Agenda, decisions and minutes

Joint Education & Youth and Social & Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 25th July, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Mold CH7 6NA

Contact: Maureen Potter 01352 702322  Email: maureen.potter@flintshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Chair

Purpose:      To appoint a Chair for the meeting.

Decision:

That Councillor Hilary McGuill be appointed Chair for the meeting.

Minutes:

The Education & Youth Overview & Scrutiny Facilitator sought nominations for a Chair for the meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

          That Councillor Hilary McGuill be appointed Chair for the meeting.

 

2.

Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping Declarations)

Purpose:       To receive any Declarations and advise Members accordingly.

Decision:

None were received

 

Minutes:

            None were received.

 

3.

Corporate Parenting Strategy pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the summary of actions to be taken in 2019/20 to deliver the Corporate Parenting Strategy be endorsed.

Minutes:

            The Chief Officer (Social Services) introduced the report stating that Corporate Parenting was one of the most important functions of the Council and that it currently supported between 240 to 250 young people.  He referred Members to the Corporate Parenting Strategy Action Plan Summary within the report which outlined the work required to strengthen and nurture the lives of young people.  He provided information on action plans for the following:-

 

·         Home

·         Education and Learning

·         Health & Well Being

·         Leisure

·         Employment Opportunities

·         Leaving Care

·         Voice of Looked After Children

 

            The Chair asked if all young people were able to access the support of a Personal Advisor and were these officers now all in post.   The Chair then referred to Aura and the offer of a junior membership card for £22 per month which enabled children to access all of their facilities and asked if this was something that could be considered.

 

            In response the Senior Manager (Children and Workforce) confirmed if a child had been looked after for more than 13 weeks then they would be eligible for the Personal Advisor support from the age of 18 to 25 years and that currently 75 care leavers were being supported.  There had been vacancies and he provided information on how the children were supported during that time but confirmed that all 4 posts had now been filled.  The Chief Officer (Social Services) referred to the Junior Membership card proposal which he agreed was a good idea confirming he would have a discussion with the young people on this.

 

            In response to questions from Councillor Tudor Jones around employment opportunities, the Chief Officer (Social Services) explained that the strategies set out within the report enabled looked after children before the age of 18 to be prepared for future employment opportunities.  The Senior Manager (Children and Workforce) provided clarification on the Boost Scheme which was a scheme available for some care leavers from 16 to 25 years who may not be ready to apply for jobs.  Support with practical skills to support a young person for interview and working life such as preparing a CV, work dress code, answering the telephone and work place etiquette for example this was carried out prior to connecting them with businesses. 

 

            The Senior Manager (Inclusion & Progression) referred to another service ADTRAC (European Social Funded Service) which provided support and training for those young people who needed extra support including mental health with tailored packages for that individual from the age of 16 to 24 years. This service enhanced the Boost Scheme offer.

 

            Councillor Dave Mackie proposed that the recommendation detailed within the report, be supported.  This was seconded by Councillor Kevin Hughes.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the summary of actions to be taken in 2019/20 to deliver the Corporate Parenting Strategy be endorsed.

 

4.

Improving the in-house offer for out of County Placements for Children pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

(a)     That the draft Support and Placement Strategy 2019-2022 be endorsed; and

 

(b)     That a letter be written, on behalf of the Committee, to the Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services outlining the Committee’s concerns around the need for adequate resources to meet the challenges of Out of County placements.

Minutes:

            The Chief Officer (Social Services) introduced the report explaining that out of county placements was one of the most dominant issues for all Local Authorities across the country.  He explained locating good quality looked after support in Flintshire was a real issue and a challenge for the Council with insufficient resources available to meet the statutory demand. The Council was fully supportive but it was the actual money which came into the Council that was the real issue.  He referred Members to page 37 of the report which outlined the costs of placement and explained how this impacted on budgets within Social Services.  There was a lot of work being carried out within the portfolio, in Flintshire, the North Wales Region and wider to tackle these challenges.

