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 on behalf of Alexander Seadon, a Parent Governor representative.

 

Councillors Spencer Drury and Peter Brooks apologised for having to leave the meeting at 20:00 (8pm) – up to item 6.

 

Councillor Steve Offord apologised for having to leave the meeting at 20:25 (8.25pm) – up to item 7.

2.

Urgent Business

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

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

 

The Panel was advised of the following meetings of interest to them.

 

22 November 2016 – Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel at which a report would be received on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

 

15 December 2016 – Broadwalk Children’s Home Christmas Party from 4pm. The theme was Winter Wonderland. An invitation to attend would be circulated to the Panel.

Action: Senior Corporate Services Officer

 

The Co-chairs of the Panel agreed to write to Broadwalk Children’s Home to acknowledge their work and Ofsted’s outstanding award as a result of the recent unannounced inspection.

Action: Co-Chairs Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panel

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:

Councillor Clive Mardner declared that he was a member of the Fostering Panel.

 

Resolved –

 

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

 

2.     That Councillor Mardner’s declaration be noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2015 and 18 July 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 meeting of the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panel Corporate Parenting held on 5 November 2015 and 18 July 2016 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Royal Borough of Greenwich Virtual School - Head Teacher's Annual Report 2015-2016 pdf icon PDF 28 KB

The Panel is asked to note the Royal Borough of Greenwich Virtual School – Head Teacher’s Annual Report which covers the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Annual report was presented by the Head Teacher of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Virtual School who explained that the key to improving outcomes was to be an aspirational Corporate Parent, aiming to improve stability for children and ensuring that education is given a high priority. The Ofsted Single Framework Inspection in May 2016 recognised the excellent work of the Virtual School stating that the School’s work was beginning to make a ‘substantial difference to outcomes’. 

 

The new Greenwich Virtual School structure with a new post of 16+ Officer had seen an improvement in the Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) figures, and in children going on to University, but staff were stretched to capacity. The Head Teacher recommended that a further two 16+ Officers be appointed.

 

The Panel asked what the Team’s capacity was; the response was that each Officer was responsible for between 1-150 children and it was key to prioritise the level of help each child required.

 

The Head Teacher explained that educational outcomes were good and progress in all year groups was increasing and was above National levels for Looked After Children. It was noted that there was a significant impact on progress the longer a child remained in care, this demonstrated that children’s progress was being tracked well. It was predicted that outcomes for the next year would also be above the National level. Social Workers were also seeing education as an important part of placement planning and were liaising with the Virtual School at an early stage.

 

She further said that attendance levels amongst Looked After Children had risen for the 6th consecutive year. Primary attendance was 97% and secondary 92%. Absence was below the National average. A child’s attendance was checked on a daily basis and every two weeks team meetings were held to discuss children of concern regarding attendance and on actions needed to support them.

 

The Panel queried how many Looked After Children were at school outside of the Borough and how was their attendance and afternoon sessions monitored. The Head Teacher replied that approximately 55% (274/479) were out of Borough and that both morning and afternoon attendance were monitored, and although this was a challenge it was being met.

 

The Head Teacher updated that exclusions had reduced and were only being used as a last resort and the number of days fixed term exclusion had halved in the last three years. The Borough had not had a permanent exclusion in the last seven years.

 

The Head Teacher said that Personal Education Plans (PEP) had been given a good Ofsted rating. Pupil Premium was well managed which had led to improvement in PEP quality which resulted in better outcomes and the right support being identified. Schools did not receive Pupil Premium unless the Virtual PEP had been returned. The Personal Education Allowance was used to focus on personal activities such as horse-riding, sports, and trips.

 

The Panel queried the use of the new Pupil Premium policy which was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Royal Borough of Greenwich Fostering Annual Report 2015 to 2016 pdf icon PDF 33 KB

The Panel is asked to note the annual report from the Royal Borough of Greenwich Fostering Service which covers the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Clive Mardner declared that he was a member of the Fostering Panel.

 

The report was presented by the Group Leader C Permanence Service who explained that a service reorganisation had resulted in an increase in in-house fostering capacity. The Borough was attracting foster carers to Greenwich from other Boroughs and private providers due to the high level of support offered. The number of applications rose from 17 in 2014/15 to 26 in 2015/16 which at 9% is higher than the national average of 5%.

