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The order of the agenda was changed, and items were considered in the following order:
Item 1 – Minutes
Item 2 – Declarations of Interests
Item 3 – Responses to referrals to Mayor and Cabinet
Item 6 – Lewisham Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report
Item 4 – CAMHS waiting times
Item 7 – Safeguarding Services 6 monthly report
Item 5 – Lewisham Learning Partnership
Item 8 – Provisional secondary school results
Item 9 – Elective Home Education
Item 10 – Select Committee work programme
Item 11 – Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet
It was RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 6 December be agreed as a true and accurate record of the proceedings.
Councillor Sorba declared an interest in the CAMHS waiting times. He is a member of the Council of Governors of South London and Maudsley Trust. He also delivers workshops for the SLaM Recovery College.
Kevin Mantle declared that he is a Trustee of Signal – a charity supporting families in Lewisham with autistic children. His son is also a CAMHS service user.
Councillor Holland declared that she authored the report on mental health provision for children and young people in Lewisham and therefore was precluded from participating in scrutiny of that item, other than to be questioned as a witness.
Kate Ward declared an interest in the provisional secondary school results. She is the Vice Chair of Governors of the Leatherseller’s Federation.
Responses to Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet
It was NOTED that, although a written response to the referral the Committee made on 6 December was not yet due, the Mayor and Cabinet had agreed to pause proposals to cut health visitor posts, pending a review of the public health budget.
4.1 Caroline Hirst – Joint Commissioner introduced the item. She was accompanied by Harold Bennison - Interim Service Director CAMHS at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Martin Wilkinson – Managing Director of NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Dr Omer Moghraby – Clinical Lead and Consultant Psychiatrist at Lewisham CAMHS, SLaM.
4.2 In response to questions from the Committee, the following was noted:
1. Lewisham works together with other boroughs as part of a 6-borough transformation plan. Mr Bennison took up post in 2018 and has worked to ensure that all boroughs are using the same approach and definitions so that data could be accurately compared.
2. The “52 week wait” referred to the time taken between referral and assessment. There could be a further wait between assessment and commencing treatment.
3. In most cases, the person carrying out the assessment would also provide treatment, unless a particular specialism was required.
4. Although there were considerably more children waiting 52 weeks to assessment in Lewisham than in comparator boroughs, the time from assessment to treatment in Lewisham had a tighter range than in these boroughs.
5. Around 40% of cases waiting 52 weeks for assessment had resolved or moved away by the time assessment came around. It was thought that in some cases the condition may be self-limiting, the patient may have practiced self-help or sought help privately. In some cases, an untreated condition could get worse and the service had received calls to that effect.
6. SLaM’s objective was that the number of patients waiting 52 weeks would be brought in line with other boroughs by 31 March 2019.
7. The number of referrals waiting 52 weeks had risen to 138 because the number of cases reaching a 52 week wait was rising faster than assessments were happening.
8. SLaM colleagues gave assurances that the focus on reducing the time between referrals and assessment would not grow the time between assessment and treatment.
9. Some Members expressed concerns about the high numbers of temporary staff (15.2 out of 64 roles). Mr Bennison explained that funding uncertainty had caused significant disruption, however recent collaboration between the commissioner and provider resulted in a different ‘feel’ and service was beginning to attract new recruits.
4.3 Councillor Holland presented the highlights of a review of mental health support for children and young people in Lewisham that she had prepared at the request of Councillor Barnham, Cabinet Member for School Improvement.
4.4 A discussion following during which the following was noted:
1. Members asked for a report back on CAMHS waiting times in 3-6 months. Officers suggested that 6 months would allow a more accurate picture.
2. Members recognised the links between mental health and the review into exclusions from school. The committee expressed its commitment to making mental health part of both the Exclusions and Early Help reviews.
3. The Cabinet Member for School Improvement and Children’s Services formally thanked Councillor Holland for conducting the review. The committee heard ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Nicky Dixon and Helen Delaney of ParentENGage will address the committee. ParentENGage is an education network group for parents and the community in Lewisham.
5.1 The time being 9:20pm, it was MOVED, SECONDED and RESOLVED that standing orders be suspended to allow for the completion of committee business.
5.2 The Chair proposed, and it was agreed that the items: Lewisham Learning Partnership, Provisional Secondary School Results and Elective Home Education would be considered together.
5.3 As regards the results, the committee noted that a more detailed report would be available in March, and would provide a breakdown of results by several categories such as eligibility for Free School Meals, gender, ethnicity, school by school. Officers had that day received the validated results and assured the committee that there was very little difference between the results as presented and the validated results.
5.4 The Chair invited Nicky Dixon and Helen Delaney of local parent education network ParentENGage to address the committee.
5.5 Ms Dixon informed the committee that:
· ParentENGage had over 100 members and 500 followers on Facebook. It considers itself to be a group of positive parents trying to promote Lewisham’s schools, with the aim that every Lewisham school should be good enough for every Lewisham child, whatever their needs.
· In her view, Lewisham Learning needed to engage more with parents. She argued that it was not transparent and needed better communication.
· In her view, GCSE results did not entice parents to apply for schools. Rather they wanted to know about the culture and ethos of schools.
· ParentENGage had arranged coffee mornings for prospective parents to meet parents of Y7 students to find out about the schools. This had not been sustainable so they had come up with the concept of a Lewisham Education Week, where all of Lewisham’s secondary schools could gather in one location and set out their stalls. This would happen in Year 5 as the time between Year 6 term starting and the deadline for applications was too short.
· Her view was that doing GCSEs over 3 years was not in the best interests of the child, and she was not in favour of Saturday catch-up tutoring.
