Venue: Council Chamber, City Hall, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR
Contact: Ian Hird 07552 261506
The Chair welcomed all attendees to the meeting and explained the emergency evacuation procedure.
Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
It was noted that apologies for absence had been received from Cllr Tim Wye and from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor - Children Services, Education and Equalities.
Declarations of Interest
To note any declarations of interest from councillors. They are asked to
indicate the relevant agenda item, the nature of the interest and in particular
whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest.
Any declaration of interest made at the meeting which is not on the register of
interests should be notified to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion.
To agree the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.
On the motion of the Chair, seconded by the Vice-Chair, the Commission RESOLVED:
That the minutes of the meeting of the People Scrutiny Commission held on 28 November 2022 be confirmed as a correct record.
The Commission noted the action tracker in relation to the 28 November meeting.
To note any announcements from the Chair
The Chair advised members that, further to the Commission’s consideration on 26
September 2022 of the fact-finding report into the use of social media by Council staff in respect of the Bristol Parent Carer Forum, the motion agreed at that meeting calling for
the Mayor and Chief Executive to arrange an external investigation into the matter, and the subsequent 18 October 2022 Full Council motion on the same subject, he had submitted a question to the 14 March Full Council/Member Forum asking the Mayor to advise when the investigation would begin.
The Commission noted the above information.
Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
Any member of the public or councillor may participate in Public Forum. The detailed arrangements for so doing are set out in the Public Information Sheet at the back of this agenda. Public Forum items should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and please note that the following deadlines will apply in relation to this meeting:
Questions - Written questions must be received at least 3 clear working days prior to the meeting. For this meeting, this means that your question(s) must be received in this office at the latest by 5.00 pm onTuesday 7 March 2023
Petitions and Statements - Petitions or written statements must be received at latest by 12.00 noon on the working day prior to the meeting. For this meeting, this means that petitions or statements must be received in this office at the latest by
12.00 noon on Friday 10 March 2023
Please note: questions, petitions and statements must relate to the remit of the
People Scrutiny Commission.
It was noted that the following public statements had been received:
Statement 1 - Rachel Green - topic: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services
Statement 2 - Jen Smith - topic: SEND services. Jen Smith was in attendance at the meeting and presented her statement.
Statement 3 - Mark Pennington-Field - topic: Closure of fostering service facilities at Capgrave Crescent and Rodbourne Road. In relation to this statement, it was noted that details of these two properties were included as part of a Cabinet decision taken in January 2023 on the disposal of certain surplus council estate properties. It was also noted that officers were drafting a separate briefing about fostering service facilities.
The Chair suggested (see also the Work Programme item below) that an in-depth look at fostering and adoption services could be considered as part of the Commission’s 2023/24 work programme.
It was noted that the following public questions had been received:
Question 1 - Jen Smith
Topic: Schools reported to the School Improvement Team
I would like to know how many and which schools have been reported to the School Improvement Team for the academic years 2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22?
And, broken down into primary, secondary, specialist, PRU, other and LA maintained and academy/free school.
The School Partnerships Team is a small team who provide school improvement support specifically for maintained primary schools. They provide external support and challenge for local authority primary headteachers and leaders. The team do not fulfil a reporting function for concerns regarding schools.
Jen Smith asked the following supplementary question:
In a Subject Access Request I received a while back, I noticed, at the end of 2019, a member of council staff was concerned about the way a Bristol secondary school treated my SEND child and were reporting issues to the school improvement team. If anyone, including members of BCC staff are reporting SEND concerns with schools, where is this being reported, archived and logged?
It was noted that officers would investigate this point and then respond to the questioner.
Note: subsequent to the meeting, officers provided a response to the supplementary question as follows:
Any concerns raised with the local authority with regards to maintained schools are followed up by local authority officers or, if they are academies, then parent carers are supported/guided as to how to report their concerns through the school complaints process which is documented on their website. Alternatively, if the child in question has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, then the parent/carer would be supported by the Statutory SEND team
Question 2 - Jen Smith
Topic: Learning disability and autism programme
Recommendations in the Learning Disability and Autism Programme say:
'The programme will have a number of component projects to address the following aims:
'Better forecasting of demand from Children’s Services into adult health and care services, and better transitional arrangements to ‘bridge the gap’ between childhood and adulthood.'
