Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Scrutiny Panel - Monday 30th October, 2023 4.30 pm

Venue: Mandela Room, Town Hall

Contact: Chris Lunn 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


Name of Member

Type of Interest

Item/Nature of Interest

Councillor E Clynch


Teacher - Macmillan Academy.

Councillor D Jackson


Chair - Park End Primary School.

Councillor J Kabuye


Governor - Sacred Heart Primary School.



Minutes - Children and Young People's Scrutiny Panel - 18 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 117 KB


The minutes of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel meeting held on

18 September 2023 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


School Attendance - An Introduction pdf icon PDF 563 KB

The Director of Education and Partnerships will be in attendance to provide the scrutiny panel with a general overview and introduction to the topic, which will include:


·        the link between absence and attainment;

·        attendance in Middlesbrough and the broad associated issues; and

·        details of the work currently being undertaken to address attendance issues, including the Vulnerable Children Attendance Project (VCAP).  


The Director of Education and Partnerships and the Executive Director of Children’s Services were in attendance to provide the scrutiny panel with a general overview and introduction to the topic.


The Director of Education and Partnerships noted the link between absence and attainment; according to the Department for Education (DfE), children with no absence were 1.3 times more likely to achieve a level four at GCSE and three times more likely to achieve a level five, compared to children with between 10 and 15% absence during key stage four.  It was also highlighted that when children were in school, professionals knew they were safe and receiving meals.  Reference was made to the criticalness of early attendance in terms of hierarchical learning, meaning that if a child learnt basic numerical, literacy and other skills early on, development at a later stage would be facilitated.


Members heard that school attendance in Middlesbrough was lower than the national and regional averages.  Reference was made to safeguarding and reduced opportunity for this when children were not in school.  The impact that absenteeism could have in terms of career development and competing against others later in life was also noted.


Further statistical information around school attendance in Middlesbrough would be provided at the panel’s next scheduled meeting in December, but broadly the four issues/drivers of poor attendance were:


  • Secondary age children – absenteeism was more pronounced in this group, though it was highlighted to Members that patterns did start at Primary School age, for example: a child or children regularly being late for school.
  • Children with a Social Worker – it was explained that this was not a cause of absence, as Social Workers were there to help.
  • High rates of persistent absence (attendance 90% or less).
  • Children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) in mainstream schools – it was explained that specialist schools had the strongest attendance in Middlesbrough.  However, in instances where a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) attended a non-specialist mainstream school, poorer attendance was observed.  There could have been a number of causal factors for this, such as the school not being able to cater for a child’s needs; the remainder of the school population attended okay.


Members were informed that this was of significant concern because these were the children who benefitted most from the protective and nurturing influence of school.  These groups of children:


  • Were the most vulnerable, which included, for example, issues taking place at home.
  • Performed the least successfully in exams.
  • Were the least likely to progress into further and higher education.
  • Were the most likely to be exploited.  Reference was made to current research that explored the relationship between attendance, exclusion and exploitation (drugs, sexual exploitation and trafficking).  If children were not in school, their whereabouts needed to be questioned.
  • Were the most likely to be drawn into antisocial behaviour.


Members were informed that the legal power for school exclusions sat with headteachers.  Often, schools were Academies and therefore reported directly to the DfE.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/13


South Tees Safeguarding Children Partnership (STSCP) - Annual Report 2022/2023 pdf icon PDF 191 KB

The STSCP Partnership Manager will be in attendance to present the STSCP Annual Report 2022/2023.

Additional documents:


The STSCP Partnership Manager was in attendance to provide Members with an overview of the local partnership arrangements for safeguarding children, the work undertaken by the STSCP and to highlight areas of significance within the 2022/2023 Annual Report.


Members were informed that the STSCP was established in 2019 in response to changes to the multi-agency safeguarding arrangements introduced in the Children and Social Work Act 2017.  It succeeded the Middlesbrough Local Safeguarding Children Board and the Redcar and Cleveland Safeguarding Children Board (LSCBs). The STSCP was a formal partnership between the two South Tees Local Authorities of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, Cleveland Police and North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board.  The partners had a shared ambition to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in their area, many of whom faced multiple disadvantage; the STSCP oversaw some of the most deprived areas in the country. 


The Annual Report covered the year 2022/2023 and was published by the four statutory partners.  The report summarised and reflected on the work of the STSCP, covering the third full financial year of operation. 


The contents of the report included:


  • The scrutineer’s view of the last year.
  • Evidence of the impact on 2020-2023 priorities.
  • Local context.
  • Local safeguarding.
  • How the STSCP impacted its priorities.
  • Partnership working.
  • Learning and development.
  • Quality assurance and performance.
  • Key priority themes.
  • Response to the national agenda.


The report highlighted the effective joint working that had continued and been further strengthened, and set out critical areas of development to further improve the effectiveness of the statutory partnership arrangements.  These included the need for a robust multi-agency quality assurance framework and using the learning from serious safeguarding incidents and auditing to make a difference to practice and service provision.


Members heard that, during this period, the STSCP had completed three rapid reviews, initiated two Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews (CSPR) - previously known as Serious Case Reviews - and signed off a further CSPR from early 2022.  It was explained that reviews were undertaken and sent to a Government Safeguarding Panel for review.  This was a key role for the STSCP, which at one stage had ten serious incidents to review, currently it had none; high risk was managed by agencies.  The Partnership also completed several multi-agency audits, including the Section 11 audit of key partners.


Reference was made to the significant challenge that the STSCP faced in the wake of COVID-19, which required new ways of working.  It was explained that all activity continued virtually – the Partnership Manager credited the Local Authorities’ approach to technology, which had allowed safeguarding work to continue.  Emergence from the pandemic had presented both significant challenge and change, for example: behavioural changes in young people, some as young as ten, were being seen – with some carrying weapons.  Members heard that there was work to do in terms of addressing crime, county lines and national agendas to tackle exploitation.


The panel was informed of the cross-boundary work that was taking place between  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/14


Overview and Scrutiny Board Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update on matters considered at the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 20 September 2023 and 18 October 2023.


The Chair provided a verbal update on the matters that were considered at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meetings held on 20 September 2023 and 18 October 2023.




Date of Next Meeting - 4 December 2023




Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.