Venue: County Hall, Worcester
Contact: Alyson Grice/Samantha Morris Overview & Scrutiny Officers
Apologies and Welcome
No apologies were received.
Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip
Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 15 May 2018). Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.
Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 March 2018 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Children and Families and the Assistant Director, Safeguarding Services (Children's Social Care) were invited to the meeting to provide an update on the outcome of Ofsted's fourth monitoring visit which took place on 18 and 19 April and focused on the progress of children in care, in particular placement stability and achieving permanence for young people aged over 16. Additionally, Ofsted reviewed the quality of practice in the Care Leaver's Service.
The Panel received a presentation from the Assistant Director Safeguarding Services (Children's Social Care). The feedback from the Ofsted Inspection highlighted the following progress:
· The quality of support offered to children in care and care leavers had improved.
· Corporate Parenting arrangements were now seen to be a strength and in fact had been recommended as good practice to other Local Authorities. Leaders had improved how they listened to children and relevant issues were now discussed at Corporate Parenting Board resulting in a positive impact e.g. Council Tax exemption.
· A continued commitment to ensuring appropriate financial resources were available for Children's Services was enabling progress to be made.
· Managers increasingly understood their services and this knowledge was starting to result in improvements in practice.
· Children and young people were being listened to and staff knew their children well, which had been a major cultural change.
· Staff welcomed the creation of the new Through Care Service and reported feeling secure and supported through change and were increasing in confidence.
· Improved performance information was beginning to support learning and a culture of improvement.
· Management oversight was evident in most cases.
· Outreach was valued by young people and offered good quality intensive support to young people with complex needs.
· Evidence of effective partnership working with housing and positive transitions for young people who needed adult social care.
· The Virtual School Team had been more effective in supporting looked after children (LAC) in education and supporting social workers. Personal Education Plans were being used to provide extra support for young people eg extra tuition.
The areas for further progress and development were:
· Plans for children were not consistently good quality, lacking analysis, child focus and were not SMART.
· Transition planning for those leaving care started too late.
· A small number of children and young people continued to experience changes of worker.
· Management oversight was not sufficiently robust.
· Plans and reviews were not sufficiently detailed and good practice was not sufficiently referenced in documents.
· Dual pathway plans resulted in some duplication.
· Audits were too focussed on compliance and required greater moderation and reflection of the views of children and parents/carers.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and the following main points raised were:
· the Ofsted feedback letter referred to a small number of children and young people who were continuing to experience changes to social worker, in response to the question about how many 'small' was, in terms of actual numbers of children, the Panel was directed to slide 15 which showed the following detail:
The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Education and Skills and the Interim Assistant Director - Education and Skills were invited to the Meeting to discuss the Special Education Needs/Disabilities (SEND) Strategy, the Local Government Association (LGA) Peer Review and the feedback from the Joint Local Area SEND Inspection carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The Panel was advised that the feedback from the Joint Inspection had been made public that morning and copies of the feedback letter were circulated during the meeting.
The Panel received a presentation from the Interim Assistant Director - Education and Skills. He explained that the recent Inspection carried out by Ofsted and CQC covered the local area and looked at the provision in schools, health and council services. The Inspectors looked at how the local offer worked, the joint commissioning arrangements with the health service and the graduated response and assessment process.
Unfortunately, the Inspectors found that the 2014 SEND Reforms and Code of Practice had not been implemented properly, this was disappointing for everyone concerned but there was a strong commitment to improve the Service. An Action Plan was being developed, focusing on the main areas of the local offer, joint commissioning arrangements and the graduated response. This, it was hoped would re-build the trust with parents and carers as the service improved.
The main findings from the Inspection were:
· the Leaders recognised that the local area had suffered from a lack of strategic direction in the past and the Director of Children’s Services acknowledged that there was still much work to be done
· the Commissioner’s strategic oversight of delivery was weak and required greater priority on the quality of services
· the local area had recently developed its SEND Strategy, but it was at an early stage of implementation
· the Strategy contained many of the requisite actions that underpinned a comprehensive and well-evidenced Strategy
· relationships with parent and carers were fragile
· the local offer was not fit for purpose
· Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans were not meeting timescales or of the quality required
· there was a strong commitment and drive from some professionals on the ground in education, health and social care to improve the quality of the local area provision
· Inspectors identified potential safeguarding concerns relating to the use of part-time timetables, children and young people being removed from school roll, and tracking vulnerable children
· Leaders recognised the benefits of strengthening accountability for improved outcomes and better use of resources across education, health and social care
· The determination of Leaders to ensure that the overall picture for children and young people who had SEN and/or disabilities improved was beginning to be recognised by professionals across the area
· Recent changes of Leadership were described as a ‘breath of fresh air'.
During the discussion the following main points were made:
· the Action Plan agreed by all partners needed to be signed and submitted to Ofsted/CQC within 70 days
· one of the main findings of the feedback was that there was ... view the full minutes text for item 325.