was set up struggled to cope with the volumes. Schools contact the local authority if they have cases, if they have multiple cases, they contact the London coronavirus response cell. These issues also occur out of school hours meaning headteachers have lots to do in the evenings.
7. There have been issues of some schools closing for one or two weeks this is usually in collaboration with the education department and public health.
8. The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services receives a weekly report on the key issues.
9. Currently as we approach the end of term there is quite a high level of cases being seen in schools. Children are generally asymptomatic with very few cases of children getting ill. This is also generally the same with teachers and support staff. The reason some school close is because there is not enough staff to manage the school effectively of safely.
10.Four schools were off at the beginning of this week and there are number of schools on the brink and several have moved to home learning. Secondary schools are more effected than primary schools at present.
Comments, questions and queries:
· The work being undertaken in challenging circumstances was acknowledged. Is the support that is ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS
To note the dates of future meetings as follows:
· Wednesday 3 February 2021
· Tuesday 9 March 2021
All meetings will start at 6pm
It has now been confirmed that the next meeting will take place on Monday 18 January 2021. This meeting will cover education finances (as suggested by the Cabinet Member) and exclusions.
Following a query on what is required on the item on Schools budget. The Chair clarified that he would like to look at the whole education budget to see what are the other challenges that the council does face around education and Children’s Services.
On exclusions it was clarified that in response to the specific questions raised these should be dealt with in a report. The Chair does not want to lose the valuable work of the workstream and there are some other issues that are not captured such as data on BAME exclusions. This needs to be captured with some analysis on this.
Officers had provided lots of support of this valuable work of the workstream. The report for January needs to be contextualised with the updates. The report was requested for the 4 January so that members can look at in advance of the meeting.