Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Online only

Contact: Alyson Grice/Samantha Morris  Overview & Scrutiny Officers


No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


The Chairman welcomed everyone and confirmed the arrangements for the Panel’s first remote meeting.


No apologies had been received.


Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip




Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Democratic Governance and Scrutiny Manager (Interim Monitoring Officer) 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 Monday 15 June 2020).  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 Meeting held on 14 February 2020 were agreed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman.



Update on Children's Services in Response to Covid-19 pdf icon PDF 363 KB


The Panel received an update on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on services for Children and Families.


By way of introduction, the Director of Children’s Services/Chief Executive of Worcestershire Children First (WCF) informed the Panel that events since March 2020 and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had been a challenge to the way the Council met the needs of children in Worcestershire.  She wished to place on record her thanks to all staff who had retained their complete focus on the needs of children and families.  Staff had adapted well to new ways of working and morale and availability remained good.


Children’s Social Care and Safeguarding


The Director of Children’s Social Care and Safeguarding highlighted the following points:


·       Although lockdown started on 23 March, awareness of the developing situation had been a factor earlier in the month and it was clear that the service would need to develop different delivery methods.  Once lockdown was announced, staff were asked to hold back on any community visits until a clear protocol was developed for the way forward.  The service remained responsive and reactive and the development of a protocol gave staff confidence that senior managers were taking a grip of the situation and planning for future work.  High importance visits continued during this time.

·       The initial emergency COVID-19 protocol was launched on 1 April and set out key principles to guide the service in how to deliver social care whilst recognising the government’s position in relation to managing the spread of infection in both service users and staff.

·       Although community visits were restricted, staff undertook keeping in touch (KIT) calls through a variety of methods such as by telephone or online.

·       Agreement was reached with the County Council that WCF’s normal Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) would be put on hold as it would not be appropriate to measure performance against normal service delivery.  Forty COVID-19 KPIs were developed and were monitored on a weekly basis.

·       In relation to the Family Front Door, after an initial reduction in the number of contacts, levels soon returned to normal averages.  There was, however, a change in the type and source of referrals, including a reduction in the number of referrals from schools as they were closed to most pupils.  Staff continued to work closely with schools in relation to children who were already known to the service and other children who schools were concerned about.

·       Although contacts relating to domestic abuse had risen, it was noted that this figure had gone up year on year for the past 3 to 4 years as recognition and reporting mechanisms had improved.  Analysis of the police’s coding system suggested that only a small number of these reports were specifically related to the COVID-19 lockdown.  An audit was now being undertaken to assess whether these cases related to new families, families previously known to the system but with no concerns for more than a year or known families.

·       Strategy discussions had continued with good partnership engagement from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 431.


Review of Delivery Model for Medical Education Provision pdf icon PDF 134 KB


The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Education and Skills and the Director of Education and Early Help updated the Panel on the review of the delivery model for medical education provision ahead of the discussion at Cabinet on 25 June 2020.


The Cabinet Member reminded the Panel that in January a full timetable for the review of the service had been agreed at Cabinet.  In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, he could now confirm that the revised delivery model would no longer be ready for implementation in September 2020.  In order to move forward, full consultation with all relevant stakeholders would be necessary and some of this work would need to be done face to face.  A revised timetable for the review would be agreed on 25 June.  He informed Members that he had visited the Lea Street site in Kidderminster and hoped to visit the facilities in Redditch and Worcester soon.


The Director of Education and Early Help added that this was a holding position as COVID-19 had had a significant impact on WCF’s ability to bring partners together and there was, therefore, a need to revise the timetable for the review.  She confirmed that the Medical Education Team (MET) had continued to support pupils during the pandemic.


The Panel accepted the update report and agreed that it would wish to be updated as the revised delivery model was developed and before it returned to Cabinet.



Update on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Improvement Journey pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member (CMR) for Education and Skills, the Director of Education and Early Help and the Assistant Director for SEND and Vulnerable Learners updated the Panel on the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) improvement journey, including performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.


By way of introduction, the CMR wished to record his thanks to all staff, both in WCF and in the health service, for the huge amount of work they had done on service improvement.


The Director of Education and Early Help went on to make the following points:


·       The agenda included a set of slides that had been presented to the SEND Improvement Board.  The Board had continued to meet virtually throughout the pandemic.

·       On 9 March WCF had been notified by Ofsted/CQC of a re-inspection of the SEND local area provision.  Services had begun to prepare for this re-inspection and this had proved to be a good exercise in planning.  However, as the COVID-19 situation developed, the inspection was deferred to a later date.

·       Throughout lockdown it had been business as usual for the SEND team and assessment and planning had continued.

·       Changes in legislation effective from 1 May meant that instead of the duty to secure provision, the service now had to be able to demonstrate reasonable endeavours to secure provision.

·       It had been a significant challenge to improve assessment timescales.  However, in March 2020 100% of Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments had been completed within 20 weeks.  For April the figure had been 96% completed on time.

·       In response to the pandemic and in line with the DfE requirement, all schools were asked to carry out an individual risk assessment for each pupil with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  In Worcestershire this covered over 4000 pupils.

·       Staff had managed very effectively from home despite heavy workloads.

·       The lockdown period had seen an improvement in relationships with schools and other settings and moving forward the service would wish to continue the use of video calls.

·       There had been fortnightly meetings with a DfE adviser and feedback had been very positive, in particular on the strength of preparation and the team’s resilience.  Feedback had suggested that the service was in a strong position.  The DfE was no longer monitoring monthly data, a sign of confidence that this was being done effectively internally.

·       The focus now would be on ensuring that those children with EHCPs who could go back to school were able to do so and supporting those who could not return due to health concerns.


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


·       A Member of the Panel congratulated the service on the positive improvement in the timescales for assessment.  He referred to a discussion at Adult Care and Well-being O&S Panel which had highlighted that adult services had found advantages in the use of video conferencing with some service users.  The Assistant Director for SEND and Vulnerable Learners confirmed that the Service  ...  view the full minutes text for item 433.


Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel reviewed the work programme and no comments were made.


Members agreed to keep the 17 July Panel meeting in the diary and requested a further update on the situation in relation to COVID-19 and in particular plans for opening schools in September and any summer catch up programmes.