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82.1 RESOLVED to agree the minutes as a correct record.
Apologies for absence
83.1 Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Tom Liddiard, Councillor Kathryn Field, Councillor Bill Bentley, Councillor Carl Maynard, Simon Parr, Catholic Diocese Representative, Nicola Boulter, Parent Governor Representative and Matthew Jones, Parent Governor Representative.
Disclosures of interests
Disclosures by all members present of personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the member regards the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.
84.1 Councillor Michael Ensor declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as the landlord to Victoria Hall, which is the Bexhill, East Sussex, site for the Sabden Multi Academy Trust school, College Central.
Notification of items which the Chair considers to be urgent and proposes to take at the appropriate part of the agenda. Any members who wish to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible, to notify the Chair before the start of the meeting. In so doing, they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgent.
85.1 There were none.
Report by Independent Chair of East Sussex Safeguarding Partnership
86.1 Following changes introduced by the Children and Social Care Act (2017), the East Sussex Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) was replaced in October 2019 by the East Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnership (ESSCP). Reg Hooke, Independent Chair of the ESSCP, therefore highlighted to the Committee that the Annual Report covers a period of transition. Mr Hooke then provided an overview of some of the key learning and achievements that have occurred as part of the transition process. For example, the embedding of arrangements relating to a new national panel that oversees case reviews and the movement of the Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP) to a new Pan-Sussex CDOP led by Public Health and local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.
86.2 Mr Hooke also highlighted to the Committee the East Sussex Joint Targeted Area Inspection which took place in February 2020 (on the theme of children’s mental health). The subsequent Inspection Letter noted the well-established and effective partnership arrangements in East Sussex.
86.3 Another key area of activity for the ESSCP has been the development of the following priorities for the next three-year period: education safeguarding, child exploitation, embedding a learning culture, and safeguarding the under 5s. With regard to safeguarding under 5s, Members heard that this priority was developed partly in response to an increase during the pandemic in the number of reports of injuries and neglect to children in this age group.
Hooke also set out some of the challenges the pandemic has
presented to the ESSCP. For example,
the difficulties associated with having face-to-face meetings with
children. In conclusion, Mr Hooke is satisfied that the
closer alignment of the agencies under the new arrangements has
helped deliver an effective response to the challenges presented by
the pandemic, with the agencies working together
86. 5 The Committee welcomed the detailed report before it and discussed a range of issues, with the key items set out below:
Report by the Director of Children’s Services
87.1 Liz Rugg (Assistant Director for Early Help and Social Care) introduced the report and provided the Committee with an update on progress with implementing the recommendations set out in the People Scrutiny Committee’s ‘Support for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children’ report. The Committee were also provided with an update on developments relating to the recently created specialist UASC team within the Children’s Services Department and how the Department have responded to the challenges presented by the pandemic. With regard to Recommendation Six of the scrutiny review report, the Committee were also informed that work on the UASC guidance document for Members (referred to as a toolkit) was progressing and that a draft for comment would be circulated to relevant members.
87.2 Set out below is a summary of the key points discussed by the Committee:
87.3 The Committee RESOLVED to note the report and welcomed the progress being made ... view the full minutes text for item 87.
Report by Chair of Standing Advisory Committee for Religious Education
88.1 Councillor Roy Galley, as Chair of the Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education (SACRE), introduced the report and highlighted to Members a number of key developments. These include:
· Impact of Covid-19: due to Covid-19 related restrictions some activities of the committee have either not been possible or have had to be adjusted. For example, it had not been possible for SACRE to visit schools. Furthermore, and also as a result of Covid-19 related requirements, no Religious Education (RE) exams have been allowed to take place. However, positive progress has still been made. For example, effective primary and secondary school networks have been developed and this has allowed for increased direct contact with teachers. Another innovation has been the deployment of online training courses for education professionals, which have been well-received.
working group of teachers and head teachers has been formed to
advise and assist SACRE with its work.
The Group is currently focused on the task of revising the Locally
Agreed Syllabus (see also next bullet point).
· Locally Agreed Syllabus: Religious Education is a statutory element of the curriculum for all pupils, which is determined locally. As a result, one of the key duties of SACRE is to review once every five years the Locally Agreed Syllabus. The next review is due in 2022 and with that in mind, Councillor Galley informed the Committee that SACRE have developed a plan to take this task forward. The plan will involve full engagement with teachers and religious representatives and will be informed by national guidance and resources on the provision of Religious Education. The revised Syllabus will be agreed by the end of 2021 and will be implemented in schools starting in September 2022.
