Agenda and minutes

Venue: Boardroom - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Bryony Gibbs, Democratic Services Officer  020 8937 1355 Email: bryony.gibbs@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair for the meeting

Minutes:

In the absence of the Chair or Vice Chair of the committee, nominations were sought for a Chair for the duration of the meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Councillor Gladbaum be elected Chair for the duration of the meeting.

2.

Declarations of personal and prejudicial interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting any relevant financial or other interest in the items on the agenda.

Minutes:

Alloysius Frederick advised that he was now employed by Capita and left the meeting for the duration of the item on Careers Advice for Young People in Brent.

3.

Deputations (if any)

Minutes:

None.

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the previous meeting be approved as a correct record.

5.

Matters arising

Minutes:

With regard to the presentation on the dental health, the committee sought an update on the two public health posts relating to schools and early years respectively. Councillor Pavey (Lead Member for Children and Families) advised that he would provide an update to the Committee on this matter at the next meeting. He further explained that he was adamant that consideration of children and young people be more deeply embedded in the work programme of the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) and would be providing feedback on this issue and the HWB agenda at future meetings of the committee. Mark Cairns (Policy and Performance Officer) drew members’ attention to the letter drafted on behalf of the committee regarding opportunities for dental health outreach work. The committee expressed its thanks to Imran Choudhury for drafting the letter and agreed that it be sent in the name of the whole committee.

 

The committee noted that as requested, a section setting out the child poverty implications of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) Annual Report had been circulated. In response to members’ comments regarding the brevity of section, Sara Williams (Director of Children and Families) advised it addressed the child poverty implications of the LSCB annual report as required and noted that all of the council’s strategies were interlinked. The committee requested an expanded version be prepared and circulated.

 

Responding to members queries, Sara Williams explained that a report on the Early Years team would be submitted to the next meeting of the committee scheduled for 10 December 2013 and that in future, a substantive report would be provided on admissions and school places for the September/October meeting of the committee.

 

RESOLVED:

 

      i.        that Imran Choudhury be thanked for his work in drafting the letter to NHS England.

    ii.        that the letter to NHS England regarding opportunities for dental health outreach work be sent from the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

   iii.        that a report on the Early Years Service be submitted to the next meeting of the committee on 10 December 2013.

   iv.        that a substantive report on admissions and school places be submitted to the September or October meeting of the committee each year.

 

 

6.

Corporate Parenting Strategy pdf icon PDF 318 KB

This report sets out the council’s progress and approach to acting as corporate parent of looked after children (LAC). The aim of the report is to evidence the progress being made towards improving the outcomes for LAC in order to narrow the gap in the outcomes of LAC and those of children in the wider population.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Vernon Bamforth (Interim Head of Care Planning) and Maggie Taylor (Head of the Virtual School) introduced the report before the committee and gave a detailed presentation on the progress achieved in improving outcomes for Looked After Children (LAC). The presentation provided a profile of Brent’s LAC and addressed a broad range of areas including outcomes relating to safeguarding, health, educational attainment and participation. Members were advised that the number of LAC in Brent had been reduced, suggesting successful targeting of preventative services, and the gap between outcomes achieved by LAC and those of their peers had been positively narrowed. It was noted that Looked After Children living in residential children’s homes were more likely to achieve poorer outcomes. Successful efforts had been made to place children with complex needs into highly supported foster placements in preference to residential units, resulting in a reduction of the latter from 90 in September 2012 to 75 in September 2013. Similarly, the council had also reduced its reliance on costly Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) placements, by increasing the proportion of LAC placed with Brent in-house foster carers.

