Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Advisory Board - Children and Young People - Tuesday, 21st September, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: County Hall, Kendal

Contact: Daniel Hamilton  Email:

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Mr B McEwan, Mr P Turner, Mr G Roberts, Mrs S Sanderson and Mrs A Burns.



To report any changes to the membership of the Board.


There were no changes in membership made 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 declarations 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 310 KB

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 9 February 2021.



RESOLVED that,                 the minutes of the meeting held on the 9 February  2021 be confirmed as an accurate and complete record.




Positive Housing Pathway (Ages 16-25) pdf icon PDF 226 KB

To consider a presentation from the Intensive Early Help Manager and the Youth Offending And Prevention Service Manager.

Additional documents:


Members considered a report and presentation from the Intensive Early Help Manager (Youth Homelessness and Housing, Youth Substance Misuse) which provided an overview of the Cumbria Positive Housing Pathway Annual report 2020-21.


Members heard that in 2019, a service review was commissioned on supported accommodation services for young people. The review looked at models of national best practice and chose to adopt a Positive Housing Pathway (PHP) model, as devised by St Basil’s in Birmingham.  From 1 April 2020, the County Council’s service response to young people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness was being delivered through the new Positive Housing Pathway model, and in conjunction with providers – Impact, Project John and Depaul UK.

The Intensive Early Help Manager stated that it was the ambition for the service, from the first point of contact with a young person experiencing homelessness/at risk of homelessness, that everyone working in the service area sees the potential in that young person and plays their part in moving that young person from a point of crisis and give them hope for the future.

Members heard that, in addition to offering general advice and information, the Youth Homelessness and Housing Officers worked with young people who were threatened with homelessness, to explore their options and find an outcome that works for them.  Members were given assurance that the starting point assumption was that the young person would be better off living at home or in the wider family network, if it was safe for them to do so. The service had well-established partnership working to ensure that the right agencies were supporting young people, based on their assessed need.  If additional support was needed for a young person or the risk around a young person was felt to be escalating, then their case would be referred to one of the Early Help Panels (with the young person’s consent) with a wide range of partner agencies.


The Intensive Early Help Manager explained that from 1April 2020 the Gateway Group became the single point of access for the County into the Young People’s Housing Pathway. The Gateway Group continued to meet fortnightly (via telephone conferencing) to discuss and allocate referrals into the Pathway; these referrals could be for emergency accommodation, short-term accommodation, homeless prevention and/ or flexible support.  The Gateway Group facilitated multi-agency discussions based around the needs of the young person and the sustainability of the support.


The Intensive Early Help Manager summarised the achievements of the service over the first year using the PHP model. There had been 27 Gateway Groups, at which 263 separate young people were discussed (147 were aged 16 or 17 years and 116 were aged 18+). Members heard that 47 of those discussions had been STEP (Sustaining Tenancies and Eviction Prevention) discussions. Notice had been served for 5 young person in that time. It was explained that  everything possible was done in an attempt to avoid this, and the young people were offered support throughout. Of those  ...  view the full minutes text for item 70.


Children and Young People's Plan pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Report by the Assistant Director - Integration and Partnerships.

Additional documents:


Members considered a report which provided the Board with an overview of the refreshed Cumbria Children and Young People’s Plan.


In terms of background, members heard that the Cumbria’s Children Trust Board (CTB) set the strategic priorities for children and young people in Cumbria and oversees the development and implementation of the Children and Young People’s plan. The Assistant Director - Integration and Partnerships explained that the CTB was the partnership board for the Think Family approach in Cumbria and the delivery of the Early Help Strategy.

The Assistant Director - Integration and Partnerships talked members through the Plan and explained the changes made to wording, including the use of more simplified wording so as to all the document to be more accessible. Members heard that the Children and Young People’s Plan was closely related to the Education Vision for Cumbria and that most of the amendments to the Plan was to ensure that it was developed in line with Education Vision.

Members asked about waiting times for Mental Health services and highlighted that access to Mental Health services was still the number one priority for young people. The Assistant Director - Integration and Partnerships commented on the challenges presented nationally, and explained that Cumbria was presented with the same challenges. Assurance was provided to members that there had been successes in allocating named professionals in schools and this provided young people with alternative routes to access help. Following another question, it was AGREED that officers work collaboratively to ensure that the Children and Young People’s Plan and the Education Vision for Cumbria both address the provision of support for LGBTQ+ young people.

The discussion then moved to Emotional Health and Wellbeing in general and it was AGREED that an item be brought to a future meeting that addresses the work with regard to Emotional Health and Wellbeing.

A conversation took place regarding concerns over obesity and members suggested that a further focus be put on good nutrition as well as in promoting activity to ensure physical health.

RESOLVED that,                 members note the contents of the report.


Education Vision for Cumbria pdf icon PDF 267 KB

Report by the Assistant Director - Education & Skills.


Members received a presentation from the Assistant Director – Education and Skills which provided an overview of the Education Vision for Cumbria which been developed to provide a long-term vision for Cumbria’s schools and education system including Early Years and Post-16 Provision.


The Assistant Director – Education and Skills explained that in December 2020 colleagues from across the education system agreed to develop a shared Education Vision that would be system led. This was based on the County’s proven track-record for system leadership and a wish to strengthen the gains in collaborative working during the pandemic.


