Agenda and minutes

Joint Education and Learning & Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding)
Wednesday, 14th July, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: virtually via Microsoft Teams - if you would like to attend this meeting live via Microsoft Teams please contact committee.services@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Contact: Democratic Services  6011

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Simultaneous Translation

You are welcome to use Welsh at the meeting, a minimum notice period of 3 working days is required should you wish to do so.  A simultaneous translation will be provided if requested.

Minutes:

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.

2.

Apologies

To receive.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors G. Paulsen, T. Sharrem and D. Wilkshire.

 

Co-opted Member

T. Baxter

 

Head of Children’s Services

Strategic Education Improvement Manager

Service Manager, Children’s Services (Safeguarding)

Service Manager Education Transformation & Business Change

 

A Member referred to the resignation of Alan Williams, Co-opted Member due to ill health, the Chair and Members expressed their appreciation for his contribution to the Joint Safeguarding Scrutiny Committee and the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee and requested that a letter of appreciation be forwarded to him.

 

This course of action was AGREED.

3.

Declarations of Interests and Dispensations

To consider any declarations of interests and dispensations made.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

4.

Time of Future Meetings

To consider.

Minutes:

The Committee AGREED that future meetings be held at 10.00 a.m.

 

A Member raised concerns on the late receipt of an updated agenda item and requested that in future an explanation be provided with the updated item when circulated at short notice for Members to be aware of the amendments.  The Director of Education explained that the narrative in the report remained the same but the Appendix had been amended to include the Education updates in relation to graphs.

5.

Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) Minutes pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To receive the Minutes of the Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) held on 26th April, 2021.

 

(Please note the Minutes are submitted for points of accuracy only)

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) Meeting held on 26th April, 2021 were submitted.

 

The Committee AGREED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

6.

Action Sheet - 26th April 2021 pdf icon PDF 199 KB

To receive the Action Sheet.

Minutes:

The action sheet arising from the meeting of the Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) held on 26th April, 2021 was submitted.

 

The Committee AGREED that the action sheet be noted.

7.

Safeguarding Performance Information for Social Services and Education – 1st April to 31st March 2021 pdf icon PDF 638 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Directors of Education and Social Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Service Manager, Children’s Services and the Strategic Education Improvement Manager which was presented to provide Scrutiny Members with safeguarding performance information and analysis from Children’s Social Services and Education from 1st April 2020 to the 31st March 2021.

 

Social Services information

 

The Safeguarding Team Manager, Children’s Services spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.

 

A Member commented on police being the highest referrer and referred to para 6.3.2 of the report regarding processes developed between Education and the Youth Offending Service to tackle anti-social behaviour in schools and felt this could be extended further between schools, police and the community.  He also referred to para 6.3.4 the number of bullying incidents identified by children and young people as an issue that required close monitoring and felt this could potentially be spilling out into the community causing further police referrals.

 

Another Member commented that the figures for referrals had increased throughout the year, which could be due to the pandemic, but referrals from the Youth Services were decreasing considerably. 

 

The Safeguarding Team Manager responded that she would raise the points above with the appropriate colleagues.

 

The Corporate Director of Education said there had been a slight decrease of overall referrals from the Youth Services and felt this was due to less face to face contact with children and young people. 

 

A Member referred to page 19 - Figure 2.8: relates to review conferences and the percentage held within timescale shows 100% for Q1 and Q4, 84.4% for Q2 and 96.2% for Q3.  The data provided does not give rise to concern.  The Member requested that the last sentence “the data provided does not give rise to concern” be reworded. The Safeguarding Team Manager agreed to amend the wording in this sentence.

 

In relation to the high number of police referrals, a Member felt that not all of the referrals needed to be referred to Social Services.  The Safeguarding Team Manager said that it depended on the nature of the referral.

 

Another Member raised concerns regarding police referrals and enquired if there was a follow up process with the Community Safety Team and Social Services Directorate as he felt that some anti-social behaviour was caused by repeat offenders.  The Safeguarding Team Manager confirmed that police did visit anti-social behaviour repeat offenders to try to reassure communities.   The Community Safety Team were proactive in trying to work with communities and other professionals to reduce anti-social behaviours.  If a Social Worker was made aware of a particular behaviour of a child via a police referral, then support would be put in place to reduce that behaviour.  The Member felt there should be more co-operation between agencies as there were more and more families needing support.

 

The Director of Social Services explained that if there were vulnerable adults involved then Children’s Services would link in with Adult Services and Adult Services would then visit the vulnerable individual. 

 

The Director referred to the previous  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Local Government Education Services Safeguarding Policy pdf icon PDF 423 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director Education.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education and the Safeguarding in Education Manager which was presented to provide Scrutiny Members with the opportunity to scrutinise the Local Government Education Services Safeguarding Policy following its annual review.

