Agenda and draft minutes

Contact: Philippa Gibbs  020 8461 7638

Items
No. Item

14.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Joan McConnell and David Hullah.

15.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no additional declarations of interest.

16.

MINUTES OF THE EDUCATION, CHILDREN & FAMILIES PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 8 SEPTEMBER 2020 pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 8th September 2020,  were agreed and signed as a correct record.

17.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions that are not specific to reports on the agenda must have been received in writing 10 working days before the date of the meeting. 

 

Questions specifically on reports on the agenda should be received within two working days of the normal publication date of the agenda.  Please ensure that questions specifically on reports on the agenda are received by the Democratic Services Team by Wednesday 4th November 2020.

 

Minutes:

A number of questions had been received and these are attached at Annex A.

18.

MATTERS OUTSTANDING AND WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 567 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD20117

 

The report set out the Committee’s work programme for 2020/21.

 

The Chairman invited Councillor Neil Reddin to provide an overview from the recent  meeting of the Budget Task and Finish Group.

 

Councillor Reddin advised Members that, following the budget discussions held earlier in the year, the Group had met to consider elements such as demand, costs and funding.

 

In relation to placements and safeguarding, it was noted that around 47% of cases received by the Local Authority were deemed to require “no further action”, which officers advised was the expected level. There would always be a need to balance budgetary discipline with the best interests of the children. Referrals were received via several different channels, but this was becoming more manageable than it had been in previous years. With regards to the cost of placements, foster care had always been an issue, however the establishment of the West London Alliance had been of benefit and was working well.

 

Permanent staffing in the department had increased to 86%. This was extremely positive given that it had previously been at only 42%, and it was highlighted that agency costs could be up to £20k more than the cost of a permanent member of staff. The Local Authority’s caseload promise was a key non-financial factor in respect of both the recruitment and retention of permanent staff. However, the Borough had a flat management structure, which although easier to work under, may not allow as many opportunities for career progression.

 

Other areas considered had been external funding and the possible role of a contingency fund. A contingency fund was currently been used within the Housing Department, and they would look at how this idea could be progressed. It was noted that the Troubled Families Initiatives was also working very well. It had been suggested that work be undertaken in relation to benchmarking and using the results to inform future decision making.

 

Councillor Yvonne Bear advised Members that although permanent staffing had increased to 86%, the recruitment drive would continue. It was noted that the benchmarking exercise would allow the Local Authority to crudely see how its costs compared with other boroughs and identify other possible areas for service transformation.

 

The Task and Finish Group would meet again in January 2021, the date for which was still to be confirmed.

 

The Committee also noted the need to set a further date for the Youth Engagement Task and Finish Group.

 

The Chairman confirmed that going forward the Committee would receive interim reports for key areas such as Adoption and Fostering, Private Fostering Arrangements, and the Virtual School.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

19.

PORTFOLIO HOLDER UPDATE

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Families, Cllr Peter Fortune, attended the meeting to respond to questions from the Committee.  The Portfolio Holder gave a brief introduction highlighting the following:-

 

  • Children across the Borough had returned to schools and the Council had worked closely with schools to ensure that the return had been smooth.  The Committee were reassured that there was a constant flow of information between schools and the Local Authority.  The Portfolio Holder expressed his thanks to schools for all the work they had done and were continuing to do to do to ensure that schools could remain open and provide children with the best possible education.
  • In Bromley, supporting and safeguarding the most vulnerable children was a top priority. Ensuring that vulnerable families received appropriate care and support, both directly from Council services and from our partner agencies during term time and school holidays.  The Department was proud of its approach to supporting vulnerable families and providing early help, which had been recognised by Ofsted as a ‘significant strength’.
  • Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Bromley Council had prioritised disadvantaged and vulnerable families. From the start of lockdown, almost overnight, a shielding and assistance programme was established to ensure that isolated and vulnerable families had access to support and essentials, including food and medicines.
  • Those families known to the Local Authority, continued to be supported via support services and activities including through use of grant funding together with specific Government funding. This support continued throughout the year including holiday periods.
  • For any family that is experiencing hardship the LA would use its statutory power under Section 17 of the Children Act to provide financial assistance in terms of goods and services to safeguard and promote a child’s welfare, and to prevent children entering the care of the Local Authority. Support was provided as appropriate to each child’s needs in relation to essentials which although not exclusive to food could include it.
  • Food had also been provided to care leavers as well as funded activities to reduce their isolation whilst being Covid-19 safe.  Support had also been provided to foster carers and special guardians to support children in their care with their mental health and wellbeing - to prevent foster placements and special guardianship placements from breaking down during the current pandemic.
  • There had been an increase in demand for the in-house therapy service (THRIVE) which had provided extra practical equipment to support the sessions undertaken with children and their carers.
  • For many families who had children with complex behavioural needs including complex disabilities, activities and short breaks together with food had been provided. These families had not been able to access the usual respite care provided by Bromley Healthcare due to Covid-19 and the redeployment of health staff and it was clear that the DEFRA funding had made a substantial difference.
  • Grant funds had benefitted many families where parents had found themselves unemployed or furloughed. For many families this had made the difference to their resilience, supporting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

