Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester

Contact: Alyson Grice/Samantha Morris  Overview & Scrutiny Officers

Items
No. Item

368.

Apologies and Welcome

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Mr M J Hart and Mr B Allbut.

369.

Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip

Minutes:

None.

370.

Public Participation

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 9 May 2019).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.

 

Minutes:

None.

371.

Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

(previously circulated)

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 March 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

372.

Commissioning a 0-19 Prevention and Early Intervention Service pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Directors of Public Health, and Children, Families and Communities had been invited to the meeting to brief Members on the latest developments in relation to the 0-19 Prevention and Early Intervention Service.

 

The Director of Public Health welcomed the Panel’s interest and informed Members that this was a time-critical moment in the tendering process, meaning she would be to some extent limited on the information she could share.  She went on to provide the Panel with a presentation, including slides which had been shown to potential bidders.  In the course of the presentation and resulting discussion, the following main points were raised:

 

·       It was confirmed that the service would remain within the Directorate of Public Health and would not transfer to Worcestershire Children First.

·       As part of the tendering process a ‘competitive dialogue’ would be held with potential bidder(s) to clarify the details of required outcomes.  Until this process was complete, the final shape of the service would not be known.  It was confirmed that more than one bid had been received.

·       To set the context, Members were reminded that this was a service for the whole population.

·       It was suggested that the estimate provided in the presentation that 36% of the 0-19 population were vulnerable, seemed high.  In response, it was confirmed that this was a national assumption based on national data.  The Local Authority did not have exact figures for Worcestershire, but there was no reason to believe that it would be more or less.

·       It was confirmed that the reference to <5% of the population requiring statutory help was based on actual figures.

·       Further information on what was meant by ‘vulnerable’ would be helpful, as it could be argued that all teenagers were vulnerable to some extent.

·       In relation to levels of school readiness, although the figures had improved, the picture in Worcestershire was not as good as elsewhere.  (Officers agreed to provide the Panel with school readiness data). The Director of Children, Families and Communities confirmed that there was no link between attending nursery and school readiness.

·       The Early Help Needs Assessment (EHNA) 2018 had shown increasing levels of need.  It was confirmed that this did not necessarily lead to increased funding.  The current service included some duplications and areas of overlap with a number of different service providers.  Also, some practice was not in line with the national evidence base.  It was suggested that outcomes could be improved with the same resources.

·       In relation to school places for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), it was confirmed that there were no children in the county without a place.  However, it was acknowledged that there was an issue with funding for pupils with SEND.  The Local Authority had twice bid for funds for a new special school, but no capital was available.

·       It was confirmed that the available budget was adequate to provide the necessary universal services.

·       In response to a question about community capacity and the role of the voluntary and community  ...  view the full minutes text for item 372.

373.

Children Who Are Educated 'Otherwise' pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Minutes:

The Assistant Director, Education and Skills and the Senior Education Adviser for Vulnerable Children had been invited to the meeting to brief Members on provision for children who were educated ‘otherwise’, with a specific focus on elective home education and alternative provision.

 

By way of introduction, the Assistant Director, Education and Skills made the following main points:

 

·       This was a national issue that had been highlighted as being of concern by both Ofsted and the DfE.

·       The legal basis for the Authority’s work in this area was the 1996 Education Act, which was written at a time when the majority of schools were maintained by the Local Education Authority.  Now the education landscape was fragmented with the majority of Worcestershire’s children attending academies or free schools, which operated under different rules and different tracking systems.  As not all schools were on the same system, there could be a degree of lag with manual input of data sometimes needed.

·       Some words in the section of the Act governing this area were open to interpretation, such as ‘suitable education’ and ‘reasonable’ investigation.

·       In the last 2 years, the focus had been on tracking and monitoring information and educating schools on their role and responsibilities.

·       The rights of the parents had to be balanced against the local authority’s duties and responsibilities to the child.

 

Members were given an opportunity to ask questions and the following main points were raised:

 

Elective Home Education

 

·       In response to a question about the potential conflict between the rights of parents to home educate and the right of a child to a good education, Members were informed that the service had an absolute focus on the children and young people, but also had to comply with legislation.

·       A question was asked about whether home education might be named as provision in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  Concern was expressed that home education would be unlikely to fulfil the needs of a child with profound Special Educational Needs (SEN).  It was confirmed that the rights of all parents were the same if the child attended a mainstream or private school.  The Local Authority had a duty to investigate the suitability of provision to meet the needs of the child as set out in the EHCP.  However, if the child attended a special school, parents would need the consent of the Local Authority to home educate and would need to present a plan of how they would meet the child’s needs.

·       A question was asked about what action would be taken if, at the time of the annual statutory review, it was judged that the provision was not meeting the child’s needs.  It was confirmed that the assessment would consider which specific areas were not being addressed and either parents would be encouraged to put the child back in school or an attendance order would be made.  The Local Authority also had the power to put provision in place, where it may be lacking.

·       In response to a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 373.

374.

Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel was asked to review its work programme for 2018/19.

 

The Chairman suggested that the items on sufficiency work and placements should be brought together under one item.

 

Members were reminded that work was currently underway to refresh the Scrutiny Work Programme for 2019/20.  Any suggestions for topics suitable for future scrutiny should be forwarded to the Scrutiny Team.  Members would be asked to prioritise these suggestions at informal sessions in July.