The report includes the performance outturn for the reporting year April 2022 to March 2023 for Children and Young People’s Services. It includes areas of performance that are working well alongside other areas where a continued focus is required.
The Chair welcomed the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People to the meeting. The Cabinet Member outlined that the report gave an overview of the performance outturn for the reporting year April 2022 to March 2023, for Children and Young People’s Services. It included areas of performance that were working well alongside other areas that required a continued focus.
The Chair invited to the meeting Helen Sweaton, Joint Assistant Director of Commissioning and Performance, Anne Hawke, Head of Service for Performance, David McWilliams, Education and Inclusion and Monica Green, Assistant Director of Childrens Services. The Chair invited Helen Sweaton and Anne Hawke to give the presentation.
The presentation gave an overview of the following content:
Children's and Young Peoples Service Performance and Year End Performance
The Chair thanked the officers for the presentation and invited questions, this led to the following points being raised during discussions:
• Significant increases in suspensions and permanent exclusions were a concern for the service, this was a regional and national challenge in the period of the return to school post pandemic. Rotherham had developed a collaborative approach and was two years into a three-year plan to develop an inclusion partnership, this was being led by academy leaders, primary and secondary inclusion panels had also been developed.
• The statistics for suspensions and permanent exclusions were numbers of suspensions and exclusions issued, the scorecard statistics included the statutory return provided to the Department of Education. The number of pupils and school days lost were also calculated, this information would be provided on a one-page overview to give a breakdown of the data to members.
• The government had made changes in areas such as direction off site, this was a key challenge to the local authority as it allowed schools to direct a child off site for a fixed period to support their education and reintegration. This aligned with the risk of permanent exclusions and aligned with constituents where a child had been educated in one school where they have been at risk of permanent exclusion and the school had made a supportive decision to break the cycle of behaviour.
• The local authority had a statutory obligation to provide pupils excluded from school with education on day 6 of the permanent exclusion. This was provided through support by the Aspire Pupil Referral Unit. Managed moves were completed in certain situations, such as one-off incidents or if there was complicated factors that had driven the actions towards permanent exclusion.
• Children with a recognised SEND need were aligned closely to the statutory element and in cases of this nature an emergency review was held, often before the child had reached the permanent exclusion threshold. This would then be followed up with a statutory consultation alongside additional support provisions provided to the child by utilising the Pupil Referral Unit.
• The increase in NEETS was a national issue and the Local Government Association was requesting the development of a register of children that were being electively home educated to enable more rights for local authorities around safeguarding.
• The levels of NEET young people in Rotherham included ‘not known’ young people, whose statuses were unknown to the service. For example, at the beginning of the week there was more than 6200 sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds in Rotherham, 299 of these individuals fell into the NEET Category. This figure included young people who were yet to decide what to do in September and 85 of these individuals were yet to be contacted.
• Derbyshire had a good approach to NEETs and benchmarking had been conducted by the service, this had resulted in the development of a new action plan, which included additional items to improve on last year’s performance data.
• Career education was an area of primary focus in secondary Oftsed inspections and the emphasis from the inspection would lead to significant improvements in career education provision and would enhance the inclusive economy agenda.
• In respect of elective home education, parents had a legal entitlement to remove a child from school. It was outlined that there were significant concerns about this process and lack of statutory guidance. In Rotherham there was a collaborative approach where schools were asked to provide the service with information, if there was any indication that a parent may choose to educate electively home. There was a quick escalation process when there was a significant area of concern, and all challenges were assessed. More frequent audits were also completed and practise examples were provided to schools.
• The role of the virtual school had been extended to cover 16- to 19-year-olds, this was an area of continuing development. Alternative provision post-16 had been assessed, in order to ensure the services met all needs and continued to build provision around young people with SEND needs.
• The work completed on the High Need Safety Valve had a focus on improving transition data for children on ECH plans, to ensure good tracking and performance data. Case studies were also an area of focus to ensure context and impact was captured.
• There had been an uptake in places at children’s centres in deprived areas and increased engagement post-pandemic, the primary reason for the increase in engagement was the re-introduction of face-to-face visits. The Family Hubs Programme was part of a national programme and was intended to build on the existing mechanisms available around children’s centres.
• There were workforce challenges regarding the level of caseloads of social workers in key safeguarding teams as this had increased. To mitigate this there was a clear Workforce Strategy in place and there had been increased recruitment within the team. There were now placements offered to social work students through the Learning Academy. The service had increased its capacity to develop existing employees through development opportunities such as apprenticeships who wanted to enter the social work profession.
• There was a high level of oversight and scrutiny to Section 47 activity. The Section 47’s were sampled with a panel monthly, to provide assurance that they met the prescribed threshold.
• The Department of Education had recognised that there were significant gaps in the SEND system nationally and it was one of the only government departments that had placed itself on an internal improvement plan, all local authorities would be required to respond and develop their plans in line with the improvement plan.
• There were mitigations in the system such as a focus on supporting schools to be inclusive, ensuring an emphasis on inclusive practise and ensuring good quality provision throughout the borough.
• The inclusion plan was focused on supporting SEND children back into mainstream education, the development of the inclusion pathways and alternative provision plan, would be focused on providing schools with the capacity to support more children back into mainstream education.
Members consider and accept the CYPS Annual Performance Report and accompanying scorecard for the outturn 2022/2023.