Agenda and minutes

Surrey Corporate Parenting Board - Thursday, 2 September 2021 11.00 am

Venue: Remote Meeting

Items
No. Item

22.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

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    Minutes:

    1.    The Chair welcomed attendees and guests to the Corporate Parenting Board. She thanked them for attending the meeting, and the pre-meeting discussion with a group of young people about education, employment and training, which had taken place the previous day.

23.

VIEWS OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE ON EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING

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    Purpose of the report:

     

    ·         For information and awareness.

    ·         For the Board to receive feedback from children in care and care leavers regarding their views and experiences on education, employment and training.

    Minutes:

    Daniel Lee-Grabowski, User Voice and Participation Officer

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The User Voice and Participation (UVP) Officer fed back on the views and experiences of children and young people on education, employment and training. This feedback was collected through an online consultation form, the Big Survey 2021, participation groups and one-to-one conversations with children and young people. At the pre-meeting, which took place on 1 September 2021, children and young people shared their views with members of the Corporate Parenting Board.

     

    2.    The UVP Officer outlined the key themes reflected in the feedback received, as follows:

    a.    Children and young people expressed that their experience overall was generally positive.

    b.    Children and young people would like more advice and action planning, and more support in thinking about different career paths, including apprenticeships and more vocational paths, not just the traditional career paths of college and university.

    c.     Children and young people expressed that services were not flexible enough.

    d.    Children and young people emphasised that meeting with and simply listening to their young people’s views and needs could make a difference to their outcomes.

    e.    Many young people expressed concern about the opportunities available to them. Support was important in order to ensure that children and young people felt confident and had second chances if at first they did not succeed.

    f.      Children and young people highlighted the importance of social workers asking them about their needs, interests, and the support they required to help them achieve.

    g.    Key improvements and actions coming out of the feedback received included providing opportunities for work experience and mentoring for children and young people; bringing together the many work experience and support schemes that currently exist into one, easy-to-access scheme; offering more support and guidance to children and young people; and for more accessible information to be shared with children and young people regarding career pathways and support.

     

    3.    A Member highlighted that another point raised at the pre-meeting was that more could be done to prepare children and young people for the transition to adulthood. The Headteacher of the Surrey Virtual School responded that there was now a prompt on transition to adulthood included in personal education plans. The Virtual School’s training offer was also being looked at, including the possibility of engaging young people to inform the offer.

     

    4.    The Headteacher of the Surrey Virtual School mentioned that schools had a statutory responsibility to provide careers guidance, but that it was important to look at whether the current offer was sufficient or needed tweaking. The statistics collected through the survey showed an increase in the proportion of children and young people who felt that the careers guidance on offer was sufficient; however, there may still be further improvements to be made.

     

    5.    Members highlighted that it was important not to equate education with school; if a child or young person had had a bad experience at a school, this may deter them from education in general, which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING AND APPRENTICESHIPS FOR CARE LEAVERS

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    Purpose of the report:

     

    To provide the Board with an overview of the activity within the Care Leavers Service to promote engagement in Education, Employment, Training and Apprenticeships.

     

     

    Minutes:

    Siobhan Walsh, Assistant Director – South West Quadrant

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Assistant Director – South West Quadrant outlined the data included in the report, explaining that 63% of care leavers aged 17 and 18 were engaged in education, employment or training, and 68% of care leavers aged 19 to 21 were in education, employment or training. Surrey’s performance was good when compared to comparators in the South East region, but there was still a small but persistent number of young people who were not in education, employment or training.

     

    2.    A Member highlighted that on page 35 of the report, ‘other circumstances’ was listed as the reason for not being in education, employment or training for a relatively large proportion of the young people included in the figures. She questioned what these other circumstances included. The Assistant Director – South West Quadrant agreed to follow this up and provide more detail on this as an action after the meeting.

