Agenda and draft minutes

Safeguarding and Education Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 13th June 2024 10:00am

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions

Contact: Helen Phillips  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

Additional documents:


There were none at this meeting.


Minutes of the Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 18 April 2024 pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Additional documents:


Resolved: That the minutes of the Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 18 April 2024 be confirmed nd signed by the Chairman.


Education and current key themes

Presentation by the Assistamt Director for Education, Strategy and Improvement

Additional documents:


[Tim Moss, Assistant Director for Education, Strategy and Improvement, Dr Halit Hulusi, Head of SEND and Andrew Marsden, Head of Access to Learning, Inclusion and Improvement, in attendance for this item]


The Cabinet Member for Education and SEND introduced the Committee to the work within his remit and welcomed future scrutiny from this Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


The Committee received an outline of the Education Strategy and improvement, hearing specifically about the three main areas of:

·         SEND

·         the Virtual School, and

·         access to learning, inclusion and improvement


The SEND vision and key activities were shared with Members. This included the recently introduced Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) which enabled a timely higher quality assessment of a young person’s needs which was separate from, and  prior to the statutory Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) process. It enabled assessment over a longer period of time, giving more accurate assessments of need. This work had been applauded by the Department for Education and NHS England, who were looking forward to seeing the outcomes from this initiative.


Members received details of:

·         the Staffordshire co-production promise, driving this approach through training;

·         the Staffordshire Enhanced District Inclusion Support (SEDIS) and Special Schools Strategy, supporting inclusion, with enhanced locality pre-statutory provision and accessed by need;

·         SEND transport, with detailed work already undertaken in this area looking at provision that was fiscally responsible whilst meeting need.


The Committee were aware that Staffordshire was subject to an Accelerated Progress Plan (APP) for SEND, with the Department for Education and NHS England reviewing and monitoring the work to improve SEND services. Details of their reviews at six, twelve and eighteen months were shared with Members, with another SEND inspection expected soon. Key challenges existed with the rising demand for SEND services and the funding of these services. Further challenges were with the lack of registered Educational Psychologists, the inclusion of children with SEND in mainstream schooling and the lack of national direction around SEND law, practice and funding.


Members heard that the role of the Virtual School linked social care and education, providing support and challenge. It championed the needs of Looked After Children through information, advice and guidance and:

·         commissioned provision based on information drawn from the electronic Personal Education Plan (ePEP)

·         provided advice and information for previously looked after children and children with a social worker to parents/carers/educationalists and social care professionals

·         provided training and support

·         created a culture of high aspirations in education for all children with a social worker

·         tracked, monitored and evaluated academic outcomes

·         provided specialist advice regarding children in crisis


Members received detail of governance for the Virtual School and its three priorities, these being: development of relational and restorative practice in education settings; implementation of RADY “Raising Attainment of Disadvantages Youngsters” for children with a social care involvement; and, strengthening the alignment of care and education planning.


The Committee heard detail of the work within the Access to Learning, Inclusion and Improvement team and the areas of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Children’s Services Ofsted Improvement Plan pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

Additional documents:


[Nisha Gupta, Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care, in attendance for this item]


The Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered the draft Children’s Services Ofsted Improvement Plan at their meeting of 18th April 2024. The partnership plan had now been updated and agreed with partners. The Inspecting Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) plan had been submitted to Ofsted on 22nd April 2024. Ofsted will monitor progress of the Plan’s implementation on a quarterly basis.


The Plan is based on the four overarching priorities identified by Ofsted during the Inspection:

a.   the quality and effectiveness of management oversight of contacts, referrals, and assessments in the ‘front door’.

b.   the effectiveness and impact of performance data and quality assurance to drive practice improvement.

c.    the effectiveness and oversight of allegations against those in positions of trust undertaken by the local authority designated officer (LADO) service.

d.   the effectiveness of partnership working, particularly with housing and health partners, to improve children’s access to dentistry and for children in care with more complex health needs to get timely assessment and support and ensure that care leavers are not placed in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

To support their implementation the improvements have been grouped into key areas:

a.   to deliver the Corporate Parenting Strategy

b.   to improve management oversight of children in need of help and protection

c.    to develop policies, processes and procedures

d.   to implement and monitor the impact of the Quality Assurance Framework

e.   to improve the effectiveness of the partnership arrangements to ensure that the needs of children are met


The Committee received details of the governance supporting the improvement process, with the internal plan monitored by the Children’s Improvement Board Operational Group. The partnership plan will be monitored by the Strategic Children’s Improvement Board. Both the Improvement Board and the Operational Group will have the same external independent chairman.


Developments were already taking place, with improved oversight of the quality of the “front door” children’s service and improved line of sight with the LADO. Peer challenge had been introduced to support development and the care leavers offer was being strengthened, including the offer around work experience and apprenticeship opportunities within the county council. The work around provision for those children with more complex needs would be a wider, lengthier piece of work involving partnerships and combined commissioning with the NHS.


The Committee raised concerns that the Ofsted report had identified issues they had not been aware of, with Members wanting to understand whether this was because the wrong information was measured and shared. The Cabinet Member reminded them that Ofsted had identified issues around management oversight but had not found unsafe or bad practice. The management supervision had been supportive but on occasion lacked challenge. Reporting of the management and supervision had not been consistent, in that whilst this supervision happened, it was not always reported in the way Ofsted required and therefore was not evidenced effectively. This had been identified as a training need and was being addressed.


The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Work Programme Planning pdf icon PDF 218 KB

Considering the extended remit of the Committee and the items carried forward, the Committee will develop its work programme for 2024-2025

Additional documents:


The Committee considered their work programme planning for the new municipal year, looking at areas within the Committee’s new remit, items which were previously requested by the Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and suggesting further areas for scrutiny around: governance; absenteeism, home education; and SEND. The Chairman indicated he felt the following areas were priority:

a.   domestic abuse contract 6 months on

b.   ILACS progress

c.    continued development of the Children’s and Adults MASH

d.   review progress/sustainability of recent actions to reduce the adult safeguarding concern backlog

e.   risks of modern slavery and internal recruitment and concerns around the Home Office revoking licences


It was suggested that a separate informal work programme planning session be arranged to confirm work programme priorities and methods of scrutiny.


Resolved: That an informal work programme planning meeting be arranged.