 

Vernon Bamforth elucidated issues of safeguarding for LAC, including the risks relating to child sexual exploitation, gangs and children missing from education or care. A summary of the council’s protocols for identifying and addressing these risks was provided and the committee heard that Brent’s Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) was currently  reviewing the council’s policies and risk assessment tools regarding children missing from care. A multi-agency child sexual exploitation sub-group of Brent’s Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) had been established which was addressing this risk within the LAC population. Outlining developments in other areas, Vernon Bamforth explained that there had been an audit of health assessments which had evidenced substantial improvement in the quality of health provision to LAC. The importance of participation was also emphasised and members were apprised of the activities of the Brent Care in Action (CiA) group which encouraged young people to take an active part in shaping the services they used. 

 

Maggie Taylor explained the role of the Brent Virtual School, noting that it was  comprised of officers responsible for delivering a co-ordinated system of support to Brent’s Looked After Children to achieve improved educational attainment. In fulfilling this role, the Virtual School monitored progression, attendance, exclusion and out of school learning for all Brent LAC and ran a variety of out of school activities. At the present time, the school supported 235 children of which 60 per cent resided outside of Brent. Outlining the headline statistics for the 2012/13 academic year, Maggie Taylor advised that the level of authorised absence was high due in part to requirements to attend appointments relating to their status as LAC. However, efforts were being made to bring this figure down and a new protocol had been introduced requiring authorised absences to be agreed by a manager and the Head of the Virtual School. It was noted that each year the make up of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Careers Advice for Young People in Brent pdf icon PDF 121 KB

This report was requested by Brent Youth Parliament.

Minutes:

Angela Chiswell (Head of Youth Support Services) presented a report updating the committee on the provision of careers advice for young people in Brent. The report detailed the duties of the council, how these were met and outlined significant legislative changes affecting the delivery of careers advice. It was noted that this report had been requested by the Brent Youth Parliament in response to careers advice being frequently highlighted by their members and young people in Brent as an issue of importance. 

 

Members were advised by Angela Chiswell that the Education Act 2011 placed a duty on schools to secure and fund through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) access to independent, impartial careers guidance for their students  in yeas 9 to 11 from September 2012. This duty was extended to encompass years 8, 12 and 13 with effect from September 2013. Academies and Free schools were subject to the same requirements through their funding arrangements and the Department for Education (DfE) intended to extend an equivalent requirement to Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges through their funding agreements. These arrangements replaced the previous duty for Local Authorities to provide careers information, advice and guidance for young people in schools. However, the majority of Brent’s Secondary Schools, including Special Schools and alternative education providers had agreed to commission careers information, advice and guidance through Brent Council’s Youth and Connexions Service.

 

Angela Chiswell explained that Local Authorities were still required to meet a range of related duties, including making available support to those under the age of 19 to enable them to  participate in education and training; to track and record young people’s post-16 participation; to ensure all 16 and 17 year olds received suitable offers to continue in education or training; and to have arrangements in place to identify those young people who were not participating. The council met its current responsibilities via an in-house team of eight Connexions Advisers who provided intensive support, a Connexions Services contract which was currently out to tender for the period 2014 to 2017, and through the maintenance of the Integrated Youth Support database by Ealing Council on behalf of the West London Boroughs and Pan-London database by Central London Connexions.

 

It was emphasised that  Brent’s performance in meeting its duties in this area was good. Angela Chiswell explained that the Youth and Connexions service consistently achieved the key performance target for the number of 16 to 18 year olds in the NEET group, with a performance that was the third best in England measured over the period November 2012 to January 2013. Furthermore, in June 2012, Brent exceeded the national and London averages for the proportion of 16 to 17 year olds in education or training. The committee was advised that the Youth and Connexions Service had responded to the new arrangements by developing service delivery to reflect the changing role for the local authority.  It was highlighted that following the closure of the Connexions Centre in Willesden on 31 August 2012,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Working with Families update

The committee will receive a presentation on the early intervention work of the council and its partners regarding families with complex needs.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That due to time limitations, consideration of the Working with Families update report be deferred to the next meeting of the committee, scheduled for 10 December 2013.

9.

