Minutes for Children's Services Policy Review and Development Committee meeting, Feb 23 2010, 6.30PM official page
Venue: Committee Room 1, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford. View directions
Contact: Peter Storey, Committee Services Officer, (01234) 228818Items Note No. Item
To consider any questions from Members of the Council and members of the public
There were no questions from Members of the Council or members of the public.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 18 January 2010 (previously circulated).
That the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 18 January 2010 be confirmed.
Disclosures of Interest
Members are reminded that they must disclose both the existence and nature of any personal and/or prejudicial interest that they have in any matter to be considered at this meeting in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
There were no disclosures of interest.
Forward Plan of Key Decisions PDF 65 KB
To consider a summary of items included in the Forward Plan of Key Decisions for the period March – June 2010 which come within the purview of this Committee (copy enclosed).
The Committee received a list of those items contained in the current Forward Plan of Key Decisions for the period March – June 2010 which fell within the Committee’s remit.
That the report be noted.
To comment on and contribute to the draft strategy (report enclosed).
The Committee was informed of the background information being used to support the development of an Integrated Youth Support Services (IYS) strategy. Since the creation of the Bedford Borough Integrated Youth Support Service on Vesting Day (31 March 2009) the service had made rapid progress according to an Ofsted inspector and been cited by GOEast as an example of best practice.
The Executive Director for Children’s Services, Schools and Families referred to the day held at the Corn Exchange, when youth workers had put on displays of their work and which had been very successful. This could be built on, with partners and other service providers, to develop joint projects and avoid duplication as well as developing priorities.
Officers invited Members to indicate any particular youth issues in their wards which they would like to be considered and to come along to youth projects and initiatives to experience what the Integrated Youth Support Service was providing.
That the report be noted and the development of the Integrated Youth Support Services strategy be supported.
To comment on and contribute to the draft document (report enclosed).
- item 7.1 Children & Young Peoples Plan - Appendix 1, item 59. PDF 466 KB
- Item 7.2 Children & Young Peoples Plan - Appendix 2, item 59. PDF 126 KB
The Committee was asked to consider the draft Children and Young People’s Plan 2010 – 2013 and to make comments to the Executive, which would be considering the Plan on 17 March. The final Plan would then be approved by a special meeting of the full Council on 24 March and has to be published by the statutory deadline of 31 March.
Officers apologised for the printing errors in section B of the draft Plan and tabled a corrected version of that section.
The final Plan would be the framework for the Council and its partners to provide all services for young people in the Borough. Copies of the draft plan had been sent to partners and comments had been requested by the day of this meeting. Officers confirmed that no significant comments had been received but if any were received by the end of the week (Friday 26 February) Members would be informed. Members were also invited to submit any individual comments by the end of the week, when officers would be meeting the designers to agree the final layout of the Plan.
The Assistant Director, Commissioning and Business Support stated that there had been a great deal of positive feedback on the draft Plan. As a result of that feedback the draft Plan would be amended as set out below:
- There would be less colour and fewer pictures in the Plan than the initial consultation document as it was considered easier to read without them and would be DDA compliant;
- A Vision would be added at the front of the Plan;
- The glossary at the end would be completed;
- Website information would be added;
- A summary of the needs analysis would be added at the end of the mini world section;
- There would reference as to how the Children’s Trust will work in partnership with Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre;
- A number of typographical errors had also been identified and these would be corrected.
Members welcomed the Plan and recommended the Executive to approve it, with the amendments suggested above incorporated, with officers reflecting upon any additional comments from partners and with the five points below also included:
- The Plan should refer to “parents” where appropriate or alternatively “mothers and fathers” rather than “mums and dads”;
- Wording should be chosen carefully in relation to teen parents to avoid any suggestion of stigma;
- The reference to Aiming High to include a measure of how we have succeeded;
- The reference to managing transitions to be strengthened;
- There should be a reference to working in partnership with Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.
That the Executive be recommended to approve the Children and Young People’s Plan and to include the amendments suggested by the Committee in the preamble above.
Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre PDF 153 KB
- To receive information from the UK Border Agency and Serco;
- To receive a briefing note from Members who visited the Centre.
