Agenda and draft minutes

People Scrutiny Commission - Monday, 26th September, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, City Hall, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR

Contact: Ian Hird  07552 261506

Link: Watch Live Webcast

Items
No. Item

15.

Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 405 KB

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all attendees to the meeting and explained the emergency evacuation procedure.

 

16.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

Minutes:

The following apologies and substitutions were noted:

People Scrutiny Commission: Cllr Bailes (Cllr Hornchen substituting), Cllr Massey,

Cllr Scott, Cllr Wye (Cllr Hance substituting)

Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) (re: agenda item 8):

Cllr Bradshaw, Cllr Gollop

Apologies were also received from Cllr Holland, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System

 

17.

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.

Minutes:

The Chair advised that he was married to one of the public forum participants. He also advised that he had attended and voted at the meeting of the Bristol Parent Carer Forum which had elected its current officers.  Under agenda item 11, the Chair advised that a member of his family had an Education, Health and Care Plan.

 

 

18.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 606 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.

Minutes:

The Commission RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting of the People Scrutiny Commission held on 7 March 2022 be confirmed as a correct record.

 

19.

Chair's Business

To note any announcements from the Chair.

Minutes:

a. Public forum - questions

The Chair noted that with regard to questions 11-16 submitted as public forum business, questioners had been advised that due to the preparatory work required in connection with the recently announced Ofsted SEND inspection, officers had not had capacity to immediately respond in advance of this meeting.  Whilst noting the position and work pressures, the Chair stated that, in his view, this was not acceptable; replies would be sent (copied to all members of the People Scrutiny Commission) as soon as possible.

 

b. Senior management update

At the request of the Chair, the Executive Director: People provided an update on recent changes in the People directorate’s senior management/staff appointments: Abi Gbago had been appointed as Executive Director: Children and Education Services and would be joining the authority in mid-December; Richard Hanks had been appointed as Interim Director: Education and Skills.

 

20.

Public Forum pdf icon PDF 2 MB

PLEASE NOTE:  The People Scrutiny Commission had been scheduled to meet on 12 September 2022.  The 12 September meeting was postponed as it fell in the public mourning period following the recent death of Her Majesty The Queen.  All questions and statements submitted to the 12 September meeting will be carried forward to this meeting on 26 September.

 

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item at the meeting.

 

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 scrutiny@bristol.gov.uk 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 pm on Tuesday 20 September 2022.

 

Petitions and Statements - Petitions and statements must be received at latest by 12 noon on the working day prior to the meeting.  For this meeting, this means that your submission must be received in this office at the latest by 12.00 noon on Friday 23 September 2022.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Public statements:

It was noted that the following public statements had been received:

1. Mr S Smith - topic: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

2. Jen Smith - topic: Fact-finding report - use of social media by council staff in respect of Bristol Parent Carer Forum / SEND

3. Hayley Hemming (on behalf of Bristol Parent Carer Forum) - topic: Fact-finding report - use of social media by council staff in respect of the Bristol Parent Carer Forum / SEND

4. Sally Kent and 89 other residents - topic: SEND

5. Hannah Summers and Amy Valenzia - topic: Secondary school admissions

6. Hayley Hemming - topic: Fact-finding report - use of social media by council staff in respect of the Bristol Parent Carer Forum / SEND

7. Sandra Thomas - topic: Fact-finding report - use of social media by council staff in respect of the Bristol Parent Carer Forum / SEND

8. Cllr Geoff Gollop - topic: Fact-finding report - use of social media by council staff in respect of the Bristol Parent Carer Forum / SEND

9. Rowena Hayward and Jeff Sutton, GMB - topic: Adult social care transformation update

 

Statements were presented by those in attendance.  Statement 5 was presented by Cllr Edwards on behalf of Hannah Summers and Amy Valenzia.  Statement 8 was presented by Cllr Weston on behalf of Cllr Gollop.

 

Public questions:

It was noted that the following public questions had been received (those in attendance asked supplementary questions as indicated below):

 

Q1. Jen Smith – topic: Fact finding report - use of social media by council staff in

respect of Bristol Parent Carer Forum

Supplementary question from Jen Smith regarding question 1 as submitted: ‘The report states that I was there as a BPCF member, but this is not true. To claim otherwise in an official report in this arena is defamation. Why has the council knowingly done this?’

In response, the Head of Legal Service advised that this point would need to be verified, and, if necessary, corrected.

 

Supplementary question from Jen Smith regarding question 3 as submitted:

‘Does the council only use its own social media account to view and collate data from social media or do individual staff members use their private accounts instead or as well?’

