Agenda and draft minutes

Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee - Tuesday, 4 October 2022 10.00 am

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

Contact: Julie Armstrong, Scrutiny Officer 

Media

Items
No. Item

34/22

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from Cllr Liz Bowes, Cllr Fiona White, and Mr Simon Parr. Mrs Tanya Quddus attended the meeting remotely.

    Cllr Chris Townsend chaired the meeting.

     

35/22

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING: 6 JULY 2022 pdf icon PDF 242 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.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The minutes were agreed.

36/22

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.

37/22

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS pdf icon PDF 284 KB

    To receive any questions or petitions.

    Notes:

    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (19 June 2020).

     

    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(18 June 2020)

     

    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:

    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Education and Learning

    Tina Benjamin, Director – Corporate Parenting

    Liz Mills, Director – Education and Lifelong Learning

    Hayley Connor, Director – Commissioning (CFL)

     

    1. Four questions were received from Fiona Davidson. The Member asked a supplementary question about the reason for the net decrease of mainstream foster carers and why the service was struggling to retain and recruit them. The Director for Corporate Parenting gave reasons that included retirement, standards of care, and personal circumstances. The service was working with the Foster Care Association to rectify any issues foster carers had. Difficulties to recruit and retain foster carers was a nationwide issue, as well as the impact of the pandemic regarding lifestyle changes.

     

    1. As a supplementary question, the Member queried whether it was possible to change the process regarding the deadline for submitting transport requests to consider the timeframe of appealing a school place. The Director for Education and Lifelong Learning explained that this was being looked into. Once the initial phase had passed, there would be an analysis of the cohort to understand the sequence and to inform changes. The Director for Commissioning added that the analysis of staffing requirements had started, and they had introduced some levels of automation. A Member asked whether this work should come to the Select Committee. The Cabinet Member reassured Members that they would be closely involved in the review. 

     

    1. Five questions were received from Catherine Powell. No supplementary questions were asked.

     

    1. Five questions were received from Mark Sugden. The Member suggested for a further report on home to school transport to come as an item to a future public meeting. It was agreed that the Committee would receive an interim report to the meeting in December 2022 and a full report in 2023.

38/22

SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITIES STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 426 KB

    Purpose of the report:

    To provide the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee with a progress update on the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) self-evaluation and strategy (which is being taken forward as the Additional Needs and Disabilities Strategy, in line with feedback outlined below), including an assessment of current performance, recent progress and next steps.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Education and Learning

    Liz Mills, Director – Education and Lifelong Learning

    Hayley Connor, Director – Commissioning

    Julia Katherine, Assistant Director - Inclusion and Additional Needs

    Claire Poole, Interim Chief Executive of Family Voice Surrey

    Benedicte Symcox, Former Chief Executive of Family Voice Surrey

     

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. The Assistant Director introduced the item, noting that the new strategy would be in place from the beginning of 2023, building on a partnership that has been completed. The strategy aims to improve outcomes for children and young people and the experiences of families. The work of the strategy was overseen by the Surrey Additional Needs and Disabilities Partnership Board, which included a range of stakeholders. The former Chief Executive of Family Voice Surrey added that the Board was a collaborative space, and the self-evaluation was an example of co-produced work between partners.

     

    1. The Chairman asked about the options provided to respondents of the parent/carer satisfaction survey. The Assistant Director explained that the survey included a standard five-point scale from ‘very unsatisfied’ to ‘very satisfied’. Parents and carers who had a child with an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP) were asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with the support their child receives from professionals to support them with their additional needs and/or disability: 46% responded ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ (14% very dissatisfied). A higher proportion of parents and carers who had a child receiving special educational need (SEN) support were satisfied with the support their child receives from their school to support them with their additional needs and/or disability: 52% responded ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ (11% very dissatisfied).
    2. The Chairman asked why the appeal rate was higher in Surrey than the national average and what proportion of those were successful. The Assistant Director explained that the number of statutory assessments had increased , which impacted the number of appealable decisions. One potential reason for an appeal was a lack of specialist provision, which was being addressed by the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) capital programme. The Director for Education and Lifelong Learning added that of the 578 appeals made up to the end of the last academic year, 265 were ongoing at the time of recording and 233 of those did not end up being heard by the tribunal or were resolved. The reasons for this were carefully monitored. Of those that were heard (79), approximately 50% were awarded in favour of the family. Service managers were trained in restorative approaches and tried to work with families to prevent appeals from occurring. The service had published ‘Ordinarily Available Provision’ guidance to set clear expectations about the range of support that could be made without the need for a statutory plan.

