Agenda and minutes
Children's Services and Culture Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 7 July 2009 7:00 pm
Venue: Salon, York House, Richmond Road, Twickenham.
Contact: Gary Lelliott; 020 8891 7275; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apologies for absence were received from Esther Mirrielees, Anne-Marie True and Charles Hoseason.
To consider and approve the minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 2009 attached.
The minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 2009 be received and approved and the Chair be authorised to sign them.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Members are requested to declare any interests orally at the start of the meeting and again immediately before consideration of the matter. Members are reminded to specify the agenda item number to which it refers and whether the interest is of a personal or prejudicial nature.
Members are also reminded of the requirements of Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 that they should declare and not vote on specified matters if they are two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax payments.
Agenda item 7 - REVIEW OF SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS PROVISION
The following Committee Members declared personal interests in this item by virtue of being school governors:
· Councillor Beevor – Strathmore School
· Councillor Jones – Meadlands Primary School
· Councillor Nicholson – Hampton Junior School
· Councillor Treble – Heathfield Nursery and Infant School & Waldegrave School for Girls
· Councillor MH Wilson – Healthfield Junior School
· Paul Leonard – Strathmore School
REPRESENTATIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
Agenda Item 7 - REVIEW OF SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS PROVISION
· Ms Felicity Chadwick-Histed
· Mr Doherty
Agenda Item 8 - CHILDREN’S WORKFORCE STRATEGY
· Mr Richard Eason
EXECUTIVE DECISIONS CALLED-IN (IF ANY)
There were no executive decisions called-in.
Children and staff from Hampton Hill Junior School will be present to provide the Committee with a presentation on their recent award for being the most sustainable school in London at the Teaching Awards 2009.
Bill Jerman, Headteacher of Hampton Hill Junior School introduced this item:
· The school had made significant progress in the last two years and was now a leader in promoting sustainability.
· The National Teaching Awards had selected Hampton Hill Junior School as the most sustainable in London.
· There were ‘8 doorways’ into becoming sustainable, which included:
o Energy and Water – The school now had a wind turbine which was providing energy and saving significant amounts of money.
o Building and Grounds
o Inclusion and Participation
o Local Wellbeing – The Caretaker’s House was now a centre for the local community.
o Packaging and Waste – This including recycling and purchasing products that had minimal packaging.
o Travel and Traffic
o Food and Drink
o Global Dimension – Hampton Hill Junior had built a relationship with a school in Japan.
· The Judges were particularly impressed with how well the school had done in each area, particularly as most schools would specialise in just one or two.
· The school was planning on doing more work in the community.
Each Class had its own elected ‘Eco-Ambassador’ who had responsibilities including ensuring that electrical items had been switched off, that doors had been closed and for ensuring things were being recycled. Eco-Ambassadors met as a group each week. Some Eco-Ambassadors were attending the meeting:
· Lucy Oliver – some children had visited a local farmers’ market where they found out about the importance of local produce. Some of the things that had been purchased at the market were then cooked at the school.
· Seb Lane – Year 4 had focus groups which looked at recycling and there had been a fashion show where children modelled clothing made out of recyclable materials.
· Zara Hussain – There had been a ‘green house’ design and transport competitions held, where one of the ideas suggested was a human hamster ball.
· Henry Newton-Savage – There had been a mosaic project and the final piece of work would be on display soon.
· Jennifer Dong – Hampton Hill Junior School was teamed with a school in Kenya where letters, clothing and a camera had been sent.
Following questions from the committee, the meeting was advised that:
· There was a meter in the school which tracked how much power was being used. Details of the power consumption was then reported via the school newsletter.
· Other schools should have an ‘eco-code’ which had been written by children.
· Children were beginning to raise environmental awareness amongst their friends and family because of what they had learned at school.
· The school was trying to purchase the most sustainable items, although this needed to be balanced between costs and environmental benefits.
· Paper usage within the school had decreased significantly.
· Children felt that by doing lots of small things, they too could make a big difference.
· Savings on electricity in the school because it was generating its own electricity were anything between 7 and 45% depending on the season.
· The school was now exploring the possibility of selling back any excess electricity to the energy company.
· There were regular letters produced that had been written by the Eco-Ambassadors.
The committee thanked the staff and children from Hampton Hill Junior School and members looked forward to seeing their efforts praised on television in the Autumn.