 

Royal Greenwich foster carers were allocated a Supervising Social Worker (SSW) and enrolled as members of The Fostering Network. Experienced foster carers were available to offer mentoring and advice. A Foster Carer’s Task Group had been set up by foster carers and was supported by the Fostering Service. There was also the Greenwich Foster Carer’s Association which offered support and took up issues on behalf of foster carers with the Fostering Service. Foster Carers also had access to a 24 hour fostering helpline. The training programme was evaluated and revised on an annual basis and foster carers were encouraged to further their education.

 

The service continued to hold regular monthly recruitment events with support from current foster carers and social workers and had various other planned activity throughout the year for example advertising on buses. The Panel asked that information be provided on which activities provided the best recruitment outcomes.

Action: Group Leader Permanence Service / Permanence Group Leader

 

The Group Leader also said that the Mockingbird Family Model pilot programme, for which the Royal Borough of Greenwich Fostering Service had been selected as one of only two London local authorities, had received positive feedback. That it encouraged a view of ‘one community’ amongst foster carers and the other professionals they liaised with. 

 

The Panel asked for a breakdown of where foster carers for Greenwich children were situated. The Group Leader replied that 59% were in Greenwich, 26% Bexley, 7% Lewisham, 5% West Kent (Dartford) and 3% Bromley.

 

The Panel questioned how many children were fostered in Greenwich from other boroughs, to which the Group Leader responded that two foster carers were looking after children from other boroughs. Royal Borough of Greenwich charged the local authority responsible for the care of these children.

 

The Panel questioned if any of the Borough’s foster carers had any interest in the newly formed Trade Union. To which the Group Leader responded that three had attended the first meeting held at Westminster, and one of them had become a media spokesperson for the Union.

 

Councillor Mardner paid tribute to the leadership of the fostering team and said that he had seen a significant change in the quality of reporting and organisation, and that he was proud to be a member of the Fostering Panel.

 

Councillor Brooks asked how Royal Borough of Greenwich contributed towards the Foster Carers Christmas party, which was by a grant from the Greenwich Foster Carer’s Association, and in his capacity as Chair of GS Plus  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Performance report on services for Looked After Children and care leavers - Quarter 1 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 544 KB

The Panel is asked to scrutinise the performance of services for looked after children and care leavers and the actions being taken to continue to improve outcomes for children.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Director of Children’s Services who firstly asked the Panel to consider the formation of a Corporate Parenting Board to replace the Corporate Parenting Scrutiny Panel. The new Board would have a wider membership and an agreed work programme.

 

The Chair invited the Director to draft a proposal and Terms of Reference.

 

The Panel supported taking this forward but agreed that a scrutiny element would still need to be considered, but this could be undertaken under the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panel.   

 

The Panel then went on to consider the Performance report on services for Looked After Children and Care Leavers Quarter 1 2016-17.

 

It was noted that an unusually high number of 83 children had become looked after in Quarter 1. Of this number 7 families of 13 had sibling groups of 3 to 6 children, and of this group 42 of the children were white UK. The major priority was to reduce this trend and the figures had come down in Q2.

 

In response to questions from the Panel regarding why children from white UK families in care were larger sibling groups, the Director replied that families from non-white UK backgrounds tended to have better extended family networks to help with large groups of siblings. The larger white UK family groups were primarily due to multi-generational parenting with lower educational expectations. Children’s Services were focussing on initiatives to break this cycle and there were some positive signs but there was still a long way to go. Sibling groups were assessed carefully and social workers worked to try and keep them together.

 

Councillor Steve Offord left the meeting at 8.25pm.

 

A question was raised as to whether concerns were raised with local GPs. It was explained that this could only be undertaken if there was a sufficient need.

 

Resolved:

 

That the performance of the Council’s service for looked after children and care leavers and the actions being taken to improve outcomes for children be noted.

8.

In-depth Scrutiny - Prevention and Diverting Children From Care pdf icon PDF 32 KB

The Panel is asked to note and comment on the project plan for an in-depth scrutiny of preventative approaches to bringing children into care as set out at Appendix 1.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

That the project plan for in-depth scrutiny of preventative approaches to bringing children into care be noted.