Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 10th February, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual meeting - Webcast at https://vimeo.com/507030768

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Note: You can watch the meeting live here https://vimeo.com/507030768 

Items
No. Item

6.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 218 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 13 January 2021.

Minutes:

The Chair informed the Committee that the Executive had agreed with the Committee’s views on the proposed revised parenting commission and that this budget proposal would not be taken forward.  He also informed Members that, as agreed at the last meeting, he had written to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education but, as yet, he had not received a response.

 

Decision

 

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 13 January 2021.

7.

Update on Schools and Settings and their Response to COVID-19 pdf icon PDF 307 KB

Report of the Director of Education

 

This report provides a further update on the impact of COVID on schools and settings in the City. The report also provides some information collected during the Autumn term on what children and young people were telling us about the impact of COVID. The report outlines the support that continues to be provided to our schools and settings and also to our families through use of the winter COVID grant.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Director of Education which provided a further update on the impact of COVID-19 on schools and settings in the city. The report also provided some information collected during the autumn term from children and young people about the impact of COVID-19. The report outlined the support that continued to be provided to schools and settings and also to families through the use of the winter COVID grant.  The report stated that through the learning and education system children were informed and understood environmental issues and the negative impact of carbon; promoting safe and healthy lives.

 

The main points and themes within the report included:

 

  • Numbers of positive cases of COVID-19;
  • Numbers of children on site;
  • Early Years settings;
  • Lateral Flow testing;
  • Remote learning;
  • Safeguarding;
  • Mental health and wellbeing;
  • Free School Meals during term time;
  • COVID winter grant; and
  • Children and young people’s views and COVID.

 

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

 

  • To recognise the important role that the Council had been playing in supporting schools during this time;
  • Engagement with remote learning, including how this was being monitored and how lack of engagement was being addressed;
  • Children attending school during lockdown, including the level of demand for places;
  • Request for a breakdown by ethnicity of children who had tested positive for COVID-19 and were having to self-isolate;
  • Were nurseries reluctant to offer places to new children in the current situation and were some children, therefore, unable to access Early Years provision;
  • The COVID winter grant;
  • Concern about inconsistency between schools about staff being on site and that teachers were being treated differently from other schools staff; and
  • The inappropriate use of laptops provided to pupils, that the cost to individual schools of purchasing software to prevent this was very expensive and whether the Council could facilitate a large-scale purchase of this software at a lower cost.

 

A Member who was a Primary School Teacher Representative outlined the challenges schools had faced regarding the number of children who were eligible to access on-site learning during lockdown, advising that headteachers had had to make difficult decisions, taking into account the needs of vulnerable children and staff safety.  She also informed Members how children learning at home were being supported by schools, including schools loaning laptops, helping parents to access Google Classroom on a range of devices, providing paper copies of work where necessary, monitoring how families were managing with remote learning, having screen free days and providing certificates and postcards to pupils to help to motivate them.  She highlighted that children were still receiving an education during this period and that the area that they would most need to catch up on post-lockdown was their social and mental well-being.

 

The Director of Education advised that most schools had been able to meet demand for on-site places for the children of critical workers but that there were four schools where the level of demand had been very  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8a

Children and Education Services Budget 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 613 KB

Report of the Strategic Director for Children and Education Services

 

This report provides updated Children and Education Services 2021/22 budget proposals that reflect the feedback and decision(s) from the scrutiny and Executive meetings that were held in January 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received two reports of the Strategic Director for Children and Education Services.  The first report provided updated Children and Education Services 2021/22 budget proposals that reflected the feedback and decisions from the scrutiny and Executive meetings that were held in January 2021.  The second report provided a summary of the confirmed Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) allocation from the 2021/22 settlement announced on the 17December 2020 and the budget allocation across individual school budgets and the Council’s retained schools

budgets which was reported to the Schools Forum on 18 January 2021.

 

The main points and themes within the Children and Education Services Budget report included:

 

  • Background and context;
  • Revenue Strategy;
  • Directorate Revenue Budget 2021/22;
  • Our Corporate Plan and Business Plan;
  • Impact on Workforce, Residents, Risk Management and Legal

Considerations; and

  • Consultation.

 

The main points and themes within the School Budget report included:

 

  • DSG 2021/22 settlement;
  • Distribution of the grant across educational establishments and Council

retained budgets; and

  • High needs pressures.

 

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

 

  • To thank the Executive for taking on board the Committee’s concerns about the proposal for the revised parenting commission and to welcome that this proposal had been removed;
  • Concern about the longer-term impact of the pandemic on the Council’s budget and on children and families;
  • Trends in terms of the number of Looked After Children (Our Children) and the associated costs of placements; and
  • The impact of the proposed cut to funding for interventions to support the improvement of maintained schools.

 

The Strategic Director for Children and Education Services informed the Committee that none of the proposals were without risk but that officers had tried to manage and mitigate that risk and were working within a clear strategy of early intervention and improved, targeted commissioning to avoid higher costs later on.  He advised that it was difficult to predict future trends, particularly the long-term impact of COVID-19, and that relatively small changes in the number of children who were Looked After, particularly those requiring external residential provision, would have a large impact on the budget.  He informed Members that significant savings had already been made due to a reduction in the number of Our Children who were placed in external residential provision.  He reported that, since the start of the pandemic, there had been an increase in requests for Early Help and lower level interventions and that steps were being taken to strengthen this area which, he advised, should help to prevent the escalation of needs to the point where statutory intervention was required.  He outlined how the budget from the decommissioned Families First service had been reinvested to strengthen early intervention.  He suggested that the Committee scrutinise the service’s work on the key areas of early intervention, prevention and care planning over the next 12 to 18 months to assess how much impact this work was having.  He advised that the number of children becoming Looked After had decreased and that this was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8a

9.

School Budget 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 354 KB

Report of the Strategic Director for Children and Education Services

 

This report provides a summary of the confirmed Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) allocation from the 2021/22 settlement announced on the 17th December and the budget allocation across individual school budgets and Council’s retained schools budgets which was reported to Schools Forum on 18th January 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report was considered under the previous item (CYP/21/08).

10.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 433 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 drew Members’ attention to the items on the agenda for the March meeting.  He informed the Committee that he would not be standing for re-election in May so the March meeting was due to be his last meeting.  On behalf of the Committee, a Member thanked the Chair for the way he had chaired the Committee over the previous three years.

 

Decision

 

To note the report and agree the work programme.