Agenda and minutes

Improving Lives Select Commission - Tuesday, 17th September, 2019 5.30 p.m.

Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, ROTHERHAM. S60 2TH

Contact: Caroline Webb, Governance Advisor  The webcast can be viewed at http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv

Items
No. Item

21.

Apologies for Absence

 

To receive the apologies of any Member who is unable to attend the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence:- Apologies were received from Councillors Atkin, Beaumont, Elliot, Hague, Marriott, Pitchley and Price.

22.

Declarations of Interest

 

To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest to report.

23.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

 

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no items requiring exclusion from the press or public.

24.

Questions from Members of the Public and the Press

 

To receive questions relating to items of business on the agenda from members of the public or press who are present at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no questions from members of the public or the press.

25.

Communications

 

To receive communications from the Chair in respect of matters within the Commission’s remit and work programme.

Minutes:

PAUSE Project

Cllr Clark provided an update to the Commission on the Pause Pilot Project in her role as a member of the Pause Board. She highlighted progress since the project commenced in August 2018. 40 women were prioritised, with 20 currently on the programme many of whom had complex and inter-linking needs, including experiencing domestic abuse, mental ill-health, substance misuse, homelessness or insecure housing. A significant proportion of the cohort were previously looked after children. It was estimated there was cost avoidance of approximately £1.3m associated with the successful completion of the programme, with a potential to avoid costs of approximately £2.1m over a five year period.

 

Cllr Clark gave examples of the positive outcomes for Pause participants and the value of the project to enhance quality of life. It was noted that the programme had entered into a transitional stage and Cllr Clark asked that consideration be given to the future sustainability of the project when budget options were discussed.

 

The Chair and Deputy Leader thanked Cllr Clark for her contribution to the Pause Board and her championing of the project.

 

PERFORMANCE DATA – PERSISTENT ABSENCE

The Chair requested that a report be submitted to the meeting scheduled for October 29, 2019 (or as soon as was practical) on steps taken to address persistent absence in schools.

26.

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 19th July, 2019 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

 

To consider and approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 19th July, 2019, as a true and correct record of the proceedings.

Minutes:

Resolved:- (1) That the minutes of the previous meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission, held on 19 July, 2019, be approved as a correct record of proceedings.

 

Matters arising: Cllr Cusworth advised that in relation to Item 14, that the review of Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) would be submitted to the next meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel and circulated to the Commission in due course.

27.

Counter Extremism in Schools pdf icon PDF 128 KB

 

To understand steps being taken in schools to address counter extremism.

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Shokat Lal, Assistant Chief Executive, Pepe Di’Lasio, Assistant Director for Education, Ian Stubbs, Community Engagement Co-ordinator, and Sam Barstow, Head of Community Safety and Regulatory Services to the meeting.

 

The Assistant Chief Executive introduced the  briefing paper which detailed the proactive work Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council was undertaking in schools and colleges across the Borough to counter extremist narratives and build the resilience of young people to reject extremism, intolerance and hatred.

 

The paper outlined that the distinction between Counter Extremism (CE) and Counter terrorism (PREVENT) was difficult to make. PREVENT was a safeguarding process for individuals vulnerable to radicalisation like any other safeguarding process whereas Counter Extremism worked with communities rather than individuals, to challenge extremist narratives and build resilience within communities to reject hatred.

 

Extremism was defined by government as the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.

 

The key pieces of work developed in accordance with statutory guidance and undertaken with schools and colleges to counter extremism included:

 

·                Holding the “Harms of Hate” event for schools and developing teaching resources which have been recognised nationally as good practice.

·                Delivery of assemblies on extremism in secondary schools.

·                Delivery staff training on the current far right threat.

·                Delivery of work with primary schools.

·                Work with partners to develop CE projects including some delivered in schools.

·                Development and sharing of teaching resources to challenge extremism.

 

It was stated that RMBC was in a strong position to lead on CE work. There was a strong correlation between the Council’s Building Stronger Communities (BSC) action plan and actions covered in the Government’s integrated communities’ strategy The BSC and thriving neighbourhoods strategies are both recognised in recent Local Government Association (LGA) reports as good practice. The Local Authority had successfully applied for funding to support the CE initiative across the Borough.

 

The current national climate was such that the extremism risk, especially from the far right was unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. It was highlighted that the threat of extremism in Rotherham reflected the national picture.

 

It was outlined that positive relationships had been developed with schools and colleges across the Borough to deliver this initiative sensitively. Partners included South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham United Community Sports Trust and other voluntary sector organisation were engaged in this agenda and were committed to its ongoing delivery.

 

The Strategic Director gave details of future developments including work with adults with particular reference to neighbourhood working and engaging people in dialogues about their communities. He noted that there were challenges in relation to hate crime and stressed the importance of strengthening the relationship with police and other partner agencies.

 

A short video was shown from the “Harms of Hate” event which took place in 2018. Over 400 children from 10 Rotherham schools participated in the event and at the request of Secondary Heads, another event had been planned for later in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Children Missing from Education, Care and Home pdf icon PDF 139 KB

 

To seek assurance that children missing (from Care, Home, Education and Children excluded from schools) are being effectively safeguarded

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Cllr Gordon Watson; Ailsa Barr, Acting Assistant Director for Safeguarding; Rebecca Wall, Head of Safeguarding, Quality and Learning and Dean Fenton, Head of Service, Access to Education to the meeting.

 

Officers gave a short presentation to outline the different legislative frameworks which guide the response to children missing from care and home and missing from education. Reference was made to research which highlighted that missing from care and home could indicate wider contextual safeguarding concerns outside the family such as criminal exploitation, child sexual exploitation or honour based violence.

 

In respect of missing from education, Local Authorities were required to ensure that Children Missing from Education (CME) were identified, reported and tracked, and where appropriate, suitable educational providers found. The term CME referred to children of compulsory school age who are not on a school roll, and who are not receiving a suitable alternative education. A suitable education can be approved via alternative provision such as home tuition or appropriate Elective Home Education. 

 

The presentation outlined areas which were working well, areas of concerns (what are we worried about) and actions to address concerns (what are we going to do about it).

 

In respect of areas which were working well, the following measures were highlighted. The Missing Team was now on a permanent footing with a dedicated Team Manager to support the number of Return Home Interviews offered. There was a Missing from Home and Care Scorecard is produced monthly and provided a clear understanding around the Missing Cohort and identifies patterns and trends. There were strong established links with a range of internal and external partners in relation to CME.  The success in reducing the number of children missing from home and care reflected excellent multiagency partnership and improved practice.

 

At the end of the reporting period there were 160 active cases that remained open to CME which highlighted a 24% reduction from Quarter One.  There were 166 resolved cases in Quarter Four, which showed a significant increase on Quarter One when 120 cases were resolved in the period. Cases of CME needed to remain open until the child was found or until all enquiries had been exhausted and this can mean that cases remained open for extended periods.

 

In relation to exclusions, the invalidated data for 2018/2019 reflected a stabilisation in permanent and fixed term exclusions in secondary settings; whilst in primary settings fixed terms exclusions had stabilised, there had however been an increase in permanent exclusions.

 

The presentation highlighted areas of concern – what are we worried about? Looked after children were the largest cohort of missing children, accounting for over recorded episodes. After the Looked After population, the largest Missing group was children and young people who were not currently known to services. The Return Home Interview (RHI) offered an opportunity to explore why the young person went missing and reduce future missing episodes. There had been a seasonal increase in the number of episodes which had meant a decline in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Elective Home Education pdf icon PDF 153 KB

 

To seek assurance that children who are elective home educated are being effectively safeguarded/educated.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Marie Boswell, Deputy Head of Access to Education to the meeting who presented the item in conjunction with the Head of Access to Education.

 

Cllr Watson briefly introduced the item and highlighted some of the challenges of ensuring that children who were electively home educated received a good standard of education. Elective Home Education (EHE) was the term used to describe a legal choice by parents to provide education for their children at home - or in some other way which they choose - instead of sending them to school full-time. This was different to education provided by a local authority (LA) otherwise than at a school - for example, tuition for children who are too ill to attend school.

 

The Head of Access to Education outlined that the Department for Education Guidance was being refreshed and the Directorate would be consulting with parents and other stakeholders on a revised policy in due course.

 

An overview was given on the role of EHE Officers who conducted home visits to discuss the education a child in EHE was receiving and review samples of work, progress made and future plans. Where there were concerns about the suitability of the education being provided the EHE Officer discussed alternative options with parents/carers e.g. amendments that could be made to improve the education being provided or returning to mainstream or other education setting.

 

The EHE team was part of a regional network which co-ordinated responses to consultation. However there was no requirement to collate and publish data in relation to EHE so there is little in the way of comparative data available. It was reported that EHE team linked into

the Operational and Strategic Missing Groups. 

 

The Officers outlined areas of concerns (what are we worried about) and actions to address these concerns (what are we going to do about it).

 

There had been a rise in the number of parents requesting information about EHE or considering alternatives to current schools. Without sufficient EHE Officer capacity to discuss issues rapidly, local knowledge and school admissions/other service links, many families would have elected to home educate without a full understanding of the implications of this decision or the education options and support available to them, often at a time of crisis. It was highlighted that a small, but increasing number of families had declined EHE Officer visits or refused to send actual evidence in support that their child was receiving a ‘suitable education’ when requested.

 

Parents did not have to inform the Local Authority if they chose to home educate. Current legislation appeared to conflict with other Government strategies for protecting the rights of children.  Although the legislation had not changed, the new, clearer Guidance to LA’s and parents was welcomed.

 

Concerns were raised about access to public examinations. Whilst progress to further education (FE) and training without evidence of qualifications was possible, children may be disadvantaged if they are required to evidence academic achievement for other employment or training.

 

Rotherham  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.

30.

Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

 

To receive an update on the 2019/20 Work Programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Improving Lives Work Programme. An update was given in respect of work undertaken, progress in relation to recommendations and future work.

 

The Chair invited Members to submit any comments to the Governance Advisor.

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the contents of the report and the Work Programme detail be noted.

 

(2)  That updates be provided to each meeting of this Commission on the progress of the work programme and further prioritisation as required.

 

(3) That a report be submitted to the meeting scheduled for October 29, 2019 (or as soon as was practical) on steps taken to address persistent absence in schools

 

31.

Urgent Business

 

To consider any item(s) the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business to report.

32.

Date and time of the next meeting

 

The next meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission will take place on Tuesday, 29th October, 2019 commencing at 5.30 p.m. in Rotherham Town Hall.

Minutes:

Resolved:- That the next meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission take place on  Tuesday, 29 October, 2019 at 5.30 p.m.