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 away and work through this and liaise with officers to see how they could fit into the work programme.