Agenda and minutes

Creating Opportunities and Tackling Inequalities Scrutiny Committee - Monday 14th July, 2014 7.00 pm

Venue: Bourges/Viersen Room - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Paulina Ford, Senior Gvernance Officer  01733 452508

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Nawaz.



Declarations of Interest and Whipping Declarations

At this point Members must declare whether they have a disclosable pecuniary interest, or other interest, in any of the items on the agenda, unless it is already entered in the register of members’ interests or is a “pending notification “ that has been disclosed to the Solicitor to the Council.

Members must also declare if they are subject to their party group whip in relation to any items under consideration.



There were no declarations of Interest or whipping declarations.


Minutes of Meeting Held on 17 March 2014 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

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The minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2014 were approved as an accurate record.



Call In of any Cabinet, Cabinet Member or Key Officer Decisions

The decision notice for each decision will bear the date on which it is published and will specify that the decision may then be implemented on the expiry of 3 working days after the publication of the decision (not including the date of publication), unless a request for call-in of the decision is received from any two Members of a Scrutiny Committee or Scrutiny Commissions.  If a request for call-in of a decision is received, implementation of the decision remains suspended for consideration by the relevant Scrutiny Committee or Commission.



There were no requests for Call-in to consider.



New Vision for Early Years Services Including Children's Centres in Peterborough pdf icon PDF 67 KB

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The report was introduced by the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and provided the Committee with an update on the progress in implementing the proposals described in the document ‘A New Vision for Early Years, Including Children’s Centres in Peterborough.’  The report highlighted the following:


  • The progress made in securing tenants for the de-designated centres;
  • The process undertaken in determining appropriate tenants for the de-designated centres;
  • The progress made in developing the early years universal core entitlement delivered from each of the de-designated centres;
  • The new contractual arrangements for the delivery of the Children’s Centre Hubs and outreach activities with Spurgeons and Barnardos.


Observations and questions were raised and discussed including:


·         Members referred to the centre at Werrington and the Community Agreement and asked for detail regarding costs of services coming in. The Project Implementation Manager stated that the Head Teacher and School Governors at Welbourne Primary School would take on the full financial responsibility for the building and would use part of the building which was part of the children’s centre area to extend school provisions such as reconfiguring the reception class. Additional activities within the centre would be provided and some would be led by parent groups. The Peterborough Learning Partnership would also be based within that centre and provide some additional income. The Head Teacher had provided an effective business plan to ensure that there were no additional costs incurred to the school or the council. 

·         Members commented that some parents were confused as to what was happening. There was publicity suggesting that the Bretton Children’s Centre might be closed but that this was not the case. How were parents being kept informed?  The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services stated that none of the buildings would be closing as they were being funded by government money.  The buildings would continue to be used for much needed provision of children’s services some of which would be children’s centred type.  The Director for Communities added that there was continued dialogue with parents at each centre and there had been few complaints so far.

·         Members sought clarification on where the Pupil Premium would be spent in order to ensure that Pupil Premium from one centre were not being transferred to another. The Director for Communities informed Members that with regard to the Pupil Premium there had been discussions with primary schools about how the pupil premium is spent.  A number of schools had expressed an interest in taking on the centres in order to prepare children for primary school. The Project Implementation Manager stated that the Bretton Centre was always going to continue to deliver outreach activities via Spurgeons. 

·         Members asked if the services to be provided at the Stanground Centre would be run by a tenantor the council.   The Project Delivery Manager stated that the Portage Team would be transferred to the Stanground Centre.  The building was very small and there was already an Early Years provision being provided from the there.  However the appropriateness of the locality  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Implementations of Ofsted School Improvement Inspection Action Plan pdf icon PDF 57 KB

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The Assistant Director, Education and Resources introduced the report which provided the Committee with the Action Plan arising from the recent Ofsted Inspection of Local Authority arrangements for supporting School Improvement undertaken in February.  Peterborough had received a positive outcome with a grading of ‘effective’.  Ofsted had identified four areas for improvement which were:


“To improve achievement and ensure that all pupils in Peterborough attend a good or better school, the local authority should:


  1. Clarify milestones and targets in strategic plans and specify how each school will contribute to raising standards for all children and young people;


  1.  Focus relentlessly on supporting and challenging schools to improve outcomes for pupils who speak English as an additional language and those supported through pupil premium funding;


  1.  Embed high quality school-to-school partnership in order to promote the sharing of good practice and increase the autonomy of primary schools; and


  1. Improve information, advice and guidance in schools and broaden the provision of work-based learning opportunities so that young people succeed along their education and training pathways.”


The Action Plan had addressed the areas identified by Ofsted and also included other areas that the School Improvement Team felt required further development.


