Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were made by Councillor Nikki McDonald, John Hoare and Bernadette Nesbitt.


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





Declarations of Interest, if any.


Councillor John Mounsey declared a non-pecuniary interest in Agenda Items No.8 Attendance Strategy, by virtue of his role as Chair of Governors at Danum and Adwick.



Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday, 5th September 2018 pdf icon PDF 73 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 5th September 2018, were agreed as a true record.



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 made.


Doncaster Members of Youth Parliament Update pdf icon PDF 138 KB


The purpose of this report was to provide an opportunity for Members to give consideration to reports and presentation by Doncaster members of the Youth Parliament. The presentation provided an update on the annual Make Your Mark consultation, the priorities identified from the results and future campaign plans.


The following highlights were provided from the presentation, that;


·         Over 42 schools, colleges and youth organisations supported the Youth Council campaign and voted.

·         Those schools with a low number of votes did not have students that were also members of the Youth Parliament.

·         At the top of Doncaster results were 1. Mental Health and 2. End Knife Crime.

·         Social media platforms were a contributor to the high number of votes.


Members were informed that 11,636 11-18 year olds voted this year which was an increase on the previous year.  It was explained that various strategies had been used but it was mainly due to the use of social media that had made a significance difference.


Engagement - A Member commented that in terms of engagement, it was a big achievement to be proud of.  It was outlined that 5 schools accommodated for over half of the response.  It was noted that those schools with no Youth Parliament members had made a difference in terms of engagement.  


The Ward Member for Adwick (who was also the Chair of Governors for Adwick and Danum) suggested that the Youth Council make contact with him in respect of Youth Council representation.  It was noted that all schools had previously been contacted.


A Member raised their concern that there was a lack of awareness about the Youth Council within certain circles.  In terms of publicising the Youth Council, Members were informed that it had been advertised widely within communities, through local organisations such as libraries and Expect Youth. It was suggested that more could be done to further publicise the Youth Council, for example, Ward Members could help link it to schools and communities.


Members were reassured that the Youth Council had used a number of mechanisms to engage with schools.  It was added that a joint letter could be forwarded to invite those schools who had not engaged with the Make Your Mark consultation and ask them to outline how they planned to intervene with young people moving forward.


Mental Health – It was recognised that mental health was a big issue as there was more pressure in schools for high grades to be achieved and progress to be made. Members of the Youth Parliament explained that part-time Counsellors in schools were not always known about by students.  It was also the case that a referral could be made to CAMHS without the young person’s parent being made aware.  It was felt that a significant issue was ensuring that teachers were aware of how to treat children in regards to mental health.   It was requested that members of the Youth Parliament returned to the Panel in March 2019 with results of the consultation.


Knife Crime –  ...  view the full minutes text for item 120.


Performance Challenge of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust: Quarter 2, 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 229 KB

Additional documents:


This report provided a review and analysis of the operational and financial performance challenge carried out by the Director of People of the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust (the ‘Trust’) in Quarter 2 of 2018/19.


The following highlights were provided, that;


·         Since the last report to the Panel, a further children’s home had achieved an outstanding grading in the quarter, meaning that the quarter ended with all homes managed by the Trust being rated, good, or better.


·         The Trust which was also registered as a Voluntary Adoption Agency was inspected by Ofsted and achieved an improved grading from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’ indicating a pleasing trend of performance


It was outlined that areas of good performance included;


·         A2 - Timeliness of Single Assessments – Quarter 2 = 91 %


·         A3 - Percentage of case file audits rated ‘Requires Improvement’ or better – Quarter 2 = 100%


·         A8 - Children in Need with Open and Current Plan (Quarter 2 = 94%)


And areas of potential concern highlighted included;


·         A1 - Percentage of Re–referrals in last 12 months (Quarter 2 = 27%) – Whilst it was recognised that high demand pressures had the potential to impact adversely on casework, referrals and re-referrals,  systemic issues were also having an impact.  It was stated that Ofsted had rated practice as ‘Good’ with appropriate application of thresholds.


·         E1 - Number of contacts into Social Care (Quarter 2 average = 1898)


It was recognised that RAG ratings mechanisms were not to be used as absolute thresholds of judgements. It was felt that comparisons were useful and it was recognised that some cohorts were very small, which can ‘skew’ the figures year on year.