· ParentENGage were involved in a parent resilience programme. They were training with MIND to teach resilience skills to parents in schools. They had secured some funding and were working with a primary school and 11 parent volunteers. They were keen to work with the council.
5.6 The committee then heard from Helen Delaney, also representing ParentENGage. Ms Delaney is a Trustee of Signal, a parent support group for autistic children and their families in the borough of Lewisham. Ms Delaney informed the committee that hers was not an exceptional case, rather it was similar to the experiences of many families that she had encountered at Signal.
5.7 Ms Delaney explained how her autistic son became so depressed and anxious upon transitioning to secondary school, that he required CAMHS support. She asserted that the school had failed to protect him from bullying and had not provided the SEN support described in his EHCP. She alleged that he had been punished for behaviours directly related ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 Nicky Pace, Independent Chair of the Lewisham Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), introduced the item. She highlighted that new partnership arrangements were being implemented which would meant that, by September 2019, the LSCB would be abolished, and responsibility for safeguarding would be shared between health, police and the local authority. Therefore the next annual report of the LSCB, due in approximately three months’ time, would be the last.
6.2 The following was noted in response to questions:
1. Unaccompanied minors were not covered in the report because responsibility for these children lay with the Corporate Parenting Board. The LSCB looks specifically at safety, for example where children have gone missing. Some of these children may be unaccompanied minors, but not exclusively so.
2. The difference between private fostering and a private fostering agency was clarified. The former includes, for example, a child going to live with extended family or a family friend, as had been the case for Victoria Climbie.
3. The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) was being reorganised to streamline the process or referrals to Children’s Social Care and to make thresholds more easily understood by partner agencies, such as schools, police, etc.
4. Early help was outside the remit of the LSCB.
5. The next report would provide an update on work done with fathers, as well as with children with complex needs, both of which had been subjected to high levels of scrutiny from the LSCB.
6. Two out of three serious case reviews that had been conducted in the reporting period had now been published. The other was waiting for criminal proceedings to conclude.
7. The LSCB considered that the increased risk to children of cuts to school nursing had been effectively mitigated.
6.3 It was RESOLVED that the report be noted.
7.1 Lucie Heyes, Assistant Director – Children’s Social Care, introduced the item.
7.2 The following was noted in discussion:
1. Schools consistently reported that the threshold for CSC involvement was too high. This was not unusual, however the threshold document had caused some confusion. A new document had been prepared and was currently out for consultation. Officers hoped that this would make the thresholds clearer for partners to understand.
2. There was no single threshold. Cases had to meet thresholds at various points in the process, for example
· Threshold for assessment
· Threshold for CP plan
· Threshold for care proceedings
3. The low number of referrals had caused officers to wonder whether the initial threshold was too high. However Lewisham’s figures were comparable with Southwark, Greenwich and Waltham Forest. Early decision-making in the MASH had been externally audited and found to be right and safe, and officers had confidence that the initial threshold was right.
4. The thresholds for Child Protection plans and care proceedings were comparatively low. This meant that the wrong type of intervention might be happening too soon, and threshold needed to be raised.
5. The way in which threshold decisions were made was changing. A review of Child Protection plan decisions showed that some children could have been kept safe with a Child In Need plan.
6. Caseloads were around 15 children per social worker, rising to 25 in some cases. There was a trigger when a social worker’s caseload hit 20 children.
7. The vacancy rate in January 2019 was 33%. Nearly all these vacancies were filled with agency staff, and therefore the number of actual vacancies was very low.
8. Quality of agency staff was not an issue.
9. Quality of supervision and skills of management at all levels were areas that needed work.
10. Recruitment of skilled, experienced social workers was a national problem. Lewisham usually recruits newly qualified social workers, then trains them up.
11. Capacity issues within the performance team meant that only the statutory data had been provided. A strategy had been drawn up with a view to providing data that would give a more complete picture. Councillor John Paschoud asked to see this report.
12. Schools were having to support every-increasing need in the community on decreasing budgets. It was hoped that the Early Help review would address some of these resourcing tensions.
13. Initial scoping of the Early Help review was underway. It was agreed that the committee would consider the Terms of Reference of the review to inform the scope.
7.3 It was RESOVLED that:
1. The report be noted;
2. A copy of the data strategy would be shared with Councillor John Paschoud; and
3. The Early Help Review Terms of Reference would be added to the select committee work programme.
This item was considered at the same time as Item 5 – Lewisham Learning Partnership.
This item was considered at the same time as Item 5 – Lewisham Learning Partnership.
10.1 The following amendments to the work programme were discussed and agreed:
1. Add Terms of Reference for the Early Help Review;
2. Remove duplicate item “SATs results and Secondary Challenge Update”;
3. Add “new arrangements post Lewisham Safeguarding Children Board”;
4. Move the Children’s Social Care sufficiency strategy from March to May;
10.2 The Chair drew the Committee’s attention to proposed changes to the Ofsted framework and suggested that the Committee submit a response. The Chair and Vice Chair agreed to prepare an initial draft to circulate by email, and collate the committee’s comments.
10.3 Members of the Committee requested that future agendas be shorter to allow for longer discussion of fewer items.
10.4 It was RESOLVED:
1. That the report be noted.
2. That the work programme be amended as follows:
a. Add Terms of Reference for the Early Help Review;
b. Remove duplicate item “SATs results and Secondary Challenge Update”;
c. Add “new arrangements post Lewisham Safeguarding Children Board;
d. Move the Children’s Social Care sufficiency strategy from March to May.
Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet