Agenda and minutes

Education and Children's Services Scrutiny Board (2) - Thursday, 20th April, 2023 3.00 pm

Venue: Diamond Rooms 1 and 2 - Council House. View directions

Contact: Usha Patel  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interests


There were no disclosable pecuniary interests.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 377 KB

a)  To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 16th March 2023

b)  Matters Arising


The minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2023 were agreed and signed as a true record.


A response had not yet been received from the Secretary of State. This would be followed up.


Community Managed Libraries in Coventry pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Briefing note of the Head of Service, Libraries and Migration


The Board considered a Briefing Note of the Head of Service, Libraries and Migration.


The City Council introduced the Connecting Communities programme in 2015/16 and this included a range of changes to Library Services along with changes to various other Council services based in localities. One of the key aspects of the libraries’ elements of the Connecting Communities programme was the clear intention of the Council to try wherever possible to avoid libraries closing permanently to local communities. The creation of three community managed libraries was a key part of the successful delivery of this intention.


As the Council worked on the implementation of the Connecting Communities programme officers reviewed the pattern of approaches taken by other local authorities who had also attempted similar exercises in protecting much valued community assets whilst reducing budgets in response to wider financial challenges. It became clear to both officers and various interested parties, that the key issue in successfully delivering community managed libraries was the strength of the organisations and the maintenance of some support to these organisations post library transfer.


During the course of 2018/19 the Council successfully managed the transfer of management of the following three former Council libraries:

-  Cheylesmore Library – transferred to Cheylesmore Community Centre

-  Earlsdon Library – transferred to Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library (ECCL)

-  Finham Library – transferred to Finham Library Action Group (FLAG)


The transfers were delivered in a managed way with considerable dialogue between the Council and the new community organisations. Many different Council services were involved and each library transfer followed a slightly different path, but in particular the Library Service maintained very close liaison with the new partners with strong relationships being maintained to the time of this note being prepared.


Whilst each of the different libraries are quite different the Council has worked in partnership to ensure that each library continues to offer:

·  Free Internet / PC access to Coventry residents through open access PCs (and ebooks / e-audiobooks) provided by the Council (and supported by CCC ICT), plus online resources.

·  A limited range of both children and adults Library Service book stock to any local resident who is a member of the Library Service, and access the wider stock via reservations etc. Often this stock is supplemented by the different partners own stock.

·  Provision for printing / scanning etc at reasonable cost to local residents.


Each of the three community managed libraries have developed in interesting and innovative ways. Representatives of each of the libraries were present at the meeting and shared with members both the successes and challenges of their time providing these much valued community resources. Key things the Board were made aware of were:

·  Cheylesmore Library ( 

Cheylesmore library is now fully integrated into the Cheylesmore Community Centre, with a distinct group of volunteers who work with the Centre to ensure that Cheylesmore residents continue to have access to library services. The Council provided a transition grant to support building work to facilitate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.


Delivery of the Summer Reading Challenge in Coventry pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Briefing note of the Head of Service, Libraries and Migration


The Board considered a briefing note of the Head of Service, Libraries and Migration.


The Reading Agency is a national charity whose main purpose is to support the promotion of reading as an activity to promote good health and wellbeing, and support people to tackle life’s big challenges. For many years the Reading Agency’s flagship project for children has been the Summer Reading Challenge (SRC).


SRC is delivered in partnership with public libraries, with the very vast majority of library services taking part to some extent. The programme is intended to act as a bridge for reading and learning across the main school holidays. The idea is that for children who maintain active reading over the holiday, their minds will remain active, they will be updating or improving their reading skills and will arrive better prepared for the new school year in September.


Each year there is a distinctive theme to the SRC designed by the Reading Agency, and this year the theme is “Ready, Set, Read!”. The Reading Agency has teamed up with the Youth Sport Trust to design a challenge which “aims to keep children’s minds and bodies active over the summer break, empowering young people to forge new connections with others and unleash the power of play, sport and physical activity through learning.”


