To receive the Action Sheet.
The action sheet arising from the meeting of the Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) held on 2nd December, 2019 was submitted, whereupon:-
A Member expressed disappointment that there had been no discussion with the Chair and Lead Officers in the Authority regarding the COVID-19 situation and the knock on effect in relation to the Education Directorate and felt that Members should be kept fully informed of the situation.
Water Testing & Quality
A Member commented that a joint meeting between the Community Services Scrutiny Committee and the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee was to be arranged. As the host Committee, only Members of the Community Services Scrutiny Committee would have voting rights, and Members of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee would not. He felt strongly that water testing and quality was a safeguarding issue and should be considered at this Committee.
The Interim Corporate Director of Education said that it had been decided to hold a Joint Scrutiny Committee meeting between the two Scrutiny Committees as Community Services had Corporate Landlord responsibilities.
Another Member commented that as a Safeguarding Committee it was important that Members were aware of the position in relation to how decisions were made and who by and that the right decisions were being made and followed correctly.
The Interim Corporate Director of Education said that the water quality issue had delayed the reopening of some schools and an independent investigation to review processes had been carried out. A report would be presented to the Joint Scrutiny Committee highlighting a number of areas for development and improvement moving forward.
The Member reiterated his disappointment regarding voting rights for the Education & Learning Scrutiny Members. The Chair also felt strongly that Members of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee should have voting rights on this issue.
The Democratic & Scrutiny Officer said she would take these points back to the Head of Governance & Partnerships.
The Chair and Vice felt that a meeting with the Managing Director and Leadership of the Council should be arranged to discuss this issue.
Another Member raised further concerns regarding the Local Government Education Services report written in June 2020 in relation to the responsibilities of safeguarding. He felt that issues within schools such as health & safety, water quality and COVID-19 were all safeguarding issues and were the responsibility of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee and as such Members of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee should be involved in any decisions being made.
The Interim Corporate Director of Education said the primary responsibility of the Joint Safeguarding Committee was around child protection. In relation to water testing these procedures would largely fall under Health & Safety Regulations and was aligned to the work of Technical Services e.g. Legionella. Therefore, it had been necessary to arrange a Joint Scrutiny Committee to consider discussion from Members of both Committees.
The Chair felt that a Joint Scrutiny Committee with full voting rights for all Members should have been arranged. The Interim Corporate Director of Education said that he would take these comments back to Democratic Services in advance of the Joint Scrutiny Committee meeting.
The Committee AGREED this course of action.
A Member pointed out that no child had been at risk as a stringent testing regime had been put in place and schools had remained isolated until that testing had been concluded. He felt that learners’ educational settings had been protected and it would be appropriate to wait for the findings of the report for discussion at a future meeting.
The Committee AGREED that the action sheet be noted.