Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 13th January, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual meeting - Webcast at https://vimeo.com/event/586604

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Note: You can watch the meeting live here https://vimeo.com/event/586604 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 229 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2020.

Minutes:

Decision

 

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2020.

2.

Children and Education Services Budget 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 383 KB

Report of the Strategic Director for Children and Education Services

 

This report outlines the financial management and leadership of the Directorate’s budget, the financial position which includes demography, growth of demand and a series of savings options proposed by officers aligned to the remit of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee to contribute to the Council’s duty to achieve a balanced budget in 2021/22. The report also sets out the impact the options will have on residents and the workforce.

 

The Council’s budget proposals for 2021/22 and onwards will be subject to further refinement following feedback from public consultation and scrutiny committees.  Final budget proposals will be made to Scrutiny and Executive in February 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which outlined the financial management and leadership of the Directorate’s budget, the financial position which included demography, growth of demand and a series of savings options proposed by officers aligned to the remit of the Committee to contribute to the Council’s duty to achieve a balanced budget in 2021/22. The report also set out the impact the options would have on residents and the workforce.  It noted that the Council’s budget proposals for 2021/22 and onwards would be subject to further refinement following feedback from public consultation and scrutiny committees and that final budget proposals would be made to Scrutiny and Executive in February 2021.  The report reflected the fact that the Council had declared a climate emergency by making carbon reduction a key consideration in the Council’s planning and budget proposals.

 

Officers referred to the main points and themes within the report, which included:

 

·         The background and context;

·         Directorate budget approach;

·         Directorate Revenue Budget 2021/22 and proposed savings;

·         Changes to the report since it was last considered at the Committee’s meeting on 4 November 2020;

·         The impact on the workforce and Manchester residents; and

·         Next steps.

 

Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:

 

·         Whether the proposed savings rated as “red” in the table appended to the report could be looked at again and whether there were any alternatives that could be considered;

·         Concern about the proposal relating to the Children and Parent Service, outlined at point 4.56 in the report, noting the considerable benefits of early intervention in improving outcomes for children and families and reducing the need for more expensive interventions later on;

·         The impact of COVID-19 on families and on Children’s Services;

·         Request for further clarification on the information relating to residential placements, including the plans for Lyndene Children’s Home;

·         Concern about the proposed cut to funding for interventions to support the improvement of maintained schools outlined at points 4.47 and 4.48 in the report; and

·         Request for further clarification on the savings relating to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) and the impact of these.

 

The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services informed the Committee that, as the majority of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) was allocated to schools and 47% of the Children’s Services budget was spent on care provision for children, the opportunities and areas of the budget where savings could be made was limited.  He advised that these areas were interconnected so changes in one area of the service would have an impact elsewhere and that none of these proposals were without risk. 

 

In response to Members’ comments about the impact of the pandemic, the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services advised that there had been an increase in requests for advice and support and an increase in referrals to Children’s Services, which had included an increase in issues relating to domestic abuse but that the number of children becoming Looked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

Update on Schools and Their Response to COVID-19 pdf icon PDF 258 KB

Report to the Director of Education

 

This report provides a further update on the impact of COVID on schools in the city and how this has been responded to during the Autumn term 2020. This includes an overview of remote learning which is provided by our schools when pupils are required to self-isolate. The report provides an update on how the COVID winter grant was used to make provision over Christmas for children and young people eligible for free school meals and also summarises recent guidance for schools from the Government on summer term assessment, remote learning and testing. Finally, the report provides some information on plans to develop testing in schools during the spring term.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Director of Education which provided a further update on the impact of COVID-19 on schools in the city and how this had been responded to during the Autumn term 2020. Members were also provided with an update on how the situation had changed since the report had been published.

 

Some of the main points and themes highlighted by the Director of Education included:

 

  • The remote learning offer;
  • How the COVID Winter Grant was used to make provision over Christmas for children and young people eligible for Free School Meals;
  • The announcement the previous week that schools and colleges would only be open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers, with other children accessing remote learning from home;
  • The cancellation of GCSE and A-level examinations, noting that the Council and schools were still awaiting further guidance on how pupils’ grades would be assessed; and
  • Testing for COVID-19 in schools.

 

The Executive Member for Children and Schools expressed concern about how the situation had been managed by the Department for Education (DfE) and outlined the challenges that schools had faced.

 

Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:

 

  • Sharing the Executive Member’s concern about the way the situation had been managed by the national government, in particular the Secretary of State for Education, including that decisions were being made late and were not well communicated;
  • The impact of this on schools and pressure on schools’ senior leadership teams;
  • To thank officers and the Executive Member for their work supporting schools during this challenging time;
  • The challenges that schools were facing due to the high number of families who met the criteria for being critical workers;
  • To highlight that schools and colleges offering vocational qualifications to students in Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 were informed that the examinations did not have to go ahead less than 12 hours before they were due to start;
  • That it was important to remember and to continue to remind government that Manchester schools had been dealing with high infection rates since September 2020, including over 17,000 pupils having to self-isolate, and the impact this had had;
  • Request for more information on COVID-19 testing in schools, including whether it would be voluntary;
  • The challenges of remote learning, including pupils’ access to the internet and devices and whether the expectations for the amount of remote learning taking place were sustainable;
  • The impact of the pandemic on pupils in Years 10 and 12 who were due to take GCSE and A-level examinations in 2022;
  • Concern that there was a lack of consistency between schools about requiring staff to come into the school building to deliver online lessons; and
  • That providing food parcels to families who were entitled to Free School Meals instead of vouchers or money was inappropriate and stemmed from negative attitudes towards and lack of trust in working class families.

 

The Director of Education clarified that COVID-19 testing in schools was currently  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Our Manchester Strategy Reset - Draft Strategy pdf icon PDF 293 KB

Report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services

 

This report provides an update on the draft Our Manchester Strategy – Forward to 2025 reset document. A draft of the reset Strategy is appended to this report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which provided an update on the draft Our Manchester Strategy – Forward to 2025 reset document. A draft of the reset Strategy was appended to the report.  The report noted that achieving Manchester’s zero carbon target was reflected throughout the work on the Our Manchester Strategy reset and would be clearly captured in the final reset document.

 

The main points and themes within the report included:

 

·         The background to the Our Manchester Strategy reset;

·         Our Manchester Strategy – Forward to 2025;

·         Final design and communications; and

·         Next steps.

 

A Member expressed concern that, although the COVID-19 pandemic was referred to in the Strategy, it did not fully reflect the impact of the pandemic across all areas of the Strategy.  The Deputy Leader advised Members that it was difficult to fully reflect how the situation would develop as it was still changing but that it was important to ensure that the city was in the right position to react to changes and to enable local residents to benefit.  He reported that the Strategy was subject to change and that the Council had tried to engage on it with residents who would not normally respond.  He informed Members that the Strategy aimed to set down key principles and a vision of where the city should be in five years’ time.

 

Decision 

 

To note the report and to thank everyone for their work on the Strategy.

5.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 434 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit

 

This report provides the Committee with details of key decisions that fall within the Committee’s remit and an update on actions resulting from the Committee’s recommendations. The report also includes the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee is asked to amend as appropriate and agree.

Minutes:

A report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit was submitted. The overview report contained key decisions within the Committee’s remit, responses to previous recommendations and the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee was asked to approve.

 

The Chair informed the Committee that he had discussed with another Committee Member the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of young people and their families, including both positive and negative aspects, and a suggestion that the Committee should receive a report about this at a future meeting.  He advised that he would this discuss with officers after the meeting.

 

Decision

 

To note the report and agree the work programme, subject to the above comment.