Agenda and minutes
- Attendance details
- Agenda frontsheet PDF 215 KB
- Agenda reports pack
- Supplement - Outstanding Public and Supplementary Questions from Children and Young People Scrutiny 28 February 2023 PDF 152 KB
- Supplement - Children's Services Improvement Plan Progress Update PDF 3 MB
- Supplement - Public Questions and responses PDF 359 KB
- Printed minutes PDF 419 KB
Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Simon Cann, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillor Rob Williams.
To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.
Councillor Peter Hamblin stood in for Councillor Rob Williams
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 28 February 2023.
It was noted that Darryl Freeman (Corporate Director –Children and Young People), had been incorrectly listed in the Councillor section of the attendance records for the meeting of 28 February 2023.
It was noted that a response to a public question in the minutes of the last meeting required rewording and that the amended response would be reissued and included in the minutes of the meeting of 18 July 2023.
Including noted amendments, the minutes of the meeting held on 28 February 2023 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.
To receive any written questions from members of the public.
Following the public questions item the committee advised that officers and members should strive to address the root questions being asked by the public and where possible (and appropriate) try and assist them in using the correct terminology required to ask clear and pertinent questions.
Questions from members of the council
To receive any written questions from members of the council.
There were no questions received from Councillors.
To consider the work programme for the committee.
The statutory scrutiny officer introduced the work programme and detailed how it had been drafted. It was explained that the corporate director, assorted service directors (within the children and young people directorate), the Cabinet and Cabinet portfolio holder, along with the independent scrutineer had all been involved and invited to provide input towards the work programme.
The statutory scrutiny officer explained that a key objective in drafting the work programme had been to create a document that highlighted priorities within the improvement programme and provided opportunities for the children and young people scrutiny committee to look at these over the coming year. The number of agenda items for each meeting had been kept intentionally low at this stage, to allow for flexibility and fluidity moving forward. At this point the committee was being asked to approve items on the agenda, identify further topics that it would like to look at and highlight where additional support, training and information could be provided, to allow members to approach topics with a good understanding of them.
The Chair suggested that a ‘reality checks’-style approach of visiting and engaging with frontline services over the course of the year, would be potentially beneficial in providing committee members with greater understanding and insight as to some of the issues and challenges faced by these services.
The committee discussed the need for a wider focus on schools outside of the schools capital strategy. The committee acknowledged the need for the inclusion of an item that would look at pastoral care, schools’ effectiveness, the local authority’s relationship with them and the academisation of schools. It would also be helpful to look at diminished maintained sector provision and the gap in school improvement resources. It was suggested that a schools item should examine pupil attainment and progress made during the time a child is at primary and secondary school.
The statutory scrutiny officer explained to the committee that additional agenda items for the work programme could be discussed and shaped in future workshop sessions and that the work programme was a fluid document, which the committee would be able to review, change and update at each of its meetings.
Resolved: The committee agree the draft work programme, which will be subject to periodical reviews, as the basis of their primary focus for the forthcoming municipal year.
Following discussion during the course of the meeting the committee agreed that the following items should be included on the work programme:
- Early Help and Prevention
- Restorative Practice
- Responding to the rising level of unaccompanied asylum seekers in Herefordshire (possible dedicated workshop for this)
- Neglect (building on existing items)
- Schools: The committee should consider an item that looks at pastoral care, schools’ effectiveness, the local authority’s relationship with them and the academisation of schools. Also consider diminished maintained sector provision and gap in school improvement resources.
- Examining pupil attainment and progress made during the time a child is at primary and secondary school.
- Data and dashboard ... view the full minutes text for item 148.
Papers to follow.
The purpose of this item is to present an update to the Committee in respect of the progress and implementation of the Children’s Improvement Plan. The latest version of the Improvement Plan will be released week ending 14th July 2023 and will be added as a supplement to this agenda in due course.
The corporate director for children and young people and interim service director for improvement introduced the report.
The interim service director provided an overview of the improvement plan progress update that had been presented to the Children’s Improvement Board in June 2023.
Detail was provided on the blue, red amber, green (BRAG) scoring system in relation to progress being made regarding the 10 priority improvement areas. The BRAG system was also being used to monitor and track improvement impact, to ensure that tasks being completed as part of the plan were making a positive difference to improve outcomes for children, young people, carers, parents and family members.