In response, the Interim Director - Education and Skills advised that information was  collated regularly by the Council’s communications team as part of their day to day work. This information would be collated via council accounts, not through individual accounts.

 

Supplementary question from Jen Smith regarding question 2 as submitted:

‘The response to the question says that tweet surveillance ‘did not involve any specific interaction with any of the individuals concerned.’ But that’s not true. Tweet surveillance continued all year as is shown in the bundle.  Why weren’t there Equality Act adjustments in a meeting where top council managers called my social media presence and council statements derogatory and aggressive?  They said that to my face with no reasonable adjustments.’

In response  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Annual Business Report 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 225 KB

Minutes:

The Commission considered the annual business report.

 

The Commission RESOLVED:

1. To note the membership of the Commission for the 2022-23 municipal year.

2. To note the Commission’s terms of reference.

3. To note that the dates and times for remaining further meetings in 2022/23 are as

follows:

- 5.00 pm, Monday 28 November 2022

- 5.00 pm, Monday 13 March 2023

4. To note the ongoing appointment of Warda Awale as a statutory parent governor

representative co-optee.

 

22.

Fact-finding report - Use of social media by council staff in respect of the Bristol Parent Carer Forum pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission considered and discussed the fact finding report into the use of social media by council staff in respect of Bristol Parent Carer Forum (BPCF).  It was noted that OSMB members had been invited to attend for this item of business.

 

Members raised questions/points in relation to the report, which included the following:

 

1. Cllr Townsend referred to para. 15 and the statement that the external communications team and the service area were familiar with both data subject 1 and 2 by virtue of their social media posts relating to SEND.  She suggested that this indicated there had therefore been concerns before the parameters had been set for the fact finding report and queried why legal officers hadn’t asked the SEND team if they were familiar with those and where their concerns had come from.

In response, the Head of Legal Service advised that questions had been asked of officers. As stated in the report, there were tweets and communications that officers had been aware of on an ad hoc basis but this did not amount to monitoring.  Two specific incidents had been identified for investigation.

 

2. In response to further questions from Cllr Townsend, the Head of Legal Service reiterated that two incidents had been found where there had been collation of social media input from the two data subjects.  No evidence of any other collation had been found, only ad hoc knowledge acquired from social media via the communications team’s general monitoring of the Council’s Facebook pages.

 

3. In response to an additional question from Cllr Townsend, the Head of Legal Service advised that in relation to the SENDIASS meeting referred to in the report, it was her understanding that although the meeting had been open for any interested person to book attendance via Eventbrite, the ‘ground rules’ of the meeting had been that the discussion and any information shared at the meeting should be regarded as confidential.

 

4. In response to questions from Cllr Dyer on para. 49, the Head of Legal Service confirmed:

a. the role of the Council’s information governance and security team.

b. that, although not having been contacted previously, the team had confirmed that their view would have been that a Data Protection Impact Assessment would not have been required.

 

5. With regard to paras. 35-39, and the reference to officer C being asked to produce an options paper, Cllr Dyer asked whether that paper had included any examples of the social media posts that were causing concern, as part of its evidence.

The Head of Legal Service advised that she had not personally looked at the options paper but she would liaise with a legal colleague who had examined that paper and would arrange for clarity to be provided to Cllr Dyer on that point.

 

6. Cllr Stone referred to the statement at para. 49 which indicated there was ‘no evidence that systematic monitoring took place’ but noted there was also reference in that para. to‘concerns being raised by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Report from Working Group on inclusion in mainstream education pdf icon PDF 190 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, in moving the report, thanked members of the working group, officers and all participants who had given evidence to the working group.  In addition to the recommendation set out in the report, he suggested, and it was agreed, that it would be appropriate for the Commission to formally refer the report to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board for information and awareness.

 

Summary of main points raised:

 

1. Cllr Townsend suggested that a task and finish group might be set up by the Commission to track progress on actions taken forward in light of the report.  The Chair took note of this suggestion but indicated that it would be more appropriate for updates to be given through the People scrutiny lead members meeting.

 

2. In response to a point raised by Cllr Townsend, the Interim Director: Education and Skills undertook to arrange for a city map/graphic to be produced to show school cohorts compared with the communities in which schools were geographically located.  This would be useful as a visual indication of how reflective schools were of their local communities.

 

3. The Interim Director: Education and Skills commented that many aspects of the working group’s report aligned with and were being taken forward in the context of the Council’s Belonging Strategy for Children and Young People.  In addition to the recommendation to refer the report to the Bristol Learning City Excellence in Schools group, he suggested it would also be appropriate to refer it to the Race Equality Steering Group given the issues raised around equalities and diversity.

