Agenda item

Children's and Young Peoples Service Performance and Year End performance

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, Assistant Director of Early Help and Family Engagement, Nathan Heath, Assistant Director of 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:


                 A brief overview of the report highlighted that performance measures were considered against local targets including targets based on benchmarking measures, which were in line with statistical neighbours, national and regional colleagues and demand and activity.

                 A review of existing measures was conducted throughout the last year to ensure a robust set of measures were in place. As a result of the review there was robust accountability and governance, such as monthly performance boards and quarterly quality assurance days.

                 The report was the first Children's and Young Peoples Service Performance and Year End PerformanceOutturn Report since the new measures were put in place.

                 The new format of the scorecard was discussed, an example was provided of the workshop held in March where the new format of the scorecard was provided in detail to members, to assist their understanding of the different iterations of performance.

                 The new scorecard included 56 performance measures across the service, 22 of those targets could be benchmarked. Some measures were split into various indicators and had multiple components, which include a combination of a count, percentages and a family split.

                 34 of the performance measures focused on specific activities and/or demand activities. 23 of the measures focused on the education service. The education service measures were separate from the benchmarking and activity measures, due to the timeline of the academic year.

                 Progress against targets was discussed, this included highlighting that 37% of the measures were below thresholds during the year. 32% of measures were within the amber tolerance range and 31% were above target.

                 The fluctuation in travel direction was in line with national benchmarking data and reassurance was provided that the service was aware of the fluctuation in travel directions. This was monitored regularly, with oversight provided when required.


                 The performance data for Early Help and family engagement was discussed, it was advised that there were areas that worked well during the year, an example was provided that 89.3% of families were contacted within 3 working days of allocation, with a target set of 75%.

                 87.6% of Early Help assessments were completed within 45 days during the year. It was noted that the service was working closely with colleagues nationally, to develop an agreed set of measures to ensure better future benchmarking. There was also a robust and embedded performance management framework within Early Help.

                 Early Help assessments completed by partners was a key measure for the service, 25.6% of assessments were completed by partners, there was more work being completed to increase this figure.

                 92% of children aged 0-5 living in the 30% most deprived areas in Rotherham were registered with a children’s centre during the year. This was an improvement on the previous year’s performance of 87%. Engagement in children’s centres activities had also increased from 72% to 78%.

                 One continued area of focus for the service was the step-down handover process from Social Care (Duty and locality) to Early Help, the target was 14 working days for a joint visit to take place. Performance was showing below the target of 85%. David McWilliams advised that this had been addressed and the May figures showed this had now improved to 93% and 89% respectively.

                 A key area of focus for the service was the Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) category. Improvements were required last year and new targets had been set as a result. This involved an increase in targeted work with datasets to improve performance and quality.

                 Within children’s social care, the re-referral rate had significantly reduced, with a target of 22%. This highlighted the improvement of practise at the case closure stage, ensuring the families were resilient and successful.

                 The rates of the Children in Need, Child Protection and Looked After Children (LAC) cohorts were on a steady decline. The children in care figures had also significantly reduced, this figure included 36 un-accompanied asylum-seeking children. This was an unforeseen cohort of children when the forecast and associated plan to reduce numbers was completed. The number of care leavers had increased throughout the year, with 92.6% of care leavers living in suitable accomodation.

                 There was a significant improvement on initial child protection conferences completed within 15 days of a section 47 and this had reached 88.7%.

                 There had been a reduction in overall caseload numbers and improvement in case closure timescales, this had enabled the service to focus on the children who needed help the most.


                 Some term two information for education was available and was presented to members. It was advised that there was not an outturn report for education, due to no attainment information being available at the time of the presentation.

                 At the end of term two 90% of two-year-olds were taking up an early education place, this was an improvement on last year and exceeded the target.

                 99% of primary children were allocated one of their three admission preferences on the recent national offer day, there had also been an increase in vulnerable children taking up an early education place. 96% of secondary school children were allocated one of their three admission preferences on the recent national offer day.

                 At the end of term two, there was 435 children that were electively home educated, this was a significant increase on last year. This was a continued area of focus for the service.

                 There were 253 suspensions in primary schools and 3254 in secondary schools. This was reflective of the challenges within Rotherham and aligned with regional and national trends.

                 There had been significant changes and improvements within inclusion, following on from the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) inspection conducted in July 2021. The Department of Education and the National Health Service England marked the progress of the service via a support and challenge meeting conducted recently. The Department of Education provided assurance they were confident with the progress of the Written Statement of Action.

                 The Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP) team were now fully staffed following a significant recruitment drive. The numbers of children on an EHCP had increased with 3019 children on an EHCP by the end of March 2023.

                 Transition reviews were an area of continued focus with 30.9% of transition reviews completed within the statutory deadline. A clear action plan was being developed across the service to improve the performance measure.

                 The improvements made by Children and Young Peoples services had been made in difficult times, due to the pandemic, the national challenge of workforce, rising demand and reducing funding available.


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.


Resolved:- That


                 Members consider and accept the CYPS Annual Performance Report and accompanying scorecard for the outturn 2022/2023.

                 The Assistant Director for Education and Skills provides:

o   a one-page overview of the breakdown of statistics for suspensions and permanent exclusions.

o   a briefing outlining the Rotherham career options offer.

                 The Early Years Strategy is submitted to this Commission for pre-decision scrutiny.

                 That further scoping is undertaken to formulate the Commission’s scrutiny of Elective Home.

                 The presentation slides be circulated to all members of the Commission.


Supporting documents: