Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber - Town Hall, Maidenhead
Contact: David Cook
Apologies For Absence
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received by Mr Nigel Cook. Cllr McWilliams reported he would be late.
To receive any declarations of interest.
Councillor David Evans declared an interest in the item ‘Improving Choice in Education’, as he would be presenting the report to Cabinet. He remained in the room for the duration of the discussion but did not vote on the item.
Councillor Dudley declared an interest in the item ‘Improving Choice in Education’ as he was a Founder and Chair of Governors at Holyport College, his wife was a founder and Governor at Holyport College and his daughter attended the school.
Councillor E Wilson declared an interest in the item ‘Improving Choice in Education’ as his wife works at St Edwards Catholic First School and his son works seasonally at Eton College. He remained in the room for the duration of the discussion and voting on the item.
To consider the Part I minutes of the meeting held on 22nd September 2016.
The Part I minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2016 were approved as a true and correct record.
To comment on the Cabinet report.
The Panel considered the Cabinet report that responded to the Government consultation called “Schools that work for everyone”. The report set out the response from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead that confirms its commitment to excellent education for all pupils who live in the borough, particularly for those living with financial disadvantage.
The Panel was addressed by Mr Millin, who spoke on behalf of Excellent Education for Everyone, a group founded by borough parents to promote positive discussions about ways to deliver a fair and inclusive education for all in the borough. The Panel heard the group’s evidence that selective education would lead to fewer children attaining their potential and the attainment gap between rich and poor growing wider; they did not support selective education. He mentioned that the borough had already invested in improving education with most schools being rated by Ofsted as Good or Excellent and thus there was no need to introduce selection.
Mr Millin mentioned that the Government had not introduced any legislation. He mentioned that in 2014 only 10 pupils out of 8031 who received free school meals and who sat the 11 plus passed the test, parents could already send their children to selective schools outside RBWM and there was no need to introduce selection that benefited a few but hindered many. He used Ascot as an example where residents had the lowest number of pupils going into selective education as they already had an excellent local school; the borough should support local provision.
Mr Mellin felt that the Panel should recommend to Cabinet that the report be withdrawn until legislation had progressed through Parliament.
Cllr N Airey, Lead Member, informed the Panel that she shared the passion for education in the Borough expressed by Mr Millin and the Council were committed to all school. However she mentioned that currently 666 pupils had attended a selective school or a school with a selective stream outside of the Royal Borough since September 2011 and the Council would like them to have the choice to contribute to education standards within the Royal Borough and allow parents to have that choice.
Cllr Airey informed that the Council had a manifesto commitment, in response
to residents’ demands, to promote selective education within the Royal Borough. She would support any proposal that considers full or partial selective education, but only where the proposal includes a detailed commitment to raise the academic achievement of young people especially those eligible for pupil premium. Cllr Airey said she would be happy to discuss proposals with Excellent Education for Everyone.
The Panel received a presentation from the Head of Schools and Education Services setting context to the report. The presentation covered current school standards and attainment in 2016, the national policy direction and the demand for selective education within RBWM. The presentation also highlighted the challenge to improve attainment for disadvantaged pupils in the borough showing the difference between those eligible for Free School Meals and those who were not. The ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider the report.
The Panel considered the report that provided an overview of the performance of the Council in respect of receiving, handling and responding to complaints received to Adult and Children Services. The report covered the periods 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 and 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.
The Panel were informed that there was a statutory frameworks in place governing the complaints process for Adult and Children’s social care This was outside the formal corporate complaints service. The management and administration of this function was moved within the Operations and Customer Services Directorate. This ensured that there is independence between the officer coordinating the investigation and the service areas being investigated.
The Pane were told that between February 2014 and February 2015 the complaints officer role was vacant due to the previous post holder leaving and challenges recruiting a suitable alternative. As a result the recording of the complaints during this period was not as accurate as it should have been and since March 2016 officers were raising awareness of the complaints process and improve the recording of complaints being received.
The Panel noted that tables 1 and 2 of the report showed complaints activity across Children’s and Adults Directorates for the years 2014/15 and 2015/16 and compared them with the previously reported activity for 2013-14.