The Chair congratulated the Assistant Director Education and Resources and the Head of School Improvement for the amount of work and effort that had been put into obtaining a positive outcome from the Ofsted inspection. 


Observations and questions were raised and discussed including:


·         Members congratulated officers on the work they had done pre and post-Ofsted inspection.

·         Members noted that the action plan had a section titled ‘Evaluation of Progress’ and asked if as the action plan evolved  data could be included in terms of percentage movement.  Members were informed that data would be included regarding attendance and pupil exclusion.

·         Members noted at the end of the action plan section 6C.4 ‘Further develop core and specialist training and support offer to schools’ and asked how this section could be expanded upon. The Assistant Director Education and Resources stated that this was being developed and would be reported back to the Committee in the autumn. There was a lot of work that needed developing around behaviour management.   A Behaviour Management Strategy was currently being drafted and would be brought before the Committee in the autumn.

·         Members asked how schools were addressing extended absences. Members were informed that compared to three or four years ago the communication from the Local Authority attendance service was much clearer in terms of expectations and communication with parents. Work with attendance officers had become much more focused and there was a difference being made in addressing the importance of attendance.

·         Members asked how attendance was being dealt within hard to reach communities and newly arrived immigrant communities where some may have not been used to going to school in their own countries. Members were informed that in the first instance it would be about identifying children with low attendance.  Efforts would then be made alongside translators and face-to-face meetings with parents  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Draft School Organisation Plan 2014/2015 - Delivering Local Places for Local Children pdf icon PDF 54 KB

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The report was introduced by the Assistant Director Education and Resources and provided the Committee with an outline of the proposal for meeting the statutory requirement for school places in Peterborough.  The Committee were asked to comment on the Plan which had also gone out to schools for consultation.


Observations and questions were raised and discussed including:


·         Members referred to page 90 of the report and the mention of ‘land provision for a second phase at St Michaels which can extend the intake to 60 but only £400,000 funding’ and asked if the funding would be from the Diocese of Ely. The Assistant Director Education and Resources stated that the funding was the remnants of the Section 106 agreement the initial funding was £2M for the first phase which was generous and the £400,000 was legacy funding. No funding has been received from either phase from the Diocese of Ely.

·         Members asked if there was an implication that rural schools would be left behind in terms of investment in buildings. The Assistant Director Education and Resources stated that the document dealt with growth and the increase in pupils. There was a separate document that would deal with capital maintenance. Capital maintenance was based upon need not geography however there was growth in rural areas and there were asset management plans in place for all schools.

·         Councillor Lane referred to page 71 and asked about the £2.8M allocated for out of area school placements and asked for assurances that this would be reduced. The Assistant Director Education and Resources stated that the cost of out of area school provision was not borne by the tax payer and was not a local authority function.  It was part of the dedicated schools grant from government and two years ago it was £4 million but a lot of work had been done to reduce that figure over time. The challenge was that some of the needs were very specialist such as autism and physical disabilities. The focus was to try and keep children with  special needs local  and therefore investment was being made in schools locally to accommodate this and therefore reduce out of area spend.

·         Members commented that Academies were responsible for their own admission arrangements.  How did this work in terms of catchment areas?  Could they choose the area from which they draw their pupils from and how much discretion did they have to decide upon admissions arrangements. Members were advised that there were 23 admissions authorities within the City.  Church schools also had their own admissions authority as well as Academies.    If a school wanted to change their admissions process they would have to go out to consultation and the LA was a statutory consultee.  If the LA was not happy with a change in an admissions process they could appeal to the School Adjudicator.  Catchment areas for secondary schools no longer really applied.

·         Members asked regarding the Fair Banding admission criteria for Thomas Deacon Academy which had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Improving Education Outcomes Task and Finish Group Final Report pdf icon PDF 79 KB


The Assistant Director Education and Resources introduced the report which provided the Committee with an opportunity to review the outcomes from the Task and Finish Group.  The Committee were asked to review and endorse the recommendations made by the Task and Finish Group.


Observations and questions were raised and discussed including:


·         Members commented that the Task and Finish Group had helped Members to gain a better understanding around the task of educational improvement and felt that improvement in education and the monitoring process would need to be more aligned.

·         Members commented that this model of Task and Finish Group should be replicated across other scrutiny committees.

·         Members thanked the Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and University for arranging an open day for education which would be open to all councillors.

·         The Committee endorsed the recommendations made and requested that they be monitored going forward.

·         The Chair requested that Members of the Committee continue to work closely outside of meetings with the School Improvement team and the Assistant Director Education and Resources  as an informal working party to continue to improve and develop their understanding of the challenges that the school improvement team face.