How is this likely to be achieved considering ... view the full minutes text for item 51.
The Commission considered and discussed the quarter 2 2022/23 performance report. It was noted that this report had been prepared in line with the new corporate approach to performance reporting, with performance progress tracked under each of the themes in the Council’s Corporate Strategy, plus a data appendix specific for the Commission; in relation to the performance metrics and actions reported for this quarter against the People Scrutiny Commission remit:
- 38% of priority measures were on or above target (6 of 16).
- 64% of priority measures had improved (9 of 14).
- 86% of actions were currently on track or better (25 of 29).
It was noted that members had submitted the following questions/points in advance of the meeting (these are set out below together with written responses from officers):
a. Questions/points raised in advance by Cllr Townsend
Q1. General question: What is the difference between ‘on target’ and ‘on schedule’ when used within these documents?
Officer written response:
Performance indicators monitor progress against set milestones (e.g. build 100 houses: Q1 = Tgt 25 / Q2 Tgt = 50 / Q3 Tgt = 75 / Q4 Tgt = 100). At any given reporting period, progress is compared to the target. If at Q2 performance is 49 it will be recorded as ‘Worse than target’; if performance is 51, it will be recorded as ‘Better than target’ and if performance is 50, it will be recorded as ‘On Target’. The term ‘On Track’ is used for the actions and does not use such precise parameters; the lead manager is asked to consider where the action is, in terms of achieving its goal. The term ‘On Schedule’ is the term used to describe the progress of the combined KPIs and actions for each theme.
In response to a follow-up question from Cllr Townsend at the meeting, it was confirmed that where targets were graduated through the year, the latest/relevant ‘in-year’ position was recorded.
Q2. Appendix A1 - Thematic performance clinic report – children and young people: The narrative from the Director/author of p6 refers to school attendance. There are comparisons between term 1 for 2021 and term 2 for this year – we need ‘like for like’ if comparisons are going to be made to provide apparent evidence of improvement. There is a statement that reiterates how guidance becomes statutory later this year – this was pulled in May 2022 so why is it still being stated in formal reports?
Officer written response:
It is accepted that to make comparison meaningful, the same time periods need to be analysed. Please see detailed below the figures relating to the Bristol Inclusion and Fair Access Panel (BIFAP) which meets on a fortnightly basis to identify the most appropriate education provision for pupils at risk of permanent exclusion. The figures below indicate the number of pupils who have actually moved as a result of the BIFAP process. Comparison between the two academic years Terms 1 and 2 indicate a significant reduction in ... view the full minutes text for item 52.
The Commission considered and discussed the quarter 3 corporate risk report for 2022/23.
Summary of main points raised:
1. It was noted that for quarter 3, one critical external risk was identified for the People directorate - BCCC5: Cost of living crisis impact on citizens and communities and that two new, emerging threat risks were:
a. CRR51: Risk that Adult Social Care financial unsustainability due to national and local pressures leads to a failure to deliver statutory duties and budgetary control.
b. CRR53: Risk that increased social worker and occupational therapist vacancies and sickness rates will result in vulnerable adults’ care being compromised.
The risk tolerance levels and mitigating actions in place against these risks were also noted.
2. BCCC4 - Winter diseases including COVID-19 and Flu (formerly COVID-19 Population Health): In response to a question, the Risk and Insurance Senior Officer undertook to liaise with the risk owner with a view to sending Cllr Weston further background detail and to provide context for the current risk tolerance level.
The Commission RESOLVED:
- To note the report and the above information.
The Commission considered a report setting out the latest Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) performance update.
Summary of main points raised:
1. In terms of this latest performance update, it was noted that the most significant points were:
a. The number of Education Health and Care needs assessments (EHCNA) finalised had increased in 2022 compared with 2021.
b. Performance continued to be affected by the rise in new EHCNA requests: a 17.6%
increase in requests from 2021 to 2022.
c. At end of year, 38% of EHC needs assessments met the 20 week statutory timescale, an increase on 34% compared with 2021.
d. The average wait time for an EHC needs assessment (open more than 20 weeks) at year end was 33 weeks.
e. As at the end of December 2022 there were 493 active EHC needs assessments in the
system, compared to 484 at the last time of reporting. 273 of these were within 20 weeks timescales; 220 exceeded the 20 week timescale.
f. 2320 EHC plans out of 3007 (77%) were the subject of an annual review within the previous 12 months.
g. In 2022, there were 120 appeals lodged, compared to 37 in 2021; appeal hearings could be held up to as much as 12 months or more after an appeal is lodged. Of the 120 lodged, 69 cases had been completed and 49 were ongoing.