This report sets out a number of proposals for consultation designed to enhance provision in Richmond upon Thames mainstream schools and the Borough’s two special schools. It sets out background information to explain the reasoning behind the proposals; what is proposed for the schools affected and time scales for implementation.
Report of the Director of Children’s Services and Culture attached.
Ms Chadwick-Histed made the following points on behalf of The Bridge charity:
· The papers should include a briefing on the cost of speech and language therapy being received from outside the borough.
· There was a lack of speech therapists and this was having an impact on children and their families.
· The council was likely to not succeed in helping children with speech and language difficulties if the system remained as it was.
· Some children’s needs should be met by utilising out of borough services.
· The Bridge charity would respond to the final proposals in writing if they as an organisation was heading in the right direction.
Mr Doherty made the following comments:
· Has a child with cerebral palsy and was representing a further 70 families who had children with special needs.
· Children who had physical difficulties should be given priority over services.
· The upgrade of both Strathmore and Clarendon Schools was very important.
· SEN provision as a whole needed more money, particularly when there were multiple complex needs involved.
· The option of receiving additional help locally was not always available which meant that some children had to travel long distances.
· Parents often needed to appeal against decisions, or go to a tribunal, in order to get their choice of school.
· Special schools were a wealth of knowledge and expertise and there were some services that should be expanded because of this.
· It was noted that the Cabinet Member and lead officer had worked very hard to communicate with parents.
· There were now parent representatives which helped empower families.
· There was a need for parents to work with the local authority.
· Schools like Strathmore and Clarendon should be made ‘centres of excellence’ as they were places that the local authority should be proud of.
· Wandsworth had recently invested heavily in its SEN services, whereas Richmond had opted to offer a more mainstream approach.
· Costly tribunals should be avoided wherever possible.
· It was important that children were offered the chance to develop into self sufficient adults.
The Director of Children’s Services and Culture and the Head of Services for Children with Disabilities & Learning Difficulties made the following comments in response to the speakers:
· The strategy was based on two principles:
o Choice – Where possible parents should be given choice over the help that their child receives.
o Reducing the amount of travelling that some families need to do to get access specialist services.
· It was noted that Richmond is a small borough and it was not always possible to offer the wide range of required services in-borough.
· Strathmore was, by every possible measure, a good school. There were however issues over the facilities at the site needing refurbishment and replacement.
· The report did recommend increasing the amount of money spent on SEN provision.
· More provision was needed for autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) as this was an area experiencing an increase in the number people needing help. There was going to be a dedicated unit which only provided ASD services.
· The Local Authority wanted to see better transition between the various key stages.
· Secondary schools were generally enthusiastic about the potential of offering more services.
· The Council was contributing an extra £212k towards the cost of providing speech therapy.
· The number of tribunals being held had decreased, although it was recognised that there were still some taking place.
· Enhanced specialist teaching offered children with SEN the ability to participate in more mainstream activities.
· The Council may need to look at holding partner organisations to account, particularly where funding was being supplied.
· The PCT needed to be more sympathetic toward Local Authority funding.
Following questions from members of the committee, the meeting was advised that:
· The PCT were not unwilling partners, although there was a need to look at how best they and the Council could work together.
· The review was focussing on the final structure of the service and not the processes involved.
· This would involve expending some of the capital funds in order to enhance the provisions that were supplied. There was money allocated for this.
· The funding for rebuilding Strathmore School would come from a variety of sources.
· It was recognised that a relocation of Strathmore School may be necessary and the final bill may be in excess of £3m.
· Clarendon School currently had around 100 children attending and was also in need of improvement.
· Richmond Parents Action Group had been key in improving communication along with various charities.
· Parents had been involved throughout the process and had been very generous with their time.
· There should be good quality consultation with both current and future service users.
· The ‘staff insurance scheme; which aimed to provide emergency staffing cover did not include providing speech therapists as they were employed by the PCT.
· If a new service was being developed, there was a series of statutory steps that had to take place including consultation.
The committee asked that its thanks be extended to Colin Herrick for his work on this matter.
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
This report updates the Committee on early work towards a new Children’s Workforce Strategy, and seeks members’ views on potential priorities for action or any particular areas members would like to be involved with or contribute to.
Report of the Head of Commissioning, Delivery and Service Improvement attached.
