Venue: Council Chamber, Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street, London E8 1EA. View directions
Contact: Martin Bradford Email: (email@example.com)
Apologies for Absence
1.1 Apologies for absence were received from:
· Cllr Lee-Laudat Scott;
· Cllr Lynne Troughton;
· Cllr Ifraax Samatar.
1.2 Members connecting on-line:
· Cllr Margaret Gordon (Vice Chair)
· Cllr Anya Sizer
· Chanelle Paul (Co-opted Member)
Urgent Items / Order of Business
2.1 The Chair indicated that an item on Unregistered Educational Settings was scheduled for this meeting, but as the council is in a pre-election period due to the current by-election being held in Cazenove ward, it was agreed to defer this item to a later date (May 2024) given the significant community interest in that ward in this subject.
2.2 The Chair also reminded members to avoid conversations which may specifically concern issues relating to Cazenove ward.
2.3 There were no late items and the business of the meeting was as published.
Declarations of Interest
3.1 The following declarations were received:
· Jo Macleod was governor at a school in Hackney and was a parent of a child with additional needs.
· Cllr Anya Sizer was a parent of a child with SEN.
To review the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership Annual Report (2022/23).
4.1 The City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP) annual report is a standing item within the Commission’s work programme. This report allows the Commission to have oversight of local child safeguarding work which can in turn guide and inform topics selected for future scrutiny.
4.2 The Chair thanked Jim Gamble, Independent Commissioner for Child Safeguarding for the CHSCP annual report which provided a comprehensive account of safeguarding activity across Hackney. The Independent Commissioner thanked all local agencies for their contributions to the 2022/23 report and highlighted the following key issues to members present:
· The report derailed progress against key safeguarding priorities. The report primarily responded to CHSCP priorities for 2022/23, including staff wellbeing. The wellbeing of the local workforce was critical in delivering high quality services and in the effective safeguarding of local children. A staff safeguarding survey revealed that there was much willingness to engage with CHSCP and staff on the whole indicated that they were well supported by their line managers.
· There was a need for safeguarding organisations to engage further with local housing providers and with voluntary sector organisations to raise awareness, extend networks of good practice and support information sharing.
· Child Q update report response was disappointing in that the police did not acknowledge institutional racism in the force for which there was a growing body of evidence to support this.
· Since the publication of the Child Q review, all local agencies had committed to anti-racist policies and practice, yet to date there was little tangible evidence of these being applied and this was being followed up by the CHSCP.
· The CHSCP spoke to children in their own environment which was a positive development in helping to reach the authentic voice of children and young people. The CHSCP would be teaming up with other agencies to further develop this approach for this year.
· There is a national programme of ‘getting the basics right’ in safeguarding, but the view of local practitioners here in Hackney was that this approach was too Eurocentric and would need to be adapted with the project lead (NSPCC) when applied in the borough.
· The reviews that the CHSCP undertake are highlighting a number of new issues for the locality, such as the management of sex offenders within the community. A local case referral had promoted a broader assessment of provision to identify if there were any systems that needed to be strengthened.
· Working Together had been consulted upon by the government to implement a number of developments to local safeguarding arrangements. Whilst some of these were welcomed others were felt to be untested. Of particular concern was the suggested removal of the Independent Chair from local partnerships to be replaced by the Head of Children's Services as this would raise questions about accountability and the ability to provide independent challenge to local safeguarding arrangements. It was suggested that this weakened local safeguarding arrangements, and this was the view of Hackney and many other local safeguarding partnershipss who also did not support ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
A question and answer session with Deputy Mayor Bramble on pre-agreed policy areas:
a) Free School Meals and Food Poverty in Schools;
b) School Estates Strategy.
5.1 Cabinet members who have responsibility for children and young people's services are invited to the Commission annually to enable members to scrutinise services within their portfolio. The Commission may identify up to three service areas on which to focus questioning which the Cabinet member can provide verbal responses. For this session, Deputy Mayor Bramble and Cabinet Member for Education, Young People and Children’s Social Care was invited to respond to questions on 2 policy areas which the Commission had selected:
· Free School Meals (FSM) and Childhood Food Poverty;
· Next steps in school estate strategy.
