Agenda and minutes

Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee - Tuesday, 28 July 2020 10.00 am

Venue: REMOTE MEETING streaming here: https://surreycc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcasts

Contact: Benjamin Awkal, Scrutiny Officer 

Note: Please note due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this meeting will take place remotely 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

    To report any apologies for absence and substitutions.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from Tanya Quddus and Alex Tear.         

2.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS: 21 JANUARY 2020 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

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

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The minutes were agreed as a true record of the meeting.

3.

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.

4.

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS

    To receive any questions or petitions.

    Notes:

    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (22 July 2020).

     

    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(21 July 2020)

     

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

     

     

    Despite meetings being held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 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:

    None received.

5.

CHILDREN'S IMPROVEMENT UPDATE pdf icon PDF 254 KB

    Purpose of the Report:

     

    To provide an update on the improvement of Surrey’s children’s services and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the improvement programme. This report provides further information on the services and activity outlined in the last report to the Select Committee on 21 January 2020.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

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

     

    Jacquie Burke, Director – Family Resilience and Safeguarding

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Director informed Members that the Service’s annual conversation with Ofsted had taken place since the previous meeting of the Select Committee. Ofsted had been assured by the council’s progress during the COVID-19 pandemic and the approach taken in children’s social care to meet the needs of the county’s vulnerable children. Members heard that assurance visits and targeted visits would resume in September 2020, albeit they were likely to be conducted virtually. Full ILACS (inspection of local authority children’s services) visits would not be resumed until March 2021.

     

    2.    A Member asked whether there had been an increase in missing children cases during the COVID-19 pandemic and what the council did to locate missing children. The Director informed the Committee that there had been a reduction in the number of these cases during the pandemic. There were tight procedures in place for locating a missing child and for return to home interviews. The timeliness of the latter had greatly improved over the previous 12 months. The Service works with the Police – who were responsible for searching missing children – the missing child’s family and all agencies known to the child to locate them. Where necessary, with Police agreement, the council publicised missing children.

     

    3.    The Chairman agreed to circulate the figures relating to missing children from the Surrey Children's Services Improvement Board Performance Compendium to the Committee. The Cabinet Member notified Members that missing looked-after children was a standing item at every Corporate Parenting Board meeting; adding that a missing incident for a looked-after child could be an event as minor as returning late from a social activity, and this should be considered when examining data relating to missing children.

     

    4.    A Member referred to compliance rates for audit requests, questioning how instances of non-compliance were monitored and followed up on. The Director responded that, whilst compliance had improved over time and the Service was committed to achieving full compliance, there would always be occasions where people were unable to complete audits and, occasionally, furlough will be granted in this respect. Earlier in the year, the challenge to recruit permanent social workers meant existing staff carrying out audits had to undertake additional operational tasks. There had been a significant, positive response at team-practitioner level to providing management oversight for 6,000 open files at the outbreak of COVID-19 in England. A dip sample of 10% of those case notes by the quality assurance team returned an agreement rate of 91% on risk management.

     

    5.    A Member asked how the Service had been providing training on the analysis of motivational interviewing and the identification of what good supervision looks like. The Director replied that a number of catch-up training sessions had been arranged for practitioners who had already undertaken two-days of training on the technique and that a commitment had been made to ensuring that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

UPDATE ON THE SCHOOLS ALLIANCE FOR EXCELLENCE pdf icon PDF 431 KB

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    Purpose of the Report:

     

    ·         To outline the purpose and impact of SAfE.

    ·         To provide assurances that SAfE is meeting the council’s core statutory duties for school improvement, as well as steering the changes needed to support the achievement of a sector-led education partnership.

    ·         To provide a summary of the role of SAfE during the current COVID-19 crisis.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:                                                                            

    Julie Iles, Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning

     

    Liz Mills, Director – Education, Learning and Culture

    Maria Dawes, CEO – Schools Alliance for Excellence

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1. The CEO of the School’s Alliance for Excellence (SAfE) informed Members that SAfE was a non-profit, schools-led organisation seeking to bring coherence to the local education system to enable young people to achieve the best possible outcomes through education. Strong partnership working between schools and the other partners is key to the efficacy of SAfE. SAfE is contracted by Surrey County Council to deliver statutory school-improvement services on the behalf of the Local Authority. An objective of SAfE was to encourage all schools in Surrey to become members; currently two thirds of schools were signed up to pay the 89p-per-pupil subscription fee and the CEO hoped that this proportion would increase following the high levels of engagement seen from all schools with SAfE’s professional learning events which were provided free of charge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    1. SAfE had identified 26 maintained primary, 2 secondary and 2 pupil referral units and special schools that needed additional school-improvement support. SAfE had worked with these schools throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and had already started risk assessments for the following academic year. Owing to the pandemic, it was likely that there would be a 50% increase in the number of primary maintained schools that would require additional support from SAfE.