Richard Eason, Chair of the Richmond LGBT Forum, made the following points:
· The LGBT Forum was concerned about homophobic bullying.
· Priority should be given to creating a workforce that incorporated the ‘out and proud’ message.
· Training on issues faced by the LGBT workforce should be given to staff.
· The borough had already recognised that any form of bullying was wrong.
· There were a large number of children experiencing homophobic bullying and staff were unsure about how best to deal with it because there was no training.
Following questions to Mr Eason, the committee was advised that:
· There were no local statistics available which gave an indication of the problem, but it was believed that the findings of the national study were representative of Richmond.
· The subject of homophobic bullying had not been addressed historically.
· Teachers should be encouraged to join the local LGBT support group.
· There was no infrastructure in place for collecting information on the experiences of local teaching staff.
· This issue could be affecting the rate of staff turnover as some may feel the need to move to another Local Authority where they felt safer.
· Many teachers would not feel comfortable should a child announce their sexual orientation.
· Tower Hamlets Council was doing a lot of work in developing areas of best practice.
· Combating things such as hate crime would help people in the LGBT community feel safer.
· It was important to note that this issue did not just target those in the LGBT forum, but also those that others perceived to be as part of it, or those who have a link to it such as a friend or family member.
· Headteachers, school governors and senior leaders should receive training and then there should be an effort on working the culture change into schools.
The Head of Commissioning, Delivery and Service Improvement and the Workforce Development Manager (Early Years and Family Learning) made the following comments:
· A midway report for the survey “One Children’s Workforce Framework” had not shown any immediately alarming results.
· The anti-bullying strategy did mention homophobia although it was helpful that some prevailing issues had been identified at this meeting.
· Officers could not commit to spending any of the existing budget on raising awareness of, and combating, homophobic bullying as a key priority.
· The strategy would be looking at the content of training about bullying.
· The skills contained within the existing workforce would be looked at along with how it could be developed.
· Developing the workforce could involve staff members training one another in skills that they already possess.
· Training could be delivered via the quindrats and would be available to everyone.
· A website would be developed, in order for training opportunities to be publicised. Staff would also be able to discuss opportunities via a forum.
Following questions from members of the committee, the meeting was advised that:
· This work was hoping to develop a shared ethos amongst the workforce, which could then be introduced to new employees via the induction programme.
· Workforce capacity was an issue and of this.
· Workforce priorities would be looked at.
· The impact of training would be monitored to ensure that it was of a high quality.
· Questions should be asked around whether the workforce can deliver when measured against the targets set in the Children and Young People’s Plan.
· All development opportunities would include equalities monitoring.
· Establishing figures for the number of LGBT staff could possibly be obtained via HR.
· Some staff did not immediately associate themselves as being part of the children’s workforce, although there would be two tiers:
o A central workforce who worked with children on a very regular basis
o An outer workforce who rarely worked with children
· The response rate for the survey in Richmond seemed to be higher than in other local authorities.
· It was hoped to have a working strategy by Christmas time.
The Committee thanked officers for their work in this area.
RESOLVED that the report be noted with a recommendation that officers work to further develop equality and diversity sections.
The draft work programme has been drawn up, in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair, from items in the forward plan and from action arising from previous meetings of the Committee.
The Committee is requested to consider the items within the proposed work programme, set out at Appendix A to this report, and suggest any amendments or additional topics to be included in the future.
Information items are included in a Briefing information/General Information Pack, which has been sent to Members of the Committee separately to this agenda. A list of reports included in the Pack is attached as Appendix B to this report. The pack can be accessed via the following link:
Items included in the pack will not be discussed at the meeting. If members of the public wish to discuss any issue arising from the reports included in the pack please contact the Committee Manager, whose details are given on the front sheet of the agenda. Members of the Council may wish to raise their concerns directly with the Chair of the Committee, the Cabinet Member or appropriate officer.
Report of the Senior Democratic Services Officer attached.
· The Chair asked that members of the committee prepare questions on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services that she could send to the PCT. Members were requested to send these to the Chair by 17 July 2009. Members of the committee felt that the timescale for work in this area had been subject to continual delay and wanted to know why this was.
The committee recognised that there were staffing and funding issues at the PCT and was sympathetic toward this.
· The Chair asked for those members of the committee who were also school governors to find out their own school’s policy on the access to, and taking of medication.