Agenda and minutes

Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee - Thursday, 7 April 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Woodhatch Place, 11 Cockshot Hill, Reigate, RH2 8EF

Contact: Benjamin Awkal, Scrutiny Officer  Email: benjamin.awkal@surreycc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

9/22

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

    To report any absences and substitutions.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from Alex Tear, Liz Townsend, Michaela Martin, and Tanya Quddus.

     

10/22

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS: 18 OCTOBER 2021, 13 DECEMBER 2021 AND 17 JANUARY 2022 pdf icon PDF 379 KB

11/22

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.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    None received.

12/22

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS pdf icon PDF 209 KB

    To receive any questions or petitions.

    Notes:

    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (1 April 2022).

     

    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(31 March 2022)

     

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

     

     

    The public retain their right to submit questions for written response, with such answers recorded in the minutes of the meeting; questioners may participate in meetings to ask a supplementary question. Petitioners may address the Committee on their petition for up to three minutes Guidance will be made available to any member of the public wishing to speak at a meeting.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Rachael Wardell, Executive Director – Children, Families, and Lifelong Learning

    Liz Mills, Director – Education and Lifelong Learning

    1. Four questions were received from Fiona Davidson.

     

    1. As a supplementary question, the Member sought clarification that the Safety Valve agreement contained requirements from the Department of Education (DfE) that were not just financial.

     

    1. The Executive Director clarified that there were measures that were non-financial, as they would drive financial outcomes and followed the direction of travel of the SEND Transformation Programme. These included measures such as increasing the number of SEND children educated in mainstream schools. The Director added that the agreement focussed on early intervention and support, as well as being in keeping with the council’s overall vision to keep children closer to home. This included partnership working with schools to drive them towards inclusive environments. The accountability across education, health and social care would remain.

     

    1. The Member asked about the Education Service’s greatest concerns regarding the agreement.

     

    1. The Executive Director acknowledged that there were many ways that the agreement could go wrong, however, the council put themselves in a position to walk away if there were no advantages to the agreement. The financial benefits were carefully calculated and there were benefits to having consistent and rigorous evaluation of the Transformation Programme. An agreement would not have been reached if it was not for the benefit of the children.

     

    1. As a final supplementary question, the Member asked how the Service was planning to incentivise academy schools to increase their intake of SEND children.

     

    1. The Director responded that academy schools and trust leaders had been part of the driving force of the work around inclusion focused on enabling SEND children to thrive alongside their peers. The Director noted that they needed to think about the ways in which they would work together. The Team Around School pilot was a successful example of pooling resources and expertise to make it possible for children to remain in their mainstream setting. The Director explained that the vast majority of children would start their schooling in a mainstream setting; therefore, it was often about maintaining that environment rather than moving them back into a mainstream environment.

     

13/22

CARE LEAVERS SERVICE REPORT pdf icon PDF 552 KB

    Purpose of the report:

     

    To provide an overview of the service provided to care leavers with particular regard to support around transitions, educational attainment including post 16 destinations, the impact of out of area placements and accommodation quality and stability.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Children and Families

    Rachael Wardell, Executive Director – Children, Families and Lifelong Learning

    Siobhan Walsh, Assistant Director – South West Surrey

     

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. The Cabinet Member introduced the item, noting that the Care Leavers Service was subject to close review and scrutiny by the Corporate Parenting Board, in which they focussed on specific areas in greater detail. The Cabinet Member informed the Members that the council was keen to sign up to the Care Leavers Charter and emphasised the importance of the Celebration Fund.

     

    1. The Assistant Director introduced the report, noting that the Service was in a strong position and had received positive feedback from both the Ofsted monitoring visit and the full Ofsted inspection. There was stability in the workforce, with a high number of staff permanently recruited, as well as good skillset of Personal Advisors (PAs). An area of improvement was to ensure that they were consistently responsive to care leavers and to work with PAs to ensure that they understand the complexities of the Service.