It was explained that following the June meeting of the improvement board (and six months after the launch of the plan) a rationalisation exercise had been undertaken which aimed to: streamline and coordinate the improvement infrastructure, improve the accountability of reporting to the improvement board and to increase the pace of improvement.
The interim service director stated that with regards to accountability, the forthcoming July meeting of the improvement board would be the first occasion where senior responsible officers and service leads for each of the work streams would be reporting directly to the board.
A pitfall of ‘feeding the beast’ was identified, which highlighted the potential risks of focusing too heavily on implementing and achieving elements of the plan, whilst losing focus on the impact of implementing objectives, the ‘so what?’. It was pointed out that the rationalisation exercise would ensure that those working on the plan would be able to see more clearly what the work they were engaged in was achieving and how it impacted young people and their families within the county.
The discussion was opened up to the committee for questions.
The committee asked what was being done to tackle the crucial issue of recruitment and retention, especially in relation to social workers and social work managers, within the county.
It was explained by the interim service director that the authority was promoting the point of difference in terms of what it had to offer over other authorities and that this was being achieved by:
- The development of the Spirit of Herefordshire website to promote the benefits of living in the county and working for the local authority.
- Creating competitive remuneration and bonus schemes.
- Introducing apprenticeships and career progression schemes and building on the existing ‘grow your own’ model to improve learning, development and recruitment at a local level.
- Ensuring caseloads were manageable and creating conditions where social workers and managers could forge trusting and confident relationships with their colleagues and other stakeholders.
The corporate director highlighted the common misconceptions about the quality of work carried out by agency and temporary staff, but pointed out that all the senior leadership roles and most of the heads of service and senior management positions were fully permanent. It was hoped that this stability would aid recruitment in a challenging market and give assurance to: young people, ... view the full minutes text for item 149.
To consider the annual report of the Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (HSCP). This item was deferred from the meeting of 28 February 2023 to allow for full responses to Committee questions from the Independent Scrutineer.
The independent scrutineer introduced and gave a summary of the report. It was explained that there had been a pressing need to reset the partnership and that this had been recognised and acknowledged by the partners.
It was explained that governance of the partnership had been complicated, especially with an improvement board involved. There had been significant work involving alignment between the boards and synergy between the relevant plans.
The report focused on the lived experience of families, children and young people in Herefordshire.
It was stated that there was a shared and equal responsibility between the council, care board and police constabulary to ensure safeguarding arrangements were in place.
In putting the report together various pictures of Herefordshire had emerged and there were real signs that Herefordshire was trying to change. It was noted that 82% of early health assessments were done by other partners, which was healthy in terms of the strength of partnership working.
The independent scrutineer brought the board’s attention to several key areas where things had changed:
- The MASH had definitely improved and this was backed up by new data and assessments from Ofsted.
- There had been a real challenge made to the police regarding the MASH and the police had changed their practice as a result of this.
- There had been a challenge to health, particularly in relation to initial annual health assessments for looked after children
The independent scrutineer concluded that there was more to do in 2023-2024, but that green shoots of change and improvement were in evidence. The committee was invited to ask questions about the 2021-22 report and forthcoming 2022-23.
The committee lamented the closure of ‘No Wrong Door’ and enquired how the voices of young people in the city centre and rural communities were being captured. The question was asked whether it was possible to get the partnership to look at youth work and request that the partners invest in youth work in Herefordshire.
The independent scrutineer explained that many local authorities including Hereford had reduced/ceased funding for young people’s services and that this had come back to haunt them. However, the first thing the partnership needed to focus on getting in place was the relationship between the partners.
The corporate director for children and young people explained that the safeguarding partnership was not a commissioning body in terms of services. Over a period of many years funding for youth services in Herefordshire from the partnership had ceased. It was stated that part of the improvement plan in the long term was to create a child friendly Herefordshire and to achieve this it would be necessary to open the door for conversations with partners about what that meant for young people.
The committee pointed out that there were various youth services, such as Close House, South Wye Police Boxing Club and the Scouts doing some excellent work with young people locally and that if savings were made within the budget it would be good to see ... view the full minutes text for item 150.
Date of the next meeting
Dates of future meetings:
Tuesday 26 September 2023, 2pm
Tuesday 14 November 2023, 2pm
Tuesday 23 January 2023, 2pm
Tuesday 12 March 2023, 2pm
Date of Next Meeting: 26 September 2023 2-5pm