Agenda and minutes

Education and Children's Services Scrutiny Board (2) - Thursday, 28th January, 2021 11.00 am, MOVED

Venue: This meeting will be held remotely. The meeting can be viewed live by pasting this link into your browser:

Contact: Michelle Rose  Tel: 024 7697 2645 Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interests


There were no disclosable pecuniary interests.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 332 KB

a)  To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd December, 2020

b)  Matters Arising


The minutes of the meeting held on 3rd December, 2020 were agreed as a true record. There were no matters arising.


The Impact of Covid-19 on Schools

Oral Report of the Director of Education and Skills


The Education and Children’s Services Scrutiny Board (2) received a presentation of the Director of Education and Skills that informed Members of the Impact of Covid-19 on Schools.


The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills and the Director of Education and Skills began by thanking all staff, and parents and carers working with young people during this difficult time.  A reassurance was given that parents were not expected to be school teachers but working together with schools to keep young people motivated was beneficial for all. 


The presentation detailed the following:

·  The current position

·  The COVID-19 Journey

·  Partnership principals

·  The positives including, the joined-up approach and Local Authority support

·  The Challenges


Also present was Head Teacher Paul Green, who had been invited to the meeting by the Chair, Councillor Sandhu to support the discussions.  Mr Green emphasised that he had experienced the strength of the Coventry Partnership collaboration and supportive schools’ network which had been valuable through this new experience.  Mr Green was keen to ensure that some positives were maintained in schools in the future, such as increased confidence with using technology, other ‘Covid keeps’ were being investigated.


It was also recognised that Coventry had been commended by the DfE for providing a collective voice.  The business case for vaccinations of staff in special schools to support high risk situations had also been valuable.


Challenges discussed included:

·  Frequent changes to guidance at short notice

·  Gaps in learning

·  The safety of vulnerable pupils

·  Balancing risks to public health and loss of education

·  Staff were managing onsite learning, remote learning, track and trace, lateral flow tests and new examination processes

·  Ofsted assessments

·  Financial impacts

·  Electronic devices and internet access


The Board also thanked staff on behalf of the citizens of Coventry, for their enthusiasm, commitment and hard work and were pleased that despite the web of complexities there had been benefits identified in this very difficult time which could support young people in their futures.


The Board questioned officers, received responses, and discussed the following issues:

·  Contact with vulnerable children and families

·  Home learning on laptops and internet access

·  Covid funding and catch-up support for gaps in learning

·  Tests

·  Signs of safety

·  Parental anxiety about home schooling

·  Mental health support in schools


Officers noted that it was a choice offered to families of vulnerable children to attend school, contact had been made with identified families as directed by national guidance.  Technology and internet access had been a significant challenge and creative thinking had been encouraged including, sharing information with parents about access through devises they may have other than laptops such as games consoles.  Also blended learning i.e. some ‘live’ lessons and some independent directed work set to support families with multiple siblings and one device.  Opportunities for supporting catching up needed to be explored once gaps had been identified.  Signs of safety were not as evident to staff as when schools were open fully and there had been evidence of hidden harm following schools opening back up during the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Children's Services Continuous Improvement Progress and Covid Update pdf icon PDF 244 KB

Briefing Note of the Director of Children’s Services


Further to minute 34/19 the Education and Children’s Services Scrutiny Board (2) received a Briefing note of the Director of Children’s Services that presented the progress with Children’s Services improvement, which had been reported to the Continuous Improvement Executive Group on 9 December 2020.  The briefing note also provided an interim update to the Board on the impact of Covid on vulnerable children and families. The next Continuous Improvement Executive Group would be held on 10 February 2021.


The briefing note indicated that the Ofsted Annual Conversation with regional representatives was undertaken each year, the meeting last year took place in March 2020.  The meeting was part of a broader meeting covering education and early years.  In March 2020, Ofsted paused ILACS inspections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Children’s Services was anticipating a standard Inspection by September 2020.  Ofsted published their interim plans for a phased return to routine inspections which commenced from September 2020. The Interim visits were paused again during the November 2020 lockdown. 


A report proposing arrangements to transfer Children’s Services Continuous Improvement to Coventry Safeguarding Children’s Partnership was approved by the Children’s Services Continuous Improvement Executive Group on 28th October 2020.  The new arrangements would be effective from 1st April 2021, the governance in place would ensure that Children’s Services continuous improvement remained a political priority.  Education and Children’s Scrutiny Board members would continue to receive reports on Children’s Services continuous improvement and progress on a quarterly basis.


On 5 January 2021 a further national lockdown was announced.  Ofsted had confirmed that interim focused visits would be undertaken during the national lockdown period commencing from February 2021, changes would be made to make the process more manageable and proportionate.


The Continuous Improvement Plan was reviewed by Executive Group Board members on 9 December 2020.  The plan had been updated to reflect current progress and had received critical challenge from the Independent Chair on the impact of actions.  The completion of actions in the plan would be signed off by the Continuous Improvement Executive Group on 10th February 2021, before arrangements transferred to the Coventry Safeguarding Children’s Partnership on 1st April 2021.


Children’s Services continued to maintain core service delivery, delivering ongoing protection, support and intervention to vulnerable families across Coventry during the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.  All buildings had remained open, services had continued to operate during the November 2020 national lockdown period, risk assessments were regularly updated to reflect the changes in government guidance and were disseminated to staff.  Virtual visits had continued throughout the service where it was safe to do so.  Children’s Homes had continued to operate within the operating risk assessment.  Broad Park House had remained open offering short breaks both targeted and community breaks.  Staff who could work effectively from home had continued to be based at home.  The service continued to be under pressure with the increased numbers of child in need work, increased numbers of Child Protection work and LAC numbers increasing.  Caseloads were higher than average and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 351 KB

Briefing Note of the Scrutiny Co-ordinator


The Board considered their work programme for the current municipal year.  It was noted that Items had been paused due to the pandemic to allow Directors to manage requirements of their statutory duties having regard for new regulations and not create additional pressures during this challenging time.  There would be a meeting of the Health Scrutiny Board that this Board would be invited to attend on 24th March, 2021.


Any Other Business

Any other items of business which the Chair decides to take as matters of urgency because of the special circumstances involved.


There were no other items of public business.