5.2 Since the time when the policy areas were agreed and questions submitted in November 2023, members noted that there had been a number of key developments which had taken place in relation to these policy areas:
1. The Mayor of London had announced the extension of the free universal FSM provision for all primary school pupils to July 2025.
2. The Cabinet decision to close / merge schools was called-in and discussed by the Scrutiny Panel on the 9th January 2024. The focus of that discussion was on the evidence relating to the decision to close /merge the schools. The focus for this session is on what happens next, those plans to support children, families and their schools agreed for closure / merger and future preparations for likelihood of ongoing falling rolls in both primary and secondary school sectors.
Questions on Free School Meals (FSM) and Childhood Food Poverty;
5.3 Can the Cabinet member update the Commission on the Local Authority’s work to address childhood food poverty and support the extension of FSM in schools (as set out in the recommendations of the Tackling Food Poverty in Education report), in particular:
1. The development of a local action plan to support the strategy and how this is being overseen and implemented by the Cost of Living Board;
2. Setting up of School Food Trust to support schools to carry on FSM provision after cessation of Mayor of London’s FSM programme (7/24);
3. Plans to establish a local FSM auto-enrolment procedure for local parents and schools;
4. How local voluntary sector organisations are being supported to work with local schools to provide healthy, nutritious and cost effective school meals;
5. Changes to Capital Programme to facilitate maintained schools to update and or extend school kitchen facilities:
6. How the £300k of additional investment announced in August has been used to support the delivery of the above plans;
7. Progress in developing planning restrictions which prevent new fast food outlets within 250 metres of schools and education settings.
5.4 The following is a summary of Deputy Mayor Bramble’s response to the questions above:
· Given the introduction of FSM across London by the Mayor of London, there has had to be a change of focus to ensure that there was longer term sustainability of local schemes. In addition, there was a need to ensure that local school meals were cost effective and of high nutritional value to ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To note and agree the work programme for the remainder of the municipal year 2023/24.
6.1 Members noted the work programme for the remainder of the municipal year:
February 2024 Agenda:
· Session will be devoted to proposed changes to local Children Centres. The proposals are due to have been published on 12th Jan for consideration at Cabinet on 22nd January.
· These papers will inform scrutiny and will be distributed informally as soon as they are published.
· The Commission will need to plan how to scrutinise the session and consider, aside from officers, who it may wish to invite to attend (e.g. local parent’s groups).
March 2024 Agenda
· EBSA item, the Commission is working on an invitation to a specialist independent agency as well as two local heads teachers.
2024/25 work programme
· The Commission needs to consider those items early on in the work programme for 2024/25 given the proximity of meeting dates (June and July)
· June 2024 - Joint meeting with Living in Hackney - Youth Justice and Housing for care leavers.
· July 2024 - Childcare Sufficiency - new free childcare entitlement, wraparound childcare.
To note and agreed the minutes of the previous meeting.
7.1The minutes of the 30th November 30th 2023 and 18th December 2023 were noted and agreed.
7.2 Actions arising:
Action: HE to provide data on the proportion of children with an EHCP who move from one mainstream school to another who are a) moving to a Hackney school and b) who are new to the borough.
- These have been requested and will be included in the February agenda.
Action: Pupil movement has been added to the draft work programme for 2024/25, noting that it will require further scoping (to include more demographic analysis).
- Noted for next year's work programme development.
Action: Scrutiny would present a number of questions to Children’s Social Care which it was unable to ask due to time limitations. Responses to these questions would be published in a future scrutiny agenda.
- These have been requested and will be included in the February agenda.
Action: That further information on the future funding of OBIS beyond 2023/24 would be provided to the Commission.
- This has been raised with Director of Children’s Social Care and Group Director
Action: The scrutiny officer will develop the aims and objectives for the review in liaisons with the Commission and, once Cabinet members and officers have been consulted, create a work schedule for delivery.
- This has commenced and a draft was planned for the February 2024 meeting.
Agreed: a) Minutes of the 30th November 2023
b) Minutes of the 18th December 2023.
Any Other Business
Date of the next meeting: 19th February 2024.
8.1 The next meeting of the Commission will be held on 19th February 2024.
8.2 There was no other business and the meeting concluded at 9.10pm.