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Agenda item

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair updated the Committee as follows:

·         A number of evidence sessions had taken place. A session at New River College had been interesting and insightful and had yielded some ideas for policy changes that could be recommended. Useful meetings had taken place with parents of children with SEND and a Youth Councillor.

·         A visit to the Bridge had been arranged and virtual meetings with SENCOs, headteachers and SEND governors had been confirmed. A meeting would take place with the Parent Carers Forum Co-Chair and a virtual meeting with an Educational Psychologist, Head of Virtual School and Service Manager from Independent Futures would be arranged. In addition, a visit to a mainstream school would take place and work was taking place on surveys to be sent to parents, carers, headteachers and SENCOs before Christmas.

·         The next meeting was due to take place on Tuesday 23 November but had now been rescheduled for Monday 6 December and would take place in Committee Room 1.

·         Claire Ballak had resigned from the committee. The Chair thanked her for her service and advised that work would take place to recruit another co-opted member to the committee.

·         A Commons Petitions Committee report called on the government to urgently put support in place for parents who missed out during lockdown. The committee urged the government to publish a "dedicated Covid-19 recovery strategy for new parents” and called for a number of measures to be introduced including: 1) funding for local authorities to arrange in-person visits to new parents by councils, voluntary organisations or health visiting staff by the end of the year; and 2) a review into the funding, affordability and provision of childcare, and the sustainability of the childcare sector.

·         There had been an increase in mental health referrals with record numbers of children and young people seeking access to NHS mental health services. NHS Digital data showed that while the mental health crisis was affecting people of all ages, it was under-18s who were suffering the most. The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ analysis had found that:

1)       80,226 more children and young people were referred to Child and Young People mental health services between April and December last year, up by 28% on 2019.

2)       18,269 children and young people needed urgent or emergency crisis care which was an increase of 18% on 2019.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists had called for the additional £500 million in the Government’s mental health recovery plan to urgently reach the frontline so that people could get the support they required.

Dr Dubicka, chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Our children and young people are bearing the brunt of the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic and are at risk of lifelong mental illness.  As a frontline psychiatrist I’ve seen the devastating effect that school closures, disrupted friendships and the uncertainty caused by the pandemic have had on the mental health of our children and young people.”

·         Nationally there was a worrying rise in primary school exclusions. Also, data uncovered by Agenda, an alliance of charities campaigning for women and girls, found that black Caribbean girls were permanently excluded from school at a rate double that of white British girls during the academic year 2019-20, with this tripling for mixed white and Caribbean girls. During the same time period, girls from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities faced rates of permanent exclusion that were four times higher than those of white British girls.

RESOLVED:

That the Chair’s report be noted.