Agenda and minutes

Education and Children's Services Scrutiny Board (2) - Thursday, 16th September, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Committee Rooms - Council House

Contact: Michelle Rose  Tel: 024 7697 2645 Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interests


There were no disclosable interests.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 312 KB

a)  To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 24th June, 2021

b)  Matters Arising


The Minutes of the meeting held on 24th June 2021 were agreed as a true record.


Further to Minute 4/21, the most effective way to scrutinise apprenticeships where three scrutiny boards were involved was to be investigated.


RESOLVED that further detail regarding the scrutiny of Apprenticeships be communicated to the Board.


Children's Services Ofsted Visit Outcome and Action Plan Progress pdf icon PDF 300 KB

Briefing Note of the Director of Children’s Services and the Children’s Services Improvement Plan

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Board considered a report of the Director of Children’s Services which detailed the outcome of the Children’s Services Ofsted focused assurance visit, held on 12th and 13th May 2021 and progress against the Action plan.


Ofsted re-inspected Children’s Services in March 2017, the outcome of the inspection was published on 13th June 2017, Children’s Services were judged as “requires improvement to be good”.  The Ofsted framework (ILACS) included focused visits to local authorities who were judged to be ‘requires improvement’.  Children’s Services had received two visits.  The first visit was held on 30th and 31st January 2018.  The visit focused on the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).  The letter confirming the outcome of the visit was published on 22nd February 2018. A further focused visit was held on 26th and 27th February 2019. The visit focused on permanency planning and achieving permanency. The letter confirming the outcome of the visit was published on 21st March 2019.


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 to reflect the COVID-19 context for a phased return to routine inspections which commenced from September 2020. The Interim visits were paused again during the November 2020 lockdown.   On 5 January 2021 a further national lockdown was announced.  Ofsted confirmed that interim assurance focused visits would be undertaken during the national lockdown period commencing from February 2021.


The interim focused visit, (COVID-19 assurance) was undertaken on 12th and 13th May 2021.  Interim focused visits differ from the usual focused visits in that they had a broader scope with a particular focus on the quality of decision making for children.  The methodology for the visit was in line with the inspection of local authority children’s services (ILACS) and was adapted to reflect the COVID-19 context.  The visit was carried out largely on site, although remotely for the School HMI.


The scope of the visit included:


Help and protection scope

  The effectiveness of the front door, with specific reference to any rise in and response to referrals, section 47 enquires and strategy discussions

  The progress of children subject to child protection and child in need plans (those who have experienced abuse, neglect or exploitation)

  The progress of those recently stepped up or stepped down to early help and the exercise of thresholds

  Edge of care/pre-proceedings, particularly those subject to letter before proceedings


Children in care and care leavers scope

  The focus on physical/mental health of children in care and care leavers, including how the local authority has maintained contact with the child/care leaver and how they’re facilitated contact with families

  Placement decisions, including the quality of matching, particularly when sufficiency is a challenge


Impact of Leaders scope

  The quality assurance of practice and ‘line of sight’ to the quality and impact of practice with children and families

  Management and workforce capacity, including responses to staff well-being

  The effectiveness  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 274 KB

Briefing Note of the Scrutiny Co-ordinator


The Scrutiny Board considered and noted their Work Programme for the 2020/21


Any Other Business

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


Support to families self-isolating due to Covid


Officers responded to Members concerns about the communication of support available to families who were required to self-isolate due to Covid.  Officers discussed the link to the Council website that was sent to parents requested to isolate and the information regarding support available on the webpage was displayed for Members and discussed.  If the family were in receipt of Free School Meals they would receive a voucher or food parcel from the school.  It was recognised that schools were aware of potentially vulnerable families and often offered support for those in need even if they did not meet guidelines required for funding.


The Board asked questions regarding:

·  The value of vouchers

·  The impact of the revised government regulations regarding isolation

·  The speed of support

·  Support for children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

·  Contact by the Council following Test and Test requests to isolate


Councillor Abbott highlighted the Council offered support to families via the network of food hubs in the city.


Officers to provide the following information:


  Whether parents have still applied for support they are now not eligible for following the changes to the government isolation requirements

  What are the timescales for test and trace payments?

  Whether children with an EHCP are still eligible for test and trace support if they are required to isolate due to shielding

  How and when Public Health contact people as part of the Track and Trace process.


On behalf of the Board Councillor Innes thanked Councillor Abbott and all those involved with supporting families in need at food hubs in the City.