Agenda and minutes

Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 20th April 2023 10:00am

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

Contact: Helen Phillips  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

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Name of Member

Nature of Association

Minute No

Kath Perry MBE

Son is a Vice President of an Academy Trust




Minutes of the meeting held on 16 February 2023 pdf icon PDF 171 KB

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Resolved: That the minutes of the Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 16 February 2023 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.


Safeguarding of Permanently Excluded Pupils pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Education and SEND

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[Councillor Mrs Tina Clements, Chairman of Prosperous Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in attendance for this item.]


The Scrutiny Committee were aware of the significant impact a permanent exclusion could have on an individual and had requested detail of the potential safeguarding impacts.  Members received details of the exclusion process and the Local Authorities (LAs) role within this, including the role of the Education Inclusion Officers (EIOs).


Members heard that a key safeguarding function of the EIO’s was to arrange suitable full-time education for the excluded pupil, to being from the sixth day after the first day that permanent exclusion took place. In most cases this was provided through the pupil attending a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). Staffordshire had six secondary PRUs, a secondary Progress Centre and one primary PRU.


Each excluded pupil was also discussed at the weekly Alternative Provision Panel (APP), where their sixth day provision was confirmed and monitored. Attendees at the APP included representatives from Youth Offending, PRU Headteacher, SEND, EIOs, education welfare and the education commissioner. The Panel challenged and reconsidered education provision if it appeared not to be meeting the needs of the pupil. Where a pupil was unable to attend a PRU, the APP would consider other alternative provision, possibly requiring the LA to commission a service. This may mean the six-day window for provision was not met. In these circumstances the EIO would work closely with the family to ensure the pupil was safeguarded.


All the commissioned providers had undergone a robust process before becoming an approved provider, which included the scrutiny of their safeguarding policy. For excluded pupils with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) the EIO would liaise closely with the SEND key worker to ensure whatever provision was put in place met their needs, until another long-term provision could be secured.


Members heard that there had been 167 students permanently excluded from Staffordshire schools (both academy and maintained) during this academic year. The EIO worked with the school to help consider alternatives to exclusion, such as a managed move to another school or a prevention placement at a PRU. Where an exclusion was made, for the first five days after the exclusion the school remained responsible for the pupil’s education, which was normally through virtual learning packages.


The Committee heard about the innovative work of the Progress Centre, working on instances where the pupil was under threat of exclusion for a one off, out of character event. The Progress Centre was a unit within another school. The pupil would spend a short, concentrated amount of time receiving education in the Unit, but quickly starts receiving part of their education within the school that hosts the Unit. This enabled the individual to retain some continuity with mainstream education and, so far, had a 90% success rate in   returning pupils to mainstream education.


The Committee discussed the role of governors in the exclusion process, understanding the importance they had in reviewing the headteachers decisions and the formal part they had in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.


Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Health and Care

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The Council has a statutory duty to manage Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (DoLS) applications. The Scrutiny Committee had last considered a report on DoLS applications at their meeting of 10 January 2022. At that time it had been expected that DoLS would have been replaced by new legislation and a new process called Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) by October 2022. LPS would have reduced demand and time requirements that currently exist with DoLS, having less demand for specialist workforce. However, LPS had been delayed with no implementation date identified.


The Scrutiny Committee were aware that Staffordshire had a large number of care homes which resulted in a large number of DoLS applications compared with other LAs. They heard that during 2022/23 on average per month 550 applications were received, an increase of more than 20% compared with the average of 450 monthly applications in 2021/22. Up to half of these applications may be reapplications, with rising numbers of reapplications impacting on the overall increase.


The Scrutiny Committee were aware that historically there had been a large waiting list for DoLS applications. Following the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report in 2019 there had been a sustained effort to reduce the waiting list. Members received details of the reduced figures throughout 2021 – 2022.


It was noted that Staffordshire reported all uncompleted DoLS applications, whereas some LAs only reported those applications outstanding for more than 28 days. Currently in Staffordshire the majority of DoLS applications were undertaken within 36 days. There were a very small number assessed as low risk that had been waiting for over a year and these were being looked at as a matter of urgency. Changes to processes had also been made to make these more efficient, including a proportionate response to requests and changes to administration. During the autumn of 2022 the Council had increased capacity from an external provider to help manage additional demand. Whilst the provider had been anticipated to complete 80 assessments per week, they were in fact completing between 40-60 per week. Members heard that the provider was paid per completed assessment, however when retendering consideration would be given to assessment amounts within the new contract.


Members queried whether the Council had enough Best Interest Assessors (BIA). Whilst Staffordshire had BIAs, training new BIAs had been paused as it was expected the number needed would reduce once LPS were introduced. As the timescales for LPS were now unsure there was a need to train more. There had also been a rota for BIAs, which had also been paused but would need to be reintroduced.


Members queried the difference between DoLS requested by hospital or care homes as opposed to those for individuals that remained in their own home. Community DoLS underwent a similar assessment but in a different format undertaken by the Community Team.


Members received trend and forecast figures for completing 500 and 450 applications per month, and asked how realistic these were. These targets were challenging but realistic. There  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 248 KB

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This was the last meeting for this municipal year. There were a number of items to carry forward for possible addition on the 2023/24 work programme, including:

·         the role of the PSHE co-ordinator after the first twelve months; and

·         meeting with the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner following the February Panel meeting to discuss the PEEL report (a briefing from this meeting having been forwarded to Members).


Members also requested that the previous inquiry day report on Edge of Care should be circulated to Members along with implementation of recommendations to consider whether there was further follow-on work.


Members had previously completed work with young carers and agreed to become Young Carer Advocates. Further work was suggested on how this could be progresses.


Resolved: That the additions to the to work programme be noted.