Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Wednesday 11th May, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual meeting

Contact: Caroline Breheny 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Overview and Scrutiny Board - 27 April 2022

To Follow


The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 27 April 2022 were submitted and approved as a correct record.



Executive Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 298 KB

Additional documents:


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.




Chief Executive's Update


The Chief Executive was not in attendance and prior to the meeting the Chair had agreed for this item to be deferred to the next meeting. 





Executive Member Update pdf icon PDF 138 KB


The Executive Member for Young Adults and Political Engagement, Cllr Luke Mason, 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 portfolio. The Director of Legal and Governance, the Executive Director of Children’s Services and the Director of Education and Partnerships were also in attendance.


The Executive Member opened by thanking the Board for the invite and advised that he would highlight some of the key areas he had been working on, as well as some of the emerging issues relating to his portfolio. During the presentation the following key points were made:-


·         The role was split into two different parts, the first covered political participation in the town, with a focus on increasing the number of voters during elections and the second focussed on ensuring that all young adults in Middlesbrough had access to the support they needed when leaving school and accessing further education, employment and apprenticeships.

·         There were numerous barriers to political participation including political apathy, distrust and lack of understanding. Lack of understanding in terms of how the Council worked and the role of the local Councillors. In an effort to address this deficit a document was being produced to detail the work of the Council, the roles undertaken by Councillors and Officers and how the Council operates. The document would cover a number of topics including general information on the history of the town, the type of local authority Middlesbrough was, the scale and statutory responsibilities of the Council in relation to adults and children’s services, information in respect of elections and the role of Councillors both in their wards and for the town more generally, as well as outlining the Council’s political balance and the role and benefit of the Council’s scrutiny panels. The document would hopefully encourage more people to watch the scrutiny panel / council meetings and have an understanding of the role undertaken by the Mayor and the Executive Members.

·         The document would contain information in respect of full Council, how meetings operated and explained the role of the Council’s Constitution, the Local Plan and the Council’s Tree Policy. It had also been important to provide information on the role of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) and how the Council worked in partnership with the TVCA.

·         The document was apolitical and factual and would be presented to Full Council at a future date.

·         Reference was made to the appointment process for Middlesbrough’s Youth Parliament Member and the work involved in the recent count process, which had been really interesting.

·         The Executive Member advised that he was keen to expand the powers of the Youth Parliament in Middlesbrough, as Youth Parliaments provided a great opportunity for young people to be involved in politics. It was felt that motions passed in Youth Council should be brought forward to full Council. In some local authorities Youth Council representatives were also involved in the scrutiny process, which could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/93


School Exclusions: Feedback from School Visits

Information gathered from the school visits undertaken by Members will be provided to the Board.


The Chair advised that a number of Board Members had taken part in a recent visit to Kings Academy and the following feedback was provided by those Members involved:-


·         The school provided 80-90 special educational needs and disability (SEND) placement and these included placements for children with visual and hearing impairments.

·         A comprehensive discussion was held on exclusions and it was emphasised that the school undertook every measures possible prior to excluding any of their pupils. Kings rarely received any complaints from parents in respect of exclusions, as the school worked extremely closely with parents from an early stage and therefore they fully understood that all measures had been taken to try and keep their child in school.   

·         There were numerous causes that led to poor behaviour by pupils and this was especially problematic currently with the high levels of crime and antisocial behaviour taking place in Hemlington. Some children did not feel safe to go out on an evening and these issues were well documented. The school tried hard to work with the Police, however, feedback was poor and improvements were needed.

·         The response from the NHS did not match demand and the CAMHS service was too slow to respond to the needs of children and young people.

·         Kings had established a separate class for those young people at risk of exclusion and this was proving effective. However, to date there had been 4 permanent exclusions in 2021/2022 as a result of persistent poor behaviour.

·         Literacy levels were 60 per cent below the expected level and a significant amount of work was being undertaken by the school in an effort to address this issue.

·         The visit was impressive in terms of how quiet and relaxed the school environment was for all of the young people.

·         The school employed Psychotherapists to support the pupils in school, which was a relatively new initiative that was proving beneficial.

·         Reference was made to the Excluded Lives Project’s recently produced research paper entitled ‘School exclusions risk after Covid-19’ which provided a range of case studies of the type of challenges that had been discussed during the visit in relation to the impact of Covid-19 on pupils, particularly those in Year 8 and Year 9.  

·         Ofsted had noted during a recent inspection that it approved of the steps taken by Kings Academy before any pupils were excluded.

·         Kings Academy was part of the Emmanuel Trust and it had schools from Doncaster to Northumberland and pastoral welfare was of the utmost importance and effective attendance systems were in place.

·         It was important to look at the root causes of exclusions and social dysfunction was an issue.


AGREED that the Board continue to undertake the remaining school visits, as arranged.