The Committee endorsed the following recommendations made by the Task and Finish Group and recommended that they be implemented by the Assistant Director Education and Resources and that implementation be monitored by the Committee.


Recommendation 1

·         An ‘All Party Policy’ meeting on education outcomes is held ensuring that members understand the role and duties of the local authority and the difference between maintained schools and academies (Autumn Term)

·         Ofsted reports on individual schools are distributed to ward members when published with the opportunity to ask questions of officers where appropriate (ongoing). 

·         Ensure that the school improvement strategy and other key documents (e.g. school organisation plan) are shared with all members and that they have the opportunity to discuss and question them (following agreement at the Scrutiny Committee)


Recommendation 2

·         Agreement is being sought with the School Improvement Board that the governor representative for the board is the independent co-opted member of the scrutiny committee (Al Kingsley - who is a governor).  This will help a key link to be formed between the Board and the Scrutiny Committee (July)

·         The terms of reference for the School Improvement Board include a requirement for a termly report to the Director of Children’s Services with an annual report to the Scrutiny Committee. (ongoing) 


Recommendation 3

·         Through reviewing the data available to the authority, the link between ethnicity and achievement will become a standard data set for the committee.  In addition, a greater focus on the outcomes for pupils eligible for the pupil premium grant will be considered in the future.  These will be included in future reports to the committee (November and March annually) 


Recommendation 4

·         Data on the latest position on Ofsted outcomes in Peterborough schools will continue to form part of the regular data set including the proportion of schools judged good or better at their latest inspection.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Directors Report for Social Care Practice and Performance pdf icon PDF 489 KB


The Executive Director, Children’s Services introduced the report which provided the Committee with an update on the progress of performance and improvement in Children’s Social Care.  The following highlights from May 2014 data were covered:


·         There had been an increase in the  Common Assessment Framework (multi agency assessments for vulnerable children whose needs do not meet the threshold for social care)

·         There were fewer contacts but they were contacts with more complex needs

·         Timescales for initial assessments on target

·         Improvement in timescales for core assessments

·         Decrease in re-referrals

·         Number of Child Protection Plans and Looked After Children high

·         Reconfiguration now complete

·         Recruitment and retention


Observations and questions were raised and discussed including:


·         Members asked for clarification on the change for initial and core assessments. Members were advised that the timescale for single assessment was being measured at certain points during the 35 day timescale. It was measured at 5 days, 10 days and once it had been completed. 

·         Members asked about social worker retention and if there was difficulty in getting full-time staff. Members were informed that social work retention was critical and there had been a new recruitment campaign launched. Newspapers had been contacted, as had local radios. All local authorities were fishing in the same pool for social workers as there was a national shortage of experienced social workers. However there was no shortage of newly-qualified social workers. In Peterborough there was a 15% cap on newly-qualified social workers who after one year would then be tasked with working on complex cases but would be back filled with qualified social workers.

·         Members referred to page 127, paragraph 5.14, Adoptions and asked for clarification of what was in place to monitor the success of adoptions.  Members were informed that adoption support was provided but that there was no data available for children adopted who came from other local authorities. There was no up-to-date research suggesting that adopted children did less well than non-adopted children. Peterborough had not undertaken any research with regard to this.  If an adopted family were struggling with the care, support and or education of their adopted child then Children’s Services would provide support through the Virtual School of Education for Looked after Children.

·         Members asked if there was a plan in place for the Local Authority to look at overseas recruitment. The Executive Director, Children’s Services stated that a difficulty with overseas recruitment was that there was a difference in standards across countries. Overseas workers were also more transient and tended to move on.

·         Members asked what the authority offered to social workers in order to attract them. The Executive Director, Children’s Services stated that social workers were often attracted by more than simply money. Support, supervision and training were as important to them.  There was no difficulty in retaining staff there was more difficulty in attracting staff which had not been helped by the national shortage.

·         Members referred to page 126 and the adverts for two Head of Service posts, one in the Guardian  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Review of 2013/2014 and Work Programme for 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 68 KB

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The Senior Governance Officer introduced the report which provided the Committee with a review of the work undertaken by the Committee during 2013/14 and the opportunity to approve the draft work programme for 2014/15.




The Committee noted the report and approved the draft Work Programme for 2014/15.



Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 44 KB

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The Committee received the latest version of the Council’s Forward Plan of Key Decisions, containing key decisions that the Leader of the Council anticipated the Cabinet or individual Cabinet Members would make during the course of the following four months.  Members were invited to comment on the Forward Plan and, where appropriate, identify any relevant areas for inclusion in the Committee’s work programme.




The Committee noted the Forward Plan of Key Decisions.



Date of Next Meeting

Monday 8 September 2014


8th September 2014.