With regards to complaints for Children’s Services stage 1 complaints had fallen from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016, however there had been an increase in stage 2 and stage 3 received in 2015/16, these were all from complaints started in 2014/15 and this was linked back to the period where there was not an active complaints co-ordinator in post. It was noted that a lot of complaints had been about how the Council dealt with concerns raised rather the services provided.
The Chairman mentioned that the report showed the percentage of complaints but it would be useful to see the number of complaints received.
Cllr D Evans asked if the complaints service would remain with RBWM when Children’s Services transferred to AFC and was informed that it would. Cllr Evans also mentioned that the report did not show the severity of the complaints and was informed that if there was a safeguarding issue it would be escalated to the appropriate body. The Panel were also informed that officer would look at introducing examples of complaints received whilst retaining confidentiality.
Cllr E Wilson reported that it would be good to see if the had been any change in policy or procedure as a result of complaints analysis. This was reiterated by Cllr Mills.
The Chairman, on behalf of the Panel, thanked officers for their hard work improving the complaints procedure and service.
The Panel noted the report.
To comment on the Cabinet report.
The Panel received a presentation on the latest Financial Update Cabinet report and was informed that the financial position had improved from the time of the last reporting period with an underspend of £430,000 now projected for the Council as a whole. Reserves were anticipated to total £6.5m by year end, which was above the recommended level.
With regards to the Adult, Children and Health directorate it had reduced its projected overspend by £154,000. This resulted in a projected year end overspend of £158,000 out of a budget of £57m. The presentation showed the overspend and underspend for the different services areas and was informed that with regards to Children’s Services there were the following pressures / underspends:
· Home to school transport - +343k
· Agency staff in MASH - + 312k
· Internal Fostering placements - -170k
· Legal support from Joint Team - +206k
· Residential childcare placements - -336k
· Leaving Care costs - -113k
· Passenger assistance – high needs - +200k
· Alternative Provision due to exclusion - +100k
· Berkshire education library support service closure costs - +94k
The above pressures resulted in a 394k projected overspend.
Cllr D Evans questioned the increase spend on legal support and was informed that there had been a significant case that had legal costs over £50k and there were more cases then before.
The Chairman asked if with regards to Home to School Transport the pressure relating to special needs continued. The Panel were informed that officers continues to look at this pressure with assessments being made on a case to case basis.
Cllr Jones raised concern that it was difficult to know what residential child care placements would be in the future and that a couple of placements could see the directorate having an overspend. The Panel were informed that the cost of child care placements had been reduced by being able to have better local provision. Placements were being managed better and joining AFC will also help.
Resolved unanimously: that the Children’s Services O&S Panel fully endorsed recommendation 1 in the Cabinet report, they did not vote on recommendation 2 as in was not in this Panels remit.
To consider the Part I version of the report.
The Panel were informed that in July 2016 the Employment Panel approved to adopt the definition of ‘hard to fill roles’ and a number of recommendations to help the authority recruit to these posts. The Panel also agreed an additional recommendation to ensure monitoring of the implementation of enhanced rates and the effect on the finances of the service and therefore agreed that regular reports be provided to the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel.
The Panel were informed that paragraph 2.2 to 2.5 of the report highlighted the proposed increase in wages for child protection workers whilst 2.5 showed the proposed recruitment campaigns.
Paragraphs 2.6 to 2.11 including table 1 showed the rational for amending the pay bands for new and existing Adult Social Workers and Occupational Therapists. The report also highlighted the plans to implement key worker housing `and the relocation package for hard to fill roles.
The Chairman asked if it was a local problem recruiting to the safeguarding roles across Berkshire and was informed that it was common across a number of authorities.
Cllr Jones questioned if the statutory positions were filled by permanent staff if this would result in a saving and would case loads go up. The Panel were informed that the report did not mention savings as the additional cost of agency staff was being offset from other budgets and that case loads are increasing because of the increase in child protection cases. It was also noted that permanent staff were kept at a team manger level.
The Panel noted the update,
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 - EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC
To consider passing the following resolution:-
“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public
be excluded from the remainder of the meeting whilst discussion takes place
on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as
defined in Paragraphs 1- 7 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act"
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local
Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the remainder of the
meeting whilst discussion takes place on the grounds that they involve
the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1-7
of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.
To consider the Part II minutes of the meeting held on 22nd September 2016.
The Part II minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2016 were approved as a true and correct record.
Hard to Fill Roles
To consider the report.
The report was re published and considered in Part I.