CHILDREN, EDUCATION AND FAMILIES PORTFOLIO PLAN 2018 TO 2022 UPDATE - QUARTER 2 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 226 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CEF20027

 

The report presented the Quarter 2 updates of the Children, Education and Families Portfolio Plan 2018-22. 

 

In response to a question concerning the action being taken to address the gap in attainment resulting from the closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Director of Education noted that this was an area of concern nationally.  Locally, there was a need to ensure that children had not fallen further behind and where there were gaps in attainment the focus of schools was on closing the gap and continuing the good work that had already been taking place before the period of school closure. 

 

The Committee noted that schools in Bromley were doing an excellent job in addressing the gap in attainment.  However, it was clear that a one-off intervention was not going to be sufficient and that ongoing intensive work would be required.  The Director of Education formally recorded his thanks to Bromley Schools for the excellent work they were doing to already address the gap in attainment and whilst there was still lots more to be done solid progress was already being made.

 

The Portfolio Holder highlighted that there was a keen awareness of those children who were not reaching their full potential in terms of attainment and efforts to protect children in their education was ongoing. 

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

21.

PRE DECISION SCRUTINY OF DECISIONS FOR THE CHILDREN, EDUCATION & FAMILIES PORTFOLIO HOLDER

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports where the Children, Education and Families Portfolio Holder was recommended to take a decision:

 

 

21a

BUDGET MONITORING 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 319 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CEF20034

 

The report provided the budget monitoring position for 2020/21 based on activity up to the end of September 2020.

 

RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to:

 

1.  Note that the latest projected overspend of £1,792,000 is forecast on the controllable budget, based on information as at September 2020;

 

2.  Agree to the release of the carry forward funding as set out in section 5 of the report.


 

22.

PRE DECISION SCRUTINY OF REPORTS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE LEADER

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following report where the was recommended to take a decision:

22a

CONTRACT AWARD: BROMLEY COMMUNITY WELLBEING (CAMHS) pdf icon PDF 553 KB

Minutes:

Report CEF20030A

 

The mental health and emotional wellbeing of children was as important as their physical health. Good mental health allowed children and young people (CYP) to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life threw at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults. This statutory service had been procured to ensure that Bromley’s children and young people were supported with a service that promoted, supported and protected positive mental health and wellbeing. 

 

The current service was delivered by Bromley Y who had held the contract for the service since 2014.  The existing contract had reached its maximum number of extensions, with the final extension ending in March 2021, necessitating the procurement of the new service. On 10th July 2019 2019, Executive had given approval to proceed to procurement of the community mental health and wellbeing service, to enable continuity of provision via a new contract with revised specification from 1 April 2021 as detailed in Gateway Report ECH19067.

 

In accordance with the Council’s financial and contractual requirements, the report set out the results of the tendering process and sought the Leader’s approval to award the contract. The report should be read in conjunction with the accompanying Part 2 Report.

 

In response to a question concerning what could be done to make the referral process more effective, the Interim CAHMS Commissioner explained that the key starting point was establishing a uniform and universally valid message shared through the professional system (including education, primary care and the voluntary sector) setting out the pathways for accessing services.  The new service model included a universally available single point of access which would assess referrals into the system (regardless of how they were made) and develop an indicative management plan.  Irrespective of how the referral was managed there would be a support package available to service users upon referral which would provide information and links to other resources available, with the aim of supporting service users in managing and maintaining their own mental health and wellbeing It was envisaged that the new model would lead to a higher take up of services across all communities across the Borough.

