Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Hannah O'Brien, Governance Officer  Email: hannah.o'brien@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence and clarification of alternate members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received as follows:

 

  • Co-opted member Mr Alloysius Frederick
  • Co-opted member Mr Simon Goulden gave apologies that he would need to leave the meeting early to deliver a lecture
  • Observers Jenny Cooper and John Roche (NEU representatives)

 

2.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, the nature and existence of any relevant disclosable pecuniary or personal interests in the items on this agenda and to specify the item(s) to which they relate.

Minutes:

Personal Interests were declared as follows:

  • Councillor Ketan Sheth – Lead Governor, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Board member for the Federation of St Joseph’s Catholic Infant and Junior Schools, Board member for Harrow College and Uxbridge College, Board member for Daniel’s Den
  • Councillor Ethapemi – Spouse employed by the NHS
  • Councillor Shahzad – Spouse employed by the NHS
  • Councillor Sangani – Employed by the NHS
  • Councillor Thakkar – Governor on Board at Phoenix Arch
  • Mr Simon Goulden – Spouse Chair of governors of a Brent School

 

3.

Deputations (if any)

To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 67.

Minutes:

There were no deputations received.

 

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:-

 

That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 15 September 2020 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

 

5.

Matters arising (if any)

Minutes:

There were no matters arising.

 

6.

Order of Business

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the Chair would take an urgent business item first, in accordance with Standing Order 60, which related to the matter of the imminent closure of the Wembley Ambulance Station.

 

7.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 60.

Minutes:

Closure of Wembley Ambulance Station

 

The Committee heard that the Chair would take an urgent item in relation to the imminent closure of the Wembley Ambulance Station under Standing Order 60.

 

The Chair welcomed Pauline Cramner (Director of Ambulance Services, London Ambulance Service) and Khadir Meer (Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, London Ambulance Service) to the meeting and thanked them for joining.

 

Khadir Meer explained that the Wembley Ambulance Station was similar to a garage with a small porta cabin which had been closed since March 2020 as part of the NHS response to Covid 19. He advised that the station was on an old site owned by NHS property services, and the lease was coming to an end therefore they had been asked to vacate the site. The Committee heard that the building was not fit for purpose to allow crews to mobilise and conclude their shift from. Khadir Meer emphasised that the ambulance station was not a healthcare setting or somewhere healthcare was provided, but a garage where vehicles were prepared and crews started and ended their shifts, with all services provided on the road 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result of the request to vacate by NHS property services, who were looking to redevelop the site, the plan was to vacate the station from 1 December 2020 in advance of the financial year concluding.

 

The Chair thanked Khadir Meer for his opening statement, expressing gratefulness on behalf of the whole Committee to LAS colleagues who had worked hard over the last few months. He invited members of the Committee to raise queries, with the following issues raised:

 

The Committee asked for confirmation that the London Ambulance Service (LAS) was part of the NHS, which LAS representatives affirmed. The Committee further queried what the NHS constitution stated with regards to stakeholder engagement and public consultation. Khadir Meer responded that the constitution stated very clearly that there should always be communication and engagement with all stakeholders, particularly Health and Wellbeing colleagues within local government. He expressed that engagement with stakeholders was very important to him and during the pandemic the LAS had been working very closely with all of local government, particularly with the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods initiative. The Chair thanked Khadir Meer for his response, and asked what stakeholder engagement and public consultation had taken place thus far with regard to the closure of the station. Khadir Meer highlighted that the station had already been closed since March 2020 to ensure the LAS was providing resilient services to the NHS in North West London. Pauline Cranmer added that it was their absolute priority to ensure they delivered healthcare to Brent residents and ensure they were able to provide care as communities grew. She expressed that, regarding public consultation, for her it was about ensuring there was no change to the care delivered to Brent residents, and noted that they had been operating out of a different site in Kenton, in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Brent Council's Management of the Impact of COVID-19 on Education and Children's Services pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To provide the Committee with an udpate on Brent Council’s management of the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services.

 

*This was published as a supplementary item on 17 November 2020.

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the Children and Young People Department to the meeting, as well as 2 Primary School Head teachers and representatives from Brent Youth Parliament. He invited Councillor Mili Patel (Lead Member for Children's Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care) to introduce the report.