 

4. Cllr Hornchen commented that there were important issues around equalities and diversity to be addressed within the city’s teaching system / workforce.   Cllr Craig commented that there were a number of organisations and networks in the city working to address the whole issue about lack of representation and diversity within teaching staff and the recruitment of teachers.   She also drew attention to the fact that following a call for action from the city’s Youth Mayors around school exclusions, and in the context of the Belonging Strategy, work was starting with one of the academy trusts on a pilot programme to work towards 100% inclusion and how this approach could potentially be rolled out across Bristol.

 

The Commission RESOLVED:

1. To endorse the working group’s report.

2. To refer the report to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board for information and awareness.

3. To refer the report to the following for consideration and with an invitation to respond to the report:

* Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Children’s Services, Education and Equalities.

* Bristol Learning City Excellence in Schools group.

* Race Equality Steering Group.

 

24.

Decision report of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman pdf icon PDF 200 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission received a report setting out the details of a decision taken by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (complaint reference 21 007 446).

 

The Chair suggested that it would be appropriate for members to note the Ombudsman report, noting also that an Education, Health and Care performance update was the next item on the agenda.

 

The Commission RESOLVED:

To note the decision report of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (complaint reference 21 007 446).

 

25.

Education, Health and Care performance update pdf icon PDF 411 KB

Minutes:

The Commission considered a report setting out the latest Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) performance update.

 

Summary of main points raised:

 

1. In response to questions from the Chair, it was clarified that:

* as at the end of July, there were 605 active EHC needs assessments in the system. 328 of these were within the 20-week timescale; however, 277 were outside of the 20-week timescale.

* managers had reviewed the balance of work within teams on new and overdue / legacy cases to ensure that from 31 July 2022, no further cases would exceed 52 weeks. The 90 overdue cases as at 31 July had now been reduced in number to 47; all 47 cases had been allocated an assessment co-ordinator with draft plans in place, with a view to plans being completed (following consultation) by the end of the calendar year.  It was recognised that for as long as there were overdue cases in the system, the 20-week targets were going to be under pressure.

 

2. Cllr Weston welcomed the reduction in the number of overdue cases from 90 to 47. He suggested, and it was agreed that a succinct ‘snapshot’ update of EHCP performance should be submitted to each meeting of the Commission.

 

3. In response to questions, it was noted that officers were in ongoing communication with a wide range of other local authorities with a view to learning and applying best practice.  Whilst it was acknowledged that the situation was far from resolved and further improvement was necessary, there had been a reasonably steady trajectory of improvement since 2019 in terms of the timeliness of meeting the 20 week target.  Bristol’s focus was on securing improvements that would be sustained.  It was noted that Portsmouth had been one of the first local authorities that had produced a clear articulation of the school-based stages of the code of practice; officers had assessed the Portsmouth approach and were developing the application of this in Bristol. As a result, considerable work was being undertaken with schools to strengthen the school-based stages of the code of practice, e.g. issuing of Ordinarily Available Provision guidance and training, as well as developing a comprehensive workforce development plan.

 

4. Cllr Townsend flagged the importance of the timeliness of annual reviews, noting that monitoring data on this was not included in the report.  It was noted that through the SEND reporting system, the aim was to ensure that individual, child level information would be available, including reporting measures around annual reviews. Within Bristol, delegated responsibility for annual reviews had been passed, as was the case in most local authorities, to educational settings.  The authority did not have the capacity to ensure officer attendance at each individual annual review, but there would be a greater focus and emphasis placed on ensuring a more robust system was in place in terms of quality assurance around annual reviews.

 

5. With reference to para. 6.3, Cllr Weston asked that a copy of the Council’s response  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

School provision and specialist placements update pdf icon PDF 299 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission considered a report updating on new school provision in Temple Quarter and Knowle, and on new specialist school places provided over the last year, and those planned for the next 2 years.

 

Summary of main points raised:

 

1. In response to questions from the Chair, it was clarified that parents applying for secondary school places in the new schools would receive two offers, one being a conditional offer for a ‘new’ school in anticipation that places would be available in the new schools’ respective temporary accommodation in September 2023, and the other being an offer at an alternative school.  Conditional offers would be confirmed as soon as possible once there was definite confirmation that the temporary sites would be operational for September 2023; it was recognised that the situation would need to be managed carefully through the school admissions team as it inevitably presented a logistical challenge.  Further detail on the process would be shared with members.

