Manchester City Council

Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 5th February, 2020 10.00 am

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

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Media

Items
No. Item

8.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 247 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 8 January 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Decision

 

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 8 January 2020.

9.

Publication of Greater Manchester Mayor, Independent Assurance review of the effectiveness of multi agency responses to child exploitation in Greater Manchester pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services

 

This reports informs Members of the work that has been undertaken within the Council following the issues being raised that led to the Mayor’s Independent Assurance Review and provides reassurance that our response to the exploitation and abuse of children has strengthened significantly in Manchester.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which informed Members of the work that had been undertaken within the Council following the issues being raised that led to the Mayor’s Independent Assurance Review and provided reassurance that the response to the exploitation and abuse of children had strengthened significantly in Manchester.

 

The Chair began by stating that this was an issue of great concern to the Committee and that their thoughts were with the people affected.  He advised that the Committee had scrutinised the work on complex safeguarding over the past few years, through report and visits, but still had questions and concerns that they wanted to raise through this meeting.

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services introduced the report, highlighting that the Council had been pro-actively working with GMP to make improvements in response to the emerging findings from the review, without waiting for the report to be published.  He also advised that, where appropriate, employees from the time period that the report covered had been referred to the relevant regulatory body.

 

The Executive Member for Children and Schools drew Members’ attention to the statements that the Council had issued following the publication of the report.  He advised the Committee that there had been significant changes made since the time period which the report covered but that the Council could not be complacent on this issue.

 

The Leader outlined his role in safeguarding, following the introduction of the Children Act 2004, which had been implemented in 2006.  He informed Members that he was responsible for ensuring the adequacy of the Council’s safeguarding responsibilities and outlined how he did this.  This included monthly meetings with the Executive Member for Children and Schools and quarterly meetings with the Chief Executive and Executive Members and members of the Senior Leadership Team with responsibility for safeguarding adults and children, where performance indicators were reviewed and issues discussed.

 

The Chair highlighted that at the meeting of the Council on 29 January 2020 Members had agreed a pledge on safeguarding children. 

 

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

 

  • The issue of Manchester children being placed in homes outside of the city and non-Manchester children being placed in homes within the city and how to ensure safeguarding in these cases;
  • How patriarchal attitudes at the time contributed to an environment where the sexual abuse of girls was not effectively challenged;
  • Problems with GMP’s new computer system iOPS;
  • What was being done to engage with shopkeepers and others in busy retail districts who might spot issues of concern in their area;
  • Working effectively with other Council services, such as taxi licensing, to address child sexual exploitation;
  • Concerns that the team undertaking the review had not been able to obtain all the relevant information and, that, in addition to the ongoing criminal investigation, further investigation should take place of the failings of the Council;
  • Changes in the methods being used to groom children,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Planning for Ofsted’s ‘Proportionate’ Inspection of Manchester’s Children’s Services - April 2020 to April 2021 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Presentation of Manchester Children and Education Services

 

This presentation provides information on the planning for Ofsted’s ‘proportionate’ inspection of Manchester’s Children’s Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which provided information on the planning for Ofsted’s ‘proportionate’ inspection of Manchester’s Children’s Services.

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services referred to the main points and themes within the presentation which included:

 

·         Information on Ofsted’s new ILACS (Inspection of Local Authority Children's Services) Framework, which was implemented in 2018;

·         Areas of focus for the ILACS;

·         The process for an ILACS; and

·         Planned activity during 2020/21.

 

The Committee recognised the progress that had been since the 2014 Ofsted inspection.

 

In response to a Member’s question, the Deputy Director of Children’s Services reported that the Signs of Safety model worked to build on a family’s strengths but with a clear focus on risk, understanding the risks and the contribution of partners in ameliorating risk.

 

In response to a Member’s question on Social Workers’ workloads and the stability of the social work workforce, the Executive Member for Children and Schools advised the Committee that Ofsted had recognised that the Council was addressing this.  He informed Members that money had been set aside in the budget for this and that further details would be included in a future report.

 

Decision

 

That the Committee will continue to monitor this work in the lead up to the next Ofsted inspection.

11.

The Council's Updated Financial Strategy and Budget reports 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Report of the Chief Executive and the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer

 

This report provides an update on the Council’s overall financial position and sets out the next steps in the budget process, including scrutiny of the budget proposals and budget report by this Committee.

 

Each Scrutiny Committee will receive a budget report aligned to its remit, showing the main changes proposed to delivery and funding. The services to be considered by each scrutiny committee are shown at table five. The report also outlines the proposals for how the Council could deliver a balanced budget for 2020/21, the details of which will be discussed at the relevant scrutiny committees.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Chief Executive and the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer, which provided an update on the Council’s overall financial position and set out the next steps in the budget process, including scrutiny of the budget proposals and budget report by this Committee.