The following areas of performance were raised during the Panel discussion;


A4 – Children Seen in appropriate timescales (CIN, CPP and CIC) – It was explained that the number and volume around Children in Need (CIN) continued to be a challenge to keep this indicator within tolerance. Members were informed that this challenge related to a wider problem and that there was a need to understand the data better and consider how it played into the wider early help system.  Members were told that the Council had commissioned the Innovation Unit to help understand the stem of flow and process issues through a separate analysis.  It was explained how it could be a symptom of other issues, the robustness of the Early Help Offer and partners contribution. It was noted that the Early Help Offer needed to be addressed and if resolved should have a positive impact on this performance measure.


An offer was provided from the Director of People to circulate the report from the Innovation Unit. 


Members were informed that nationally demand was increasing and that there was a higher rate of incidence and social care intervention.  It was commented that 3 years ago there wasn’t a robust system in place - an area that had significantly improved.


Members were reminded about the regular performance challenge meetings taking place that included the quarterly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 121.


Attendance Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 301 KB

Additional documents:


The purpose of this document was to provide the Panel with an update of the Attendance Strategy which had been previously discussed early 2018.  Members were reminded that the original Attendance Strategy document came about as a consequence of Cabinet’s consideration of the trends in school absence in Doncaster.


The Panel discussed the following areas;


Home-schooling - A Member raised concern that children being home-schooled were potentially those children who were being excluded and therefore this presented an easy option for those parents affected.  Members were reminded that there were cultural reasons behind some children being home-schooled.  It was also acknowledged that some parents had certain opinions around mainstream schooling and that there were clusters of movement taking place around the country. 


It was questioned how it was known whether home-schooled children were safe.  Members were assured that there were systems and processes in place and that steps were being taken to actively challenge the landscape of provision. 


Fixed Term Rate Exclusions – It was explained that figures were based on information from the first two terms of last year, which was all the data that was immediately available.  It was noted that the rate of increase had slowed down in comparison with national rates.  It was added that the HMI report used exclusions for the whole year in arrears where nationally we was 2nd from the bottom. An offer was made by the Director of People to circulate a report on a termly basis in arrears to Members of the Panel commencing end of January 2019.


It was commented that absence was a proxy for other needs that were not being met and that was the purpose behind the strategy.


Members had been informed that attendance was one of the three strands from the work of the Doncaster Growing Together inclusion board which provided overall governance for the strategy.  It was explained that it was strongly correlated with the work of the Social Mobility Opportunity Area.


Engagement with Schools - A Member questioned whether all schools were fully engaging with the strategy.  It was responded that although they weren’t that was due to the system and the way that some schools interacted with it.  Schools had been challenged around existing approaches to attendance and a common approach to leading attendance in Doncaster schools had been developed. It was explained that there were conflicting views around behaviour provided by schools and Ofsted.


Members were informed that the Director of People had attended a recent Secondary Heads meeting and had presented a challenge around the rate of increase that will see Doncaster exceed 2018/19 numbers.


It was added that the Director of People had also allocated 18 half days to allow them to understand problems around behaviour at each individual school using the national inclusion quality mark to check against.   It was added that presently there were no schools that had been accredited with the quality mark. 


Members were informed that there was a challenge in place for schools to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 122.


Work Plan Report - December 2018 pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel gave consideration to the current work plan position updated December 2018.  Members were informed that there would be a Members Briefing held on the 29th January 2019 to consider Child Poverty.


The Chair made reference to an email received from the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny around their concerns of suicide rates in the youth justice system as it had been identified as a risk factor.  It was also noted earlier on in the meeting, that the Youth Council had presented the Make Your Mark priorities with the top one being that of mental health.  It was therefore agreed that an informal meeting around mental health and suicide prevention to take place prior to the Panels meeting on the 5th March 2019. 


The Panel was also updated on a recent session that had taken place with two Members from the Panel and Children in Care.  It was stated that it had been an interesting and purposeful meeting and feedback had been passed on.  It was noted that there would be another similar session to be held in the future


RESOLVED that the Panel:


 I.             Note the workplan update for December 2018

II.             That a Members Briefing take place with a focus on Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (including that around suicide rates within the Youth Justice System).

III.             That a joint letter be forwarded from the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Panel and Council to those schools who did not engage with the Youth Council national consultation ‘Make Your Mark’.