Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Denise Kevern  Email: denise.kevern@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 Councillors Rajinder James,  Sarah Merrill and Clare Morris.

2.

Urgent Business

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

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.  However, on behalf of the Panel, the Chair suggested that a joint meeting should be organised with the co-chairs of Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel, with a view to gather evidence on children’s health.  It was further suggested that the “Good Practice Guide for Scrutiny Members” should be circulated to Members of the Panel.

 

Action: Snr. Corp. Support Officer

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 38 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 59 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meetings held on 3, December 2015, 13 January 2016, 28 January 2016, 4 February 2016 and 5 April 2016.

 

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 Panel held on 3 December 2015, 13 January 2016, 28 January 2016, 4 February 2016, and 5 April 2016, be agreed and signed as true and accurate records.

 

In relation to Item 6 on Page 4 of Minutes of meeting held on 4 February 2016, the Chair, on behalf of the Panel, requested that a meeting should be organised to progress with the work on the Special Education Needs and Disability reforms, with a view to arrange visits to service providers and other stakeholders.

 

Action: Snr. Corp. Support Officer

5.

Cabinet Member Priorities 2015 - 2016 Progress Report pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To inform the Panel of progress in relation to the Cabinet Member’s priorities for 2015/16.

Minutes:

Councillor Miranda Williams, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, presented the report to the Panel, highlighting progress in relation to priorities under her portfolio for 2015/16.  The Director of Children’s Services (CS) assisted with the presentation.

 

The Panel noted the report.

 

In response to questions, the Cabinet Member advised the Panel that practitioners were aware of the signs of child sexual exploitation, and resources were prioritised to assist and support parents and delivering partners.  In particular, children at risk were encouraged to participate in interviews upon returning from going missing, and the findings were used in case studies to raise awareness about the issues.  The Cabinet Member stated that the outcome of the Ofsted inspection of the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s (Royal Borough) Children’s Services department that commenced on 24 May 2016 would be published in a report at the end of July 2016, for consideration at the next meeting of the Panel.  The Director of Children’s Services (CS) added that a review of the Greenwich Safeguarding Children Board formed part of the inspection.

 

The Cabinet Member also confirmed to the Panel that the commissioning of individual support for children and families was delivering value for money.  However, the CS department was experiencing financial pressure in relation to placements of children looked after by the Royal Borough, and was using the Placement and Sufficiency Strategy to secure additional foster carers.  The Cabinet Member informed the Panel that the Placement and Sufficiency Strategy was supported by a monitoring format that was operational, and that a summary of it could be accessed via the Council’s website.

 

The Panel expressed a concern about financial uncertainties following the ‘Brexit’ result of the European Union Referendum elections that took place on 23 June 2016.  In response, the Director of CS acknowledged that budget pressures were inevitable.  In particular, the Government had announced that education support grant would be reduced by September 2017.  However, the CS department would continue to monitor and review its commissioning activities to ensure efficiency.

 

In light of a suggestion, the Director of CS stated that any attempt to compare data with the London Councils’ agency in relation to school admission numbers would produce distorted results because the Royal Borough was applying a different method.  However, an update report on pupils’ admissions across the Royal Borough would be considered by the Panel after the school year commenced in September 2016.

 

The Cabinet Member continued with her respond, clarifying to the Panel that no school within the Royal Borough had been found as ‘inadequate’ following an Ofsted inspection.  However, a secondary school was judged by the inspectors to require ‘improvement’.  It was stated that the Council would continue working with headteachers to further drive improvements in schools across the Royal Borough.

 

The Panel expressed satisfaction in relation to efforts by the Council to engage with young people in the Royal Borough, particularly that initiatives were in place to inspire and help them realise their potentials.  The Panel also welcomed information that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Children and Young People Plan Performance Monitor 2015/16 Quarter 4 Outturn pdf icon PDF 88 KB

The Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel are asked to scrutinise the performance of the partnership of services for children at the end of 2015/16 and the priorities for improvement in 2016/17.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Children’s Services, Commissioning and Resources (C&R) presented the report to the Panel, highlighting performance for services provided to children in the Royal Borough of Greenwich (Royal Borough) for 2015/16, together with priorities for improvement for 2016/17.