 

2. In response to a question from Cllr Weston, it was confirmed that the catchment areas for the two new schools had deliberately been set quite widely to try to minimise any disrupting effect for other schools, particularly in the central and eastern parts of the city. In time, it was anticipated that the increased sufficiency in secondary school places that would be realised through these two schools would have a ‘knock-on’ benefit in relieving pressure on admissions more widely across the city.

 

3. In response to questions from Cllr Townsend, it was confirmed that discussions would take place with Oasis about specialist SEND provision once the new schools were in place as physical buildings.  Whilst noting this, Cllr Townsend expressed disappointment that neither of these two new secondary schools were catering for SEND inclusion through architectural design.

 

4. In response to a further question from Cllr Townsend, it was noted that discussions would start with schools / academy trusts in October about reviewing secondary school catchment areas and admissions. Whilst recognising that academies and voluntary aided schools set their own admissions policies and catchment areas, the key basis of the engagement would be to encourage recognition of the underlying principles of the Belonging Strategy and for this to be the focus of the discussions / review.

 

In connection with this point, the Chair reminded members that one of the key recommendations from the Commission’s working group on inclusion had been as follows:

‘There should be a city-wide review of admissions policies with a view to enabling a fairer and equitable admissions process. This should entail education settings and the Council working together to introduce criteria that recognise the need to serve local communities and enables better inclusion, including the local authority exploring how to encourage schools to implement criteria that provide an appropriate proportion of Pupil Premium student priority places in school applications when places are oversubscribed’.

The Chair expressed the view that the Council should particularly take on board and pursue this recommendation through the forthcoming discussion with schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.

27.

Adult social care transformation update pdf icon PDF 535 KB

Minutes:

The Commission considered a report setting out an overview of the reset Adult Social Care (ASC) transformation programme, including the approach being taken to ASC In-house services.

 

The Interim Director: Adult Social Care Transformation outlined the report. In response to the public forum statement submitted by the GMB, the following points were clarified:

* Changes to any of the projects within the transformation programme would need to be taken forward through the Council’s decision-making processes.

* There was no proposal to transfer the intermediate/rehab centre in east Bristol to Sirona.

* As indicated in the report, the South Bristol rehab service was closed in July and the management of change process for the affected staff was now close to completion.  Important lessons had been learned in relation to working with health partners and the impact on staff during the process, and these would be applied to future work.

 

Summary of main points raised:

 

1. Cllr Weston queried whether the identified saving of £800k in relation to workstream 9 (pricing control) was realistic given the rate of inflation currently.  In response, officers acknowledged that this and some other identified savings were challenging in light of national economic factors.  There was ongoing liaison and dialogue with providers over cost pressures, recognising also that a key rationale for the transformation programme was to address the fact that Bristol was a relatively high-cost outlier nationally.

 

2. In response to questions about Bristol Community Meals, it was noted that the ambition was to grow the service so that it became self-sustaining and able to generate a profit. In light of the cost of living crisis and related pressures, it was suggested that as part of developing further the business case for Bristol Community Meals, careful consideration be given to phasing any future price increases to customers that may become necessary.

 

3. In response to a question from the Chair, it was confirmed that Discharge to Assess and Home First were key programmes for the Council and health partners; the focus was to ensure a ‘whole system’ approach which maximised the flow of patients from hospital into appropriate care, either at home, into intermediate care, or residential care where this was necessary.  The Chair commented that the effectiveness of this approach might be an area for the Commission or member leads to examine in greater detail at a future point.

 

4. In response to a question from Cllr Hance, it was noted that inflation costs were factored into the care placement budget each year; regular discussions were held through a provider forum to ensure information around cost pressures (e.g. energy costs) was shared; an appropriate balance was sought through the programme between recognising the need to address the Council’s position as a high cost outlier and the need to sustain/work with the market.

 

5. In response to a question from Cllr Stone, it was confirmed that increasing the use of direct payments was an area that was being considered through the modelling, including the issues around  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Quarter 4 performance progress report 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 584 KB

Minutes:

The Commission received the quarter 4 performance progress report 2021-22.

 

At the suggestion of the Chair, it was agreed that at the next meeting, the latest performance progress and risk management reports should be taken as the first substantive items of business at the next meeting of the Commission on 28 November.

 

The Commission RESOLVED:

To note the report and the above information.

 

29.

Quarter 1 corporate risk management report 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission received the quarter 1 corporate risk management report 2022-23.

 

The Commission RESOLVED:

To note the report.

 

30.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 189 KB

Minutes:

The Commission RESOLVED:

To note the latest update of the work programme.