     

    3.    The Assistant Director – South West Quadrant stated that personal advisors had a high level of contact with care leavers, ensuring that information on employment opportunities was regularly sent out to young people, and also supporting young people in attending open days and career days. The Council had good relationships with the Department for Work and Pensions, local initiatives, the Kickstart Programme, and the Refugee Council, among others. There was also a well established programme of apprenticeships within Surrey. Overall, a good level of employment support was on offer.

     

    4.    A Member raised the possibility of young people having sight of Corporate Parenting Board reports and providing their feedback in a section at the end of the report, before reports were finalised in the agenda. Other Members expressed that this could be difficult, as it might not be possible to collect comments from all young people involved, and the formal nature of the reports might be confusing and unhelpful for young people. The Cabinet Member for Children and Families stated that to a certain extent, the pre-meeting held the day before the Board meeting fulfilled the purpose of hearing young people’s views and allowing these to feed in to the work of the Board. A Member added that, rather that asking young people to read through the report, it was the role of elected Members to act as the voice of young people and looked after children in the formal setting of the Board, questioning the statistics and always thinking about how Council policy affected young people. The Executive Director of Children, Families and Learning said that collecting young people’s feedback on the headlines of a report, phrased in a simple and informal way, could be of value, alongside acting as the voice of young people within the Council.

     

    5.    The Executive Director of Children, Families and Learning clarified that the reason that there was an overspend in the high needs block was because the Council was providing education to meet statutory requirements, even where  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL HEAD ANNUAL REPORT 2021

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    Purpose of the report:

     

    To provide the Board with an overview of the Virtual School’s work and focus during the academic year 2020 – 2021, including analysis of available end of key stage educational outcomes, progress against other key performance measures, and the Virtual School’s response to the pandemic.

    Minutes:

    Anwen Foy, Headteacher of the Surrey Virtual School

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Headteacher summarised the report, saying that during the pandemic, the Virtual School had delivered a full service. The school had a full team that had grown and was becoming increasingly skilled. Since Ofsted had highlighted areas of weakness in 2018, there had been significant improvements in these areas, as evidenced in the report and highlighted during the monitoring visit by Ofsted in March 2021. Ofsted had also noted effective support for improving children’s attendance during the pandemic, as well as improved outcomes.

     

    2.    The Headteacher explained that the Virtual School’s outcomes for key stage four during the 2021 academic year showed significant improvement on 2019, matched 2020, and were better than the national average.

     

    3.    There had been four cases where the Virtual School had had to robustly challenge decisions made by schools to exclude pupils.

     

    4.    The Headteacher outlined that the Virtual School had focused intensively on functional skills, and it intended that no young person arrived at key stage five without a qualification in English and Maths. Following last year’s survey, the Virtual School had put in place a more robust additional offer for year 11 children.

     

    5.    Other areas of success in the Virtual School included:

    a.    Good stakeholder relationships and better stakeholder representation on the Virtual School Governing Board

    b.    At least seven young people from within the Virtual School going into higher education in 2021

    c.     A full programme of activities for young people throughout the summer holidays, culminating in the Virtual School summer school for year six children.

     

    6.    The Headteacher remarked that emotional health would be a particular focus over the coming year, and this would include having designated teachers for emotional health. The Virtual School had already teamed up with Surrey County Council on the Compassionate Schools Programme, and there was a psychologist working at the Virtual School twice a week. Groups of young people that the school would be focusing on were children with disabilities or additional needs, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, young people not in education, employment or training, and young people new to care. Research had shown a clear link between school moves in years 10 and 11, and poorer educational outcomes, so the Virtual School was trying to minimise this as much as possible. The school continued to focus on the impact of the pandemic, particularly on early years.

     

    7.    The Virtual School had a new duty from the Department for Education on children with a social worker. There was support for this and the school would be recruiting to a number of posts.

