Agenda and minutes

Children and Education Select Committee - Friday, 7 September 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Ashcombe Suite, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN. View directions

Contact: Richard Plummer 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

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    To report any apologies for absence and substitutions


    Apologies were received from Committee Members Liz Bowes, Robert Evans, Simon Parr, Alex Tear, Mike Wainhouse and from the Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning Mary Lewis.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting: 20 February 2018 pdf icon PDF 311 KB

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    To agree the minutes of the meeting of the Children and Education Select Committee (2017/18) as a true and accurate record of proceedings.


    The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as a true and accurate record of proceedings.


Declarations of Interest

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    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or

    as soon as possible thereafter:


    i.       any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or;


    ii.      other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting




    ·        Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest;


    ·        as well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner); and


    ·        Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.



    There were no declarations of interest received.


Questions & Petitions pdf icon PDF 58 KB

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    To receive any questions or petitions




    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (3 September 2018).


    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (31 August 2018).


    3.    The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.

    Additional documents:


    1.    A question was received from Cllr Chris Townsend. The question is attached to the minutes as Annex A. There was a response received from the Cabinet Member which is attached as Annex B.


    2.    Cllr Chris Townsend asked a supplementary question, expressing concern that this  was still a significant issue and questioning whether the current supply of educational psychiatrists was being utilised in the most effective manner. Officers explained that there was a struggle to recruit to these posts, but that those that were in post was of good quality and were being utilised well. Members asked whether there was a potential for this issue to be looked at in greater detail in the next year.




    1.    That an item of Educational Psychologists (EP) and the issues facing the service regarding recruitment and utilisation of these be brought to the Committee in early 2019.



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    Purpose of the Report: To set out the response of Children’s Services to the areas of concern raised in the Ofsted Inspection of Children’s Services which was published 16 May 2018 and to show what action is being taken to address these.


    Additional documents:



    Dave Hill, Executive Director of Children, Families and Learning
    Jacquie Burke, Interim Director for Change Safeguarding and Early Help
    Claire Burgess, Chair of the Surrey Safeguarding Children Board
    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Children

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. Officers highlighted the headlines of the report and noted that the Children, Families and Learning Directorate was undertaking a comprehensive response to the challenges faced in Children’s Services following the report of Ofsted (2018). It was noted that the Department for Education (DfE) had appointed a Commissioner to determine Surrey County Council’s capability to improve. It was also explained that draft feedback had endorsed the current plan of improvement, but stressed that the challenges of longstanding and severe deficits of services remained high.

    2. Officers stressed that the service was taking a whole system approach, including partners in the redesign. It was explained that the service was too risk adverse and that the universal level of service was too incoherent. Officers gave evidence of planned improvement in this area with the introduction of the “windscreen” levels of need model which would create a clear, system-wide understanding of thresholds. It was stressed that the service wanted to ensure a clear, single practice model which could be followed by the service and partners.

    3. Officers highlighted that they were introducing the “Family Safeguarding,” “No Wrong Door” and “Mockingbird” models across respective services to help improve current practice. It was stressed that these models had been employed successfully to improve in other comparable local authorities.

    4. Officers noted the significant changes in leadership structure and the requirement to introduce high level strategic value in the service.

    5. Members questioned how the service was planning to improve working relationships with partners and what the potential barriers to good partnership working would be. Officers explained that they would be working closely with statutory partners on the plans for service transformation. It was also noted that the service was including children and young people in the service redesign proposals to ensure that they are engaged in the process.

    6. The Director of Children, Families and Learning stressed that Early Help transformation and the better utilisation of Early Help to reduce reliance on statutory services was essential to reducing cost and improving outcomes for children. It was also highlighted that this work could only be undertaken with partners and that it was important for the service to closely work with them.

    7. The Chairman of the Surrey Safeguarding Children Board noted that there had been significant engagement with partners and that statutory partners were keen to be involved in the change process. It was noted that previous barriers to partnership work were that individual services had worked in silos and that this needed to be improved.

    8. Members questioned the importance of partners understanding of thresholds in Children’s Services, which was an issue highlighted by the Ofsted report as a key area of concern, and how the service was planning to improve upon this. Officers explained that the Directorate had revisited the levels  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



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    Purpose of the Report: To set out plans to establish an Academy to drive and co-ordinate learning and development across the whole children’s workforce in Surrey.



