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Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

272.

Apologies for Absence

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Minutes:

Apologies were received from Claire Ballak.

273.

Declaration of Substitute Members

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Minutes:

None.

274.

Declarations of Interest

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a) Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b) Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d) Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f) Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

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Minutes:

None.

275.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 101 KB

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Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 20 July 2021 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

276.

Chair's Report

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Minutes:

The Chair updated the Committee as follows:

·         All members had received an email from The Children’s Society. It set out the manifesto for local government including some of the key issues impacting children's wellbeing which councils had the power to change.  

·         The Children’s Society’s latest edition of The Good Childhood Report was also circulated and this showed a ten year national decline in children’s happiness, even before the pandemic. There was an aim to build a network of councillors engaged with children and young people’s issues and councillors could sign up to receive newsletters, reports and briefings.

·         The Education Select Committee chairman, Robert Halfon, has asked Ofsted’s chief inspector, to write to the committee explaining why some reports had not mentioned off-rolling by name, despite inspectors finding the practice taking place. A report was highlighted describing an admission by Ofsted that, on some occasions, inspectors had found evidence of off-rolling in schools but not referred to it as such in their report. Inspectors had now been told that reports must always use the following set phrase to refer to off-rolling where "this practice constitutes off-rolling according to Ofsted’s definition.”

·         On 12 September 2021, the Guardian reported that over 20,000 parents across the UK had been surveyed about childcare costs. It presented compelling evidence that lack of access to childcare was preventing progress on gender equality. The survey also suggested the government’s flagship shared parental leave policy had not worked and one-third of parents said they paid more for childcare than their rent or mortgage.

·         A report by the BBC on 8 September 2021 into special needs funding reported that 97% of responses to a survey by the Head Teachers' Union said they received insufficient funding to support pupils who had special needs. The report, based on a survey of 1,500 head teachers, suggested that nearly a third of schools had cut services in the past year. Separately, parents and carers of children who had special needs had written to the Prime Minister, demanding better in-school provision.

RESOLVED:

That the report be noted.

277.

Items for Call In (if any)

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Minutes:

None.

278.

Public Questions

For members of the public to ask questions relating to any subject on the meeting agenda under Procedure Rule 70.5. Alternatively, the Chair may opt to accept questions from the public during the discussion on each agenda item.

 

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Minutes:

None.

279.

Scrutiny Review - Witness Evidence - Presentation on Transition for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) pdf icon PDF 455 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from Candy Holder and Sue Imbriano on Transitions. In the presentation the following main points were made:

·         The council’s guidance on transition planning recognised that all children might need support at some time to enjoy the new opportunities and meet the challenges they would face as they moved through different stages of their life. Some children and young people, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) were likely to need more support however, particularly at key transition times.

·         The four over-arching principles of guidance were: 1) the effective planning to support children and young people and their families in managing change; 2) the engagement and participation of children and young people and their families in assessment, planning and review; 3) ensuring information exchange – with children and young people and their parents as well as across services and between institutions; 4) effective commissioning to ensure the right provision and support was in place for the right children at the right time – this sometimes meant conversations about funding had to take place with parents.

·         The Islington Multi-Agency Progression to Adulthood protocol set out the role of each agency and processes for accessing support for those transitioning to adulthood.

·         Where a child or young person had an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), the child’s parent (or the young person over the age of 16) had the right to request a particular school / college (including an independent school) be named in their EHCP. Where this happened, the local authority must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHCP unless it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, orthe attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources. The local authority must consult the school or college concerned and consider their comments before deciding whether to name it in the child or young person’s EHCP. Where a parent or young person did not make a request for a particular school or college, the local authority must specify mainstream provision in the EHCP. Mainstream education could not be refused by a local authority on the grounds that it was not suitable. A local authority could rely on the exception of incompatibility with the efficient education of others only if it could show that there were no reasonable steps it could take to prevent that incompatibility. The SEND Code of Practice set out in some detail with examples, what ‘reasonable steps’ might look like (para 9.91 to 9.94).

·         Children with SEND were supported across the Early Years provision by well trained staff, with advice and guidance from Area SENCOs, Educational Psychologists, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), Therapists and other support services. There were also 36 specialist (additionally resourced) places across Early Years and early years providers could also apply for additional  ...  view the full minutes text for item 279.

280.

Child Protection Annual Report pdf icon PDF 567 KB

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Minutes:

Laura Eden presented the report which provided an update on progress being made in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of Islington’s most vulnerable children from 1 April 2020 to March 2021.

 

In the presentation and discussion the following main points were made:

·         In response to a member’s question about domestic violence being the most common reason for contacts requesting a service, the officer advised that of the 11,147 new contacts in 2020/21, 15.6% of contacts were due to domestic violence and this was a 1% increase on the previous year.

·         In response to a member’s question about whether changes in ways of working in Young People’s participation in CLA Reviews during Covid would continue post-Covid, the officer advised that successful ways of working would be continued. Many young people preferred virtual meetings and these would be continued where appropriate. Statutory in-person visits would still take place.

·         A member asked if there would be any specific interventions and strategies in relation to anti-social behaviour and gang activity following lockdowns. The officer advised that preventative work continued to take place and work was undertaken with those who were most at risk at transition points including Years 6 and Years 7. Intensive work was also undertaken with families who had support for 20 hours a week to assist them and divert young people from criminal exploitation.

·         In response to a member’s question about Islington having a higher rate of child protection plans than statistical neighbours, the officer advised that there were more strategy discussion and investigations than in other boroughs and that Islington constantly looked at the thresholds and looked at any areas where practice could be improved. Unlike other boroughs, Islington undertook child protection enquiries where adolescents alleged physical abuse but had no injuries for example and also utilised the child protection procedures for exploitation and serious youth violence whereas some boroughs did not. Although the council did not have to do this, Ofsted had found no fault with doing this.

·         In response to a member’s question about how it was determined that a child with a Child Protection Plan was no longer in harm, the officer stated that good interventions could change parenting capacity. After having a Child Protection Plan, the aim was that a child became a Child in Need for at least six months and then stepped down to Early Help.

·         In response to a question as to how children placed both in and out of borough were followed up, the officer advised that all children, whether in borough or out of borough, were seen every four weeks if in a short term placement or every six or eight weeks if in a long term placement. There was no difference in the social care interventions in or out of the borough but there could be a difference in educational support or emotional wellbeing support for example, also in Adventure Play or Youth provision Islington had a good offer. In relation to health, Islington did all the assessments  ...  view the full minutes text for item 280.

281.

Quarter 1 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 544 KB

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Minutes:

In response to a question from a member about whether Academies had a higher level of absence than local authority schools, an officer confirmed that they did. The Council was working with the Executive Head of the Trust and the Regional Schools Commissioner.

 

RESOLVED:

That the report be noted.

282.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 142 KB

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Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the work programme be noted.