Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 21st July, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Note: This meeting can be viewed on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/572055580 

Items
No. Item

30.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 23 June 2021.

Minutes:

Decision

 

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 23 June 2021.

31.

Responding to Children in Need of Help, Support and Protection pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Presentation of the Deputy Director of Children’s Services

 

To receive a presentation on how Children’s Services and partners are responding to children in need of help, support and protection.

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation of the Deputy Director of Children’s Services which outlined how Children’s Services and partners were responding to children in need of help, support and protection.

 

The main points and themes within the presentation included:

 

  • The inspection framework and approach;
  • Social work practice;
  • The front door;
  • Early Help;
  • Action to protect children;
  • Child protection and assessments;
  • Children Missing from Education; and
  • Edge of Care services.

 

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

 

  • Referrals relating to domestic abuse;
  • The 11% of assessments which had not yet been completed; and
  • The number of Children Missing from Education.

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services advised that domestic abuse was a significant issue and that it often presented alongside other complicating factors.  He drew Members’ attention to the Council’s new Domestic Violence Strategy and he outlined some of the work taking place to address the issue including protection plans and other work to support victims and more challenge for perpetrators, including work with the Probation Service.  He advised that the figure on the completion of assessments related to those completed within 45 days, that Manchester compared well against Greater Manchester and nationally on this and that processes were in place to ensure the completion of assessments which had gone beyond that timescale.  In response to Member’s question about the Greater Manchester Contextual Safeguarding Pilot, he stated that this work was at a very early stage and suggested that officers could provide further information on this in a future report to the Committee.  In response to another question, he confirmed that any parent could use the parenting helpline. 

 

The Director of Education explained that Children Missing from Education (CME) included different categories of children.  She advised that this included children who had recently arrived in the city and were in the process of being allocated a school place.  She reported that another category within CME was children who had been taken off the school roll.  She advised that, where a child had been removed from the school roll because they had stopped attending but the school had not been able to identify where that child had gone, the Council’s CME Team had processes in place for trying to locate them.  She stated that she could provide figures for CME cases whose whereabouts was unknown but that the numbers fluctuated from week to week.  She advised that approximately 85% of these cases were quickly resolved, for example where it was established that the family had relocated to a different area but not told the school.  She informed Members that CME figures were currently higher because a significant number of children were in countries on the government’s red travel list which created challenges in returning to the UK.  She reported that schools had been advised to keep these children on roll if they knew where they were and the family was keeping in contact but that, where there was no contact, children were being  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Manchester's Year of the Child pdf icon PDF 530 KB

Report of the Strategic Director for Children and Education Services

 

This report provides information on the dedication of 2022 to celebrating the successes of Manchester’s children and young people and supporting their recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director for Children and Education Services which provided information on the dedication of 2022 to celebrating the successes of Manchester’s children and young people and supporting their recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

 

The main points and themes within the report included:

 

  • Engagement with children and young people;
  • Education and learning;
  • Early Years;
  • Children’s Services;
  • Looking to the future; and
  • Social and emotional development opportunities.

 

The Chair shared her experience of taking part in the engagement with children and young people for the Year of the Child and recommended that other Members visit local schools to engage with children and young people.

 

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

 

  • To welcome this work, including engaging with children and young people and responding to the issues and priorities they raised;
  • The many ways that the pandemic had impacted on children and young people, including recognising the effect this had had on their education, despite the hard work of teachers and other schools staff;
  • When the outcomes of the consultation would be available; and
  • Recognising the additional pressure that the teacher assessment of GCSE and A-level grades had placed on teachers and how they and school leaders could be supported with challenges from parents and pupils arising from the results.

 

The Director of Education informed the Committee that there were robust arrangements in place for the teacher assessments along with clear appeal procedures and that schools would encourage parents to channel any issue they had about the grade awarded through the appeal process.

 

The Strategic Director for Children and Education Services advised that the aim was to complete the engagement work during the autumn term and present the outcomes to a meeting of the Council.  He emphasised the importance of reaching all young people, not only those who were part of groups like Manchester Youth Council, and putting children and young people at the heart of decision-making.  In response to a question about how young people would continue to be involved in decision-making, he advised that young people were being asked how they wanted to engage with this.  He suggested that the Committee might want to receive regular reports on this work.

 

Decisions

 

1.            To note the report and the recommendations made to the Executive at its meeting on 30 June 2021.

 

2.            To receive an update report at a future meeting.

33.

Ways of Working pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Presentation of the Deputy Director of Children’s Services

 

To receive a presentation on new ways of working within Children’s Services.

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation of the Deputy Director of Children’s Services which outlined new ways of working within Children’s Services.

 

The main points and themes within the presentation included:

 

  • The principles supporting this work;
  • Flexible working;
  • Line manager and employee responsibilities;
  • The Organisational Development Plan for the service;
  • Monitoring impact;
  • ICT; and
  • Estates.