 

The Panel noted the report and key priorities categorised as “resilience”, “prevention”, and “protection”.  It was recognised that the priorities were related to measures outlined in Royal Borough’s 2014-17 Children and Young People Plan.

 

Commenting on the priorities, the Panel made some enquiries and was advised by the Director of Children’s Services (CS) department that the indicators in red highlights were to identify actions required, and not as a result of service failure.  The Assistant Director C&R added that although the indicators were unique to the Royal Borough, the CS department was benchmarking measures against the London average to achieve stretching and ambitious targets.

 

In discussing issues relating to the protection of vulnerable children and young people, the Panel expressed a concern about the rate of still birth, and it enquired whether there was a programme at ward level to inform women about the dangers of smoking during pregnancy.  In response, the Assistant Director C&R stated that the Clinical Commissioning Group was leading on the issue.

 

The Assistant Director (Safeguarding and Social Care) also responded to questions raised, advising the Panel that the onus would be on parents, guardians, carers or the relevant professionals to inform the police when a child goes missing from home for more than 24 hours.  It was stated that a targeted approach of learning was being explored to assist parents and carers about warning signs, and to change attitudes.  However, in situations where relationships become unattainable or harm is perceived, the Council would work with its partners to remove a child from the situation.  The Assistant Director C&R added that the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub was providing a proactive response, and that data on children that go missing would be circulated to Members prior to the next meeting of the Panel.

 

Action: AD (Safeguarding & Social Care)

 

The Panel also enquired about the Council’s position in dealing with hate-related and racist crimes following the ‘Brexit’ result of the European Union Referendum elections that took place on 23 June 2016.  In response, the Director of CS stated that the Greenwich Inclusion Project and the police were monitoring the environment for signs of vulnerabilities.

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.

7.

School Place Planning Annual Report pdf icon PDF 210 KB

The report sets out demand for places at Royal Greenwich schools and post 16 provision and the action being taken by the Council

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Children’s Services, Commissioning and Resources (C&R) presented the annual report which sets out demand for places at schools in the Royal Borough of Greenwich (Royal Borough), and post-16 provision to the Panel, together with actions taken by the Council.

 

The Panel noted the report, and that the Royal Borough had a statutory responsibility for ensuring sufficient primary and secondary school places to meet the level demand for residents, and to make provision for children with special educational needs.

 

In response to questions raised, The Assistant Director C&R informed the Panel that findings revealed that expansion of academies was possible.  Thus, academies were considered as a means to meet the demand for school places in the Royal Borough.  However, the proposed academy school would now not open in September 2017 because a site had not been secured.  Notwithstanding that, consideration had been given to expand Greenwich Free School and the Greenwich Trust School to provide a total number of 231 places that would be required for 2017/18.

 

The Director of CS added that from September 2017, funding for local authorities to become involved in academies would cease.  Therefore, plans to expand school places in the Royal Borough by September 2021 would be dependent on the number of new schools approved by the Secretary of State, and the level of capital funding allocated beyond 2018/19.

 

The Panel made further enquiries and received clarification from the Assistant Director C&R that when a school applied for an academy status in the Royal Borough, the use of land should be used for educational purposes and, safeguards in the planning approval process would ensure compliance.  Therefore, in the event of it ceasing to provide education, planning conditions would be implemented for the land to revert to the Council.  The Panel was of the view that there was no reason to prevent local authorities to form a company with the aim to create an academy.

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.

8.

2016/17 Work Programme Schedule pdf icon PDF 28 KB

The Panel is asked to note and agree the attached schedule for the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel work programme for 2016/17 as set out in Appendix 1.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel noted and agreed the schedule of activities outlined in the revised version of the appendix to the report that was circulated at the meeting in relation to the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel work programme for 2016/17.

 

Councillor Miranda Williams, the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, advised the Panel that Members would be informed of the outcome of the Ofsted report, which should be published on 5 August 2016.  The Cabinet Member also confirmed that her next report to the Panel would include an update on the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s capacity to deliver free childcare places.

 

Action: Cabinet Member &

Director of Children’s Services

 

On behalf of the Panel, the Chair requested that a visit should be organised for Members to Broadwalk Children’s Home.  It was stated that prior to the proposed visits, checks relating to the currency of Members DBS screening should be confirmed.

 

Snr. Corp Support Officer/

Members’ Services Section

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.