Children will be encouraged to make regular visits to their local library, register for the SRC, read 6 books from the carefully selected booklist and perform a series of activities to earn rewards (stickers, activity cards etc) eventually becoming a ‘completer’ and being rewarded with a medal. The objective is to “keep imaginations moving across the school holidays” and by participating children will have the opportunity to try new and exciting books, develop some new skills and hopefully find new interests which they can continue after completion of the SRC.


The SRC theme for 2022 was “Gadgeteers” which had a set of resources and characters, brought to life by children’s writer and illustrator Julian Beresford, which helped children use their curiosity and wonder to understand the science behind a whole range of interests from fashion and technology to cooking and music. To support the 2022 SRC the Reading Agency made small grants available to library services to improve access and widen participation.


In Coventry we were successful in receiving some additional resources from the Reading Agency to facilitate a pilot project with a small number of Coventry schools. The Library Service approached 7 local schools and an officer was assigned to each to build a relationship with the school, either focusing on year 3 or year 1. The children all were offered a ‘pilot scheme pack’ which the officer offered to distribute to them. The aim was that we would visit the children in class a few times during June/July and that they visit their local library in the run up to the SRC.


The schools were chosen on a targeted basis working with Schools Improvement and Literacy Co-ordinators. Library managers found that they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


Autism in Schools Task and Finish Group - Interim Report pdf icon PDF 437 KB

Briefing note of the Scrutiny Coordinator


The Board considered a Briefing Note of the Scrutiny Coordinator.


In the 2021-22 municipal year, the Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board (5) ran a task and finish group to look at support for children and young people, and their families, who had been referred for an autism assessment. One of the recommendations was that the Education and Childrens’ Service Scrutiny Board undertake a task and finish group during the 2022-23 municipal year to look at the in-depth challenges facing schools in providing support to children, young people and their families who are on the autism assessment pathway.


There were a number of recommendations from the initial task and finish group. A progress report was received by the Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board at their meeting on the 7th December 2022. Members of the task and finish group were also invited to attend.


During this progress report, Members of the Task and Finish Group heard evidence from officers of Coventry Council Education Services including service overviews of the Complex Communications Team, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Information Advice Service, and Educational Psychology.


Members of the task and finish group also visited three Coventry schools and the group would like to extend their thanks to the teachers and pupils who made this possible.


The work of the task and finish group during 2022-23 is summarised below:

·  Members were briefed in detail on the support to children, families and schools provided through the Council’s Education Services.

·  The SEND Information and Advice Service provides impartial information, advice and support for parents and young people. They offer group sessions on Autism which are well attended. A large proportion of their contacts are in relation to Autism. The service is a statutory requirement and maintains an impartial relationship with service users and the Council.

·  The Education Psychology service provides both a statutory and traded service to the LA and education providers across the City. The service has the capacity to respond to current demand and therefore does not operate a central waiting list. Schools and services are able to identify children requiring assessment, support and intervention without a requirement for a health referral.

·  Demand for the service is high. This is set against a national recruitment and retention challenge. Whilst training placement are available, qualification follows a 3 year post graduate doctoral programme.

·  The Complex Communication Team (CCT) is also a traded service with over 90% of Coventry schools subscribing to the offer. The service provides advice, assessment and training targeted at children with or without a diagnosis of autism. The main aim of the service is to support children to access the curriculum and progress academically, by creating an appropriate environment and reducing anxiety and distraction through a trained workforce. 6 School Visits

·  Members of the T&F group visited three schools, to experience at first hand the support offered to children with additional needs. One of these was a special school, specifically for autistic children, one had a specialist unit  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.


Additional Information - Autism in Schools Task and Finish Group pdf icon PDF 705 KB

Report of the Scrutiny Co-ordinator

Additional documents:


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 361 KB

Briefing Note of the Scrutiny Co-ordinator


The Board noted the work programme and agreed the inclusion of the item below on the 2023/24 work programme.


RESOLVED that the Scrutiny Board (2) notes the Work Programme and includes the following on the 2023/24 Work Programme:


·  Colleges and post 16 provision

·  Early meeting for 2023/24


Any Other Business

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


The Board noted their appreciation for the work carried out by John Gregg and wished him luck in his new role.


RESOLVED that the Scrutiny Board (2) send a letter of thanks, appreciation and best wishes to John Gregg on behalf of the Board.