Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18

Contact: Kevin Phillips  Email: kevin.phillips@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5145

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Radha Rabadia.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

As a matter of urgent business the Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick announced that item 7 ‘The Independent Reviewing Officer’s Report’ would be taken after item 5 ‘Briefing on Children's Services, Safeguarding and Corporate Parenting’.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Mark Elliot declared a personal interest as Chairman of the board of Governors for Horn Park Primary School.

 

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies be noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meetings held on 23 January 2014 and 27 March 2014.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meetings of the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panels held on 23 January 2014 and 27 March 2014 be agreed and signed as true and accurate records.

5.

Briefing on Children's Services, Safeguarding and Corporate Parenting

Presentation on the evening.

Minutes:

The Director of Children’s Services introduced the Children’s Services Senior Management Team and gave a briefing on their roles. The Senior Assistant Director provided an overview of responsibilities to safeguard children and to meet our responsibilities as corporate parents for our looked after children and care leavers.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick the Senior Assistant Director stated that there was concern locally and nationally about the low notification of private fostering arrangements to children’s social care. It is the responsibility of the parents or private foster carers to notify the council if they had entered into private fostering arrangements. However most private fostering arrangements come to light as a result of referrals to children’s social care from schools, GPs and from our own school admissions service.

 

Resolved

 

That the presentation and the report be noted.

 

6.

Quarter 4 Performance Monitor pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee is asked to consider this report alongside the attached performance monitor for the Children and Young People Plan (CYPP) which covers the final period for the Children and Young People Plan 2011-14, Quarter 4 2013-14.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Children’s Services introduced and summarised the report. The Director outlined the range of measures used within the performance monitor and explained that the monitor was arranged by the three priorities under the Children and Young People Plan.

 

In response to a Member question about obesity levels. The Director of Children’s Services stated that in terms of healthy eating, it was important to work with the parents. The Director stressed that it was difficult to ensure that children’s lunch boxes contained only healthy foods and to control what they ate outside of school hours. The Director added that being active and regular exercise has been a big area of improvement in Greenwich schools although one area which could be improved was encouraging more children to walk to school.  She also outlined how sports premium has supported more exercise.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick the Director of Children’s Services stated that there were two schemes for tracking NEET (Young people aged 16 – 18 living in the Borough who are not in Employment, Education or Training) which were RONI (Risk of NEET Indicator) and PETE (Participation in Education, Training or Employment). The Director added that it was a big priority for Children’s Services to reduce the number of young people not engaged in education, training or employment. Our plan is to identify children at risk in year 8 and to take timely action to ensure they continue to be engaged in learning.

 

In response to a Member question the Director of Children’s Services stated that the reason for the higher turnover of social workers last year was in part to do with the restructuring of the service and a focus on addressing staff performance, and that more social workers moved to employment agencies than in the previous year (where they can earn more money). The Permanence Service has only permanent staff, and action has been taken to reduce the use of agency staff in the Safeguarding Service. There is a national and local shortage of Social Workers, and we are focusing on making sure we retain good social workers as well as recruiting new ones.

 

In response to a Member question the Director of Children’s Service stated that there was a significant professional development programme in place for Social Workers which included learning through supervision, coaching, mentoring, training and post qualification credited courses. Social Workers have opportunities shape service development and improvement through involvement in ‘learning from others’ best practice visits. There are Professional Educators providing coaching, support and delivering practice improvement workshops to all Social Workers, with a focus on our newly qualified Social Workers. We are also introducing a training programme for experienced Social Workers to enable them to step into leadership and management roles. 

 

In response to a Member question the Director of Children’s Services stated that there was a time lag with regard to fixed term exclusions data and that the improvement in figures had been achieved through hard  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Independent Reviewing Officer Report pdf icon PDF 62 KB

The Committee is asked to note and scrutinise this report from the IROs’ Leader, which is attached as Annex One, and the report on actions taken to address further areas for development attached as Annex Two.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Senior Assistant Director and the Independent Reviewing Officer Leader introduced and summarised the report.