88.2 The Committee discussed the importance of having a range of representatives on SACRE. In response, Councillor Roy Galley informed the Committee that SACRE aims to have as wide as possible representation from the faith groups in East Sussex. However, there have been challenges with appointing representatives from some faith communities. In order to help maintain a balanced view, SACRE have also appointed a Humanist observer.
The Committee RESOLVED to note the report.
Report by Assistant Chief Executive
89.1 The Committee discussed its input into the Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources process and possible future improvements. Set out below is a summary of the key discussion points:
89.2 The Committee RESOLVED to note the report.
90.1 The Committee discussed its Work Programme which is comprised of a number of ongoing scrutiny reviews, reference groups and planned reports. Set out below is an overview of the key items discussed.
Current Scrutiny Reviews
90.2 The Committee heard that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the ability of schools to participate, it continued to be necessary to pause work on the scrutiny review of issues relating to the high rate of school exclusion in East Sussex. The Committee anticipate that work will be able to recommence in autumn 2021.
Initial Scoping Reviews
Loneliness and Resilience Initial Scrutiny Scoping Board
90.3 In response to the extensive evidence available about the negative impact of loneliness on local communities, the Committee appointed a Loneliness and Resilience Initial Scrutiny Scoping Board in November 2019. The Board comprised: Councillors Clark, Galley, Ungar (Chair) and Whetstone. Following delays caused by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Board met in February 2021. Councillor Ungar, as Chair of the Board, informed the Committee that its key finding was to recommend the establishment of a loneliness scrutiny reference group. The Board reached this conclusion following a briefing provided by the Adult Social Care and Health Department regarding a new loneliness-focused project it intends to take forward in summer 2021. The Board heard that the project will first seek to develop an improved understanding of the nature and impact of loneliness on East Sussex residents, before then seeking to identify opportunities and approaches to mitigate its worst effects. The Board were also informed that the Department intend to engage with a wide range of partners and residents throughout the project. With this in mind and given their unique insights into the communities they represent, the Department are particularly keen to work with elected members on this project.
90.4 On the evidence presented to it, the Committee agreed with the Board’s recommendation that a scrutiny reference group should be appointed for the following reasons:
· the Department’s project will seek to develop practical, evidence-based and community focused responses to the negative impacts of loneliness;
· that a reference group will provide members with an effective opportunity to help shape new initiatives; and
· that a separate scrutiny review would represent a duplication of effort.
90.5 The Committee therefore RESOLVED to establish a Loneliness and Resilience Scrutiny Reference Group, with the membership of the group to be reviewed at the next meeting of the People Scrutiny Committee in June 2021.
Suggested Potential Future Scrutiny Review Topics
Elective Home Education
90.6 The Committee agreed to continue to pause activity on the potential scrutiny review of issues relating to the increase in the numbers of children being electively home educated. Whilst there is not a clear date for activity to resume, there is an expectation that the government will issue national guidance. The Committee therefore agreed it would be prudent to revisit this subject once the new guidance becomes available.
Developing Care Markets/Bedded Care Strategy
Report by the Director of Adult Social Care
91.1 Tom Hook, Assistant Director for Planning, Performance and Engagement introduced the report by saying that good progress has been made with implementing the Committee’s recommendations, although the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on some areas. Key developments include:
91.2 Sara Lewis, Adult Social Care Training Manager, briefed the Committee on the national ‘Call to Care Campaign’ (which ran between 1 February and 31 March 2021). The campaign was launched in response to an urgent need to boost the numbers of short-term staff available during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of the campaign, the Department received once a week a list of contact details for individuals who had registered an interest in working in the care sector. At the time of the meeting there had been 69 applicants, 21 of which have been screened and forwarded on to interested provider services. It is hoped that a significant number of the individuals recruited as a result of the campaign will value their new roles and want to stay within the sector.
91.3Councillor Trevor Webb, as Chair of the Adult Social Care Workforce Scrutiny
Review Board welcomed the report and the progress being made with implementing the Committee’s recommendations. Although he also noted that the workforce environment has been subject to considerable change since the report was published given the impact of the pandemic. The Committee then discussed the report in detail. Set out below is a summary of the key issues discussed: