Agenda and minutes

Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee - Friday, 13 December 2019 1.30 pm

Venue: Guidford Borough Council, Millmead, Guildford , GU2 4BB

Contact: Joss Butler, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

9.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from Tanya Quddus.  

    .

     

10.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS: 12 SEPTEMBER 2019 pdf icon PDF 86 KB

    To agree the minutes of the previous meeting of the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture as a true and accurate record of proceedings.

    Minutes:

    The minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

11.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

    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

     

    NOTES:

    ·         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)

    ·         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.

    Minutes:

    None received.

12.

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS pdf icon PDF 53 KB

    To receive any questions or petitions.

    Notes:

    1.     The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (9 December 2019).

     

    2.     The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(6 December 2019)

     

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

    Minutes:

    None received.

13.

UPDATES FROM CABINET MEMBERS pdf icon PDF 267 KB

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    Purpose: to share details of the Cabinet Members’ priority areas of work including any strategy and policy developments and provide an overview of the budget position and performance of services within the portfolio.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families

    Julie Iles, Cabinet Member for All Age Learning

     

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families highlighted that progress was continuing at pace in Children’s Services. The Member informed the Committee that the Children’s Commissioner’s report which noted substantial progress had been delayed due to the general election and would be published on Wednesday 18 December 2019. The feedback meeting with the Children’s Commissioner was positive and they would be recommending to the Minister that Children’s Services would no longer need to be under the auspices of the commissioner.

     

    1. A Member of the Committee asked the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning and the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families whether in future budget updates the Cabinet Members could separate their figures into their two respective areas of responsibility, in order to avoid ambiguity. The Cabinet Members agreed that the budget update should be clearer next time.

     

     

    1. The Cabinet Member was questioned about the commissioning of the new Child and Adolescent Mental Health service (CAMHS) including the response from the market and recruitment to permanent post vacancies. The Cabinet Member advised that there had been positive market engagement so far. The Cabinet Member also stated the importance of dealing with the current waiting list problems and explained that there was ongoing work with the provider, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SaBP), to improve this and added it was crucial to be honest about poor performance.

     

     

    1. The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families highlighted that there had been a recent increase in the number of children entering the care system and that the service needed to increase its efficiency, albeit there had been an increase in recruitment for foster care placements. The Cabinet Member informed the Committee that the council’s residential homes for children were of very good quality, with Libertas having just been given an outstanding grading by Ofsted and more money from the capital budget enabling greater capacity of these homes in the future. The Cabinet Members stated that there were now permanent directors and service managers in Children’s Services but there was still a shortage of social workers both in Surrey and nationally.

     

    1. A Member asked the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning to elaborate on how specialist independent providers might be successfully negotiated with to ensure placements were value for money and improved children’s outcomes. The Cabinet Member stated that they had put capital investment into increasing available places in the county for children with special needs and that additional places on supported internships and Life Skill based programmes for those on the Adult Social Care (ASC) pathway were being commissioned. They asserted that the traditional focus on purely qualification-based, “school” type education did not necessarily give the most appropriate preparation for adulthood for all children. Finally, they informed the Committee that the commissioning team were agreeing the cost of packages  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

CHILDREN'S SINGLE POINT OF ACCESS pdf icon PDF 129 KB

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    Purpose: scrutiny of Children’s Single Point of Access (CSPA)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families

    Dr Lisa Bursill, Assistant Director Early Help and Hubs, Family Resilience and Safeguarding

    Jackie Burke, Director Family Resilience and Safeguarding

    BenedicteSymcox, Operations Lead for Family Voice Surrey

     

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Operations Lead for Family Voice Surrey shared her excitement at seeing employees at the Children’s Single Point of Access (CSPA) working in such a collaborative and nurturing manner in their endeavour to help Surrey’s most vulnerable families. They informed the Committee that they were very grateful to have been given the opportunity to visit the CSPA. All Members agreed with this sentiment and stated that they had been very impressed by the visit, the setup of the CSPA, and all the improvements that had been made since its inception.

     

    1. The Operations Lead expressed their concern that very few parents of SEND children were aware of the CSPA. They also highlighted ongoing difficulties vis-a-vis gaining support either from early help or from the Children With Disabilities team; lack of knowledge about CSPA could have been contributing to the problems that parents faced when trying to access early help.

     

    1. The Chairman asked about some IT difficulties that Members were informed of at the visit. The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said that there was an end-to-end review underway and the computer system was being upgraded to the newer Windows 10. The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said that they would raise the IT issues again at the performance meeting.

     

    1. The Vice Chairman of the Select Committee stated that a number of head teachers of small schools with part-time Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) had very little support with children with difficult needs and thus would benefit from having someone to talk to about how to cope with supporting such children. They said that they would like to see an increase in the level of support and counselling for head teachers who were managing traumatised children.

     

     

     

     

    Actions/Further information to be provided:

     

    i)              For Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families to raise IT issues in the service at the subsequent performance meeting.

     

     

15.

HOME TO SCHOOL/COLLEGE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT POLICY PUBLIC CONSULTATION pdf icon PDF 87 KB

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    Purpose: to outline the Council’s approach to reviewing and consulting on its Home to School/College Travel and Transport Policy.  A presentation will be provided for the Committee on the detail of the policy proposals, seeking the Committee’s views, as well as a summary of public feedback so far.

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Julie Iles, Cabinet Member for All Age Learning

    Mary Burguieres, Assistant Director of Systems and Transformation – Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture

    BenedicteSymcox, Operations Lead for Family Voice

     

     

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. The Cabinet Member for All Age Learning informed Members that the public consultation, which involved focus groups and Family Voice, on home to school/college travel and transport would be concluding on 15 December. They explained that the consultation had essentially been divided into two sections: how to better support independence and preparation for adulthood and a review of the discretionary provision. They stated that high-level analysis of the feedback received from the consultation would be undertaken.

     

    1. The Cabinet Member described that the consultation comprised face-to-face meetings with families, organisations, carers and head teachers, online consultations and focus groups with children.

     

    1. The Assistant Director of Systems and Transformation summarised the Home to School/College Travel and Transport Policy Public Consultation overview document. Regarding ‘independent travel’, they informed the Committee that this would mean different things for different children at different stages of their lives and that the service had been looking at how independence could be facilitated and better supported. They stated, however, that parents had concerns regarding their children being able to cope with the risks associated with travelling independently.

     

    1. The Cabinet Member for All Age Learning stated that they would be looking at how to communicate effectively to both parents and children the key benefits of independent travel. Pertaining to ‘collection points’, the Assistant Director of Systems and Transformation explained that these were well regarded and seen as a step towards independence. Providing they were assessed for suitability, the Assistant Director stated that a range of locations could be used as collection points. Finally, the Assistant Director raised her concern that the travel allowance was not well used and there was a need to understand the barriers to uptake and how it could be made more attractive. They identified the key benefits of a travel allowance as flexibility (especially regarding extracurricular activities after school) and shorter journey times to and from schools, whilst the most significant barriers were distance from schools and lack of suitable public transport. They stated that, overall, the council was spending up to three times more than its statistical Local Authority comparators and yet this overspend had not translated into a better service.

     

    1. The Chairman of the Select Committee asked the Operations Lead for Family Voice how the organisation had been dealing with the issues (above) raised by the Cabinet Member for All Age Learning. The Operations Lead highlighted the difficulty that parents of SEND children had with interacting with their child’s school (due to distance). They stated, firstly, that the travel allowance had been perceived as being unfair and incurring costs for families and, secondly, that the work of Family Voice indicated that the proposed changes to home-to-school travel were likely to cause a loss of trust in the council’s SEND strategy. They stressed the importance of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 115 KB

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    Purpose: for the Select Committee to review the attached recommendations tracker and forward work programme, making suggestions for additions or amendments as appropriate.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

     

    1. The Chairman stated that the Committee would scrutinise the budget in January 2020.

     

     

    1. The Director of Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture suggested that a review be carried out in September 2020 of the grades of schools in Surrey to ensure they continue to do as well as they have done.

     

     

    Liz Bowes left the meeting at 3.19pm

     

     

    1. The Chairman suggested that the item on Schools Alliance for Excellence be rescheduled from the January meeting to the Select Committee meeting in March. The Director of Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture stated that this would lead to more effective discussion of the overarching impact of the framework.

     

    1. The Chairman stated that the reports from the commissioner should be included in the January Select Committee meeting.

     

    1. The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families informed the Committee that scrutiny of the corporate parenting strategy needed to take place at the January 2020 meeting, before Council meets to consider it in March.

     

    1. The Chairman stated that the Surrey Safeguarding Children’s Board annual report should be added to the agenda for the Select Committee meeting in March 2020.

     

     

     

     

    Resolved:  

     

    The Committee Forward Work Programme be updated to include the above proposed items.

     

     

     

     

17.

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

    The next public meeting of the committee will be held on 21 January 2020 in the Ashcombe Suite, County Hall.

    Minutes:

    The next meeting of the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee would be held on 21 January 2020 in Council Chamber, County Hall at 10:00.

     

     

     

     

     

    Meeting ended at: 3.22pm

    ______________________________________________________________

                                                                                                            Chairman