Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber

Contact: Christine Rothwell  Senior Governance Officer

No. Item


Apologies for absence


To consider the extent, if any, to which the public and press are to be excluded from the meeting.


There were no items on the agenda.


Declarations of Interest, if any.


There were no items on the agenda.


Minutes of the meeting held on 17th March and 27th June 2022 pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meeting held on 17th March and 27th June 2022, were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Public Statements

(A period not exceeding 20 minutes for statements from up to 5 members of the public on matters within the Panel’s remit, proposing action(s) which may be considered or contribute towards the future development of the Panel’s work programme).


There were no public statements.


Elective Home Education / children missing education and alternative provision in Doncaster pdf icon PDF 428 KB


The Panel gave consideration to the report and addressed the following issues:

Children missing in education case closures – in response to a question relating to the 692 children whose cases had been closed and missing in education, the following was explained.  When a child moves into or leaves an area and do not have a place at a new school, they are recorded as a child missing education.  Once they were registered then the cases were closed.

Additionally a child could be removed from school by parents and still remain in the local authority area but not registered at another school.  Parents were therefore contacted to re-register their child with a school. 

Checks were undertaken by the Local Authority in all cases to ensure children were not missing education and safe.

Reduced school timetables – with regard to the number of children on a reduced timetable, the figures July 2021 were provided as follows:

5 hours or less = 46 children

10 hours or less = 111 children

25 hours or less = 260

The figures included children that required alternative provision plus main stream school packages.

It was explained that if a child was not receiving 25 hours per week the Local Authority had a duty to inform the behaviour and inclusion team to address the case.  The children and young people were RAG rated during this set process and discussed at a weekly meeting of the casework group.  For example, it was possible that a young girl could be pregnant and would undertake 25 hours curriculum but also in alternative provision undertaking life skill classes in readiness for the birth of her child.  If children and young people were missing education for longer than acceptable the cases were escalated to the Assistant Directors who then held the process to account.  It was stressed there was a good internal scrutiny mechanism to address this issue.

Virtual school – it was explained that every Local Authority much establish a virtual school and acts as a data collection point for children in care.  The virtual school recently stood alone, but had now been realigned to a Head of Service to ensure all teams work more closely with streamlined systems. 

The Virtual school:

·         ensured each child or young person in care had an education plan;

·         allocated pupil premium and held schools to account on how it was used to ensure the child reached their targets and potential;

·         provided a pot of money for Social Workers to apply for, for example, to purchase push bikes for post 16 student to get to school, college or work;  and

·         held extended duties to raise attendance and attainment for children and young people who have a social worker.


Elective home education – It was explained that there were many reasons why a child was home educated and noted that not all parents declared the reasons why.  These included parental dissatisfaction with school, special educational needs not being met, school parental conflict and the Gypsy and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Post Covid impacts on children including Children's Mental Health (Strategy update) 0 - 3 years pdf icon PDF 938 KB


To commence discussion on the item, the Chair stated that she had been contacted by a teacher / SENCo who had raised the following points with her relating to covid impact on children and wished to share them with the Panel:

·         This year had seen children with abilities ranging across the full scale, but a huge number being able to write their names, count accurately, have amazing listening skills a wide range of vocabulary and imaginative play skills.  The time they had spent at home had been well used providing lots of quality interaction.  However, some of the children need extra support in these areas;


·         Seen emotional resilience / reassurance required when children leave their parents for the school day and sometimes during the day;


·         Children struggling following lock down tend to be Years 1 and 2 due to missed learning and find it difficult when reaching KS1 due to missing building the foundations of learning in nursery and reception;


·         Across age ranges there were children with gaps in their knowledge, poor spelling, handing writing, grammar and punctuation;


·         There were a number of gaps to fill.


School Mental Health First Aider – Following a question, it was explained that not all schools had a mental health first aider but held a safeguarding lead and there were efforts to replicate this for mental health.  However, each school must hold a Mental Health Charter.  Doncaster’s success with the Trailblazer scheme some years ago, was noted, bringing significant resources to provide mental health support teams bridging the CAMHS service and schools (where they could receive low level support managing emotions and normal feelings and ensure that children and young people are aware that it is ok to be worried or nervous about things).

Figures from approximately two years ago showed that 80% of schools held a mental health lead but as part of the Strategy this was being revisited.

The Local Authority was working closely with schools, with the first school summit being held at the beginning of the year with a representative present from virtually every school in the borough and was repeated during the summer term.  Schools were receiving support with issues such as ensuring all staff were properly trained.  Joint work was also being undertaken by developing a mental health pledge to ensure they were healthy schools to be learning in.  In-depth Audits had also been undertaken within 20 schools and work was continuing in this area. 

With regard to mental health training for teachers there was a massive push to help schools recognise mental health and where to find help.  It was noted that the DfE provided a funded course for senior leadership training.  Doncaster’s Educational psychology team had been successful in winning a bid to deliver it to schools so they would not have to pay a cost of approximately £1000.  Additional resources had been allocated to schools for supporting staff, for example, with training.

Kooth App - Members were of the opinion that the “App” was a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Overview and Scrutiny work plan and the Council's Forward Plan of key decisions pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Additional documents:


The Senior Governance Officer introduced the Overview and Scrutiny Work Plan and Council’s Forward Plan of key decisions to the attention of the Panel.


RESOLVED:  That the information, be noted.