The Children and Young People's Social Care Scrutiny Panel - Final Report - Sufficiency and Permanency pdf icon PDF 487 KB

Additional documents:


The recommendations to be submitted to the Executive were:


a)    That the sustained efforts being made to reduce the number of children looked after in Middlesbrough, in line with our regional statistical neighbours, be supported and that the performance scorecard being reported to LMT on a six-weekly basis in relation to this indicator be shared with the Panel on a quarterly basis. 


b)    That a specific piece of work be undertaken to establish why a high percentage of children (15.1%) become looked after at birth and that this work includes performance information and exploration of whether further interventions can be put in place to reduce this figure.  If appropriate, a set of performance indicators should be identified to monitor improvement over the next year in the first instance.


c)     That analysis be undertaken to identify any potential gaps in child protection provision in the more ethnically diverse wards and further work be undertaken to provide assurance that the statistical under representation/over representation of children of different ethnicities being looked after by the local authority aligns with the level of need amongst these groups.


d)    That work be undertaken to identify how the provision of Early Help can be increased in North Ormesby, (subject to further analysis and if this remains appropriate), and that the recommendations put forward by the Children and Young People’s Social Care Scrutiny Panel in its Final Report on ‘Locality Working from a Children’s Services Perspective’ regarding further assessment of demand and the number of Early Help workers assigned to the areas, be taken forward. 


e)    That the sustained efforts to increase the number of children being placed in an in-house foster placement be continued and that the targets established remain a key priority indicator for the service and performance be regularly reported to the Panel.


f)      The Panel appreciated the challenges faced by the service in relation to the recruitment and retention of Foster Carers and the continuous efforts being made to increase in-house Foster Carer provision. The Panel recommended that additional feedback is sought from Foster Carers leaving Middlesbrough’s Fostering Service to ensure that the information gained through the satisfaction surveys is fully utilised to focus on continuing improvement in this area.


g)    The Panel noted that there is currently very little advertising across the town to indicate that Middlesbrough Council needs and wants more people to become in-house foster carers. The Panel recommended that the work to increase the number of in-house foster carers continues with pace and focus on additional advertising and marketing which should be analysed to improve awareness of the continuous need for more people to become in-house foster carers.


h)    The Panel acknowledged the improvements in the reduction of the use of Connected Carer Placements and Placements with Parents, however, it remains an area for improvement, and it is recommended that performance data is regularly presented to the panel in respect of these elements.


AGREED that the findings and recommendations of the Children and Young People’s Social Care Scrutiny Panel  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/95


The Children and Young People's Social Care Scrutiny Panel - Final Report - Locality Working from a Children's Services Perspective pdf icon PDF 1 MB


The recommendations to be submitted to the Executive were:


a)    That the panel supported the continuation of Locality Working in both Newport and North Ormesby and further supported the roll-out of the model to other areas of the town based on priority need, to be determined through demand analysis, community surveys and led by the evaluation report for consideration by the Executive.


b)    In supporting the Locality Working model in Middlesbrough, the Panel recommended that discussions with senior managers and directors of finance within all public sector partner organisations were held with a view to appropriately and proportionately funding each locality working area to ensure sufficient staffing allocations to meet demand.  The Panel would further recommend that appropriate core structures are in place within the locality teams to ensure that Neighbourhood Managers are fully supported and deputised for during periods of absence/holidays.


c)     The Panel acknowledged the high numbers of early help cases in both Newport and North Ormesby and noted the views of the Early Help Practitioners that they feel there are not enough practitioners to meet demand.  The Panel recommended that, subject to further analysis, consideration be given to the number of Early Help workers allocated to each area.


d)    The Panel noted the impact data in respect of Children’s Social Care Services within the localities and that the number of children looked after remained high. The Panel acknowledges that, whilst social workers have been in place for some time in the locality areas, they have only fairly recently been moved into one team to ensure consistency of approach and management oversight. The Panel, therefore, recommends that impact continues to be monitored and reported to the Panel in six months’ time.


e)    That Early Help Practitioners and the Social Workers be introduced to appropriate staff within each of the areas’ schools to build up relationships and discuss children/families requiring support through regular dialogue and that the work of the locality teams be promoted and regularly discussed with school leadership teams.


f)      That school readiness and children’s centre registrations continue to be monitored and promoted in a range of languages to maximise reach and take up of nursery places to ensure that children are ready for school to optimise their learning potential.


g)    That relevant community and voluntary organisations, including schools, be equally involved in the locality teams and that appropriate information sharing takes place to ensure:


i)      That access to a ‘signposting directory’ of all services and organisations available to support families within the localities was available to all partners via the Neighbourhood Manager/a designated co-ordinator.

ii)     That programmes of activities and events designed to support children and families are planned, discussed and co-ordinated in advance between partners within the localities to avoid unnecessary duplication and ensure those who need help and support receive it.  (For example, that the Holiday Activity Fund (HAF) provision is co-ordinated in conjunction with Feast of Fun activity to maximise appropriate take-up and avoid duplication).


h)    That stronger links are made, through Public  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/96