The Education Vision for Cumbria would aim to create an aspirational learning environment for children and young people. Following the challenges of the pandemic and the lost learning the vision seeks to promote a positive picture for future based on the three workstreams around curriculum, workforce and infrastructure. Members heard that equality and equity would be key, in particular in relation to the approach to SEND in the county. A debate had taken place with system partners over whether to have a separate focus on SEND but it was agreed collectively that inclusivity and achievement for all should permeate the plan and this would mean improvement in all areas, including SEND.


Members heard that the next steps were to receive sign off from the education system leaders and then develop the framework for initiating plans. Members raised concerns over the impact of Local Government Reform on the education system and the Assistant Director – Education and Skills agreed that there could be a significant impact but having a long term plan would still provide a framework for whichever form of Local Authority may need to implement it.


A discussion took place regarding incentives which drive schools towards a less people focused curriculum and towards performance driven curriculum. The Assistant Director – Education and Skills explained the role that a Local Authority can play in supporting the education system to make choices that are more creative. It was AGREED that the Warwick Commission report Enriching Britain: Culture Creativity and Growth (2015) be shared with members for information on how creativity can play a role in the curriculum.


Members stated that it was likely that the reason Cumbria had higher than the national average number of SEND pupils educated in mainstream settings was because there was less specialist places in the county and that many parent’s preference would be for their children to be education in a specialist setting. The Assistant Director – Education and Skills explained that with budgets in mainstream schools tightening over the last decade they were no longer able to meet the needs of SEND in the same way they were able to in the past. Members heard that there was numerous plans in place to try and meet the escalating need and provide further support in mainstream schools as well as in alternative provision and agreed that having greater availability of specialist provision would relieve some pressure.


RESOLVED that,                 members  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.


Ofsted Focus Visit pdf icon PDF 203 KB

Paper by the Assistant Director Children & Young People (Deputy DCS).

Additional documents:


Members considered a report from the Assistant Director – Children and Young People which provided an update to the Board following the Ofsted short focused visit of children’s services.


The focus of the recent visit was ‘the local authority’s arrangements for children in need including those who are subject to a child protection plan’. Ten working days’ notice was received, during which performance and other key documentation was shared with inspectors. They were on site in Cumbria on 21 and 22 July during which time they held meetings with the Assistant Director and Executive Director, they met with individual social workers and other managers in relation to key lines of inquiry.


The Assistant Director – Children and Young People explained that there were no ‘priority areas for action’ resulting from the visit. But many strengths were highlighted as well as some areas that required further focus. The headline findings reflected a continued improvement in social work practice since the last inspection in 2018, led by a “stable and determined” leadership team.  


Strengths highlighted included quality assurance and practice standards expectations as well as our social work model (Signs of Safety), as well as improvements in the quality of assessments and direct work and management oversight.


The key areas for improvement highlighted, related to the quality of social work for disabled children and the quality of plans and planning. In addition, the understanding of workers in relation to domestic abuse and the quality of supervision were referenced as needing additional focus.


The actions and improvements had been noted within the Quality and Development Plan and monitored on a quarterly basis.


RESOLVED that,                 members note the contents of the report.






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


An update was provided by the Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning which was as follows:-


We continue to work very hard on addressing the issues identified in the SEND inspection report. I continue to attend two working groups: SEND support and Transition.  I attend the SEND Improvement Board meetings the last one being with the DFE officer who evaluates what we have achieved and also provides challenge.  A report was presented at the Health and wellbeing board.  These are the two boards who monitor our progress.


I have attended School Forum working groups and the Forum itself. Our focus recently has been on improving the funding for special schools and a lot of work has begun on this by our finance team.  Discussions have also taken place about proposed changes to the National Funding formula.

I also attended a meeting of CCN.  School funding was an issue here too everyone had the same concerns that the demand for children with SEND continued to increase and LA budgets were overspent or predicted to increase.  A speaker indicated the DFE was at last taking this seriously; there was an acceptance that the SEND Review still unreported would not provide answers.  They were allowing LAs to keep the SEND overspend to be kept separate from Council debt.  They accepted that there were insufficient special schools nationally and were looking at this and expanding the national programme.

I have attended the Special School Headteacher meetings where we have been looking at meeting need, appropriate funding, NHS support and expansion.

I have been attending the Childrens Trust Board and the South Lakeland Locality partnership.

We continue to hold our weekly meetings with Headteachers, Senior staff, College principals, alongside leaders from Public Health, NHS and County leads.  The meetings are well attended and we manage to resolve issues, follow things up and share problems.  Weekly comms also extends the support this week it was mainly focused on supporting the secondary sector.”




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 a report from the Strategic Policy and Scrutiny Advisor which provided an update on the Board’s business and opportunities for further scrutiny.

The Strategic Policy and Scrutiny Advisor asked members to note the proposed agenda items for the December meeting and then provided an update on the consultation regarding the annual School Admission Arrangements.

RESOLVED that,                 members note the content of the reports.




Date: 10 December 2021

Time: 10:30 am

Venue: County Hall, Kendal


The next meeting of the Scrutiny Advisory Board – Children and Young People is due to take place on 10 December 2021 at County Hall, Kendal.