Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester

Contact: Alyson Grice/Samantha Morris  Overview & Scrutiny Officers

No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


Apologies were received from Dr C Driscoll, Mr M J Hart, Mr A C Roberts and Ms T Russell.


Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip




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





Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

(previously circulated)



The Minutes of the Meetings held on 11 September 2019 and 25 September 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Progress Update on the Joint Local Area Special Educational Needs And Disability (SEND) Written Statement of Action/Improvement Plan pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Additional documents:


The Director of Education and Early Help, Worcestershire Children First (WCF) had been invited to the meeting to update the Panel on the Joint Local Area Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Written Statement of Action/Improvement Plan.


By way of introduction, the following main points were made:


·       The joint Ofsted/CQC local area inspection had taken place in March 2018 to assess the effectiveness of the implementation of the 2014 Children and Families Act in relation to SEND.

·       The Written Statement of Action (WSoA) represented a whole system response involving schools and educational providers, health, and children’s social care.

·       Nationally, more than half of areas had now been inspected and, of these, half had been required to produce a WSoA.

·       Worcestershire’s WSoA had been signed off in August 2018 and had been monitored since by the DfE and NHS England.  To date, there had been 5 monitoring visits, the most recent being in October 2019.

·       The DfE and NHS England recognised that good progress was being made but there was still work to do.  Following the inspection, a particular concern had related to the capacity of management to cope with the changes needed.  At the latest monitoring visit, the DfE adviser had been confident that management capacity had improved with recruitment to a number of posts recently completed including the Assistant Director for SEND.

·       An Ofsted/CQC re-visit (effectively a re-inspection) was expected before the end of the academic year.  This would be a ‘no notice’ inspection involving a team of inspectors assessing progress against key concerns.  If further work was required, the WSoA would be adjusted and further monitoring visits would follow.


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


·       A letter had been received from the DfE in August 2018 to confirm that the WSoA was fit for purpose.

·       Following the monitoring visits, although feedback was given, no formal written report was provided.  The Director had been given the DfE Adviser’s draft notes giving professional observations.  This was very different to Ofsted monitoring visits which were more formal.

·       In response to a question about the parent/carer survey referred to in the agenda report, Members were informed that this had been carried out by Families in Partnership, Worcestershire’s official parent/carer forum, which had been established as a robust way of getting the voice of parents and carers.  The July survey was a prototype which had been shared with approximately 150 families, of which around 50% had responded.  There had been a range of feedback, including some negative comments relating to the Umbrella Pathway.  Members requested that the feedback from this prototype survey be shared with the Panel and the Director of Education and Early Help agreed to follow this up with Families in Partnership.

·       Members were informed that the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) had received an additional £50k in funding from the DfE but there had been strict criteria as to how the money could be spent.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 408.


Good Education Places for all Worcestershire Children' - School Organisation Plan 2019-24 pdf icon PDF 88 KB


The Director of Education and Early Help and the Group Manager Sufficiency and Place Planning had been invited to update the Panel on the School Organisation Plan after its first year of operation and prior to the Plan returning to Cabinet in December.


By way of introduction, Members were reminded that the Local Authority and Worcestershire Children First had a duty in relation to assessment and provision of education from funded 2-year-olds to post-16.  The Plan had first been produced last year and only recently had included Early Years, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and Post-16.


In the course of the discussion, the following main points were raised:


·       Although it was acknowledged that special schools did not technically have waiting lists, some children with EHCPs had not been allocated a school place.  Further clarification was requested on the shortfall in special school provision.  Members were reminded that SEND was a new area of work for the Sufficiency and Place Planning team and the team was currently trying to get accurate figures.  It was estimated that there would be a shortfall of between 60 and 100 places over the next 5 years.  It was acknowledged that not having a suitable school place was difficult for any family, but this was more stressful for parents of children with SEND.

·       The Panel asked for further details on the projected shortfall of special school places and how the shortfall would be met.

  • With reference to places for 2-year-olds, the Scrutiny Panel asked for further information on where in the County these were available.

·       It was confirmed that sufficiency in relation to Pupil Referral Units was not within the remit of the Sufficiency and Place Planning team.  Members were reminded that the Assistant Director, SEND and Vulnerable Learners would be undertaking further work on alternative provision which would give a clearer idea of needs.

·       Demand for alternative education and SEND provision was more challenging to assess as there was no simple equation of each child needing an educational place.  Sufficiency in these areas was not linear and was also dependent on mainstream schools’ attitudes to inclusion.  It was further suggested that parental attitudes also played a part as sometimes parents would request a place at a special school when a child’s need could be dealt with in a mainstream setting.

·       Concern was expressed about the number of children with EHCPs who were attending PRUs.  It was suggested that this should not happen on a long-term basis and may be because there were insufficient special school places available.

·       It was agreed that the Assistant Director, SEND and Vulnerable Learners would be invited to a future Panel meeting to discuss the review of alternative provision.

·       Members were informed that for the primary phase forecasts were 99.7% accurate and for the secondary phase, 99.4% accurate.  Known children data was available from the NHS and used to model going forward, together with transfer rates.

