Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel – 19 April 2010

PRESENT: Councillor Wilson in the chair.

Councillors C Sherwood (vice-chairman), Mrs Bromby, Cawsey, Simpson, P Vickers and Whiteley.

Statutory Co-opted Members: Mr P Bacon and Mrs A Dunkerley (Parent Governor Representative) and Mr W Egan (Church Representative)

The panel met at Pittwood House, Scunthorpe.

131 DECLARATIONS – OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS AND DECLARATIONS OF WHIPPING ARRANGEMENTS (IF ANY) – There were no declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests.

No whip was declared.

132 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the proceedings of this panel held on 6 April 2010, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and signed by the chair.

133 PUBLIC REQUESTS TO SPEAK – There were no requests received.

134 CORPORATE PARENTING REVIEW – Discussions and questions with Jo Moxon Assistant Director Learning and Improvement North Lincolnshire Council, Mick Gibbs Assistant Director- Specialist, Jim Garbutt Head of Standardsand Effectiveness Cross Phase and Valerie Jones Senior School Improvement Adviser – The chair welcomed the officers to the meeting, and invited them to address the panel.

Mick Gibbs addressed the questions that had been raised by Councillors Barker and B Briggs at the last meeting of the panel, specifically addressing the concerns about the education that the children were receiving. Mick explained that at present North Lincolnshire has 160 looked after children, 107 of those being in care and the remaining 53 being accommodated. Of those 160, the panel was advised that 17 reside within North Lincolnshire Children Homes, withnine of the children having been in accommodation for less than one year.

Members learned that 104 children were receiving education, an average of 75 per cent had special educational needs and 50 per cent had statements. Mick confirmed that 8.8 per cent would miss more than 25 days each school year, and in order to address this schools would liaise with the child’s social worker, carer, education officer and the child’s parents.

Members engaged in further discussions with Mick, focussing on the reasons why children found themselves in care and the associated problems and concerns that this presented.

Jo Moxon was then asked to explain the role and remit of the virtual head teacher. Jo explained that the role was not statutory and as such received no additional funding. Members were advised that the role of virtual head teacher was currently the responsibility of the Assistant Director Learning and Improvement North Lincolnshire Council.

Members received a visual presentation in which Jo Moxon outlined what was expected of the virtual head teacher, how this was effected, what provisions were made available to the children in care, the challenges faced, the next steps that were needed to develop and extend the role of the virtual head teacher and also the potential problems that the authority could be faced with.

Further discussion ensued covering aspects such as one to one tutoring, the administration and usage of the personal education allowance, the uncertainty and problems of who had held the post of virtual head teacher and the academic and non academic achievements of the children in care.

Resolved – (a) That all Officers be thanked for their attendance and valuable input at the meeting, and (b) that the position be noted.

135 CORPORATE PARENTING REVIEW – Next Stages – The Service Director Legal and Democratic explained that due to the imminent end of the municipal year, and that no future scheduled meeting dates for the panel had yet been confirmed, no further witnesses had yet been contacted.

The Service Director Legal and Democratic provided members with an oral update on the recent corporate parenting event, hosted by the Highways and Planning department. Members were advised that the looked after children had been invited by the team to gain experience of interview techniques, learn how to complete job application forms, learn how to act upon constructive feedback and some were offered work experience opportunities.

Members agreed that this would have been extremely beneficial, and enquired as to what corporate parenting opportunities other service areas offered.

Members engaged in further discussions.

Resolved – (a) That all Service Directors be invited to attend a future scheduled meeting to discuss what opportunities and experiences they offer to North Lincolnshire’s Looked After Children, (b) that a letter of thanks be sent to the children who met with panel members on the recent visit to North Lincolnshire Children Homes, and (c) that arrangements are made for members to attend a future meeting of the foster carers panel.

136 (21) LEADER OF THE COUNCIL’S FORWARD PLAN – APRIL TO JULY 2010 – The Service Director Legal and Democratic circulated the Leader of North Lincolnshire Council’s Forward Plan for April to July 2010.

The plan contained details of all matters and issues likely to be the subject of key decisions for a period of the next four months, updated on a monthly basis. Members discussed various items on the Forward Plan.

Resolved – That the position be noted.

137 ADDED ITEM – There was no added item for discussion at this meeting.