Venue: Virtual meeting
Contact: Caroline Breheny
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 28 July were submitted and approved as a correct record.
The Mayor of Middlesbrough / Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Protection / Lead Executive Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Mayor Preston, will be in attendance to update the Board on his aims and aspirations, progress made to date and to highlight any emerging issues relating to his portfolios.
The Mayor / Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Protection and Lead Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Mayor Andy Preston, was in attendance to update the Board on his aims and aspirations, progress made to date and to highlight any emerging issues relating to his portfolios.
The following officers were also in attendance: the Executive Director of Children’s Services; the Director of Adult Social Care and Health Integration; and the Director of Public Health.
As part of his update to the Board, the Mayor discussed his portfolio under three areas – Children’s Services, Adult Services and Public Protection and Mayoral.
· In the past Middlesbrough children were let down and it was the most vulnerable and most precious that were let down. Over two years ago OFSTED had deemed Middlesbrough’s Children’s Services’ Department inadequate and there had been several options open to the Government.
· The Mayor advised that today, from all of the information he had available he was reassured that our Children’s Services Department was now heading in the right direction. The Commissioner appointed to work with our Children’s Services Department had recently recommended to the Government Minister that our Children’s Services Department remain under the Council’s control and an imminent decision from the Minister was anticipated.
· The Mayor expressed the view that in the future he believed Middlesbrough’s Children’s Services Department could be a beacon of good practice and set national standards.
· An area where improvement was needed was in the number of children absent from school. In any one day 10 per cent of Middlesbrough children were absent and this figure was not evenly spread throughout the towns demographic. This figure was far worse than the national average. The 10 per cent was frequently concentrated on those that needed the most from education including the role models, learning and social interaction. Improvement in this area was a real priority.
· The staff in Children’s Services had been fantastic over the last two years and it was acknowledged that there would always be some agency staff. However, dependency on agency staff was reducing. Huge strides had been made under the current Executive Director of Children’s Services leadership.
Following the update in respect of Children’s Services, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.
A Member enquired as to the number of children currently in care in Middlesbrough, as previously these numbers had been in the 700’s. It was also queried as to how the Council was performing in terms of Social Worker recruitment and retention. The Executive Director of Children’s Services advised that the numbers of looked after children in Middlesbrough had decreased significantly. In the period since August 2020 the number had reduced to 539, a reduction of approximately 160 children, which was significant progress. It was advised that some of those children should never have been in our care. OFSTED had previously commented in their inspection, almost two years ago, that Middlesbrough was not moving children to their forever homes as swiftly as was needed. ... view the full minutes text for item 20/29
Scrutiny Chairs Update
Adult Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel - Councillor
The Scrutiny Chairs/Vice Chairs provided updates in respect of the work undertaken by their respective panels since the last meeting of the Board.
The recommendations to be submitted to the Executive were:
a) In respect of the new Inclusion, Assessment and Review Service and the ‘Team Around the School’ approach, that:
i. a full and comprehensive evaluation is undertaken, which takes into account the impact of COVID-19 and the risk management controls currently in place within schools; and
ii. the key findings, outcomes and outputs of the evaluation are reported to the Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel, including feedback received from children and young people.
b) That the Local Authority holds schools to account more transparently for their exclusion rates by:
i. monitoring, analysing and recording exclusion data at a school-level;
ii. undertaking regular focussed visits to those schools with high rates to assist with putting measures in place to reduce fixed-term and permanent exclusions; and
iii. reporting exclusion data to the Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel on a 6 monthly basis.
c) That, where exclusion rates are high, the Local Authority:
i. provides an enhanced bespoke package of support to assist schools in identifying and meeting the needs of children with SEND and additional vulnerabilities; and
ii. delivers training to demonstrate the detrimental impact of exclusion on a pupil's life and life chances.
d) That the Local Authority shares good practice with schools by facilitating peer reviews and providing case study illustrations of good behaviour management practices.
e) That a guidance document is developed and circulated to schools on the importance of language and its influence on changing perceptions and attitudes.
f) That schools are encouraged to undertake an anonymous survey of staff and students about their views on behaviour, discipline and bullying and that feedback is utilised to improve behaviour management practices.
AGREED that the findings and recommendations of the Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel be endorsed and referred to the Executive
The Chief Executive submitted a report which identified the forthcoming issues to be considered by the Executive, as outlined in Appendix A to the report. The report provided the Overview and Scrutiny Board with the opportunity to consider whether any item contained within the Executive Forward Work Programme should be considered by the Board, or referred to a Scrutiny Panel.
The Chief Executive will be in attendance to provide the Board with an update in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19 and other organisational matters.
The Chief Executive was in attendance and provided an update to the Board in respect of the following:-
· COVID-19 update
· Executive decisions, August
In terms of the latest local COVID-19 data, as at 6 September 2021 the rolling seven-day rate of cases per 100k of the Middlesbrough population was as follows:
Reference was made to the vaccination rates and to date 66.2% of over 18’s in Middlesbrough had received 2 doses of the vaccine. This compared with 84.4 % in Northumberland, which had the highest rate in the North East region. It was emphasised that the uptake rates by Council area did not take account of the age demographics. Once deprivation and BAME was considered, it became more difficult for Middlesbrough to match Northumberland.
In terms of vaccination by age range 13.2 % of young people in Middlesbrough aged 15 to 18 had received 2 doses of the vaccine and the vaccination rates increased with age. For example, 86.7 % of people aged 55 to 59 in Middlesbrough had received 2 doses of the vaccine and 90.7 % of people aged over 90 had received their 2 doses.
In relation to the Executive decisions scheduled taken in July it was noted that a number of reports had been considered. These included; a report on Community Engagement; a Corporate Debt Management Policy; the Surveillance Policy and Children’s Improvement Plan.
In respect of the reoccupation of Council buildings by staff it was advised that these arrangements would be finalised in September and that a phased reoccupation was planned. Reoccupation would commence from 4 October 2021 – subject to no major increase in transmission following the return of schools – within the context of blended working and on a phased basis, over the period October to December 2021.
Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.
A Member of the Board queried whether COVID testing sites were still operating in Middlesbrough. The Chief Executive advised that all of the sites were still operational and in the 7 days between the 24th and 31st August over 2,500 people in Middlesbrough had used those sites. It was also queried as to how long the testing sites would remain in place and it was advised that this information would be brought back to the next meeting of the Board.
In terms of the availability of vaccinations for students, at both Teesside University and the local colleges, it was queried as to whether any walk-in provision for students to have their vaccines was available at these sites. The Chief Executive advised that Teesside University had specific arrangements in place for their students and had utilised some of their dedicated space to provide COVID vaccinations throughout the pandemic. In respect of the ... view the full minutes text for item 20/33