 

Councillor M Patel informed the Committee that the report updated members on the work the Children and Young People’s department had been doing to manage the impact of COVID-19 on children’s services. The paper provided an update from the report received in March 2020. It updated the committee on the following areas; early years settings and schools, early help, children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP), Looked After Children and Care Leavers, the Youth Justice services and the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

 

The Chair thanked the Lead Member for the introduction and invited comments and questions from the Committee, with the following issues raised:

 

The Committee expressed concern for young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic and asked what assurances had been sought around the support offered to children and young people for their mental health and wellbeing. Councillor Patel drew the Committee’s attention to section 10 of the report which detailed the Council-wide work led by Children’s Services supporting young people’s mental wellbeing. The Committee heard that counselling for Looked After Children and care leavers had been expanded with hours of support extended, and the Lead Member had heard further details of the support care leavers and looked after children had received at the Corporate Parenting Committee on 21 October 2020. The lead member also highlighted partnership work with Brent CCG to develop Mental Health Support Teams as part of an expanded CAMHS offer supporting young people’s mental health working closely with schools.

 

The Chair invited Georgina Nutton (Head of Preston Park Primary School) to share what Preston Park Primary School had been doing to support their pupils during the pandemic. Georgina Nutton informed the Committee that they had been focussing on ensuring children had staff members to talk to as part of the ongoing support to children as they accessed education either remotely or as vulnerable children on site in school. She  described the effort to deliver an effective remote curriculum which had strong engagement from children, meaning come June when the school opened more widely to  children they were able to progress well and “bounce back” when returning to a school environment. The Committee were informed that prior to all children returning to school in September, staff had planned a recovery curriculum and mapped any learning children had lost regarding their routine, to ensure a sense of normality around learning in the school environment. The full curriculum had now resumed whilst dipping in to the bespoke recovery curriculum where needed. To support pupil’s mental health the school used Place2Be through which children could access counselling, and offered online parenting support classes and sent out a wellbeing newsletter. The school had been focusing holistically on mental  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Update on Schools and Education, including the Action Plan for Raising Achievement of Boys of Black Caribbean Heritage pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To update the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on schools and education in Brent, and the actions taken to raise the achievement of British boys of Black Caribbean heritage.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Tom Stephens (Lead Member for Schools, Employment and Skills) introduced the report which presented the overall school standards and achievement and the action plan for raising the achievement of boys of Black Caribbean heritage. He drew the Committee’s attention to paragraph 3.16 of the report which noted there were no performance data for schools for the 2019-20 academic year following the Department for Education announcement that the summer 2020 primary key stage statutory assessments and GCSE, A Level and Level 3 vocational examinations would be cancelled. The background paper provided the 2018-19 annual school standards and achievement report presented to the Committee in March 2020. Councillor Stephens felt that overall the information showed impressive figures on standards and achievement, and Brent had met all but one of 3 Borough targets. Brent had missed 1 target by 1 percentage point regarding the achievement of boys of Black Caribbean heritage, and met the targets for more than 95% of Brent schools being judged outstanding and reducing the attainment gap.

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Stephens for his introduction and invited members to ask questions, with the following issues raised:

 

In response to queries regarding what impact the pandemic had on the achievement of boys of Black Caribbean heritage and what additional support those boys were being given to support their optimal achievement, Gail Tolley (Strategic Director Children and Young People, Brent Council) highlighted that there was no specific evidence as yet to show whether the pandemic had impacted the attainment outcomes for those young people as there were no public examinations during the year. Councillor Stephens added that there was nationally an anticipated impact on educational inequality as a result of the pandemic, but there was no current evidence to suggest whether that impact had been more severe for certain groups.

 

The Chair invited Enid Lewis (Head of Park Lane Primary School) to share how her school had been supporting the achievement of pupils. Enid Lewis advised that Park Lane Primary School had done a lot of work supporting all disadvantaged children, including where relevant for pupils of Black Caribbean heritage, working with an action research methodology. A lot of additional support had been put in place, including ensuring each pupil had access to relevant technology, and catch-up support was being put in place to narrow any gaps.

 

The Committee highlighted some national concerns that pupils of Black Caribbean heritage may not have the necessary equipment to participate in home schooling and had not been able to engage with online learning during the pandemic, and queried whether that was the case in Brent. Councillor Stephens agreed that the lack of digital access was part of wider socioeconomic circumstances which could impact negatively on children’s education such as overcrowded households meaning some pupils did not have the capacity to sit through a whole series of lessons and learn in a quiet space. He advised that the previous report did highlight the work done by the Council to support vulnerable pupils with their learning  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Brent Youth Offending Service Post Inspection Action Plan Implementation pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To provide detail of the progress made in implementing the actions arising from the four recommendations from the Youth Offending Service Inspection that took place in August 2019, with additional focus given to the impact of COVID-19 on local youth justice provision and how Brent YOS has responded operationally to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Mili Patel (Lead Member for Children's Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care) introduced the report which provided details of actions taken from the 4 recommendations that arose from the Youth Offending Service inspection in 2019. She explained that the report gave further information on the performance of Brent YOS in general and the impact of COVID-19 on the service. She felt that the Children and Young People’s department had made some major strides in implementing the recommendations through staffing restructure, proactively identifying external funding in order to support recommendations such as the Mayors Fund, and had secured substantial funding recently for a 3 year grant from the Youth Justice Board to deal with the impact of COVID-19 in BAME Communities. Councillor Patel also highlighted the introduction of Family Wellbeing Centres, and the Roundwood School, which would provide further spaces to work with young people within a community setting.