 

            The Senior Manager (Children and Workforce) added this was a national challenge with no single answer with a number of strands of work required to enable different solutions and offers to be provided to an increasing number of children with complex needs. He provided examples of how support was provided in the home, to family members, fostering and residential care.  The report outlined the range of initiatives that were required to re-shape the offer provided to children and families with early support a priority to enable families to stay together, even if in some cases that was not always possible.  He then referred Members page 12 of the report and provided information on the work being undertaken to support the three core ambitions:-

 

·         To safely reduce the number of children who need to be looked after

·         To support looked after children in local high quality placements

·         To improve outcomes for looked after children.

 

            Councillor Mackie sought clarification at 1.10 in the report on the term side skill. He also referred to the number of 16 year olds with lack of education or education refusers and said when a young person stopped being in education this added pressure on the foster carers and then put a strain on the whole system.  He felt that there should be a scheme introduced for these young people which would provide something for them to do if not in education which would give them hope for the future.

 

            The Senior Manager (Children and Workforce) provided a response on how side skilling employees would work with youth workers, for example, who were well placed to develop a relationship and gain trust with these young people early and identify when things deteriorate.   These officers were already part of Flintshire’s workforce, working with children but side skilling enabled them to identify and offer therapeutic support and signpost children when needed.  This would be in addition to their existing role.  He agreed with Councillor Mackie’s comments on young people disengaging with education and said that working with schools to minimise exclusions was key but the issues were wide ranging.

 

            The Senior Manager (Inclusion and Progression) reported that there were a number of children at Year 10 who were disengaging from education. Officers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Childcare Sufficiency Assessment pdf icon PDF 304 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

(a)     That the Council’s strategic response to securing sufficient, sustainable and high quality childcare, within the County that was responsive to the needs of children and their families be supported;

 

(b)     That the on-going work and commitment to the delivery of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment, every five years and the annual Progress Report be supported; and

 

(c)     That the Chairs of both the Education & Youth and Social & Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committees write a joint letter to Gail Bennett, Early Years Family Support Manager, thanking her for the report.

Minutes:

            The Chief Officer (Social Services) introduced the report stating there was a statutory responsibility to refresh the Childcare Sufficient Assessment every year and to develop a new Assessment every 5 years under the Childcare Act which was explained at point 1.02 in the report.  The outcome had been summarised at point 1.08 of the report with some positive messages but there were also challenges with areas that needed improvement.  He paid credit to Gail Bennett and Keith Wynne saying Flintshire had a very active early intervention team at Children’s Services which other authorities did not have, with 12 schemes across the county which had attracted £5m capital one off funding which had been invested in infrastructure in schools together with money for capital grants. The Assessment form was included as an Appendix. 

 

            The Chair said it was a very comprehensive report and thanks should be given to those who prepared it.  She asked if there was a list of companies who actually provided crèche facilities within their own companies.  The Chief Officer (Social Services) agreed to provide this information following the meeting. 

 

            The Chair then referred to the reference to one free breakfast club in the whole of Buckley with none in Hawarden or Aston and asked why.  In response the Chief Officer (Social Services) said that affordability of child care was an issue and was expensive but this report assessed the quality and efficiency of the childcare facilities that Flintshire provided and the findings were shown at point 1.08 in the report. He added that maybe affordability could be built into this for future relevance as this was a real issue for parents.   The Chief Officer (Education & Youth) added it was the schools choice whether they wished to take up the breakfast club initiative from Welsh Government which was for 30 minutes for the delivery of breakfast.   The dilemma schools had was with parents using that facility as child care.  Some schools offered the last 30 minutes when the breakfast was delivered as the free element and if parents needed childcare before that time then that was chargeable.  She was sure that schools and providers would want to make it as affordable as possible but it had to be sustainable with the correct ratio of staff and together with adhering to standards etc.   The Chief Officer(Social Services) said the success of the free childcare offer in Flintshire had helped enormously with regard to the affordability and planning of childcare and the scheme had been more successful than envisaged with other councils following our model.