Brent Youth Parliament update

The members of the Brent Youth Parliament will be invited to provide an update on their work since the committee last met.

Minutes:

Roisin Healy (Brent Youth Parliament (BYP) Representative) updated the committee on the recent work undertaken by the BYP. Members were reminded that elections for BYP were scheduled for 18 November 2013 and it was noted that Thyvia Jeyashanker, previously Chair of the BYP, had recently resigned her position following her employment as a youth worker with the council.

 

Roisin Healy advised the committee that work had been on-going with the United Kingdom Youth Parliament (UKYP) to complete the make your mark surveys and responses to these had numbered more than 1500, exceeding that received for the previous year. The collated data from the surveys would determine the subject of the national and local campaigns. Efforts were also currently being made to encourage BYP members to join the Voice of the Child sub group of the LSCB. It was further highlighted that BYP members would be on the Panel for the Question Time event scheduled for Monday 14 October 2013

 

The committee thanked Roisin Healy for her update.

 

RESOLVED:

 

that the update on the work of the Brent Youth Parliament be noted.

10.

School Places update

Members will receive an update on the current situation regarding schools places in the borough.

Minutes:

An update on  school places within Brent was provided to the committee by Sara Williams (Director of Children and Families). The committee was advised that for secondary provision there were currently plenty of places for Years 7, 8 and 9 but that places for Years 10 and 11 were becoming very restricted, with approximately 50 to 70 new pupils arriving in the borough per week. Placing children in Years 10 and 11 required assessments to be undertaken and was becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.

 

Sara Williams subsequently outlined the position for Primary School places. Members heard that there had been sufficient Reception year places for all on-time applications; however, there had been over 600 late applications received, approximately 200 more than the previous year. The unexpected increase in applications had resulted in considerable challenges for the council, despite there having been a significant number of additional school places created for September 2013. Further provision was currently being created and extra places would be available in January 2014, with offers being made as of the forthcoming half term. At the present time there were 41 Reception year vacancies in Brent Schools and 161 reception year pupils without offers of school places. The council was currently exceeding schools’ admission numbers by placing children using the Fair Access Protocol. There were very few vacancies available in Years 1 and 2 and a new Year 1 class would be opening in January 2014. Brent’s schools were facing significant challenges with a disproportionate number of high-need pupils arriving in-year and a large turn over in school population. Sara Williams emphasised that it becoming increasingly difficult to continue to expand schools in Brent and a lot of work was taking place with Schools’ governing bodies.

 

During Members’ discussion, the committee requested information on the geographical areas for which there was greatest demand for school places and asked that the next update include details of the number of children attending school out of borough. With reference to the challenge of creating sufficient provision to meet demand, it was queried what measures the council was able to use to persuade and require schools to expand. It was noted that there was a proposal to create a primary free school in Dollis Hill, with an intended opening date of September 2015, and a question was raised on whether this would lead to surplus capacity at that time. Further details were sought regarding how the council was supporting schools in meeting the current challenges. A Member advised that he had received several complaints from residents regarding school admissions which had been quickly resolved following his intervention. It was commented that it should not take the intervention of a councillor to resolve issues.

 

Sara Williams advised that demand was particularly  concentrated in the north of the borough including in Wembley  and Willesden, near to Cricklewood. However, there were hotspots of demand all throughout the borough except in Brondesbury, Kilburn and along the Ealing border of Stonebridge. It was acknowledged  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 68 KB

The Work Programme is attached.

Minutes:

Mark Cairns (Policy and Performance Officer) emphasised that there were several weighty items scheduled for the next meeting. Members commented that the Short Breaks item scheduled for the December meeting could be deferred to a later meeting and the committee agreed the work programme be reviewed with the Chair and amended as required.

12.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny meeting is scheduled for 10 December 2013

Minutes:

The committee noted that the next meeting was scheduled for 10 December 2013.

13.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Democratic Services Manager or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.

Minutes:

None.