 

In response to a Member question the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) Leader stated that although caseloads were at the high end of the recommended scale it was not of huge concern because most other London Boroughs were in a similar position and nationally the situation was worse. She also confirmed that they did not allow IRO’s to go over the recommended figure of seventy. The Senior Assistant Director added that a sustainable reduction in the numbers of looked after children were being achieved and this would reduce the workload of IROs.

 

In response to a Member question the IRO Leader explained that children were assigned to an IRO when they became looked after children, and children continued to have the same IRO.

 

In response to a Member question the IRO Leader stated that it was important if parents did not attend a review, their views captured in some other way. Usually this was through a separate meeting or telephone conversation. The IRO Leader confirmed that the purpose of the review meetings was to review care plan, listen to what the child was saying and be assured that the plan was having a positive impact for the child. The IRO may make changes to the care plans which are ratified by the social work team leader. The IRO checks between reviews that the child is making the expected progress as a result of the plan being implemented.

 

In response to a Member question the Senior Assistant Director stated that currently they did not have any Social Worker vacancies in the Permanence Service so every child had a permanent social worker responsible for their case. The Senior Assistant Director said that the Permanence Service had Children Teams for children under the age of 14 and Young People Teams for 14-25 year olds. This meant continuity of social worker as young people moved into adult life. 

In response to a question from the Chair the IRO Leader confirmed that when children were placed out of borough the IRO would go out of the Borough to carry out the work with them.

 

In response to a question from the Chair the IRO Leader stated that 15 out of 55 looked after children who turned 18 last year stayed with their foster carer, which is a relatively high proportion of young people. This reflects more young people being engaged in further education. The IRO Leader confirmed that the costs of the placements were funded by the Council and by young people claiming allowable benefit payments.

 

In response to a Member question the IRO Leader stated that there was a lot of partnership working with agencies such as the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). In response to questions the IRO Leader said that the service needed to be more systematic in collecting feedback from children outside their review meetings. Overall she was content with their record keeping.

 

In response  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Children and Young People Plan 2014-2017 pdf icon PDF 76 KB

The Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel is asked to note the final Children and Young People Plan (CYPP) priorities and ambitions for 2014-17.  A hard copy of the published plan will be available at the meeting and officers will make a presentation on the key themes.

 

Minutes:

The Director of Children’s Services introduced and summarised the report and provided a presentation on the Children and Young People Plan 2014 – 2017.

 

In response to a Member question the Director of Children’s Services stated that consistency was the core of the protection strategy. The Director also confirmed that although statutory requirements were removed in 2008 they felt locally that having a plan was the correct way forward.

 

In response to a Member question the Director stated that a high level of commitment was needed to achieve the plans priorities and ambitions for 2014-17 and that all relevant information was contained within the plan.

 

Resolved

 

That the report be noted.

 

 

9.

Briefing on the Scrutiny Function pdf icon PDF 26 KB

The Panel will receive a presentation on the scrutiny function based on the Scrutiny Guide for New Members attached as Appendix 1.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer introduced and summarised the report and gave a presentation on the Scrutiny function.

 

The Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick commented that Scrutiny’s role was to be a critical friend and to challenge officers where necessary. The Chair added that it was important to enable the concerns of the public and to drive forward improvements by choosing topics that make the greatest impact and allocating time to them.

 

Monsignor Rothon commented that some additional work should be considered as he felt there was time to engage more.

 

Resolved

 

That the report be noted.

10.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 30 KB

The Scrutiny Panel is asked to consider further proposals or comments submitted by Members, following agreement of the Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme 2014-15 at the Council’s Annual Meeting on 11 June 2014.

 

The Scrutiny Panel is asked to report back its views on the Work Programme to the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer introduced and summarised the report.

 

The Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick stated that an extra piece of work that was needed was the transition for 0-25 year olds with special education needs and disabilities ‘SEND’.

 

The Director of Children’s Services stated that she felt that a step change was required in the way we think about disabled children. The Director added that this was an exciting piece of work to get involved in.

 

The Chair asked Members if they would be happy to take this on and it was agreed with Panel Members.

 

The Scrutiny Officer agreed to arrange a meeting with Members to this effect.

 

Resolved

 

That the report be noted.