Minutes

Private induction session, Children, Families, Lifelong Learning & Culture Select Committee - Thursday, 15 July 2021 10.00 am

Contact: Benjamin Awkal, Scrutiny Officer  Tel: 07816 091463. Email:  Benjamin.Awkal@surreycc.gov.uk

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20/21

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

21/21

INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME FROM THE CHAIRMAN

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    The Chairman of the Select Committee welcomed attendees to the informal induction meeting.

22/21

PRESENTATION BY DEMOCRATIC SERVICES

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    Presenters:

    Benjamin Awkal, Scrutiny Officer

    Bryony Crossland Davies, Democratic Services Assistant

     

    The Select Committee’s Scrutiny Officer and Democratic Services Assistant introduced themselves, outlined their roles and provided an overview of the Select Committee’s role, remit and key processes and practices.

23/21

INTRODUCTION BY CABINET MEMBERS

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    Presenters:

    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Children and Families

    Denise Turner-Stewart, Cabinet Member for Education and Learning

    Natalie Bramhall, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Property

    Mark Nuti, Cabinet Member for Communities

    Maureen Attewell, Deputy Cabinet Member for Children and Lifelong Learning

    Kevin Deanus, Deputy Cabinet Member for Communities

     

    The Cabinet Members and Deputy Cabinet Members introduced themselves and outlined their priorities for 2021/22 and beyond. 

     

    It was agreed that the recording of items 3 to 5 would be made available on the Member Portal.

24/21

PRESENTATIONS BY SENIOR OFFICERS pdf icon PDF 2 MB

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    Presenters:

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

    Marie Snelling, Executive Director – Communities & Transformation

    Tina Benjamin, Director – Corporate Parenting

    Eamonn Gilbert, Assistant Director – Commissioning

    Patricia Denny, Director – Quality and Performance

    Liz Mills, Director – Education & Lifelong Learning

    Susan Wills, Acting Assistant Director – Culture, Libraries & Registration

     

    The officers introduced themselves and provided an overview of the services for which they were responsible and their priorities. 

     

    It was agreed that the presentation delivered by the Children, Families and Lifelong Learning Directorate leadership team be annexed to the minutes.

25/21

PLANNING SESSION

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    Select Committee members discussed and suggested topics for future scrutiny based on their understandings of resident’s needs and concerns.

26/21

CHILDREN'S IMPROVEMENT UPDATE pdf icon PDF 576 KB

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    Witnesses:

    Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Children and Families

    Rachael Wardell, Executive Director – Children, Families and Learning

    Tina Benjamin, Director – Corporate Parenting

     

    The Select Committee received a written and verbal briefing on the progress of the Children’s Improvement Programme, and put questions to the Cabinet Member and officers, utilising the format and approach of the Select Committee item as a further element of the induction session.

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Cabinet Member introduced the Report, which provided an update on the improvement of Surrey’s Children’s Services; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the improvement programme; the delivery of frontline services; a recap of the 2018 Ofsted judgement and subsequent monitoring visits; the intervention of the Children’s Commissioner; the continuing transformation of services for children and young people with additional needs; and the Council’s collaboration with health partners to support children and young people who have emotional wellbeing and mental health needs. The Cabinet Member asked that the Select Committee note the findings of the recent Ofsted report which acknowledged the Council’s swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic and that significant progress had been made regarding the Service’s improvement journey. Despite the positive feedback received, the Directorate was not complacent and priority action plans were in place in key areas: strengthening practice in services for children with disabilities and recognising and responding to instances where children are suffering from neglect. The improvement programme was being driven by a focus on improving outcomes for children and families and was being undertaken in collaboration with all relevant partners. The Cabinet Member highlighted the regular updates she provided to Cabinet and that the programme was subject to additional scrutiny by the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership. 

     

    2.    A Member noted that limited funding meant that schools were having to make the decision to spend money on catch-up learning or mental health support for children in response to the increase in pupils’ mental health needs and asked how the Council identified and supported such schools, particularly those with a significant proportion of disadvantaged children. The Executive Director explained that the Education Service worked closely with Surrey schools, advising, but not directing, them on how they should use their resources and connecting them to external programmes and funding opportunities. There was no additional funding available from the Council to support such schools. The Service was seeking to generate a programme of low-cost or no-cost programmes for families; and children and families could be connected to a range of support via the Early Help Hub. The Area Schools Officers and the Schools Relationships Team facilitated communication between the Council and schools. Universal services were provided to all children and young people, regardless of the type of school they attended. 

     

    3.    A Member asked what was discussed and what feedback was received at the June 2021 ‘Annual Engagement Meeting’ with Ofsted and for the next steps. The Executive Director explained that the team and inspectors discussed and reflected on the recent focused  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26/21

27/21

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

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    The Select Committee noted that its next public meeting would be held on Monday, 18 October 2021.