Sarah Edwards (Area Manager, Detention Services), Melanie Johnson (UKBA Assistant Director, Safeguarding) and Stacey Keegan (Child Services Manager, Serco) gave a verbal presentation on the background of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre and specific issues.
Members were informed that there are eleven Immigration Removal Centres nationally and three, including Yarl’s Wood which is by far the largest, which hold families and children in family groups. Yarl’s Wood has 405 bed spaces of which 284 are for single women and the remainder for family units. No single men are detained in the Centre. Unaccompanied children are not detained except for their own safety. Most detainees in the Centre have been fast tracked and are awaiting deportation. Facilites at Yarl’s Wood include education provision up to the age of 16 and from 16 – 18 on a child specific basis, an Ofsted inspected nursery, a new school which was opened in Summer 2010 and in-house accreditation for GCSEs. There are also health facilities, including a midwife, mental health care, a dentist and an optician. In addition, there are weekly welfare meetings looking at every child, fortnightly children’s forums in the school and a children specific complaint service. Other facilities include a library and internet access. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) had also recently acquired a safeguarding duty under Section 11 of the Children’s Act and has an action plan for Yarl’s Wood to ensure it meets the required standards. The UKBA is constantly looking at alternatives to holding families and a pilot is currently underway in Glasgow, with the local authority and partners, seeking to encourage people to take up voluntary returns.
In answer to Members’ questions, Ms Edwards, Ms Johnson and Ms Keegan gave the information summarised below:
- UKBA statistics show that approximately 1,000 persons pass through Yarl’s Wood annually. As at 30 September 2009 there were 45 children in Yarl’s Wood as part of family units. Detainees are not normally kept in the Centre longer than two months and children are not usually kept beyond 28 days. Detention beyond this time requires the approval of the Minister of State on a weekly basis. Members stated that there was a discrepancy between the information given on the length of children’s stay on their visit and in the 11 Million report recently published. The report was discussed further below.
- Requests for visits to Yarl’s Wood were accommodated wherever possible, although the detainees’ privacy had to be a consideration. A recent visit for Members had been re-scheduled to accommodate a visit at short notice from the Home Secretary.
- No teacher at the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre had specific training in English as an additional language and very few notices were in any language in addition to English. Detainees received an induction pack on arrival which had information in their first language, there were leaflets in other languages in the library and internet access to information in other languages.
- Yarl’s Wood welcomed some of the recommendations in the recent 11 Million report but some issues were unsupported or factually incorrect. The UKBA was considering the report.
The Executive Director for Children Services, Schools and Families stated that officers had read the 11 Million report, agreed with some of the recommendations and that others needed to be given further consideration. Safeguarding at Yarl’s Wood was the responsibility of all partners, including the Police Service, Health Service, UKBA, Serco, the Borough Council and the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). He stated that the safeguarding procedures have been reviewed by Bedford Borough Council officers and each of the partner organisations would consider its own position. A co-ordinated response by Central and Local Government to the 11 Million report may be possible and helpful. An inter-agency review is being undertaken and will be reported to the LSCB in April/May 2010. He suggested that a further report on issues at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre be presented to the Committee at its June meeting. The Director referred to the generally strong working relationship the Council had with the UKBA and Serco regarding Yarl’s Wood.
The Head of Service, Looked After Children, Leaving and After Care referred to the two social workers based at Yarl’s Wood, who were employed by the Council but paid for by the UKBA. Their role had changed significantly since they had been appointed in 2005 and he would be meeting with the UKBA in the week commencing 1 March to look at how the role had evolved, the increasing demands and the nature of any potential commissioned work beyond March 2010. He also referred to the Children’s Champion employed by the UKBA, who was an experienced official and was supported by a qualified social worker.
Members agreed to receive a further report, as suggested by the Executive Director for Children Services, Schools and Families, at their June meeting.
The Committee also received a briefing note from Members who had visited Yarl’s Wood in January 2010.
(1) That a report be made to the June meeting of the Committee following further consideration of the recommendations relating to safeguarding within the report by Sir Alan Aynsley-Green and 11 Million and any actions arising from the Inter-Agency Management Review.
