Agenda and minutes

Children, Education and Skills Sub Committee - Thursday, 24th March, 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: 0.02 Chamber - Quadrant, The Silverlink North, Cobalt Business Park, North Tyneside, NE27 0BY. View directions

Contact: Maria Parkinson  Email: democraticsupport@northtyneside.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

CES26/22

Appointment of substitutes

To be informed of the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

 

Minutes:

There were no substitute members appointed.

CES27/22

To receive any declarations of interest

You are invited to declare any registerable and/or non-registerable interests in matters appearing on the agenda, and the nature of that interest.

 

You are also requested to complete the Declarations of Interests card available at the meeting and return it to the Democratic Services Officer before leaving the meeting.

 

You are also invited to disclose any dispensation from the requirement to declare any registerable and/or non-registerable interests that have been granted to you in respect of any matters appearing on the agenda

Minutes:

There were no declarations or dispensations reported.

CES28/22

Minutes pdf icon PDF 346 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 13 January 2022.

Minutes:

Resolved that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 13 January 2022 be confirmed and signed by the Chair.

CES29/22

Overview of the Prevent Duty pdf icon PDF 147 KB

To receive a Briefing from Community Safety outlining the responsibilities of Prevent

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The sub-committee received a report which provided an overview of the Prevent Duty and described how the Authority was complying with the overall statutory duty and how this linked to those services responsible for children, education and skills.

 

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 contained a duty on specified authorities, including local authorities and individual schools) to have regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.  Prevent formed part of the government’s overall counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, which aimed to reduce the risk to the UK and its interest overseas from terrorism.  The strategy aimed to:

 

·         Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks

·         Prevent: to stop people becoming terrorist or supporting terrorism

·         Protect: to strengthen protection against a terrorist attack

·         Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack

 

A toolkit had been published by government to assist organisations with prevent duties.  The Authority had adopted this toolkit and undertook an annual self-assessment which was submitted to the Home Office.  The self-assessment provided an opportunity to reflect on practice and identify areas for further development.  Examples of work to date and improvements implemented included:

 

·         Channel Panels – the Authority’s Adults and Children’s Safeguarding leads chaired monthly Channel Panels to discuss referrals, manage cases and identify improvements.  The Home Office had attended a Channel Panel and gave positive feedback about how the process was managed in North Tyneside; and

·         Referrals – an agreed referral pathway was in place.  This was managed by the Gateway service in Health, Education, Care and Safeguarding.  All schools and members of staff had access to the pathway and were able to make referrals or discuss a case to determine if it met referral criteria.  A pathway flow chart was appended to the report.

 

The Prevent Duty Toolkit did not require a specified organisation to have its own Prevent Strategy in place.  Nevertheless, in order to promote consistency in approach to all Prevent related activity and to strengthen oversight, the Authority was developing a strategy.

 

The legislation in relation to the prevent duty considered that protecting students from the risk of radicalisation was part of schools’ overall safeguarding responsibilities.  When conducting an inspection, OFSTED would be looking at a number of lines of enquiry, including if the school had a Prevent/Safeguarding Policy and if online safety policies were in place to restrict access to extremist content.  The new strategy being developed by the Authority would support the work of schools to comply with prevent related duties.

 

A member of the sub-committee asked if there was training and support in place for foster carers in relation to how to make a referral.  It was noted that there were national and Northumbria wide campaigns in place and that something specific to North Tyneside was an area for future development.  It was also noted that it was incumbent on schools to make parents/guardians aware of how to raise any concerns.

 

Officers were asked if any referrals had been made since the publication of the prevent strategy.  It was noted  ...  view the full minutes text for item CES29/22

CES30/22

Children and Young People's Mental Health pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To receive an update on the universal mental health offer and current impact

To receive an overview of the Mental Health Support Teams in Schools

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The sub-committee received a report which provided members with an update on the universal mental health offer and the impact of this to date.  The project had been developed to enable schools to improve their ability to support positive mental health, through early identification of needs and signposting to achieve early intervention.  The approach involved a change in the language used to tackle the stigma associated with mental health disorders.

 

Members were informed that a pilot involving 15 schools across the borough had been undertaken between October 2020 and July 2021.  As part of the pilot schools committed to a mental health school audit, the creation of a mental health action plan, staff training and monthly network meetings to share practice.

