Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Barking
Contact: Matthew Whiddett, Scrutiny Team Manager, Civic Centre, Dagenham Telephone - 020 8227 2995 / e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
Declaration of Members' Interests
In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, Members are asked to declare any personal or prejudicial interest they may have in any matter which is to be considered at this meeting.
To confirm as correct the minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2011
The minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2001 were agreed.
Serious Case Review update
An update from the Corporate Director of Children’s Services on the Serious Case Review for Child T and Child R.
The Corporate Director of Children’s Services outlined the history of the case explaining that it involved multiple agencies over the past 12 years. All agencies involved submitted management reports and an Independent Author submitted a final report to Ofsted for evaluation.
There were 210 recommended actions as a result of the review of which 151 are completed, 58 are in progress and only one has not been started.
The Corporate Director of Children’s Services highlighted some of the key findings from the review including:
· The role of ethnicity, religion and immigration especially when used by the mother in complaints against Social Workers.
· High turnover of Social Workers caused the case to stagnate during handovers of staff.
· The home education intervention policy was not understood by staff.
· Child T had communications difficulties due to his Autistic Spectrum Disorder which Social Workers were not trained to deal with.
· The mother was very difficult and aggressive and actions were taken to placate her whilst forgetting about the needs of the children.
· Due to reports of domestic violence, the father was assumed to be the source of the abuse and so was not involved in the case at an early stage. His views at a later stage revealed that the mother suffered from historic mental health problems.
· Legal advice was delayed or incorrect.
· Important information from health services was not always passed on and this weakened decision making.
· Decisions were taken but not acted upon; there were issues with pace and timeliness.
The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board has run four training session for staff to which 274 people attended.
Members asked what role the Faith Forum could play. The Corporate Director of Children’s Services explained that we need contacts with key religions to be able to get advice in difficult cases involving cultural or religious issues. She also explained that nowadays, Social Workers better reflect the ethnic makeup of the community.
Members agreed that all members of the Children’s Services Select Committee would benefit from training on serious case reviews. Members agreed that training should be essential but with regard to the cost.
AP: Scrutiny Manager to investigate if more training on the serious case review can be done by Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.
Members asked if mistakes caused the tragedy.
The Corporate Director of Children’s Services explained that the death was not predictable and that mistakes were not the cause of death, however, if social care had taken a different course of action this may have resulted in the child still being alive.
Special Educational Needs (SEN) scrutiny review
A presentation from Alex Rowley on his experiences of SEN provision.
Alex Rowley gave a presentation on his experiences of going through the educational system with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. He detailed his early life pre-diagnosis; early school years; secondary education at Eastbrook School and the support he received from home, school and other organisations. He also outlined his aspirations for the future including going to college.
The Corporate Director of Children’s Services explained that Alex’s and his mother’s attitude gave Eastbrook School the confidence to work with more children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Members expressed their admiration for Alex’s achievements and thanked him for his presentation.
AP: Scrutiny Manager to arrange for feedback forms to be filled in by all Members and returned to Alex.
A presentation from a Head Teacher on their experiences of SEN provision.
Simon Weaver, Head Teacher at Dagenham Park Church of England School, gave a presentation on how children with Special Educational Needs are treated in his school.
He explained that the Ofsted inspection in May 2011 described the school as “truly inclusive” due to its policy of not withdrawing children (except for very serious cases or particular needs like speech and language) and keeping then in mainstream classes.
He outlined a school with an Additional Resources Provision (ARP) for 30 children with moderate learning difficulties which has become a centre of excellence as a caring environment extended through it’s partnership with parents and carers. It relies upon good home/school communication and the total dedication of staff.
He also explained that statistically, children with SEN make greater progress in attainment through the school than children without SEN.
Members asked Simon Weaver what his one worry was for the coming year. Simon Weaver replied that the loss of the Disadvantaged Fund was a major blow as it funded children on trips into the outside world where they learnt real life skills.
Members asked if a high turnover of teachers causes any issues.
Simon Weaver explained that in the last three years there had been a very low turnover of teachers allowing for continuity and that any new teachers had to pass their classroom assessments with a good or outstanding score.