     

    1. A Member asked how the quality of EHCPs were monitored. The Assistant Director responded that there was a team of quality managers who co-ordinated a multi-agency audit process to monitor the results. An audit tool was used to audit a representative number  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38/22

39/22

FAMILY CENTRES pdf icon PDF 279 KB

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    Purpose of the report:

     

    To review the Family Centre model of providing support to families, including usage, outcomes for service users and impact data of the new provision.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Sinead Mooney, Cabinet Member for Children and Families

    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Education and Learning

    Matt Ansell, Director – Safeguarding and Family Resilience

    Hayley Connor, Director – Commissioning

    Jackie Clementson, Assistant Director – Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA), Early Help & Youth Justice

     

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. A Member asked how the service was targeting families of greatest need and asked whether there was a reduction in child protection plans because of the work of family centres. The Director explained that the Council’s figures per 10,000 for child protection plans and children looked after were in line with the national figures. There had not been a reduction yet, but they were hoping to see one over time. The Member also asked about the types of families who were self-referring for services. The Assistant Director responded that they were not able to get that data currently, however, noted that early help needed to be accessible to all families.

     

    1. A Member noted the lack of information included in the report regarding the work happening on the ground and raised concern over a family centre in Upper Hale that had significant issues. The Director for Safeguarding and Family Resilience explained that he was doing direct work with that family centre, however, they had experienced positive and engaging practices at other family centres he had visited. The service had commissioned a specialist research team to ensure that the right offer was being provided, as they wanted to reduce the support on statutory services.

     

    1. In response to a question on the family support programmes, the Assistant Director explained that the programmes were delivered through five district and borough councils but the services were delivered countywide. The programmes supported families with complex needs that did not reach the threshold to receive statutory services.

     

    1. The Chairman asked whether family centres were located in areas of greatest need. The Cabinet Member for Education and Learning explained that the locations were chosen using the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), to ensure that they would have the easiest outreach to areas of high deprivation. A Member asked how often the areas were reviewed. The Director for Commissioning explained that the IDACI was a national piece of work, however, the Health and Wellbeing Board were reviewing areas of deprivation.

     

    1. In response to a question on the comparison of the new provision to the previous Children’s Centres, the Director for Commissioning explained that talking to families about their experiences was part of this work and this could be brought back to the Committee. In terms of the data, the model was significantly different to the previous model, therefore, it was difficult to obtain comparative data. There was data from the consultation prior to the decision on the new model. Family centres were one important element of the overall early help offer. The Director offered to work with the Member to find a way to produce comparative data, whilst recognising the difficulties.

     

    1. A Member asked about the reasons  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39/22

40/22

CHILDREN'S SOCIAL CARE WORKFORCE STRATEGY / RECRUITMENT & RETENTION UPDATE pdf icon PDF 518 KB

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    Purpose of the report:

    This report provides an update on the Recruitment, Retention & Culture Programme, its aims, scope, activity so far this year and the priorities going forward. The Children’s Social Care Workforce Strategy has recently been developed and is included in this report along with an initial thematic analysis of recent exit survey responses. An update on recruitment and retention of children’s social care staff with key performance information has been included as well. 

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Sinead Mooney, Cabinet Member for Children and Families

    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Education and Learning

    Matt Ansell, Director – Safeguarding and Family Resilience

     

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. The Chairman asked about the support in place for female employees, as they made up 86% of the workforce. The Cabinet Member for Children and Families explained that she would provide a written response to this, as it required a broader discussion with partners in health and ASC. The Cabinet Member for Education Learning noted that it was also important to support men who may not feel represented in the workforce and questioned whether the proportion of women was also reflected in leadership roles.

     

    1. In response to questions on social workers leaving with less than two years service and responses in exit interviews, the Director explained that it was a national trend for social workers to move on around after a year to two years. The Council supported an assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) two-year programme for newly qualified social workers. The Council had been involved in working with the Department for Education (DfE) on developing the early career framework, especially for social workers. The exit interview process had been refined to gain the granular detail for why people were leaving. The Member asked whether people were leaving the profession or pursuing it elsewhere. The Director confirmed that people were usually leaving the profession. The makeup of the social work workforce had changed, as the entry requirements were different.

     

    1. A Member questioned whether the workload was manageable and asked whether the high cost of living in Surrey was a deterrent to employment stability. The Director explained that caseloads fluctuated and currently some social workers had higher caseloads than they would want. The early intervention work was trying to reduce the casework coming from children of certain cohorts, as the balance of children contributed to the workload as well as the numbers of children. The Cabinet Member for Children and Families added that affordability of housing was a significant issue, and the Council was looking into the possibility of key worker housing and/or housing with care and support.

     

    1. Responding to a question on the day-to-day pressures for social workers, the Director explained that there had been difficulties in recruiting agency staff which was impacting on the workload and pressures of permanent staff. In the longer term, the ambition was to improve the proportion of agency to permanent staff. There had been meetings with agency staff to discuss how their package with their agency compared to the Council’s employment package. The Care Review suggested considering utilising alternative qualified professionals alongside social workers.

