Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Advisory Board - Children and Young People - Friday, 4th December, 2020 10.30 am

Venue: via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Daniel Hamilton  Email:

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies were received from Mrs E Williamson.



To report any changes to the membership of the Board


There were no changes to membership on this occasion.



Members are invited to disclose any disclosable pecuniary interest they have in any item on the agenda which comprises


1          Details of any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for            profit or gain.


2          Details of any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out duties as a member, or towards your election expenses.  (This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.


3          Details of any contract which is made between you (or a body in which you have a beneficial interest) and the authority


(a)       Under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and


            (b)       Which has not been fully discharged.


4          Details of any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the authority. 


5          Details of any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the authority for a month or longer. 


6          Details of any tenancy where (to your knowledge)


            (a)       The landlord is the authority; and


            (b)       The tenant is a body in which you have a beneficial                                                         interest.


7          Details of any beneficial interest in securities of a body where


(a)       That body (to your knowledge) has a place of business or land in the    area of the authority; and



(b)       Either –


(i)      The total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one            hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or


(ii)     If that share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.

In addition, you must also disclose other non-pecuniary interests set out in the Code of Conduct where these have not already been registered.




A “disclosable pecuniary interest” is an interest of a councillor or their partner (which means spouse or civil partner, a person with whom they are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom they are living as if they are civil partners).


There were no disclosures of interest made on this occasion.



To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda.


RESOLVED that,                 the press and public be not excluded from the meeting during consideration of any items of business on the agenda.


MINUTES pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 11 September 2020.



RESOLVED that,                 the minutes of the meeting held on the 11 September 2020 be confirmed as an accurate and complete record.




Paper by the Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive).


The Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive) provided an introductory overview of the reports to be considered and used the opportunity to praise the efforts of all officers, partners and the staff at the county’s schools.

Members considered a report presented to the Committee by the Senior Manager – Children and Families which provided an overview of the development of the Early Help Strategy and the Children’s Trust Board locality partnership groups.

In 2019 Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership held a series of consultation events around the County entitled ‘Developing Excellent Early Help’ to inform the development of the strategy. Members heard that the consultation events were well attended  with 276 professionals taking part. The completed strategy would create a system in which vulnerable children and families were identified and engaged with at the earliest point, so that their needs need not be escalated to requiring a statutory intervention. It was AGREED that the strategy document be circulated to members ahead after the meeting.

The Senior Manager – Children and Families explained that governance sat with The Children’s Trust Board (CTB) and Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership. Delivery of the strategy would be through the six CTB Locality Children’s Partnership Groups. Membership of each of the Boards was broad and involved statutory, voluntary and community sector partners.

The locality groups would aim to build a commitment to early intervention which would reduce the barriers to effective multi-agency working and to improve the identifying of opportunities to improve outcomes for children, young people and families by working together better. Each of the groups had a Chair and Vice Chair and was working with the County Council’s Local Committees to ensure alignment in the local area.

The Senior Manager – Children and Families explained the Think Family agenda and how it would recognise and promote the importance of a whole-family approach built on the principles of 'Reaching out: think family', to move from a transactional to a relational approach.

Members asked for assurance that work was ongoing to ensure the input of the local police on each of the six CTB Locality Children’s Partnership Groups. The Senior Manager – Children and Families explained that the focus hubs in each of the locality’s. The police had a developed a child centred policing team in each locality and the inspectors within those teams would sit on the CTB Locality Children’s Partnership Groups. Members also heard that the Think Family support panels which incorporated adult focused domestic abuse issues had been developed with the police and had met for the first time in November.

RESOLVED that,     members note the report.








Paper by the Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive).



Members considered a report from the Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive) which provided an outline of the existing regulatory regimes that related to children’s services and highlighted where there had been impact on these regimes during the current COVID-19 pandemic.


The Senior Manager - Partnerships and People Improvement began by discussing Children’s social care which was subject to the Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) framework. The last full inspection under the previous Single Inspection Framework (SIF) in November 2017 returned a ‘Requires Improvement’ judgement.


Under the ILACS framework local authorities receive a full inspection approximately every three years with a minimum of two short focused visits (usually thematic) undertaken between inspections, one of which could be a Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) which is a thematic multi-agency inspection which Ofsted and other regulators undertaken with a small number of authorities each year against a selected topic, such as child exploitation, or mental health.


Our first short focused visit under the ILACS framework took place in August 2019. There were no priority areas for improvement resulting from the visit and many areas of positive practice highlighted. Our second short focused visit was scheduled for March 2020 and postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


During COVID-19, the formal inspection schedule had been postponed, however Ofsted recently initiated support/assurance visits to local authorities but had since paused ILACS support/assurance visits during the national lockdown effective from 5 November. Ofsted have since stated that due to the 10 day notice period it is likely to mean there would be no further focused visits until the New Year.


The Senior Manager - Partnerships and People Improvement then moved on to discuss the regulatory regime regarding SEND. The Council received the first SEND inspection in 2019.  The inspection identified 9 areas for priority action which formed the basis of a Written Statement of Action which was the joint responsibility of the local authority and the two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Cumbria.


