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Contact: Earl Piggott-Smith Tel: 01902 551251 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies were received from the following members of the panel:
Cllr Mak Singh
Cllr Welcome Koussoukama
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest recorded.
[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record]
That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 October 2016 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
[To consider any matters arising from the minutes]
Minute 6 – Children Safeguarding Board Annual Report 2015/16
The panel agreed to receive a report on the work of MASH. The report to be presented to a future meeting.
[Mark Taylor,Director Finance, to present report on savings, redesign and income generation proposals in 2017/18]
Cllr Val Gibson, Cabinet Member Children and Young People, introduced the report and explained that a report detailing budget reduction and income generation amounting to £13.5 million was presented to Cabinet for approval. The panel were invited to comment on the proposals that fall within its remit as part of the formal consultation process.
Alison Shannon, Finance Business Partner, gave a brief outline of the proposals in Appendix B and C.
A summary of the panel discussion and comments on the proposals are shown below:
Supervised Contact Efficiencies
The panel discussed the implications for children of the proposal to decommission the contract with Spurgeons (a voluntary organisation). Emma Bennett, Service Director Children, commented that as a result of the reduction in demand for the service that a decision had already been made to de-commission the service. The Service Director reassured the panel that if there was a change in level of demand for supervised contact that the service could be recommissioned.
Children’s Transformation Inclusion Support Income Generation
The panel discussed the proposals for delivering traded services to schools.
Youth Offending Team Efficiencies
The panel queried the decision to delete the vacant posts and the implications for the Youth Offending Team service which had rated as being high performing following an inspection. The panel queried the nature of the roles that will be deleted. The Service Director advised the panel that the vacancies had been held for some time and was confident that by changing working practices that effects of the decision could be mitigated.
The panel expressed concern about the decision as evidence suggested that that there had been no change in the demand for services provided by Youth Offending Team; which had been rated as being an exemplar in a previous report presented to the panel. The panel requested a report be presented to a future panel meeting to show if the proposed changes have had an impact on the services provided by YOT.
Children’s Services Transformation
Cllr Gibson explained that the reasons for the reduction in the number of looked after children and the range of work done to build on previous progress aimed at reduced demand on specialist services.
Cllr Gibson explained the reduction in the number of looked after children from a total of 800 (2014) to current figure of 627, supported by detailed financial modelling work gave her confidence that the service could achieve the budget target of £2.5 million. The panel was advised that it costs the Council approximately £40,000 a week when a child is placed into care - this figure is based on the modelling work and comparisons with other local authorities.
The Service Director commented on the range of work being done to ensure that the right children are placed into care and other forms of targeted interventions used to support other children to remain with their families, where appropiate, as part of the transformation programme. The Service Director commented that a more targeted approach by the service will lead to ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
[Alex Jones, Assistant Director (Schools Standards), to present Education Vision document]
Alex Jones, Assistant Director – School Standards, introduced the report.
The Assistant Director advised the panel that the draft report will be revised to include comments received. The Assistant Director briefed the panel on the main highlights of ‘The Vision for education 2030 – shaping a City of Learning’ document. The panel were advised that work is being done to agree a definition of the term ‘City of Learning’ that will encourage the idea of lifelong learning.
The Assistant Director commented on the important economic and employment benefits that the provision of good schools can bring to the City.
The panel discussed the Ofsted outcomes target for primary and secondary schools summarised in the report. The panel welcomed the progress made to improve educational outcomes and the achievements to date. The panel queried if the report had been presented to City Board and Business Champions for comments. The Assistant Director confirmed that document has been shared with key groups.
The panel discussed the reference to the provision of support to vulnerable children and how schools use their funding. The Assistant Director explained that special schools have a delegated budget to meet the needs of vulnerable children.
The Assistant Director commented on the process used to set the educational targets to be a top performing council for education by 2030 at primary and secondary school level. The panel commented on the challenge in achieving this outcome at a time when the majority of secondary schools are independent of the local authority and budgetary cuts in the education service. The Assistant Director acknowledged the budgetary challenges facing the service but commented that the service has a good relationship with the vast majority of schools and is committed to building on progress made. The Assistant Director commented that the service is looking at schools budget surpluses estimated at £5-£6 million and challenging schools to explain their reasons for maintaining surplus balances of 20% - 30% above recommended levels – 5% primary school and 8% secondary schools. The service will focus on spending money on meeting the educational needs of current children in Wolverhampton. The Assistant Director explained the role of Schools Forum in challenging schools to explain reasons for maintaining budget surpluses above recommended levels and the sanctions it can impose.
The panel commented on the issue of increased demand for school places and the extent to which current provision can deal with the expected ‘bulge’ in pupil numbers, while still offering parents a choice. The Assistant Director commented that 97% of parents get an offer of a place at preferred choice of schools. The Assistant Director suggested that the panel might find it useful to invite the service lead responsible for managing the demand for places to present a report to a future meeting.
The panel discussed the range of challenges facing the educational service, for example, the shortage of teachers and the increase in the number of school appeals as signs of pressure on the service. The Assistant Director commented on ... view the full minutes text for item 6.