(2) That the information given by the UKBA and Serco representatives be noted and the Members’ Briefing Note be received.
To receive the monthly performance report from the Executive Director for Children’s, Schools and Families (report enclosed).
The Assistant Director (Vulnerable Children & Children’s Social Care) and Assistant Director (BSF/Chief Education Officer) introduced the report of the Executive Director for Children’s Services, Schools and Families which invited the Committee to consider the Exceptions Performance Report on Children’s Services and the issues that it highlighted, as summarised below:
- NI 60 – The percentage of core assessments completed within 35 working days of their commencement had increased from 79.8% to 81.1%, which is above the national figure. The December outturn was 89.8%.
- NI 63 – the percentage of children looked after in a long-term stable placement had reduced from 64% to 62%, which represented one child.
- CD 08 – the number of children looked after per 10,000 population has increased from 44.7 (157 children) to 45.9 (161 children). This figure will reduce as fifteen children have “adoption” as their current plan. Members asked for information on delays in making Adoption Orders.
- CCD 03 – children and young people the subject of a child protection plan per 10,000 population aged under 18 – this was a very challenging target and it was considered to be unwise to set until the targets for statistical neighbours for 2010/11 were known. Members agreed that targets be set now and revised when those for statistical neighbours are known.
- Local SS2 – the number of children in need had reduced from 1125 to 1122.
- Local SS3 – the number of unallocated cases had dropped from 4 to 2.
(1) That information be sent to Members on the reasons for delays in making Adoption Orders regarding CD 08.
(2) That targets for CD 03 be set now and revised when those for statistical neighbours are known.
(3) That the Exceptions Performance Report on Children’s Services performance be received.
To receive a verbal update from the Assistant Director (CEO/BSF), to include BSF funding and “Strategy for Change.”
The Assistant Director (BSF/Chief Education Officer) provided a verbal update on school reorganisation including Building Schools for the Future (BSF) funding and made the following comments:
- BSF and the School Organisation Review were now linked up as the new Bedford Borough Integrated Programme for Schools;
- Statutory notices had been published for all schools and the deadline for comments to be received was 26 February 2010. The majority of comments received to date had related to individual local factors and not more generally to the Council’s decision to re-organise education in the Borough.
- A technical review had been completed of all schools in the BSF programme, including buildings, accommodation and grounds. From this review an options appraisal would be produced with high level proposals for the schools. Planning and Highways would need to be consulted as part of the process.
- BSF proposals were being worked up into the Strategy for Change part 2, on which consultation would start in May. A business case would then need to be worked up for every school and considered by the Treasury in November/December 2010.
- Property Services are undertaking an asbestos survey for every school.
In answer to a Member’s question the Assistant Director (BSF/Chief Education Officer) stated that:
- asbestos was likely to be found in all secondary schools and many other locations. Only some types of asbestos were particularly dangerous and even dangerous ones did not pose a risk if they were not disturbed. The survey would locate asbestos where it needed to be removed and this could then be done safely by specialist contractors.
- The governing body of Woodside Middle School, which had just been placed by Ofsted in special measures, had submitted a plan to form a soft federation with Putnoe Lower School and Mark Rutherford Upper School, with the Headteacher of Putnoe being asked to become the Executive Headteacher of Woodside. Eventually and in accordance with discussion already taken by the Council, the intention was for Woodside Middle School to close and for Putnoe Lower School to take over the site, with Years 7 and 8 going to Mark Rutherford Upper School. There had been no formal consultation with parents in relation to the proposal for a “soft federation” at this stage but officers would be meeting parents about the scheme on 24 February. Members commented on the excellent progress made by Mark Rutherford Upper School in recent years.
That the verbal update be received and that further updates be provided to a future meeting.
Agenda planning notes and work programme PDF 62 KB
To provide Members with an opportunity to amend the work programme (copy enclosed).
- Item 11.1 Work Programme, item 63. PDF 83 KB
The Committee thanked the young people who had been involved in and won awards at the recent Looked After Children’s Award Evening and the officers who had helped to organise and who had attended the event.
An item had been added for the June meeting to consider the officer report on the provision at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre and in particular on safeguarding procedures (minute 59 above refers).
That the report be noted.