 

A second cohort of 16 schools began the project in September 2021, with a third cohort of 13 schools beginning in November 2021.  A fourth cohort was due to start work in September 2022.

 

Trainers from Mental Health First Aid England were used to deliver training.  In order to sustain the project, 4 local authority officers had completed a 7 day training course which qualified them to deliver training to others.

 

Impact evidence from the project was collected through mental health surveys, network meetings and school visits.  The evidence showed a significant improvement in staff confidence in identifying when a child was struggling with mental health; staff being more aware of what to do if a colleague was struggling with their wellbeing; and pupils having places in school to go to talk about how they were feeling.

 

A member of the sub-committee highlighted that it took years to train as a mental health professional and questioned the level of training provided to staff within schools.  Assurance was given that it was very clear that teachers and other school staff were there to signpost children when they felt there were concerns but were not there to diagnose.  Reference was made to issues raised in the past with unsuccessful referrals from GPs to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).  It was noted that SENCOs in schools could now make referrals directly to CAMHS.

 

It was noted that there had been a significant increase in the number of children suffering from anxiety.  This was also increasingly showing in younger children.  It was highlighted that a key approach to mental health support was to promote that mental health is as important as physical health.

 

The sub-committee also received an update in relation to mental health support teams in schools. Mental Health Support Teams for schools were a key recommendation in the government Green Paper ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ in 2017.  The first Mental Health Support Team, Connect MHST, started in September 2021 and another team was due to start in September 2022.

 

Connect MHST provided support for low to moderate emotional wellbeing needs.  The structure and roles within the team were detailed in the report, along with the type of services offered.  This included whole school approaches, group  ...  view the full minutes text for item CES30/22

CES31/22

Corporate Parenting pdf icon PDF 357 KB

To receive an update on Corporate Parenting

Minutes:

The sub-committee received a report which provided an update regarding the activities of Safeguarding and Children’s Services in meeting the corporate parenting responsibilities of the Authority during the Covid 19 pandemic.

 

It was noted that at the end of January 2022, there were 325 children and young people in the care of the Authority and 139 care leavers.  This compared to 299 children in the Authority’s care in January 2021 and 162 care leavers.  The number of children in the care of the Authority was unusually high for North Tyneside.

 

The report provided an update on the fostering service and fostering recruitment.  It was noted that 201 children (61.8% of all children in care) were placed with Foster Carers, with 93 of these children place with Connected Person Foster Carers.  There were 26 children with independent foster agency care arrangements, which was a reduction of 30 from the previous year.  The Authority’s Fostering Strategy had an ambitious target to accommodate 90% of children in care with local foster families or connected carers and no longer use independent foster care agencies.  It was noted that a review of the Fostering Strategy was due to be completed by October 2022.

 

All aspects of the service continued to operate during the Covid 19 pandemic., with measures in place to adapt meetings, visits and support groups to accommodate and support the needs of carers.  Some planned activities had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, however an afternoon tea thank you celebration event for foster carers was due to take place in April 2022.

 

In relation to foster recruitment, members were informed that the fostering strategy had a recruitment target of 30 foster carers during the financial year.  Recruitment was a challenge during the pandemic as face-to-face discussions at open nights and events such as Christmas markets were not possible.  As a result, the use of social media was expanded in 2021 with positive benefits.  From April to September 2021 15,000 people were reached via social media feeds hosted by the Authority.

 

The report informed members that North Tyneside had 5 registered children’s homes with a further 3 pending registration.  Each of the homes had a specific statement of purpose and were designed based on the need for care to children linked to the sufficiency plan for children’s placements.  All homes were functioning as normal and there were covid risk assessments in place.  All of the homes in the borough were regulated by Ofsted and were currently rated as either good or outstanding.

 

The sub-committee was informed that the education and health care needs of children in care were promoted by the foster carers and staff teams within the HIVE service.  Despite the impact of Covid, young people in care had done well in their GCSEs (in 2021) with 70% achieving a Level 1 pass in English and 80% achieving a Level 1 pass in maths.  A member of the sub-committee asked for information in relation to the number of Level 2 passes  ...  view the full minutes text for item CES31/22