 

            Councillor Kevin Hughes asked that the Chairs of both the Education & Youth and Social & Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committees write a joint letter to Gail Bennett, Early Years Family Support Manager, thanking her for the report.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)     That the Council’s strategic response to securing sufficient, sustainable and high quality childcare, within the County that was responsive to the needs of children and their families be supported;

 

(b)     That the on-going work and commitment  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Educational Attainment of Looked After Children in Flintshire pdf icon PDF 235 KB

Decision:

(a)       For Members to actively engage as Corporate Parents for LAC, promoting awareness and challenging provision within Flintshire educational settings; and

 

(b)       For Members to actively encourage all educational staff to promote the educational welfare of LAC within Flintshire establishments at a ‘whole school level’

 

Minutes:

            The Senior Manager (Inclusion & Progression) introduced the report and referred to the executive summary which detailed information on the outcomes.  The definition was provided by Welsh Government and the cut-off date was the 16th January, 2019.  If a young person was LAC by this date then these outcomes related to them.  She then referred Members to point 1.02 in the report which provided a breakdown of where pupils were placed (keeping as many as possible in mainstream schools with 110 out of the 140 pupils in secondary education).  She then gave information on the outcomes, attendance rates and exclusion rates together with the allocation of the pupil development grant allocated for the children with schools able to draw funding for bursaries or to collaborate to benefit more children.

 

            The Chair referred to page 198 where 5 of the looked after children did not achieve key stage 2 qualifications and asked what had been put in place to assist these children.  In response the Senior Manager (Inclusion & Progression) confirmed there was a range of support provided such literacy and therapeutic for example.

 

            Councillor Dave Mackie commented that the results were better than in previous years and hoped this continued.  He thought it had been agreed that this would be looked at on a “Value Added” basis as he felt having a broader explanation of why the results were not so good would provide a better explanation.   In response the Senior Manager (Inclusion & Progression) confirmed this was the same format as last year but it could be reported with “value added” going forward.  The Chief Officer (Social Services) understood Councillor Mackie’s point and suggested going forward providing overall figures and maybe with some case studies which highlighted a start and finish point to provide information on the value added. 

 

            Councillor Dave Healey informed Committee that he had been asked by Shaun Hingston, a co-opted member of the Education and Youth Overview & Scrutiny Committee representing the Flintshire Youth Council, to make the following statement in his absence.

 

“The following statement outlines his beliefs on the agenda items concerning Looked After Children and their educational attainment. He states the following: ‘It is my firm belief that the Draft Support and Placement Strategy 2019-2020 is a strategy that clearly outlines what this Local Authority must put in place in order to maintain their excellent track record of ensuring the safety, and academic attainment, of looked after children. The figures throughout this agenda reflect the ability of this Council to meet the high standards that it sets for itself, and is made to follow under legislation.

 

‘I am particularly impressed with the level of youth focused consultation that had been carried out and the clear emphasis that the Authority had expressed in caring for these young people and ensuring that they be given the same opportunities as those more fortunate.    ‘The one question that I would ask is whether or not it would be possible for the consultation data relating to young  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Variation in Order of Business

Minutes:

            The Chair indicated that there would be a change in the order of the agenda and that the item Presentation by Young People would be brought forward.

8.

Presentation by Young People

Purpose:      To inform Elected Members about the work of the Participation Group and the issues that they will be working on.

Decision:

That the content of the presentation be noted.

 

Minutes:

            The Chair welcomed members of the Participation Group (Young Voices Speak Out) who gave a presentation, attached at Appendix 1 of the minutes. 

 

            The Chair, on behalf of Members, thanked the young people for their presentation.  Lynn Bartlett congratulated the young people on the way in which they delivered the presentation and said that they should be very proud of their accomplishments. 

 

Members applauded the children for their presentation

 

Councillor Kevin Hughes asked the young people what they felt the Council could do better.  In response the young people said they should be listened to more. 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the content of the presentation be noted.

 

9.

Safeguarding in Education Self Evaluation Report pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the report be noted

Minutes:

            The Chief Officer (Education & Youth) presented the report andreferred to the recent Estyn Inspection of the Local Government Services.  As part of this process Flintshire presented a self-evaluation of our education services and a separate self-evaluation on how we undertake our responsibilities for safeguarding.  That report was attached and Estyn would be publishing their report on the 9th August.  The Chief Officer wanted to re-assure Members that there were robust procedures in place for delivering safeguarding. She provided information on the reports received by Committee and the training programme and policies for schools.  Social Services in Conwy had reviewed our Self Evaluation Policy as an extra pair of eyes and we were pleased with the feedback received that it met all the statutory requirements.

