Children and Young People OSC – 2 September

The Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee has a busy meeting ahead on Tuesday 2 September, when members will be focusing on a number of important topics.

New contractors for the delivery of Children’s Centres

Barnardo’s and The Parenting Group will presenting short presentation on their vision for children’s centres in Warwickshire, their key priorities, target groups and areas of focus.  Changes to the delivery of Children’s Centres has been a key focus of the Committee over the past 12 months, following its Select Committee review of the consultation proposals in August 2013. The Committee will be looking for reassurance that the new providers can effectively deliver the Early Years service in the new ‘group and collaboration’ model and achieve each of the five outcomes that aim to improve the health and well-being of parents and their children.

Super Priority Areas – School Admissions

The Committee will be considering the outcome of its review of the principle and feasibility of implementing SPAs across the urban areas of Warwickshire, with the initial focus on Warwick and Leamington. The Committee first considered the SPA proposal in January 2014 as a potential solution to address the issue of siblings not been granted places at the same school. A Task and Finish Group was set up to examine the proposal in more depth and its findings and recommendations will be presented to the Committee at the meeting.

Shaping draft strategies

At the meeting, the Committee will also be asked to give its views on two draft strategies: a) Vulnerable Learners Strategy; and b) Schools Places Sufficiency Strategy. Considering the draft documents at an earlier stage gives scrutiny members a valuable opportunity to share their views and make recommendations regarding the draft content, before the documents are signed-off by Cabinet.

Other areas for consideration at the meeting include a) the annual performance in respect of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET); b) an update on the Committee’s previous requirements in regarding Academies and Free Schools; and c) a verbal update on the planned consultation in respect of Home to School Transport.

Do you want to know more?

The meeting will commence at 10am at Northgate House, Warwick – a copy of the agenda and the reports can be found here. If you have a question that you wish to ask at the meeting, please contact Georgina Atkinson at least 3 working days before the meeting. Otherwise, please arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the meeting and ensure that the Chair is aware of the matter on which you wish to speak.

Busy meeting ahead for the Children and Young People OSC!

The Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee has a busy meeting ahead on Wednesday 2 April, when members will be focusing on a number of important topics.

The development of a new Special Educational Needs school at the Manor Park site

A new school will be developed on the former Manor Park School site in Nuneaton specifically for pupils with Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) . The new school will be expected to accommodate 60 – 80 pupils and additional units will follow in later stages closer to mainstream schools. At the meeting , the Committee will consider the latest position and timescales for completion.

The impact of changes to the Integrated Disability Service

In February 2013, Council agreed to a £1.76m savings plan for the Integrated Disability Service. This required a redesign of the service to ensure that it was:

  • modern and fit for purpose;
  • compliant with legislation supporting independence and personalisation so that families are actively involved in the decisions made about how to best support their children; and
  • achieved value for money and cost effective, with a level of investment that is more in line with  statistical neighbours.

Members will review progress achieved in managing the savings programme and preperation for the new “Local Offer” defined care packages.

The Committee is aslo due to receive two important verbal updates on a) the changes to Children’s Centres and the delivery of Early Years services, and b) the proposal to merge Warwick’s school admissions priority areas into a single scheme for the town, which will give members the latest position on these two significant policy changes.

There will also be reports on:

  • The important work undertaken by Inclusion Support Groups at Primarly Schools;
  • The impact of Government changes to the adoption process and the introduction of adoption service scorecards; and
  • The transition of Public Health into the County Council.
Do you want to know more?

The meeting will commence at 10am at Shire Hall, Warwick – a copy of the agenda and the reports can be found here. If you have a question that you wish to ask at the meeting, please contact Georgina Atkinson at least 3 working days before the meeting. Otherwise, please arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the meeting and ensure that the Chair is aware of the matter on which you wish to speak.

 

Making Sure – An Introduction to Overview and Scrutiny in Warwickshire

We made the following two videos to highlight how Councillors in scrutiny have made a real difference across Warwickshire. The first video illustrates the work that Councillors have done with the Health service and how an investigation into the Rugby Western Relief Project has improved project management and saved taxpayers money.

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The second video shows how the Children & Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee helped to improve the education of children who had been excluded from mainstream schools.

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We hope you enjoy them both.

County Council Meeting – Thursday, 21st March 2013

Councillors will have plenty to talk about at Council on 21st March.

Councillors will have plenty to talk about at the Council meeting on 21st March.

On Thursday, 21st March we’ve got a County Council meeting, which will be held at Shire Hall, Warwick from 10am.  This will be the last full Council meeting of our Council’s four-year term, ahead of the elections in May (more on this soon).