·       Members were reminded that there were 12 Mainstream Autism Bases across the County and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 409.


Performance and In-year Budget Monitoring pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel was updated on performance and financial information for services relating to children and families.


In the course of the discussion, the following main points were made:




·       Members were informed that under the new Ofsted framework, only exceptional schools would be judged as ‘outstanding’.

·       In relation to the % of good or outstanding schools, a Member asked why the County had remained below the national average for the last 12 months.  Members were reminded that the School Improvement Team in Babcock Prime assessed and supported schools at an appropriate level.  All maintained schools would receive 2 visits per year from a School Improvement Adviser.  In addition, termly headteacher briefings were held and approximately 75% of schools attended.  By maintaining contact with schools, officers were able to spot the early signs when things were not working.  Schools were assessed as being in one of five categories ranging from light touch through to intensive support.

·       Members were reminded that the data was inclusive of all schools, including academies.  School improvement was therefore more of a challenge as the Local Authority had no remit with academies.  However, the Service had good relationships with academy schools and many attended headteacher cluster groups and district briefings.  Although in terms of numbers of schools, the split in the County was approximately 50/50 between maintained and academies, in terms of pupil numbers, more children were educated in academies.

·       Members were informed about the DfE Improvement Programme.  Schools requiring support were identified by the DfE and the full list was shared with the Local Authority.  If the DfE and the Local Authority were both working with a school, it was important that the support was as joined up as possible.

·       It was confirmed that, if a school was judged by Ofsted to be inadequate, it would automatically move to academy conversion, with the slate wiped clean and no Ofsted judgement attached.  However, the judgement of inadequate would remain in performance data.

·       Concern was expressed about potential delay in getting academy trusts to take over an inadequate school.  It was confirmed that this might be a more complicated process in the case of Voluntary Controlled schools.

  • The Panel requested further data in relation to the improvement rate of schools rated as ‘requires improvement (RI)’ and ‘inadequate’, the length of time spent in the ‘RI’ and ‘inadequate’ category, and the time taken for an ‘inadequate school’ to convert to an academy.
  • With reference to school attendance, the Director of Education and Early Help agreed to check whether the carry over of July data to August had an impact on annual data.
  • Concern was expressed about the high level of outstanding enquiries in relation to children missing education.  It was confirmed that these were looked at on a weekly basis.  It was suggested that it could be argued that a high number of enquiries was positive in that it showed that vulnerable children were being identified.
  • The high level of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 410.


Worcestershire Children First pdf icon PDF 200 KB

Additional documents:


The Director of Resources (Worcestershire Children First) and the Assistant Director of ADM Programme and Communities had been invited to the meeting to update the Panel on developments relating to Worcestershire Children First.


By way of introduction, the following main points were made:


·       Agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for WCF had been included in the agenda papers.  It was confirmed that further indicators would be added as education services were transferred from Babcock Prime to WCF.  The Board of WCF had not yet met formally to consider performance monitoring.

·       Members were reminded that the Council remained accountable for performance.  As well as owning the Company as sole shareholder, the Council was the commissioner of services.  Accountability was a two-way process.

·       Contract monitoring meetings were held on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.  As the service remained in intervention following the Ofsted inspection, the Department for Education was also involved in performance meetings.

·       The KPIs had been developed in collaboration with the service.  The main aim was to provide ‘canaries’ to highlight any issues.  The full suite of indicators had not been included in the agenda, but this was monitored on a daily basis.

·       Tolerances had been developed for each KPI and it was confirmed that these would trigger any performance rectification process.  If performance continued as now, the rectification process would not be needed.


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


·       KPI-EH1 Proportion of the ‘Troubled Families’ programme target that has been successfully claimed appeared to be performing below tolerance.  It was confirmed that this would be highlighted at formal meetings and potentially there would be a request for a rectification plan.  If poor performance continued, the Council could move to a formal rectification notice but it was hoped that this would never need to happen.

·       The baseline for KPI-ED7 Proportion of new EHCPs issued within 20 weeks appeared to be low at 14.2%.  Members were informed that this was based on 2017/18 performance which had been very low.  It was confirmed that baselines would change as performance changed and these would be reviewed in April based on this year’s performance.


In conclusion, the Chairman of the Panel welcomed the fact that relationships continued to work well, as they had done when the service was in-house, and she looked forward to a successful working relationship in the future.  The Director of Resources confirmed that he was happy to provide the Panel with regular updates on the work of WCF.



Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel reviewed its work programme for 2019/20 and the following points were noted:


·       The New Model of Delivery for Medical Education Provision had been included on the Cabinet Forward Plan for the December meeting of Cabinet.

·       A proposal for a scrutiny task group on Elective Home Education would be considered by OSPB in November.

·       Feedback on the Joint Targeted Area Inspection would be presented to the Panel when available.

·       A Member suggested that the impact of child poverty in the County should be considered at a future meeting and noted that the issue was currently the subject of an investigation by Worcester City Council.