Agenda, decisions and minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021 4.30 pm

Venue: the Banqueting Hall - City Hall, Bradford. View directions

Contact: Fatima Butt / Jill Bell 

Items
No. Item

34.

ALTERNATE MEMBERS (Standing Order 34)

The City Solicitor will report the names of alternate Members who are attending the meeting in place of appointed Members. 

 

Minutes:

Cllr K Green for Cllr Winnard.

 

Apologies from Cllr Sajawal and Fauzia Raza, (Non-Voting Co-opted Members).

35.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct - Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members may remain in the meeting and take part fully in discussion and voting unless the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest which the Member feels would call into question their compliance with the wider principles set out in the Code of Conduct.  Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(2)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(3)       Members are also welcome to disclose interests which are not disclosable pecuniary interests but which they consider should be made in the interest of clarity.

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made for matters under consideration.

36.

MINUTES

Recommended –

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 29 July 2021 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated).

 

(Fatima Butt/Jill Bell – 01274 432227/4580)

37.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Mustansir Butt - 01274 432227)

 

Minutes:

No requests were received to remove the restriction on a report or background paper.

38.

REFERRALS TO THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

The Committee is asked to note any referrals and decide how it wishes to proceed, for example by incorporating the item into the work programme, requesting that it be subject to more detailed examination, or refer it to an appropriate Working Group/Committee.

 

Minutes:

No referrals were received.

39.

CHILDREN'S SERVICES IMPROVEMENT JOURNEY pdf icon PDF 606 KB

The Strategic Director, Children’s Services will submit Document “C” which provides an update on highlights from the Children’s Services Improvement Plan and focuses on areas of progress, action in the next period and areas of concern and potential concern.

 

Recommended-

 

That the contents of the report (Document “C”) and the progress being made be noted.

 

                                                                        (Irfan Alam – 01274 432904)

                                                                       

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved –

 

(1)  This Committee requests that an informal and remote session be arranged with the Commissioner and members of this Committee at a date and time to be decided, to discuss the remit of the work to be undertaken and any key findings to date.

 

(2)  This Committee requests that the Improvement Plan be presented to the Committee, at its meeting on Wednesday 17 November 2021.

 

(3)  That the Annual Report for Looked After Children, be presented to this Committee, at its meeting on Wednesday 17 November 2021.

 

Action – Strategic Director, Children’s Services

 

                                                                        (Mark Douglas – 01274 431266)

 

Minutes:

Officers from Bradford Councils Children’s Services informed Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee members of the highlights from the Improvement Plan and also focused on the areas of progress, as well highlighting the areas of work in progress.

 

Members heard that officers continued to monitor performance utilising bi-weekly forecasting reports and the monthly Vital Signs report, to ensure that the service is on track and that any concerns are identified at the earliest opportunity.

 

Councillors were keen to have an update in relation to the Children’s Services Commissioner.

 

In response, Officers stated that Steve Walker had been appointed at the Children’s Services Commissioner and had joined on 15 September 2021.  In addition to this, Officers indicated that Steve Walker would be working in Children’s Services for 12 weeks and would be focusing on Children’s Services and Social Care and whether Bradford Councils Children’s Services has the capacity to improve or whether Bradford Councils Children’s Services need to be moved into a Trust status.  Members also learned that at the end of this work, a number of recommendations will be developed. 

 

Furthermore, officers also indicated that Steve Walker was also willing to meet with members of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

Members raised their concerns about health targets for children not being met and what individuals were actually required to do.

 

Officers replied by indicating that a consent form was required and this was checked by the Deputy Director, along with the four Heads of Service.  As well as this, every week there is data available relating to Children’s health assessments that are required.  Members of the Committee also heard that at the moment, there are 32 children requiring health assessments.

 

Moving on, Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee members were wanted to know why there was a downward trend with regards to the children in care visits in accordance with timescales and what actions were being taken to address this.

 

Here, officers highlighted that this was due to a combination of virtual and physical visits, along with capacity issues, which have resulted in children not being seen on time.  However, members heard that the trend was improving.

 

During the discussion around Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services, (CAMHS), members heard that there had been some improvement to the CAMHS provision, however the CAMHS system in Bradford had struggled and that it was too early to be able to demonstrate the impact and that looked after Children are being treated as a high priority group.

 

Moreover, members of the Committee were extremely concerned at increased number of external placements for looked after children.

 

In response officers highlighted that the demand coming into the service is high and that they were working with families to establish the level of support that they require, thus preventing them from going into public care. As well as this, officers further stated that it was imperative that the right children were actually in care.  Officers further stated that they also needed to examine the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

OVERVIEW OF THE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT ASPECTS OF THE IMPROVEMENT JOURNEY IN CHILDREN'S SERVICES pdf icon PDF 530 KB

The Strategic Director, Children’s Services will submit Document “D” which updates the Committee on key aspects relating to the workforce in Children’s Services in the last quarter.