    Sheila Norris, Consultant on the Surrey Children’s Services Academy Design
    Dave Hill, Director of Children, Families and Learning
    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Children

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. Officers explained that the scope of the proposed Academy was to work with the core and wider workforce and was designed to be ambitious in its scope. It was explained that the creation of the academy would develop the workforce and ensure:


    1. that it is confident and successful;
    2. that it would create a single unified model for the workforce and partners;
    3. and that it would aim to change the culture of working.


    It was noted that the Academy was in its early stages of development and concept design.

    1. It was explained that the service was looking to redesign the current learning and development offer and were working alongside partners and staff to aid in shaping the design of this model. Officers noted that there were plans to include common areas of induction with partners and potential shared leadership training.

    2. Officers noted that the new Academy would, when active in early 2019, fit into the Children, Families and Learning Quality Assurance Directorate.

    3. The Committee questioned whether it would be possible to explain the role of Members and how they can be utilised as a means of improving the support network for frontline workers as part of the proposed learning and development programme.

    4. Members questioned retention figures and asked how the Academy would work to resolve the current issue of retention of social workers. It was noted that there was a trend of a drop off in retention after two years of employment. Officers noted that there was the current Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) Academy and that this was designed for NQSW’s only, with a drop off in support after two years. While it was noted that the NQSW Academy had received praise in the Ofsted report (2018), it was explained that the new proposals hoped to expand upon this success. It was explained that the new Academy was aimed to provide support for staff and partners on a longer term basis, which aimed to improve morale and long term retention.

    5. Members questioned the performance indicators of the new Academy; including the success criteria and potential response to the proposals not meeting these criteria. It was noted that success could be measured by retention of social care staff and management improvement evidenced through audit. It was suggested that these could be built into the launch of the Academy.

    6. It was noted that officers had been looking at best practice across similar models in other authorities, such as Essex County Council, where a similar model had been implemented for social workers only. It was noted that best practice in implementing support and progression for staff and partners had been looked at to help develop this project.

    7. Officers noted that there was a potential for future provision for the recruitment of apprentice social workers, noting that the service was keen to explore  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



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    Purpose of report: To update the Committee on the progress of Member Practice Conversations that have taken place so far, analyse key themes identified and to outline a procedure for future Practice Conversations to take place.




    Kay Hammond, Chairman of the Children and Education Select Committee
    Chris Botten, Vice Chairman of the Children and Education Select Committee
    Lesley Steeds, Member of the Children and Education Select Committee

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. Members noted that taking part in the practice conversations was an interesting an informative experience.

    2. Members highlighted that there were several common concerns raised by social workers, including caseloads, management oversight and administrative issues. Members suggested that there could be several quality of life improvements that could be made, such as recruitment of administrative staff to help social workers undertake administrative duties that they do not have the capacity to undertake.

    3. The Committee endorsed the idea of implementing Member Practice Conversations on a regular basis, and asked whether conversations could be held sooner than was scheduled. Officers noted that this was possible and could be arranged for Committee Members.


    It was agreed:


    1. That Members endorsed the proposed plan to implement Member Practice Conversations for the Committee,

    2. That actions and findings are reported quarterly to the Committee; and

    3. The proposal for a programme of Member practice conversations for 2018/19.





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    Purpose of report: To propose an Out of County Placements Task and Finish Group to the committee based on the terms of reference outlined and ask for Members to consider their interest in joining the group.


    Terms of reference to follow.


    Additional documents:



    Dave Hill, Executive Director of Children, Families and Learning
    Richard Plummer, Democratic Services Officer

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. Members endorsed the idea and scoping plan of the Out of County Placements Task Group. Members stressed that this was a key area of concern for the Council.

    2. The Executive Director noted that this was an ideal opportunity for the Committee to feed into work that was going in within the Directorate on this issue and that work should start on this Task Group as soon as feasible.

    3. The Committee agreed the Membership of the task group to be the following:
      1. Chris Botten (spokesman)
      2. Lesley Steeds
      3. Victoria Young
      4. Chris Townsend



Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 57 KB

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    The Select Committee is asked to review and approve the Forward Work Programme and provide comment as required.

    Additional documents:


    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. Members had no additional comments on the forward work programme.


    1. Members agreed the proposal for future work on the Transition Task and Finish Group in the forward plan and agreed that the Chairman would represent the Committee in any future work.



Date of the Next Meeting

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    The next meeting of the Select Committee will be held 16 November 2018 in the Ashcombe Suite at County Hall.


    The next public meeting of the Committee will be held at County Hall on 16 November 2018.