 

The Safeguarding in Education Manager spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.

 

A Member referred to paragraph 6.1 of the report and commented on bullet point 5 - Basic training requirements for all staff and volunteers - and felt this should be enhanced training and not basic.  The Safeguarding in Education Manager agreed that the word basic did not capture the level of training involved and clarified that it was an agreed level of training that all members of education settings should have, it was a comprehensive level and that all practitioners were fully aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and what they needed to do if there was a concern and how to report that concern.

 

Another Member supported the view that the word ‘basic’ in relation to training requirements should be amended.

 

This course of action was AGREED.

 

The Corporate Director of Social Services advised Members that they were looking at corporate training i.e. three tier training, there would be a basic level, a medium level and an enhanced level of training.  They were currently assessing the level of staff and Member involvement and what level of training would be required and were hoping to bring forward a training programme shortly.

 

In response to a Member’s question regarding the timing of the removal of the annex for responding to Covid from this year’s policy. The Safeguarding in Education Manager explained that last year an annex was attached to outline how safeguarding would operate during the early stages of the Covid pandemic.  It was a supplementary annex to the policy to guide schools on what they needed to do to maintain contact with vulnerable learners as schools were in a new situation in relation to school closures.  As those procedures mirror the content of the safeguarding policy it was felt that the annex could now be removed, but should future situations arise in relation to Covid the Safeguarding in Education Manager would issue timely advice for safeguarding arrangements.

 

A Member enquired if it was appropriate for Headteachers to also be the Designated Senior Person (DSP) with responsibility for safeguarding.  The Safeguarding in Education Manager said that Headteachers were often a DSP and were supported by a deputy and felt they were well placed to coordinate the safeguarding arrangements in their schools. She continued that Headteachers in Blaenau Gwent schools had good relationships with their staff and had created a culture of openness amongst their staffing group and felt there was no barrier to feeling comfortable speaking with Headteachers.  Anyone raising a concern could feel assured by talking to someone with a good level of safeguarding experience. The message, reiterated through training was always to report concerns to the DSP.

 

A Member stated that from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Safeguarding Self-evaluation Outcomes pdf icon PDF 402 KB

To consider the report of the Strategic Education Improvement Manager.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Strategic Education Improvement Manager which was presented to provide Members of the Joint Safeguarding Scrutiny Committee with an opportunity to scrutinise the findings of ongoing self-evaluation and business planning processes undertaken within the Education Directorate, across the Council and with key partners.

 

The Head of School Improvement & Inclusion spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.

 

The Chair felt that the policy should put emphasis on pupil’s voice as pupils raise safeguarding concerns to teachers through this system.

 

A Member referred to paragraph 6.1.1. bullet point 3 - Recent work to respond to community safety issues, counter potential terrorism and extremist behaviours has progressed well, for example, the Safer School Partnership, and the Respect and Resilience Action Plan, and felt that extremist behaviours were being witnessed in communities.  He gave an example of off-road motorcycles being driven towards cars and people feeling terrorised.  He suggested the Head of School Improvement & Inclusion raise these issues in her meetings with colleagues.

 

A Member referred to the new ALN Bill and commented that this was a massive change for schools on how they worked in this area and enquired if the policies, procedures and appropriate training for schools was in place in readiness for the implementation of the Act.  The Head of School Improvement & Inclusion said the Inclusion team had worked hard, particularly with ALN Co-ordinators, so they understood what was needed in relation to the new ALN requirements, particularly around the Individual Development Plans (IDP’s).  The ALN Co-ordinators had responsibility for training other staff and Tredegar Comprehensive School had been commissioned to support Headteachers and Senior Leadership Teams over the next academic year with regard to processes etc.  The Inclusion Team and ALN support workers were all fully trained on the requirements of the Act and were able to support Blaenau Gwent schools.  The EAS had trained all their Challenge Advisors who would be School Improvement Partners from September and they would also be able to support teachers and senior leaders.

 

The Corporate Director of Education said that in relation to ALN reform a report had previously been presented to the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee around ALN readiness from a Blaenau Gwent perspective.  The Welsh Government were taking a pragmatic approach from September around ALN implementation which he felt would be well received across the sector.  In relation to capacity within the Education Directorate the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion would be working full-time for the Council from 1st September, 2021, and he felt there was sufficient capacity within the team to roll out ALN reform.  He reassured Members that recruitment to the vacant post of Service Manager Inclusion was planned for the autumn term. 

 

The Chair enquired if it would be beneficial for the EAS to add a standard item on ALN and new reforms to the agenda for Governing Body meetings. The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion would discuss this with Governor Services.

 

The Committee AGREED to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.