The improvement activity had been led by the SEND Improvement Board, with an independent chair and strong partnership representation including parents/carers and elected members. The monitoring/progress evaluation visits took place quarterly led by the Department of Education (DfE) and NHS England.  The last such visit took place on 16 November 2020. The timeframe for our re-inspection is unknown and is likely to have been impacted by the pause in inspections during Covid.


School inspections are carried out under the Education Inspection Framework which covers Ofsted inspections of maintained schools, academies, non-association independent schools, further education and skills provision and registered early years settings in England. The frequency of inspection will depend on the most recent judgement afforded to a setting.


The COVID pandemic resulted in a pause of Ofsted inspections on 17 March 2020.         Ofsted commenced an interim visit programme on 28 September 2020. These interim visits were introduced to reassure and inform parents, government and the public about how schools are managing the return  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.


COVID-19 UPDATE pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Paper by the Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive).


Members considered a report which provided the Board with an update on impact of COVID-19 on the children’s system as well as providing a look ahead to recovery and the priorities for children and families going forward. The report outlined the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Priorities across the Children’s System, which covered, Early Years and Schools, SEND, Social Care and Safeguarding, Think Family and Early Help and Children’s Commissioning.

The Assistant Director – Education and Skills provided a verbal update regarding the situation with schools and education providers. The whole system was continuing to manage the situation logistically but also with regard to managing concerns over physical and emotional health for both staff and students. An update was then provided regarding the additional funding  being made available to Head teachers which members heard would be inclusive of staffing costs. Members were given assurance about the provision of free school meals through a voucher systems which would be provided over school holidays and regarding support of newly vulnerable families through provision of IT equipment.

Early years Private, Voluntary and Independent sector (group based and childminders) had showed incredible resilience and support to families throughout the pandemic. The Council was not currently aware of any early years settings closing as a direct result of COVID-19, however the future of the sector was potentially fragile as a result of a combination of reduced demand from families for fee paying places, and the end of the flexible furlough scheme in March 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic had also presented an exceptional challenge on our SEND services but members were pleased to hear that the Council had maintained continuity of support and provision for our SEND children and young people, and despite this disruption and adaptation to new ways of working business had continued as usual in the midst of a service redesign. The redesign was redesigned to improve how services would work to support the children and young people with SEND.


With regard to Social Care and Safeguarding, members heard that key partnerships had been maintained and strengthened during this period, fortnightly Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership (CSCP) business continuity meetings ensured a joined up partnership response.


During the response phase there was a significant drop in calls to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, which was in line with the national trend. Whilst figures increased later, the figure for October 2020 was 19% lower than the 2019 average.


In terms of social care the overall numbers of open cases had fallen by 7% since the start of the pandemic. The picture differed across the districts with Carlisle seeing a substantial decrease in case numbers, whilst numbers in Barrow had increased by 8%. Other districts had either remained stable or seen a small decline in numbers.

The impact of Covid on Emotional Health and Wellbeing was being seen across the system. In terms of calculating demand, the latest national survey results from NHS Digital showed a significant increase in the incidence of children and young people experiencing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.



To receive an update from the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services and the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Schools and Learning.


The Cabinet member for Children’s Services provided an update on the Corporate Parenting Board and the progress of the Looked After Children Strategy action plan that had been developed with partners. There were three young people from the CICC who had been taken on by the Council to champion Looked After Children and Care Leavers on the CICC’s in localities and would be invited to join the Corporate Parenting Board. The Cabinet member for Children’s Services praised the CICC and the Children’s Rights Officers for the organisation of the CICC Awards event which took place virtually.


The Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning provided an overview of the work taking place within her portfolio which included an update on the progress of the Alternative Provision hubs and the recent decision on the extension of Sandgate School. She then discussed the support that was in place for the wellbeing of head teachers.



To consider a report from the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).


The report informs members of new and updated items of significance to the Board (including relevant aspects of the Council’s Forward Plan of Key Decisions).



Members considered the report from the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services. The Strategic Policy and Scrutiny Advisor introduced the report and provided an overview of the Board’s business and the items on the Cabinet Forward Plan which had children and young people as their focus.


Members raised concerns regarding the timescale for the Board to consider items on the Forward Plan. It was stated by Councillor Turner that the window of opportunity was too brief to be able to provide sufficient scrutiny of the decision he then went on to ask specifically that the Scrutiny Board write a letter to Cabinet asking that the School Admission Arrangements decision be removed from the agenda. A discussion took place regarding this item whereby it was seconded and AGREED that a letter be drafted from the Chair to Leader of the Council asking that the School Admission Arrangements item be withdrawn from the Cabinet agenda to allow time for consideration by the Scrutiny Board.


RESOLVED that,    


1)    members note the report,


2)    a letter be drafted from the Chair to the Leader of the Council recommending the withdrawal of the School Admission Arrangements item from the Cabinet agenda to allow time for consideration by the Scrutiny Board.



Date: 9 February 2021     

Time: 10:30am

Venue: TBC