     

    1. SAfE had also helped schools to develop remote learning, risk assessments and reopening plans, had supported governors through webinars, and supported headteachers with their wellbeing, free of charge throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Uptake and engagement from schools during this period had been significant.

     

    1. SAfE’s key roles in the coming year were to be supporting all schools to ensure that pedagogy and the learning children receive is of the highest quality and to narrow the learning gap, which would be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    1. Paul Bailey, Partnership Development Manager, queried, on behalf of Simon Hart, Chair of the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership, whether safeguarding could be referenced in the objectives of SAfE. The CEO stated that the responsibility for safeguarding remained with the Local Authority but, nevertheless, SAfE always endeavoured to ensure the safeguarding of children and it remained a top priority. The Director stated that safeguarding was integral to the Local Authority’s Ofsted rating and explicitly stated in the contract with SAfE, adding that this matter could be tabled for further discussion at the board of directors.

     

    1. A Member highlighted that the majority of schools under the support and challenge category were Primary education settings and asked for what reasons this was so. The CEO stated that this was because there were only eleven maintained secondary schools; it was a product of the structure and status of a school, rather than due to Secondary settings outperforming Primary settings.

     

    1. Member asked about improving the educational performance of disadvantaged children in Key Stages 2 and 4. The CEO stated that, on average, disadvantaged children in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE REOPENING OF SCHOOLS pdf icon PDF 83 KB

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    To follow.

     

     

    Purpose of the Report:

     

    To provide an overview of the work undertaken and planned to support schools’ preparations for the full reopening in September.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Julie Iles, Cabinet Member for All Age Learning

     

    Liz Mills, Director – Education, Learning and Culture

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1. The Cabinet Member updated the Committee that the Department for Education had praised Surrey County Council for the work carried out around risk assessments for vulnerable groups of children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Free school meals had continued for those in need and targeted webinars had proved valuable for governing bodies and school leadership teams during the pandemic.

     

    1. The Director informed Members that a dedicated team for safeguarding had been put in place and the council had exceeded other local authorities regionally and nationally in this area. The Director added that school attendance would be mandatory again from September and there was guidance for each school setting on how to implement social distancing measures. Nationally, there was a consultation underway to support decision making around year-10 and year-12 students. The Service was prioritising school readiness and transition arrangements and was continuing to work with the Department for Education to ensure national guidance was disseminated locally.

     

    1. Another area of focus for the Service was to be examinations and accountability arrangements, as the learning gap between socially disadvantaged children and other cohorts would have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    1. The Director continued that the Service would target financial support available from central government, including the £1 billion catch-up support package.  There was a plan in place for every child and young person not in a regular school setting.

     

    1. The Chairman relayed the concern of Family Voice regarding the enforcement of school attendance in September, given that a number of children would require high levels of support to catch up to where they were educationally six months previously. The Director stated that the Service wanted all children and young people to return to full-time education in September and that in fact a large number of children with statutory plans had remained in educational settings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. All guidance was about providing assurance to enable parents to return their children to school full time. Additional support would be provided to make this transition possible for all children; emotional well-being and mental health support was to be redirected to support school pupils and an additional support service was to be provided to parents. Officers from the Service met with Family Voice every week to pick up on concerns and use them to inform planning.

     

    1. A Member was concerned about some schools not providing adequate remote learning for their pupils during the COVID-19 pandemic and asked what would happen if there was a second lockdown. The Director assured Members that there was regular contact with schools regarding this and the majority of schools did provide home learning programmes, which would be the national focus of Ofsted going forward. Maintaining the quality of education provision would be a challenge for all schools and best practice should be shared to ensure school leaders could provide the best support for pupils. Schools which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 103 KB

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    Purpose of the report:

     

    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. A Member expressed their concern about the number of failed Special Guardianship Orders. The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families stated that data for these issues were included in the performance compendium.

     

    1. A Vice-Chairman suggested a report in December on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the recruitment of staff from other countries; and that more detailed work be undertaken to examine the impact of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

     

    1. A Member suggested that a report on traveller children be brought to a future meeting of the Select Committee.

     

    1. The Chairman stated that they would discuss the Select Committee’s forward work plan with the Vice-Chairmen and Scrutiny Officer.

     

     

9.

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING: 21 SEPTEMBER 2020

    The next public meeting of the Committee will be held remotely via Microsoft Teams on 21 September 2020.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Committee noted its next meeting would be held on 21 September 2020.