 

In relation to courts and criminalisation the Committee wanted reassurance that unnecessary criminalisation was not an issue for Brent. Nigel Chapman (Operational Director Integration and Improved Outcomes, Brent Council) advised that Brent’s relationship with the Magistrates’ Court, which was where most YOS work went through, was very effective and had continued to operate at a good level throughout the pandemic, and the Court had been very supportive of the work. In relation to the random sampling of cases involving out of court disposals, he advised that Brent YOS had made good strides with the police where previously they felt police were offering too many conditional cautions instead of cautions, which was felt unsuitable for some young people and led to the Court finding young people breaching those cautions leading to a criminal offence being committed. He advised that the cohort size was relatively small therefore the sampling approach was effective and provided a more tailored approach.

 

Committee members noted that there was a lot of input required from CAMHS from the service and queried what the current waiting times were. Sue Gates (Head of Early Help, Brent Council) advised that she recognised that waiting lists with CAMHS were an issue elsewhere but highlighted that Brent YOS had their own dedicated CAMHS worker who kept up to date with all work and never had a young person waiting, with an assessment conducted as soon as a referral was made. There was also input from a staff member working on a project around mental health, seeking to identify those who may need additional help around mental health, anxiety and wellbeing early. The staff member saw the young people in the police station, in their home, via video link, in court cells or wherever the first place they were identified was.

 

The Committee were encouraged by the reduction in court order sentences, but queried whether that could be as a result of court closures and whether the pandemic had an impact on the number of youth offending. Nigel Chapman advised that there was less activity in the court system and less crime committed, which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Contextual Safeguarding Update pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To further update the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on progress of the implmentation of contextual safeguarding in Brent and the partnership response.

Minutes:

Councillor Mili Patel (Lead Member Children's Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care) introduced the report which provided an update on the development of contextual safeguarding in Brent arising from a task group report by the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee agreed by the Committee in March 2019. She advised that the report showed how contextual safeguarding was now embedded in the work done around safeguarding and young people, and noted the section on the impact of COVID-19 due to the fact contextual safeguarding related to safeguarding outside of the young person’s familial area. As a result of the lockdown some of the complex issues that young people might usually face were reduced.

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Patel for her introduction and invited comments and questions from the Committee, with the following issues raised:

 

In relation to the progress of the recommendations, Councillor Patel advised that there were restrictions due to the pandemic which meant some recommendations had not progressed but were ready to be actioned as soon as restrictions lifted, such as the TFL and school travel planning recommendation.

 

The Committee queried whether the growing use of digital technology by young people had an impact on contextual safeguarding. Gail Tolley advised that whilst there were links to digital behaviours, contextual safeguarding related to significant safeguarding issues that took place outside of the home. Sonya Kalyniak (Head of Safeguarding & Quality Assurance, Brent Council) acknowledged there was a risk to young people using technology especially when young people were groomed into exploitative behaviour, and that the safeguarding team were working with schools around improving digital safeguarding for children and young people.

 

The Committee highlighted section 3.7 of the report which detailed the increase in the number of young people going missing regularly. Gail Tolley agreed that it gave a sense of the vulnerability of those young people and the complexity of cases social workers were carrying. Sonya Kalyniak advised that this was monitored carefully throughout the lockdown and the trend of extremely vulnerable young people continuing to go missing led to the service conducting comprehensive vulnerable adolescent risk assessments for each of those young people to understand very clearly what the risks were and put individual safety plans in place for them.

 

The Committee asked what level of confidence the Committee should have that Brent Officers had effective working relationships with health colleagues. Councillor Mohammed Butt (Leader, Brent Council) highlighted that all Brent Officers would ensure due diligence was carried out at all levels, and that as a matter of process Officers worked with partners, colleagues, stakeholders and neighbouring Boroughs to share and collaborate. He added that the Council of the Year, which Brent Council had been awarded in 2020 by the LGC, stated that a Council would achieve that status because it exemplifies the best standards and levels of oversight.

 

In relation to contextual safeguarding work being done pan London which could assist Brent, Councillor Mohammed Butt (Leader, Brent Council) advised that each Borough was working within its own boundaries  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.