 

The Chair referred to non-attenders saying it was the responsibility of Flintshire to monitor this and asked if someone had concerns could you confirm the pathway to enable this to be flagged up with schools and social services.  In response the Chief Officer (Education & Youth) confirmed that attendance was an integral part of the school and if a child failed to attend then the school should take responsibility to find out why.  The Education Welfare Service provided support to schools and each school had an Education Welfare Officer who worked with them checking the registers and may already be aware of that child.  Schools should contact the parents and have a first day notification policy in place where the parents should let the school know if that child would not be in school.  Through the schools and officers supporting them if they had concerns they would automatically be raised with Children’s Services.

 

Councillors Gladys Healey asked what had been put in place for mental health in schools and how many child psychologists there were in Flintshire.  In response the Senior Manager (Inclusion and Progression) reported on the steering group which overseas mental health and had a wide range of partners and representations from CAMHS.  Every secondary school had a designated CAMHS officer to meet and provide advice on individual pupils.  A Self Harm Prevention package was put in place to help teaching Staff to support pupils at crisis point and direct them to a contact at CAMHS.  She provided information on the 5 ways to well-being programme and explained how this was being rolled out across Flintshire.   She said with regard to Educational Psychologist we have 5.5 full time equivalent child psychologist.  These were not clinical psychologists as that support would be provided by the Health Board.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

10.

Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Decision:

(a)       That the report be noted;

 

(b)       That Members raise awareness with the Council’s Cross Party Working Group with regard to the potential funding pressures as a result of the legislation; and

 

(c)     That a letter be written, on behalf of the Committee, to the Welsh Government Minister for Education outlining the Committee’s concerns around the resource implications of the Act for both the Local Authority and schools.

 

Minutes:

The report was present by the Senior Manager (Inclusion & Progression) who provided an update on the progress of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018) (ALNET) which was given Royal assent in January 2018 with the implementation taking place in September 2020.  She explained a lot of work was required to ensure schools and partners were ready and provided information on the overall aims of the Act.  A draft Code which outlines the operational duties of the Act has been published and subject to consultation earlier this year.  A Council response was generated and included input from a range of partners including the Youth Council.  Welsh Government are considering the consultation responses and the final Code is to be presented to the Assembly in the autumn with a view to this being published by the end of December 2019.  She explained that because of the timescale involved extra resources had been put into the team to ensure there was seamless support for the young people on implementation.  A transformation plan for the Council has been generated however, the timescales are extremely tight given the proposed publication date of the final Code.

 

There was concern as this Act had been described by Welsh Government (WG) as cost neutral but it has serious resource implications for the Council. 

 

The Senior Manager then listed the implications on the Council because of these changes:-

 

·         There was a need for example, to have an Additional Learning Needs Officer for early years to identify those with additional learning needs and put provision into all settings which was something we do not do at present.

 

·         Requirement for an Additional Learning Needs co-ordinator in every school; where this is the head teacher at present, it is likely that the role will need to completed by someone else given the additional responsibilities placed on schools by the Act.

 

·         Age range increase to 25 including support for young people in further education, currently services support young people up to the age of 19 who attend a school.

 

·         The duty to commission specialist provision for 16-25 year olds, this is currently undertaken by WG. Information on the Working Group which would be looking at the mechanism for funding for this provision was provided. This duty will commence from 2021.

 

·         LAC Officer to write the Individual Development Plans – currently the Statement of Special Education Needs is written by the authority where the looked after child resides however, under the new Act this will become the responsibility of Flintshire officers. 

 

·         Could have responsibility for identifying additional learning needs for those in custody – the provision would be put in place for when they were released.

 

·         Elective home education – funding for additional learning provision could fall on the Council if a child has additional learning needs - We don’t draw down any funding for this at present and this was being looked at by WG.

 

·         Additional specialist legal advice to support the Council in tribunal cases.

 

·         An additional  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Attendance by Members of the Press and Public

Minutes:

            There was one member of the press in attendance.

 

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