Members also asked how individual learning needs were addressed. Simon Weaver explained that he had sent some struggling students on to hairdressing and beauty courses which had resulted in City and Guilds qualifications.
Members thanked Simon Weaver for his presentation.
A presentation from Doctor Waseem Mohi on his experiences of SEN.
A presentation from the Disabled Association of Barking and Dagenham (DABD) on their experiences of SEN.
The Young Peoples Services Manager and the Independent Travel Training Service Manager from DABD gave a presentation on the services offered to young people with Special Educational needs (SEN).
They explained what DABD was, how many staff and offices it currently has and that it is accredited by many organisations to deliver its services.
They explained that DABD provides help in the following areas;
· Community Development and Volunteering
· Travel Training
· Young People Services
· Personal Care
· Welfare Benefits
Young Peoples Services provides:
· Youth Club sessions (Ad Fab)
· Fitness sessions
· Holiday activities & Play Schemes (Saturday Buddy Club)
· Activity days and residential at Stubbers
Members asked if DABD saw higher than average numbers of children with SEN.
The Young Peoples Services Manager said that LBBD has a higher rate of SEN than all other London boroughs.
The Corporate Director of Children’s Services explained that LBBD was worse than other boroughs in all health statistics including life expectancy, child deaths and premature babies as well as having the highest number of unpaid carers in London.
Members asked how many families are receiving help and advice; what area the service covers and how do people get in touch with the service.
The Young Peoples Services Manager said that currently there were 200 families in Young People’s Services; DABD’s head office and 4 main branches are all in LBBD with satellite offices in other boroughs and finally that young people are referred by many types of services and also by self-referral.
Members asked what the travel training entailed.
The Independent Travel Training Service Manager explained that it was a pilot project with referrals from the Inclusion Team. It caters for young people (11-24 years old) and over 12 weeks teaches them how to travel safely to school or college.
The Corporate Director of Children’s Services said that it was a big success as it challenges parents to be brave and let their children try to do new things and learn new skills. She also said that all staff have, or care for, disabled children and so can relate with the fears of parents.
Members asked about the Stubbers week events and how much it cost.
The Independent Travel Training Service Manager explained that they received a grant from Essex Youth Trust which meant it cost £100 for the week all-inclusive which was a saving on the usual daily rate of £37. She explained that as the week is planned well in advance, parents can save up for the trip. She also explained that the young people learn living skills like laundry, cooking and personal care during the week.
Members asked what sources of funding are available to the DABD.
The Young Peoples Services Manager said that there is funding from The National Lottery, Help a London Child and City Bridge and that funding from the Local Authority was only a small amount and so any savings would not affect services offered.
The Corporate Director of Children’s Services explained that commissioning of the ... view the full minutes text for item 23d
Budget review 2010/11
An update on the budget savings made in 2010/11 by the Cabinet Member for Children and Education.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Education outlined the position of savings agreed and realised in 2011/12.
£4.5 million of savings were agreed and so far £4.4 have been realised leaving a shortfall of £100k. Savings were designed to minimise the impact on services and their users.
Some highlights include:
· Previously subsidised services are now being fully charged to schools
· SEN transport has been rationalised to give better support to children and reduce journey times
· The Youth Bus is being used more to provide mobile services
· SEN and placement costs have been reduced
· Staff reducing accommodation costs with a reduction in buildings from 10 to 3.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Education outlined three remaining areas of risk:
· Transport savings still need more work with Customer Services and Adult and Community Services
· A post within Safeguarding & Quality Assurance has not been deleted and a cash saving needs to be identified
· A charging policy for Children in Care has not been finalised so further savings will have to be identified to compensate for the £100k agreed saving.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Education highlighted the in-year pressures especially around placements as 31% of the population are children and there are currently 430 children in care. He also explained that it was crucial that Traded Services were of the best quality and value as possible or schools would not buy them in.
To consider the nature of forthcoming reports relating to the remit of the Select Committee.
The Designated Scrutiny Officer asked if Members wanted to look at any reports on the Forward Plan. Nothing was requested.
Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Children’s Services Select Committee is scheduled to take place on 22 November 2011.
The next meeting of Children’s Services Select Committee is scheduled to take place on 22 November 2011.
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