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 Offord.

2.

Urgent Business

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

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 49 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:

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 67 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 3 July 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.

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panel held on 3 July 2014 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Broadwalk Children's Home pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Note the recent Ofsted inspection of Broadwalk Children’s Home and the actions being taken in response to the recommendations.

 

Note the findings from one Elected Member’s visit and one Regulation 33 visit.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Permanence Service Leader with the Manager, Broadwalk Children’s Home. The Permanence Service Leader explained a full inspection of the Children’s Home by Ofsted Inspectors had taken place in July with the overall effectiveness of the service judged as good.

 

He stated that new regulations meant that visits under Regulation 33 had to be carried out by someone independent of the Council. 

 

In response to questions the Manager, Broadwalk Children’s Home stated that there was no pattern to the length of stay at the home. The longest stay at the home was two and a half years however the ethos was to return children to their own homes as soon as practicable. 

 

The Manager, Broadwalk Children’s Home informed the meeting that steps to obtain an outstanding rating included involving the children more in the running of the home and the setting up of a group of former residents to contribute to the development and scrutinise improvement actions.

 

The Panel commended the work of the team, their level of care and performance. It was noted that the greatest accolade was that positive comments came from the children themselves.

 

Resolved

 

That the content of the report be noted.

6.

The purpose and conduct of Elected Members' visits to Children's Homes pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Members are requested to note the report on the purpose and conduct of Elected Members’s visits to Children’s Homes.

Minutes:

The item was introduced by the Permanence Service Leader who informed the Panel that Member visits were encouraged. The purpose of the visit was for Members to get the views of the residents on the home and directly see the quality and impact of the care children and young people receive.  Visits were organised four times a year and for a maximum of two people. 

 

The Chair announced that the dates for the visits were not yet fixed and those visiting would need to have had an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.  She encouraged the Panel Members to submit their documentation to the Head of Law and Governance if they had not already done so. She confirmed that the External Education Appointees were not Corporate Parents as they were not Elected Members of the Council.

 

The Chair suggested that Councillors on the Panel should liaise with the Scrutiny Officer regarding their availability to undertake visits. 

 

Resolved

 

That the content of the report be noted.

7.

Looked After Children & Care Leavers : Quarter 1 performance pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Note the performance of our services for looked after children and care leavers, set out in the report and the appendices

 

Note the actions taken and plans to continue to improve outcomes for children.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Permanence Service Leader who gave a PowerPoint presentation which highlighted:-

 

·       the number of children looked after,

·       children looked after by gender,

·       children looked after by age,

·       children looked after by type of placement,  

·       children looked after- Placement distance from Royal Greenwich,

·       number of care leavers,

·       number of care leavers by age,

·       recruitment of foster carers and

·       the Royal Borough of Greenwich Fostering Service.

 

In response to Members questions the Officer stated that there was a preference for all children to be placed within the Royal Borough however there were circumstances where children were placed outside of the borough because there were insufficient numbers of placements in borough. Children are placed as close to home as possible. Some children had complex needs or faced risks to their safety, and an out of borough was in their best interest.

 

The Permanence Service Leader informed the Panel that where looked after children were placed outside of the Borough the host Borough would be notified of the placement but responsibility remained with the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Social Workers from Greenwich would visit the carer and the children. There would also be close liaison through the virtual school with the local school where children did not stay at their Greenwich School. For children placed beyond neighbouring boroughs, senior manager approval was required.

 

There is an improving trajectory in the educational attainment of looked after children.  There are plans to get partners and stakeholders together with young people to identify barriers to achievement and how to overcome them. A further report on educational achievement would be submitted to a future meeting of the Panel.

 

The Corporate Parenting Panel queried the increase in the number of children subject to police protection. The Senior Assistant Director said that action had been taken and we were working with the police so that children only became looked after children following police action where there was no other way of safeguarding and promoting their welfare.

It was noted that the number of children going missing from care has reduced. All incidents of missing children were investigated and within the Royal Borough of Greenwich the majority of cases related to involvement in gangs. There was a close working relationship with the Police and others through the Multi Agency Group which provided an integrated response when children go missing.  


Referring to recent media coverage of the safe guarding of children under the care of Rotherham Council, the Senior Assistant Director explained that there were multi-agency arrangements for identifying and responding to child exploitation. There would be a report to the next Scrutiny Panel on local arrangements and lessons from the recent report on lessons from what happened in Rotherham.  The Director of Children’s Services said that senior staff and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services had analysed Professor Jay’s report on Child Exploitation in Rotherham 1997-2013 to use as a learning tool for Greenwich. 

 

In response to questions regarding persistent absence from school by some looked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Children and Young People Scrutiny Work Programme 2014-15 Schedule pdf icon PDF 33 KB

The Scrutiny Panel is asked to note and agree the draft schedule of items for its work programme in 2014-15 as set out in the attached Appendix.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The item was introduced by the Scrutiny Officer who informed the Panel that the work programme had been updated to reflect the agreed changes.

 

Resolved

 

That the content of the report be noted

9.

SEND Reforms

The Chair to provide a verbal update on this in-depth scrutiny work item.

 

Minutes:

The Chair gave a verbal report on the undertaking of a review of Special Educational Needs and Disability Reforms.  She explained that the review would be led by Councillor Linda Bird but was open to the involvement of any Panel Member who wished to participate.

 

This would be a pathfinder project which included practical work. Visits would be undertaken and a draft report would be submitted to the February meeting of the Panel.