     

    8.    The Cabinet Member for Children and Families praised the report and the progress it showed.

     

    9.    A Member suggested that the Corporate Parenting Board may wish to consider recommending a target of no children leaving school without qualifications. The Headteacher responded that Surrey’s rate of young people leaving school without any qualifications was significantly lower than the national  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITIES

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    Purpose of the report:

     

    ·         To raise awareness of how the Virtual School is working with the SEND team to support this cohort of young people.

    ·         To raise issues of concern that the Board should be aware of and where a partnership approach would be helpful.

    ·         To highlight proposed and on-going action planning to support the achievement of good outcomes for this group.

     

    Minutes:

    Liz Mills, Director of Education and Lifelong Learning

    Sandra Morrison, Assistant Director for Vulnerable Learners

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Assistant Director for Vulnerable Learners remarked that the issues raised by young people at the pre-meeting, such as experience of disrupted education, were pertinent. The Education and Lifelong Learning team worked closely with the Virtual School and Headteacher, and over the past 12 months, partnership working had improved significantly. There was still work to be done on information sharing, including ensuring education, health and care plans (EHCPs) were consistently shared with social workers.

     

    2.    The Cabinet Member for Children and Families asked how the Education and Lifelong Learning team approached its corporate parenting responsibilities and ensured children were advocated for. The Assistant Director for Vulnerable Learners replied that every child that came to the attention of these services was allocated a case worker, who would be aware whether the child was in the care of children’s services. This was taken very seriously.

     

    3.    A Member noted that the report mentioned the risk of out-of-county placements to children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). How many children were looked after out-of-county that the Council would like to place in-county, but was not able to due to a lack of caring options in-county? The Assistant Director for Vulnerable Learners stated that there had been sufficiency issues in previous years, but as the number of children in the Council’s care had increased, sufficiency planning for corporate parenting and children with SEND had increased in tandem to ensure sufficient resources.

     

    4.    A Member commented that the Virtual School report of the previous item included a table showing the impact of attendance on English and Maths outcomes, and asked whether equivalent information was available for children with SEND. The Assistant Director for Vulnerable Learners responded that attendance for looked after children had improved significantly, and the Director of Education and Lifelong Learning added that in some months, attendance of children with SEND had been better than attendance of children without SEND. The Member requested to see information showing whether an attendance rate of 80% or less for children with SEND had an impact on their educational outcomes, and if there was a particular issue for children with SEND, because of out-of-county placements, for example. The Assistant Director for Vulnerable Learners agreed to explore this and feed back to the Board.

     

    5.    A Member asked to see the number of places being added in-county for children with SEND to reduce out-of-county placements. The Director of Education and Lifelong Learning responded that, in total, there were 1,600 new SEND places in the pipeline, both in special schools and resource centres within mainstream provision. Ideally, the Council would have young people having their needs met as close to home as possible and within a mainstream environment, if their needs could be met appropriately there. The Council would continue to consider what further provision would be needed in future years.

     

    6.    The Executive Director of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.

27.

DIRECTOR FOR CORPORATE PARENTING UPDATE

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    Purpose of the report:

     

    ·         To provide the Board with a regular update on key areas for the services which support the delivery of Corporate Parenting across the county.

    ·         To provide a summary of the Alerts and Escalations raised on behalf of children by the Independent Reviewing Service.

     

    Minutes:

    Jo Rabbitte, Assistant Director of Children’s Resources, presented the report on behalf of Tina Benjamin, Director of Corporate Parenting, who was not available for the meeting.

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Assistant Director of Children’s Resources outlined that children’s services continued to be affected by track and trace and by Covid-19. However, key worker exemptions from track and trace regulations were used effectively in children’s homes, in particular, to ensure sufficient staffing levels. Regarding children in care, work had largely returned to business as usual, in terms of visits to care homes, for instance.

     

    2.    With regards to the capital programme, the Assistant Director of Children’s Resources explained the service was now at the procurement stage for children’s homes and the contact centre, and that work continued on care leavers’ accommodation.