We’ve got a pretty full agenda for the meeting. Amongst other things, we’ll be talking through the following:

  • Councillors will be looking at a report on the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, including some of the risks and challenges it will face in the coming years, and some of the work the Service will be doing to overcome these challenges
  • Councillors will be setting up the Warwickshire Health and Wellbeing Board, which comes about as a result of central government changes to the NHS, which will take effect on 1st April this year
  • Three of our Cabinet Members (who have special responsibility for certain council services) will be updating everyone on the key issues within their portfolios:

Councillor Richard Hobbs will talk through Community Safety issues,

Councillor Heather Timms will focus on Children and Schools

And Councillor Izzi Seccombe will talk through some of the changes in Adult Social Care

You can find the agenda for the meeting and all of the supporting documents on the County Council website.

As with all of the big meetings here at Shire Hall, full Council is open to the public, and we’d encourage residents to attend.

If you’ve got any questions, or would like to know more about Council meetings or how to get involved in local democracy, drop me a line at martynharris@warwickshire.gov.uk or comment below.

Review of 2012 – Children and Young People

In the latest of our scrutiny reviews of 2012,  here’s a recap on the work councillors have been doing to improve services for children and young people.

Academies

One of the biggest changes the coalition government has introduced since 2010 has been its education reforms. Any school can now choose to become an “academy”; giving it greater independence from the Local Authority (LA). And in Warwickshire, the majority of secondary schools have already gone down this route.

But where does that leave the LA? Does the Council still have a role to play within academies? What about our overall responsibility towards young people in Warwickshire? How will this be affected?

A group of councillors met regularly in 2012 to explore these questions. They talked to head teachers and lead officers to consider the impact of academies – and to develop ideas for better working relationships with them in the  future.

Their report contains a number of clear recommendations which will be considered by the Children and Young People Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 30 January.

Post-16 Education

One of the freedoms that academies now have is the ability to set up their own post-16 provision (aka, 6th forms). In the past, any school that wanted to set up a 6th form would require approval from the LA first… and a range of issues would be taken into account when making that decision.

But the concern is now that lots of new 6th forms will appear, and there will not be enough students to fill the places available. This will have a negative impact on the quality and diversity of the courses offered.

Councillors have already attended a dedicated seminar on the challenges this presents to Warwickshire, and the Overview & Scrutiny Committee has looked at how the LA is trying to ensure quality and diversity. But with legislation soon making it compulsory for all young people to participate in education or training up to the age of 17 (and to 18 by 2015), this is likely to be an ongoing area of scrutiny for councillors well into the future.

Transport

One of the concerns councillors had regarding post-16 education was the lack of transport funding to assist young people in travelling to schools or colleges. Although the government is raising the participation age for education or training, it is not providing any financial assistance for transport and travel to those affected. The Overview & Scrutiny Committee has asked the Portfolio Holder to raise this with local MPs and local government groups, as it could lead to significant problems for young people, especially those living in deprivation and/or in very rural locations.

Another transport issue that gained attention last year was the removal of Passenger Transport Assistants (PTAs) from certain school bus routes. The Council is removing PTAs as part of a number of changes to school transport, which it hopes will save around £700,000 per year.

However, various schools, parents and local councillors have called on the Overview & Scrutiny Committee to investigate this policy, worried about the risks to children travelling unaccompanied to and from school – and unconvinced about the level of savings likely to be achieved. The Committee has agreed to review progress of the new policy later in 2013 when more evidence on the impacts and savings are available.

Safeguarding

Back in 2011, Ofsted inspected Warwickshire’s services for Safeguarding and Looked After Children. The verdict was that these services were “good”, although there was “capacity to improve”. Following the inspection, officers drew up an Action Plan to address those areas where improvements could be made.

A small group of councillors set about monitoring the implementation of this Action Plan during 2012, and their findings will be reported to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 30 January.

That concludes this brief review of the work of the Children and Young People Overview & Scrutiny Committee in 2012.

The first meeting of 2013 will be on 30 January at 10am in Shire Hall, Warwick. Members of the public are welcome to attend, especially if you have questions to put to the Committee. The agenda will be published a week in advance and can be accessed here.

Cabinet 24th May 2012

The Cabinet of the County Council will meet next on Thursday 24th May. There’s plenty on the agenda including:

  • The new ICT strategy
  • A review of the County Council’s new organisational structure
  • Transport on the A5
  • Development of a sexual assault referral unit
  • The growth of a number of schools across the county

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting, which starts at 1.45pm in Committee Room 2, Shire Hall, Warwick.

The papers for the meeting are available here.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Area Committee – 1 February

Residents of Nuneaton and Bedworth may be interested in the next Area Committee meeting, where County Councillors from the local area will be meeting to discuss:

  • The proposed amalgamation of Stockingford Infant and Junior Schools into a single “all-through” primary school
  • How the Council is looking to improve broadband access for residents across the county

The meeting takes place at 6pm on Wednesday 1st February 2012 at the EPIC Centre, Nuneaton. You can download the full agenda and papers here.

Members of the public are welcome to attend. And if you’d like to ask Councillors a question at the meeting – about anything, not just the items above – please contact richardmaybey@warwickshire.gov.uk in advance.

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