     

    1. A Member enquired about the timescale to improve the workforce position for social workers. The Director explained that they were bringing in a higher number of newly qualified social workers on the ASYE programme. There was work to improve the Council’s online presence regarding recruitment of experienced social workers. There had been discussions about offering work experience  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40/22

41/22

SURREY HOMES FOR SURREY CHILDREN: A STRATEGIC APPROACH TO GROWING CAPACITY IN CHILDREN'S HOMES IN SURREY pdf icon PDF 327 KB

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    Purpose of the report:

    To consider a proposed approach to developing the capacity of children’s homes in Surrey to enable the longer-term ambitions of the Council’s Looked After Children and Care Leaver Sufficiency Strategy 2020-2025, ahead of formal proposals being considered by Surrey County Council’s Cabinet later in 2022.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Sinead Mooney, Cabinet Member for Children and Families

    Tina Benjamin, Director – Corporate Parenting

    Chris Tisdall, Head of Commissioning – Corporate Parenting

     

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. A Member questioned why the ambition was not for 100% of children to be placed in Surrey. The Director explained that it was felt that 80% was a realistic target based on forecasting. Some children were placed outside of Surrey and that was the most appropriate placement for them.

     

    1. A Member questioned when it was known that extra capacity for children’s homes was needed. The Director explained that it was about the type of children that were coming into care, as some of the expansion was for children with disabilities. The Head of Commissioning explained that there was a grown in the numbers of children and young people and therefore, they needed to grow the infrastructure. Surrey had 17 Council-run children’s homes, whereas Hampshire and Kent had around 70-80 each. The Cabinet Member added that there had been an awareness for some time, which was why the strategy was developed.

     

    1. Responding to a query on the number of beds required, the Director explained that 50-60 beds were considered realistic in a three-year strategy. The Head of Commissioning added that 50-60 should be right, but would double check the numbers The strategy also included reducing the number of teenagers requiring residential places and increasing their position in the external market. It was not necessarily about having children in homes long term.

     

    1. The Chairman asked about the risks to the children and the Council of using un-regulated placements. The Director reassured Members that the service tried to avoid such placements as much as possible. Due to a national shortage of places, it meant that sometimes they could not be avoided. There were mitigations in place to ensure children were as safe as possible and during their placement, the service would try to find an alternative placement. Each local authority had a small cohort of these children and the Council talked to Ofsted monthly about this cohort.

     

    1. A Member asked why the need for care leaver accommodation had reduced. The Director explained that young adults made their own choices about where to live. There was a successful piece of work around recommissioning the supported accommodation framework for care leavers. It was about re-focusing on the area of greatest need which was children looked after.

     

    1. The Chairman queried whether the Council was anticipating issues with planning permission. The Director explained that they would be building large family homes with three to four children per home, and they had been successful with the two homes they were currently building. It was not just about the planning, as the Council wanted the children to join in with their local social environment. The current homes worked closely with their neighbours to ensure positive relationships.

     

    1. A Member enquired into the plans to support children to return to home with their families. The Director explained that there was care planning  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41/22

42/22

EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC

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    Purpose of the item:

     

    That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, thepublic be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the  likely disclosure of exempt information under the relevant paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Select Committee Members agreed to exclude the public during consideration of item 10 on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information under paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972

43/22

LEARNINGS FROM THE REVIEW INTO THE EVENTS LEADING TO THE CLOSURE OF A CHILDREN'S HOME: IMPROVEMENT PLAN

    Purpose of the report:

     

    This Part 2 report contains information which is exempt from Access to Information requirements by virtue of paragraphs 1 and 2 – information relating to any individual and information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.

     

     

Minutes:

Witnesses:

Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Education and Learning

Tina Benjamin, Director – Corporate Parenting

 

Key points raised in the discussion:

  1. The Director introduced a Part 2 report containing information which was exempt from Access to Information requirements by virtue of paragraphs 1 – Information relating to any individual and 2 – Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.

 

  1. The Select Committee discussed the exempt report and asked questions of the witnesses under part two conditions.

 

RESOLVED:

  1. The Select Committee noted the Action Plan.

44/22

PUBLICITY OF PART TWO ITEMS

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    Purpose of the item:

     

    To consider whether the item considered under Part 2 of the agenda should be made available to the Press and public.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    It was agreed that the information in relation to the Part 2 item discussed at the meeting would remain exempt.

45/22

ACTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PLAN pdf icon PDF 24 KB

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    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:

    Key points raised in the discussion:

    1. It was agreed that the report of the Adult Learning and Skills Task Group, Youth Work and Children with Disabilities would be pushed back to 2023. An interim update report on Home to School Transport and the compendium overview would come to the meeting in December 2022, with a full Home to School Transport report in 2023.

     

    1. A Member requested for the report on Youth Work to compare the current and previous provision.

46/22

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

    The next public meeting of the Select Committee will be held on Thursday, 15 December 2022.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Select Committee noted that its next meeting would be held on Thursday, 15 December 2022.