 

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

 

  • To welcome that the service was taking the opportunity to identify the positive changes in ways of working which had arisen out of the pandemic and build on them;
  • Whether office space would be reduced;
  • The importance of a team ethos and social work staff being able to access informal support through colleagues, noting that this had been observed on a recent visit to a Locality Office; and
  • Whether staff with ADHD had been involved in the consultation process.

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services advised that there were no immediate plans to reduce office space and that this work was about creating a more employee-friendly environment, using the space better rather than reducing it.  He reported that the staff consultation had taken place through multiple methods to meet staff’s needs and preferences and that the vast majority of staff had felt able to participate.

 

The Executive Member for Children’s Services recognised some of the negative impacts of the pandemic on social work staff, in particular feeling more isolated and not having the same level and type of interaction with colleagues which would support them in normal circumstances.  He assured Members that being able to work in an office environment, with a supportive team ethos, was a key priority.

 

Decision

 

To note the presentation.

34.

COVID-19 Update

The Committee will receive a verbal update on any new developments or significant changes to the current situation, particularly in relation to schools.

Minutes:

The Committee received a verbal update from the Director of Education which outlined new developments and significant changes to the current situation, particularly in relation to schools.  She thanked school and college leaders and their staff for their work through this challenging year, as well as thanking children and young people and their parents and carers for the way they had responded.

 

The main points and themes within the verbal update included:

 

  • Recognising that Manchester schools had very largely remained open throughout this time, in spite of high infection rates and the number of staff and pupils self-isolating and that this was not the case everywhere;
  • Attendance figures, stating that the most recent available figures showed attendance rates at just over 93%, while highlighting that the figures did not include pupils who were self-isolating;
  • The numbers of positive cases and children being sent home to self-isolate because they were in the same bubble, noting that while the figures were reducing, they were still high;
  • The changes to the national guidance for schools from 19 July 2021, as England moved to Stage 4 of the Roadmap out of Lockdown;
  • That the Council, along with other Greater Manchester local authorities, was advising its schools to continue with their existing arrangements for the last few days of term, following which they would have time to plan for the new arrangements in September; and
  • That the Council would continue to provide support to schools on COVID-19-related arrangements and issues into the new academic year.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Director of Education informed the Committee that she and the Executive Member for Children’s Services had written to schools to thank them for their work during the pandemic.

 

Decision

 

To note the verbal update.

35.

Youth and Play Fund - Summer Provision pdf icon PDF 314 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) and the Head of Youth Strategy and Engagement

 

This report provides an overview of Manchester’s Youth and Play offer, which includes provision commissioned by the Council and the Youth and Play Fund which is distributed via Young Manchester.  It also highlights the offer which will be available across the city throughout the summer school holidays, which encompasses the offers from the wider partners and stakeholders, including the targeted Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) and the Head of Youth Strategy and Engagement which provided an overview of Manchester’s Youth and Play offer, which included provision commissioned by the Council and the Youth and Play Fund which was distributed via Young Manchester. It also highlighted the offer which would be available across the city throughout the summer school holidays, which encompassed the offers from the wider partners and stakeholders, including the targeted Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF).

 

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

 

  • Youth and Play Funding (Manchester City Council);
  • Youth and Play Fund (Young Manchester);
  • Summer provision; and
  • Next steps.

 

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

 

  • To ask how the engagement data referred to in the report was collected;
  • How the Youth and Play Fund was allocated and the geographic spread of organisations applying for and receiving funding;
  • Young people not wanting to cross ward boundaries to access youth provision;
  • What could be done to improve the engagement of young people with youth provision, particularly in wards where this was low;
  • To request a breakdown of data for the four hubs, including the ward of residence of the young people accessing the provision; and
  • That issues relating to youth provision should be brought to Ward Co-ordination meetings.

 

Alex Kennedy, Member of the Youth Parliament and Manchester Youth Council and Chair of Gorton Youth Forum, asked what was being done to ensure equality of accessibility to funding for grassroots youth projects compared to more established projects and to ensure an equal distribution of funding across different wards.

 

The Head of Youth Strategy and Engagement explained how Young Manchester funding was distributed across wards based on a needs analysis which ranked wards on factors such as deprivation, education levels and eligibility for Free School Meals.  She acknowledged that more needed to be done in relation to access to funding for grassroots providers and black-led organisations and advised that there was currently a consultation taking place with the sector on the future of commissioning for the Youth and Play Fund and that a report would coming to the Committee and the Executive on this.  She also informed Members that the Council had established Area Youth Leads who each had an allocation of funding for working with grassroots organisations, helping to get them into a position where they could apply for larger amounts of funding.

 

The Chair advised that the funding allocation should be more evenly spread across different areas of the city.  She highlighted that, when funding had recently been made available for capital projects in parks, it had been distributed evenly with £30k being allocated to each ward and she stated that this was a fairer approach.

 

The Head of Youth Strategy and Engagement advised that the engagement data referred to in the report was data returned to Young Manchester by the organisations that received funding from the Youth  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.

36.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 466 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.

 

Decision

 

To note the report and agree the work programme.