 

 

RESOLVED: That the Leader be recommended to Award the Contract for the provision of the Bromley CYP Mental Health and Wellbeing Service as detailed in the accompanying Part 2 Report.  The proposed contract will commence on 1st April 2021 for a five-year period with the option to exercise the two possible extension periods

not exceeding 4 years (2 years + 2 years).

 

 

 

23.

BROMLEY SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN PARTNERSHIP ANNUAL REPORT 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 289 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CEF20031

 

The annual report of the Bromley Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (BSCP) covered the period from April 2019 to March 2020. It was a statutory requirement for safeguarding partnerships to publish this report under Working Together 2018. In line with statutory guidance and best practice, the report would be submitted to the Chief Executive, Leader of the Council, the local police and crime commissioner and the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel and the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.

 

The Independent Chairman of the Bromley Safeguarding Partnership introduced the report explaining that it had been a year of transition for the Partnership.  The Committee noted that the Safeguarding Partnership’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic had been a positive, although it has been a difficult period..  The challenges posed by the pandemic had forced partners to use technology in a way that was unimaginable only a year ago.  The report in the agenda pack outlined the work and reviews undertaken by the Partnership during the year.  As the Partnership neared the end of the reporting year it had recognised that it was going into a crisis scenario in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic and had taken action to test contingencies, meeting with key partners from statutory and non-statutory sectors and focusing on an agenda around the health and wellbeing of the work force and trends around issues emerging from the lack of line of sight created by the pandemic.

 

The Committee noted that one of the key achievements was the ability of the Partnership to create a ‘lessons learnt’ paper in the early weeks of the first lockdown which provided an overview of the early and emerging themes.  It was recognised that it may have been helpful to have shared this paper more broadly, including with PDS.  These lessons learnt had also been used to develop a minimum standards survey  around planning by partners for a potential second wave.

 

The Partnership was now giving consideration to a more collaborative approach to scrutiny of safeguarding arrangements and was looking to chair a bi-annual Scrutiny Board.

 

The Chairman of the Safeguarding Partnership, in response to a question, noted that within some partner organisations there had been a tremendous turnover of staff which had contributed to uncertainly within the Partnership.  Levels of attendance at meetings were now improving, and this was something that was closely monitored and challenged.

 

Members of the Committee were reminded of the risks that came with the exponential increase in the use of technology and social media arising from the impact of the pandemic.  Almost everyone now had a greater online presence and with this came threats to those more vulnerable members of society which should not be ignored.  Members of the Committee were encouraged to download the Safer Schools App that had been developed by the Partnership as this provided helpful advice and guidance regarding online safety.

 

In terms of whether more could be done by elected representatives, the Chairman  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

UPDATE ON THE STRATEGIC REVIEW OF ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL PROVISION pdf icon PDF 533 KB

Minutes:

Report CEF20019

 

The report provided an update on the actions taken to respond to the findings and recommendations from the Strategic Review of Alternative Provision (November 2019). 

 

The Director of Education introduced the report explaining that the review of alternative provision had been undertaken in order to identify what more could be done to support those children that may require alternative provision within the finite funding envelope that was available.  Members noted that Bromley schools had been fully engaged throughout the process of the review, recognising it as an area of key priority.  The Director of Education highlighted the importance of earlier intervention and outreach support, ensuring that support was provided to children where there was potential placement breakdown which would lead to a risk of school exclusion.  Members also noted the importance of the principle of the money following the child.  Ensuring the availability of resources to support a child where there was a possibility that they may need an onward journey and a fresh start at a new school.  Finally, the Committee recognised the importance of reintegration, ensuring the availability of effective intervention for children who did require alternative provision so they could be reintroduced, with appropriate support, to mainstream education if appropriate.

 

In response to a question the Director of Education confirmed that the review was one way the Local Authority was seeking to respond to the high number of secondary permanent exclusions within the Borough however the review aimed to go much further than that.  There was a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) around primary and secondary exclusions and the Director of Education confirmed that the expectation was that there would be a reduction in the levels of exclusions across the Borough as a result of the interventions arising from the review.  Performance data was reported to the Committee on a quarterly basis and as a result of the commitment demonstrated by secondary school leaders the Director was confident that there would be a reduction in rates of permanent exclusions from secondary schools.

