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The Minutes of the meeting held on 14 June 2021 were taken as read and signed as a correct record.
The Board was advised that there were no public questions submitted.
The Board received a presentation on Halton’s response to Ofsted’s review into Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (SVSH) in schools and the DfE’s subsequent updated guidance.
The presentation outlined some background in respect of the review, its key findings and recommendations. Halton’s response following the review was discussed and details of the training that had taken place for headteachers, governors, all school staff and safeguarding leads was highlighted. It was noted that the model safeguarding policy had been updated to reflect the statutory guidance.
The following responses were provided to Members’ questions:
· The introduction of trousers to the female uniform – this was a decision for Governing bodies, the Council could only provide guidance on this;
· Some schools did not follow their own guidance concerning incidents of SVSH – this must be enforced in schools and it must be understood that a zero tolerance approach is needed;
· Action needed to be taken against the perpetrators as it seems that the victims are the ones who are expected to change their behaviour – yes support was needed for them as well as the victim and this was included in the guidance;
· Clarity over the involvement of the Police – Police officers were available offering support to schools and this advice would be included as part of the action plan moving forward. Guidance was already in place to advise schools at what point the Police should become involved;
· Prevention measures – the curriculum has been expanded upon to include this as a priority; and
· The Lead Officer for Safeguarding Children in Education was available to offer support to Governors in the safeguarding role within their school, as well as headteachers.
Further to the above, it was noted that parents were able to report incidents of SVSH in an official capacity according to a school’s complaints policy. Also, from 1 September Ofsted would be compiling statistics relating to incidents on a national level.
It was commented that locally, moving forward would involve data gathering from Halton’s schools on a monthly basis, to identify trends that the Authority could respond to. It was recognised that the normalisation of this kind of behaviour was completely unacceptable and the Board welcomed the response to this so far and the updated guidance in respect of this.
RESOLVED: That the presentation and comments made be noted.
The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director – People, which provided an overview on the current issues and progress for Children in Care (CIC), Care Leavers (CL) and developments in the service to address the needs and demand.
This included a summary on the fostering service, the arrangements for the use of Ashley House and the recently launched Supported Lodgings Service, both for care leavers.
Further to Members questions, it was noted that the adoption process could take between 11 to 16 weeks, however this is often dependant on court proceedings as these were often delayed, particularly at the moment with the impacts of the pandemic.
RESOLVED: That the report is noted.
The Board received a report of the Strategic Director – People, which provided an annual report regarding the educational position in Halton along with key updates.
It was noted that due to the cancellation of Early Years and Primary Assessments and the changes due to Covid-19 for Secondary and Post 16 Assessments, performance data was not available this year. Further, due to the subsequent Department for Education’s response, there had been many changes to educational provision, assessment and examination during 2020. The validated national results would not be published this year for the second consecutive year.
The report provided Members’ with updates in the following areas:
· Statutory assessment and key issues;
· Educational challenges for September 2021 onwards and strategies to support;
· The National Tutoring Programme;
· Catch Up Premium; and
· The return to school / Education in September 2021.
Members were reassured that when the statistics did become available they would be shared with them.
RESOLVED: That the report and comments made be noted.
The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director – People, which provided an update of the Supporting Families Programme and its current performance levels.
It was noted that the Troubled Families Programme was due to end in March 2020, however the ongoing evaluation evidence demonstrated the benefits of the Programme, so it had continued into 2020-22. Government had committed £165m for local authorities through the Troubled Families Programme, which would provide intensive support to families facing multiple problems. Members were advised that the Programme would still utilise the Troubled Families Outcome Plan, which provided a partnership wide framework that states the significant and sustainable outcome measures applicable to families identified for support.
It was reported that following an announcement made by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in March this year, the Programme would now enter a new phase – details of this were outlined in the report. Members were also provided with an update specific to Halton and performance data since the Programme began in 2013. The 100% ‘payment by results’ achievement for Halton was welcomed, especially as only 19% of areas had achieved this.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.
The Board received the Performance Management reports for quarter one of 2021-22 (1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021).
It was noted that the key priorities for development or improvement in 2020-21 were agreed by Members and included in the Local Authority’s Business Plan, for the various functional areas reported to the Board as follows:
· Education, Inclusion and Provision Services; and
· Children and Families Services.
The reports detailed progress made against objectives, milestones and performance targets and provided information relating to key developments and emerging issues that had arisen during the period.
RESOLVED: That the quarter one Performance Management reports be received.