     

    1. A Member asked about the changing levels of demand for services over the next few years and how this would be managed, with note to the medium-term financial strategy (MTFS). The Member also asked about the differing needs and funding of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) who often became care leavers. The Assistant Director explained that the Service was well placed in terms of capacity, but there was some work to been done with the 16-year-old cohort. The biggest threat was the impact of international circumstances, as Surrey received high numbers of UASC. There was a dedicated team for this cohort, with a capacity of 100 children. There were currently around 15-16 new arrivals each month, thus, if the predicted arrival rate continued, then this would place a large demand on the Service. The over-18 cohort had increased to 318 asylum experienced care leavers. There were two county-wide care leaver teams for this cohort, who understood the specific needs of these young people. There were also specialist mental health services in place to support those young people who presented a different type of trauma.

     

    1. The Executive Director added that children who grew up in Surrey were likely to leave the Service prior to becoming a care leaver, however, as UASC arrived without family and usually at an older age, they were likely to be eligible for services until 25 years old. It was expected that the demand would continue to rise. Practices within the Safeguarding Service intended to drive down the number of children who became care leavers, however, this was more difficult during the pandemic. The Executive Director commented that care leavers should be funded by the Home Office, although they were not adequately funded currently. As demand could change quickly, this was closely monitored and factored into financial planning.

     

    1. A Member queried whether the accommodation for asylum experienced care leavers was different to the accommodation of the wider cohort. The Assistant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13/22

14/22

PROPOSED CHANGES TO HOME TO SCHOOL TRAVEL ASSISTANCE POLICY pdf icon PDF 295 KB

    • Share this item

    Purpose of the report:

    To outline the proposed changes to the Home to School Travel Assistance (H2S TA) policy for children and young people in mainstream schools and pupils with additional needs (SEND). This report sets out the rationale for, the objectives of the changes, the changes being consulted on and the intended outcome.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Denise Turner Stewart, Cabinet Member for Education and Learning

    Rachael Wardell, Executive Director – Children, Families and Lifelong Learning

    Hayley Connor, Director – Commissioning

    Eamonn Gilbert, Assistant Director – Commissioning

     

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. The Cabinet Member introduced the report, noting that the service currently cost around £45 million a year and that the council was investing £139 million to increase the number of school spaces in county which would reduce demand on travel assistance services. There were significant challenges to securing transport provision due to market challenges, rising fuel costs and growing inflation, which was a national issue. There had been good engagement during the consultation period from key stakeholders and residents.

     

    1. The Director and Assistant Director presented slides on the consultation responses, which were published as an agenda supplement. There were 694 responses which were largely positive; nine out of the thirteen proposals were supported by a majority of respondents. It was noted that the proposals were for both mainstream children and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The Assistant Director reminded Members that there had been a complete refresh of the policy in 2020 and this was an update to the existing policy. Only around 10% of those with Educational Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) would qualify for adult social care services, and of those, only around 4-5% would qualify for support from health partners for complex medical health needs. Therefore, there was a significant focus on developing independence and preparing for adulthood.

     

    1. A Member asked about the causes of increased demand. The Director explained that there were national drivers for demand, particularly around SEND. As Surrey was a large rural area with a few areas that were congested and highly populated, it meant that transport arrangements were difficult to negotiate. The rise in fuel and energy prices and shortage of drivers had also created challenges in meeting demand.

     

    1. The Member also asked about the financial impact of the proposed changes, as well as any inherent risks. In terms of efficiencies, the Director explained that it was important to deliver services to children who needed them most, however it was also important to deliver value for money. There had been detailed financial analysis on the savings, although much had changed since the work had started, such as the price of fuel. Calculations were still being made in some detail. The Assistant Director added that the number of places for independent travel training would increase to 200, and then 400, to help and prepare young people for future employment. It was about shifting resources to approaches which helped to develop independence, where it was appropriate for the young person. The Director explained that the capital investment to increase school places and encourage more children to be educated in Surrey which would positively impact the costs. The Member noted that the number of school children in Surrey would likely decrease in the next few years due to falling birth rates. The Director explained that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14/22

15/22

ACTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PLAN pdf icon PDF 252 KB

    • Share this item

    For the Select Committee to review the attached actions and recommendations tracker and forward work programme, making suggestions or amendments as appropriate.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Actions and Recommendations Tracker and Forward Work Plan were noted.

     

16/22

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

    The next public meeting of the Select Committee will be held on Wednesday, 6 July 2022.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Select Committee noted that its next meeting would be held on Wednesday, 6 July 2022.