 

Recommended-

 

That the Committee reviews, discusses and notes the details in the report (Document “D”).

 

 (Claire Threapleton - 07715 374667)

Decision:

Resolved –

 

This Committee requests that a more detailed report be presented in six months, which also specifically focuses on the activities being undertaken and the progress being made on increasing the number of salaried employees and reducing the number of agency workers.

 

Action – Strategic Director Children’s Services

 

                                                                        (Mark Douglas – 01274 431266)

Minutes:

Officers from Bradford Council’s Children’s Services updated members of the Committee on the workforce data and improvement progress within Children’s Services.

 

Members were concerned in relation to the lack of detailed information provided in the report, especially as they had specifically requested this previously.

 

Members of the Committee were keen to understand what was being done to support staff that were off work due to mental health illness.

 

In response officers indicated that support was available through Occupational Health and that a new model was being implemented across the whole of Social Care Practice.

 

Moreover, members were concerned at the shortage of level 3 Social Care workers and whether in the Job Description, it stated that Bradford Council provided flexible working.

 

Officers stated that the Job Descriptions did not state that the Council provided flexible working and in addition to this, the Councils recruitment was out-of-date.

 

Furthermore, Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee members were not able to clearly understand from the report, what progress had actually been made and that performance had not improved.  Moreover, members felt that it was not clear at all from the report as to the activities that have been undertaken to reduce the resilience on agency workers.

 

Children’s Services officers responded by indicating that they would reply to members, once they had spoken to colleagues who had prepared the report.

 

Members of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee members were also unanimous in agreeing that they were very concerned at the over reliance on agency staff.

 

 

Resolved –

 

This Committee requests that a more detailed report be presented in six months, which also specifically focuses on the activities being undertaken and the progress being made on increasing the number of salaried employees and reducing the number of agency workers.

 

Action – Strategic Director Children’s Services

 

                                                                        (Mark Douglas – 01274 431266)

41.

SCHOOL ORGANISATION: SCHOOL EXPANSION PROGRAMME, EDUCATION CAPITAL FUNDING, ACADEMY CONVERSIONS pdf icon PDF 631 KB

The Strategic Director, Children’s Services will submit Document “E” which  updates the committee on a number of key areas relating to School Organisation across the Bradford District.

 

Recommended-

 

That the report (Document “E”) be noted.

 

                                                                        (Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

                                                           

Decision:

Resolved –

 

This Committee requests that in future, annual electronic updates be provided to the Committee, with members having the option to discuss this formally if required.

 

Action - Strategic Director, Children’s Services

 

                                                                        (Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

Minutes:

Bradford Council’s Children’s Services Officers, updated Committee members in relation to a number of key areas related to School Organisation across the Bradford District.  As well as this, officers highlighted that the population growth in Bradford over the last decade increased pressure on primary school places, resulting in a large-scale extension programme to meet the growth in demand. 

 

Continuing on, members heard that increased pupil numbers at secondary level also increased the pressure on secondary schools as higher number of pupils move through the education system.

 

Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee members were keen to understand the impact of the reduction in birth rate, across schools in the District.

 

In response, Children’s Services officers stated that they were looking to develop a policy whereby all schools collectively look at their Published Admissions Numbers.  Members also heard that it was important to have a District wide agreement, where as many schools are kept financially viable.

 

Resolved –

 

This Committee requests that in future, annual electronic updates be provided to the Committee, with members having the option to discuss this formally if required.

 

Action - Strategic Director, Children’s Services

 

                                                                        (Marium Haque – 01274 431078)

42.

CHILDREN'S SERVICES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 251 KB

The report of the Chair of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Document “F”) presents the Committee’s Work Programme for 2021-22.

 

Recommended-

 

(1)  That members consider and comment on the areas of work included in the work programme.

 

(2)  That members consider any detailed scrutiny reviews that they may wish to conduct.

 

                                                            (Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved –

 

The Committee discussed and ammeneded the 2021-22 work programme.

 

Action:  Overview & Scrutiny Lead

 

                                                            (Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)

Minutes:

The Committee discussed and amended the 2020-21 work programme.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Lead provided members with an update in relation to the Elective Home Education Scrutiny Review and members agreed on the next steps.

 

Resolved –

 

The Committee discussed and ammeneded the 2021-22 work programme.

 

Action:  Overview & Scrutiny Lead

 

                                                            (Mustansir Butt – 01274 432574)