2. Noting (as per section 2) that 1,000 EHCNA requests had been received in 2022 (an increase of 17.6%), the Chair commented that 791 EHC plans had been completed. Whilst this was an improved position, there was still a significant gap between EHCNA requests and plan completions. In discussion, it was noted that:
- it was proposed that scrutiny members would be involved in agreeing Key Performance Indicators for EHC needs assessments for the year ahead.
- the performance situation would continue to be monitored closely, taking account also of the context of the resources available for this area of work.
- work was continuing (including improved communication with families throughout the process) to improve the quality of assessment.
3. The Chair noted that para 2.4 (legacy cases) indicated that there were no current requests in the system which exceeded the 52 week timescale. He had though recently received emails from two individuals which appeared to suggest that the timescale had been exceeded. It was noted that Cllr Kent would forward details of these cases to officers for investigation. (Note: whilst it is not appropriate for individual cases to be referred to in detail via these minutes, this matter was investigated following the meeting, with responses sent to the Chair and to the individuals concerned).
4. Councillor Bailes commented that whilst the report data indicated that performance was moving in the right direction, there was, in her view, still an issue around communication and improving relationships between officers, caseworkers and families; parents and carers, for example were less likely to be willing to engage in circumstances where they were ... view the full minutes text for item 54.
The Commission considered and discussed a report setting out an overview of the programme of work to create a better a market of accommodation, services, and support for people with a learning disability and autistic people.
Summary of main points raised:
1. It was noted that the programme was being developed following recommendations from the engagement work that the Council commissioned from the 31Ten consultancy last year. The programme would include a number of component projects to address the following aims:
a. To reduce the number of people with learning disability and autism in locked wards (the ‘Assuring Transformation’ cohort) and create a system that supports those with the most complex needs in the community, preventing hospital admission.
b. To increase access to appropriate community-based care and support through a Strategic Partner within a locality model; and increasing community support options and developing a complete and equitable provision offer in all localities.
c. To shape the local market in terms of sustainable supply of specialist and general needs housing.
d. To improve the forecasting of demand from Children’s Services into adult health and care services, and better transitional arrangements to ‘bridge the gap’ between childhood and adulthood.
2. Cllr Holland commented that on 7 March, the Cabinet had received an update on the proposal to develop a single adult social care purchasing framework. Further to questions submitted to the Cabinet meeting by Cllr Wye, it was acknowledged that it was important to take on board feedback from providers and ensure that the commissioning process was sufficiently robust but not over-onerous. Another important consideration was the need to try to support individuals with complex needs so they could live locally and with as much independence as was possible and reduce the need for out-of-area placements. The Acting Director of Adult Social Care added that the aim was also to help as many individuals as possible into more active independent living within communities, including looking at possible employment opportunities and living in their own tenancies.
3. In response to a point raised by Cllr Weston, it was noted that there was a need for a more equitable distribution of specialist support centres across the city. As part of this, it would be important to identify suitable buildings in appropriate locations that might be suitable for adaptation by providers.
4. It was suggested that it would be useful for an update on the programme to be reported to the Commission in autumn 2023.
The Commission RESOLVED:
To note the report and the above information.
The Committee noted the work programme.
In discussion, members suggested that the following be flagged at this point as possible items that could be put forward for inclusion in the People scrutiny 2023/24 work programme:
- Ofsted children’s services inspection – improvement plan
- Engagement in Children’s and Education transformation programme
- Ongoing monitoring of Education, Health and Care needs assessment and plan performance (standing item)
- Ongoing overview (through People scrutiny leads) of actions arising from the People scrutiny working group on inclusion in mainstream education.
- Review of position re: teenage pregnancy.
- Review of position re: permanent exclusions of pupils/students from schools.
- Fostering/adoption services – in-depth look at provision/challenges faced, including support available for families/adoptive parents.
- Further update (autumn 2023) on taking forward the Learning Disability and Autism programme.
The Commission RESOLVED:
To note the latest update of the work programme and the above information.