     

    3.    The Assistant Director of Children’s Resources stated that the Director of Corporate Parenting had highlighted initial health checks and dental checks as areas of concern in terms of performance.

     

    4.    In Surrey, there was currently one looked after child in a secure hospital. The number of looked after children in secure accommodation was changing constantly; in June and July 2021 there had been three, and this had now decreased. One looked after young person was currently in remand.

     

    5.    The Assistant Director of Children’s Resources continued to detail that there had been 54 alerts, mainly related to assessments not being completed within the timescale. Another issue was placement choice, which was linked to sufficiency of placements. 44 of the 54 alerts were deemed satisfactory; 10 alerts had not yet been completed, with seven of these awaiting a response, and the other three having been escalated.

     

    6.    The Assistant Director of Children’s Resources highlighted the Independent Care Review and the request for support with regards to supporting young asylum-seeking people from Afghanistan.

     

    7.    A Member stated that safeguarding was fundamentally important and requested to understand how many children were at risk of child sexual exploitation, what the process was regarding child sexual exploitation, and how the risk was assessed. She emphasised the need to consider sexual exploitation of boys as well as girls. Could the Board receive an update on this in future? The Assistant Director of Children’s Resources agreed to bring a follow-up item in future.

     

    8.    The Corporate Parenting Project Manager mentioned that corporate parenting training for Members was being planned for October 2021, and this could include safeguarding.

     

    9.    A Member drew attention to the list of preparations made for young people to leave care, as outlined on page 89 of the report. Help with cooking and budgeting was important, and yet was not captured on this list. The Council was probably already doing this, but it would be good if this could be captured in this list. The Assistant Director of Children’s Resources responded that preparation for independence was being covered in a number of areas, but the report could be more specific. The Assistant Director – South West Quadrant added that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

CORPORATE PARENTING IMPROVEMENT UPDATE

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    Purpose:

     

    Board to receive verbal update on the improvement programme.

    Minutes:

    Howard Bromley, Senior Programmes Manager – Children’s Services

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Senior Programmes Manager stated that a large part of his role involved supporting services for Ofsted visits, of which there were two coming up the following week. In preparation for an Ofsted visit, a self-assessment would be conducted under various headings, such as participation, health, stability and sufficiency. During the visit, Ofsted inspectors would talk to young people within the organisation or school, as well as practitioners. Following the visits next week, the Senior Programmes Manager expected to have a published Ofsted report by 1 October, which would be shared with the Corporate Parenting Board. The Cabinet Member for Children and Families agreed that it would be helpful to have a short written briefing on this for the next meeting of the Board.

     

    Actions/further information to be provided:

    1.    Senior Programmes Manager to provide a short written briefing for the Board’s next meeting on the Ofsted inspections conducted on the week commencing 13 September 2021.

29.

ACTIONS AND AOB

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    Purpose:

     

    ·         For the Board to review the attached action tracker, making suggestions for additions or amendments as appropriate.

    ·         To discuss AOB as necessary.

     

    Minutes:

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Cabinet Member for Children and Families stated that the Director of Active Surrey had expressed her wish to involve Active Surrey in the Surrey Bike Scheme for looked after children and care leavers.

     

    2.    The Cabinet Member for Children and Families reminded Members that they may wish to allocate a small portion of their Members’ allocation funding to the celebration fund, if they had not done so already.

     

    3.    The Cabinet Member for Children and Families mentioned that the next Corporate Parenting Operational Group (CPOG) meeting would be held on 23 September.

30.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING

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    Purpose:

     

    ·         To agree the draft minutes as a true record of the meeting.

     

     

    Minutes:

    The minutes were agreed as a true and accurate record of proceedings.

31.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING: THURSDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2021

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    The next meeting of the Board will be held at 11:00 on Thursday, 21 October 2021.

    Minutes:

    The next Corporate Parenting Board meeting is to be held at 10:30am on 21 October 2021.