 

In conjunction to the above, the Committee also considered the Children and Education Services Budget 2020/21 which provided the final budget proposals following the contents of the provisional Local Government Settlement received late December 2019 and feedback from scrutiny committees during January 2020.  In addition, the Committee received the School Budgets 2020/21 which provided a summary of the confirmed Dedicated School Grant (DSG) allocation from the 2020/21 settlement announced on 19 December 2019, and the budget allocation across individual school budgets and Council-retained schools budgets.

 

The proposed 2020/21 budget reflected the fact the Council had declared a climate emergency by making carbon reduction a key consideration in the Council’s planning and budget proposals.

 

The Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources outlined the national context within which the budget was being set, highlighting the significant decrease in funding to the Council since 2010.

 

The Ward Councillor for Miles Platting and Newton Heath highlighted the issue of homeless families being placed in temporary accommodation in a different area and who would fund transport to school, where it was in the child’s interests to continue to attend their existing school.  The Executive Member for Children and Schools outlined how Executive Members were working together to look at how services could be better co-ordinated to address homelessness and meet the needs of people who were homeless.  He reported that he would also be meeting with the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services, the Director of Homelessness and Deputy Leader Councillor Sue Murphy to consider how Children’s Services and the Homelessness Service could work better together to support homeless families.  He advised that he would take forward the issue raised by the Member.  The Chair requested that the Committee receive a report at a future meeting on this area of work.  A Member questioned whether a joint subgroup should be established with the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee to look at this issue in more detail.  The Chair advised that he would not be recommending this at this time but that he would speak to the Chair of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee about how best to scrutinise this subject.  

 

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

 

  • Educational Psychology including the overspend and the future commissioning arrangements;
  • That the Troubled Families grant had recently been confirmed for a further year by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and was the Council prepared if this funding was not continued in future years; and
  • That additional money had been allocated to the High Needs Block of the DSG but that this followed several years of the funding being frozen when the number of pupils in Manchester was increasing.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

School Place Planning and Admissions pdf icon PDF 319 KB

Report of the Director of Education

 

This report provides an update on school admissions for the academic year 2019/20 along with plans for creating additional capacity in response to forecast demand across primary and secondary schools.

 

The Committee is invited to comment on the report prior to its submission to the Executive on 12 February 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Children and Schools outlined the process that was currently taking place regarding the proposal to close Newall Green High School, advising that this was not the Council’s decision.  He informed Members that the Council had written to the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Department for Education to oppose the closure.  A copy of the letter that the Executive Member had written to the Regional Schools Commissioner was shared with the Committee. 

 

The Executive Member for Children and Schools advised that closing Newall Green High School was not in the interests of the children at the school and their families and that there was not capacity elsewhere within the school system to accommodate all the children if this school did close.  He informed Members that the Council had discussed with the Trust which ran the school some options to address the budget concerns which had led to their proposal to close the school. He reported that he was also awaiting a response from the Regional Schools Commissioner.

 

Members discussed their concerns at the proposed closure of the school, including concerns for the children and staff affected and that high schools in south Manchester were increasingly clustered around one area, with children in Wythenshawe having less local provision.  A Member advised that, although a listening period was taking place, she felt as though a decision had already been made.

 

In response to a Member’s question, the Executive Member for Children and Schools reported that the Council did not have any formal powers in relation to this decision but he outlined what the Council was doing to trying to influence the decision, including lobbying at the highest level and meeting with the Trust to try to identify a solution.

 

The Chair recommended that the Committee endorse the letter which the Executive Member for Children and Schools had sent to the Regional Schools Commissioner, opposing the closure of the school.

 

The Committee received a report of the Director of Education which provided an update on school admissions for the academic year 2019/20 along with plans for creating additional capacity in response to forecast demand across primary and secondary schools.  The report stated that investment in modern, energy efficient and high quality education infrastructure would drive reductions in carbon across the estate of schools.

 

The Committee was invited to comment on the report prior to its submission to the Executive on 12 February 2020.

 

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

 

  • School admission applications 2019/20;
  • School population forecast;
  • Approach to securing sufficient school places; and
  • Actions to secure sufficient school places, including proposals for a new primary school and a new secondary school and the expansion of Dean Trust Ardwick.

 

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

 

  • The geographical spread of schools, particularly the number of high schools in the West Didsbury and Chorlton area;
  • The importance of taking into account future housing development when planning for school  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 459 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 alsoincludes the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee is asked to amend as appropriate and agree.

Additional documents:

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.

 

A Member requested a response to the previous recommendation that further information be provided on the number of siblings who had been allocated places at different schools.  The Head of Access confirmed that she would provide this.

 

Decision

 

To note the report and agree the work programme.