 

Members noted that the interventions planned for addressing secondary exclusions would build upon the successful work that had been implemented in response to previously unacceptably high levels of primary exclusions including outreach support which could take a number of forms.  The Committee noted that a Secondary Outreach Programme had already been commissioned.

 

RESOLVED: that the report be noted.

 

25.

PERFORMANCE REPORTING - CHILDREN'S SCRUTINY DATASET pdf icon PDF 294 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CEF20026A

 

The report presented the regular update on the performance of services for children. 

 

Members expressed concerns around the ongoing pressures around social worker caseloads and it was agreed that following the meeting the Committee would be received a comprehensive update setting out the many initiatives being implemented to address caseloads, details of the current rates of social worker retention, and where available comparative data for other London Boroughs to set the London context.

 

The Chairman noted that social worker caseloads represented a challenge for a number of local authorities and within the context of London, Bromley’s had a high rate of permanent staff (with a number of services within Children’s Social Care that had 100% permanent staff) and comparatively low caseloads.

 

In relation to the indicator of the timeliness of Education, Care and Health Plans (ECHPs), the Committee noted that the performance indicator had moved from red to amber.  During the Covid-19 pandemic the Council had legal powers to use exceptions to the Children and Families Act and these had been used very sparingly and only where appropriate (for example when it had not be possible to receive the professional advice from partners in time to complete the assessment).  Performance on the indicator had improve despite the challenges presented in recent months.  Further investment had been made and there was now a specific team in place to undertake new assessments and two teams undertook annual reviews for those children that had an ECHP.  The Director of Education highlighted the exponential increase in the level of need experienced in terms of ECHPs.  The requests for assessments were themselves increasing at an increasing rate with a roughly 14% year-on-year increase in the numbers of ECHPs leading to significant pressures.  For some time the DfE SEND Review had been expected and was currently delayed due to Covid-19, however it was hoped that there would be some system changes that would seek to address the challenges faced by every local authority.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted and that an update around social worker caseloads and staff retention be provided to the Committee following the meeting.

 

26.

EXPENDITURE ON CONSULTANTS 2019/20 AND 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD20110

At its meeting on 8th October 2020, the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee considered a report on expenditure on consultants across all Council departments for both revenue and capital budgets. The Committee requested that the report be considered by all PDS Committees.

 

  RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

27.

EDUCATION INFORMATION ITEMS

The items comprise:

 

  • Children’s Services Risk Register
  • Children, Education and Families Contracts Register and Contracts Database
  • PART 2 Children, Education and Camilies Contracts Register and Contracts Database

 

Members and Co-opted Members have been provided with advance copies of the briefing via e-mail.  The briefing is also available on the Council's Website at the following link: http://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=559&Year=0

 

Minutes:

The Children, Education & Families PDS Information Briefing comprised one item:

 

  • Children’s Services Risk Register
  • Children, Education and Families Contracts Register and Contracts Database
  • PART 2 Children, Education and Families Contracts Register and Contracts Database

 

RESOLVED: that the Information Briefing be noted.

 

28.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) ORDER 2006, AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it was likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

 

The following summaries

refer to matters involving exempt information

29.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE CHILDREN, EDUCATION & FAMILIES PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 8 SEPTEMBER 2020

Minutes:

The exempt minutes of the Children, Education and Families PDS Committee meeting held on 8 September 2020, were agreed and signed as a correct record.

30.

PRE DECISION SCRUTINY OF PART 2 (EXEMPT) EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following Part 2 (exempt) report where the was recommended to take a decision:

 

30a

PART 2 CONTRACT AWARD: BROMLEY COMMUNITY WELLBEING (CAMHS)

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Part 2 information contained within the report.

31.

UPDATE ON THE STRATEGIC REVIEW OF ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL PROVISION PART 2 APPENDIX

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Part 2 information contained within the report.

32.

PART 2 EDUCATION INFORMATION ITEMS

The item comprises:

 

  • PART 2 Children, Education and Camilies Contracts Register and Contracts Database

 

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Part 2 reports within the information briefing.

33.

PART 2 PERFORMANCE REPORTING - CHILDREN'S SCRUTINY DATASET

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Part 2 information contained within the report.

Annex A pdf icon PDF 502 KB

 

Original Text: