Agenda and minutes

Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 5th March, 2020 1.30 pm

Venue: Whickham Room - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Rosalyn Patterson E-mail: 

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor P Craig, Councillor S Craig, Councillor Gallagher, Councillor McCartney, Councillor McMaster, Councillor Reay and co-opted member Tim Kynoch.


Minutes of last meeting pdf icon PDF 220 KB

The Committee is asked to approve as a correct record the minutes of the last meeting held on 30 January 2020


The minutes of the meeting held on 30 January 2020 were agreed as a correct record subject to Councillor Haley’s attendance being removed as he was not present.


Matters Arising

A briefing on the Sixth Form at Heworth Grange has been circulated to Labour Group it was agreed that this would also be circulated to the Liberal Democrat Group.     


0-19 Services pdf icon PDF 596 KB

Report of the Director of Public Health


Committee received a report on the work of the 0-19 Public Health Nursing Service since the start of the contract with Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (HDFT) in July 2018. The model is based on the Public Health England model which is the 4-5-6 approach for health visiting and school nursing.


It was noted that there is regular performance management with quality reporting taking place every quarter where particular key themes are looked at. In terms of 2019/20 performance the target for Health Visitor mandated visits is 85%, this has been exceeded and is being steadily maintained.  Breastfeeding status at 6-8 weeks is recorded for 99.4% of cases. Previously there were issues in relation to capturing this data electronically and this has been worked on over the past year. For the first three quarters of the year the average percentage of infants being breastfeed at 6-8 weeks is 39.4%, this was previously between 37-38% therefore progress is being made. However, performance in Newcastle continues to be higher than in Gateshead in respect of breastfeeding.


It was reported that changes have been made in terms of service provision with the introduction of electronic case management through SystmOne. This system captures, manages and reports all clinical data.


There is now a dedicated 0-19 SEND Team which offers targeted interventions around toileting, sleep, play, behaviour, communication, anxiety and routines. The Team focuses on transition years.


There is a dedicated Emotional Resilience Nurse who provides advice, consultation, training and professional support for staff. This nurse will help schools to develop strategies to ensure emotional wellbeing needs of the whole school, this is through school assemblies, group work and virtual drop ins.


There is a dedicated thematic lead for infant feeding to increase figures and achieve stage 2 accreditation of the Baby Friendly Initiative. Antenatal support is offered as well as a full breastfeeding assessment at the newborn visit.


The Integrated Referral Team (IRT) now has a Specialist Nurse Child Protection within the team which was not part of the original model.


It was reported that the Growing Healthy Pathway was launched in December, this is a Health Visitor led pathway supporting families through the early identification of need. This allows an enhanced offer of support including increased contacts.


It was noted that equality and diversity principles are embedded across the service which allows different needs to be responded to. For example, there is a special Jewish clinic for Jewish families as well as virtual drop ins.


Committee was advised that a strong digital strategy is in place and there is a big following on various social media channels. Work is ongoing to support young people in school transitions and staff health and wellbeing.


It was questioned how the current service compares to what was in place previously. It was noted that there are now good working relationships with Harrogate and District Trust and therefore officers are able to identify what is not working well and how this can be improved. Staff are now  ...  view the full minutes text for item F43


Social Work Recruitment and Retention / Quality of Social Work Practice - Performance Update pdf icon PDF 420 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Children, Adults and Families


Committee received a report around Social Work recruitment and retention and performance update.


It was noted that the current picture is quite positive, in May 2019 the Ofsted inspection commented on the stable and skilled workforce. The situation remains stable and currently the service is recruiting four permanent posts in both the Edge of Care and LAC teams.


Average caseload for social workers is 17, however some will have slightly more or less than this based on experience. Last year the Principal Social Worker survey was conducted and the results were very positive. On a scale of 0 to 10, (10 being very much), 84% of respondents selected 7 or above in relation to feeling safe, supported and confident to practice social work in Gateshead. The survey also identified the positives about working for Gateshead, these include continuing practice development, good management support, peer support and quality of staff.


In the last 12 months sickness absence has reduced from 9.6 days to 7.42 days per full time equivalent. Therefore the number of days lost reduced from 1540 to 1048.  Stress, depression, anxiety, mental health and fatigue remain the biggest cause of sickness absence.


The gender balance of social workers is predominantly women, this means regular maternity leave needs to be managed through temporary vacancies.


RESOLVED    -           (i)         That the Committee will continue to campion the work

undertaken by the Council’s Children and Families

Social Workers


                                    (ii)        That the Committee noted the content of the report


                                    (iii)       That the Committee agreed to receive regular reports

from the C&F Principal Social Worker regarding issues affecting the workforce recruitment and retention.


Special School Provision and Developments pdf icon PDF 319 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Children, Adults and Families


A report was presented on changes and developments to special school provision. It was noted that regular meetings are held with special school Head Teachers to talk about provision, pressure points and how transition is arranged.


At present there is pressure in terms of places and what capacity there is within Gateshead. It was noted that Eslington has expanded its provision but is now full and there are waiting lists for all special schools. It was confirmed that this is a national picture.


Conversations have been ongoing with Head Teachers and officers around future designation and gaps have been identified around behaviour provision and for those with anxiety and autism with complex needs.


The point was made that there needs to be more strategic thinking so that we can work with schools to provide what young people need and not just be reactive. It was confirmed that the SEND Strategy looks to feed into the strategy where the needs are. In addition through the annual needs assessment the service tries to respond to where the need is.


It was recognised that there is a bigger SEN population than the schools can cater for. In addition, the special schools are also supporting typical Cedars pupils to be in mainstream schools.


Committee was advised that there has been a 46% increase in Education Health Care Plans since 2015. In terms of the tribunal system this will only look at a particular child’s needs at that point in time regardless of how many other children are waiting for places.


Committee agreed it would be useful to carry out a visit to a Special School.


RESOLVED    -           That the Committee continue to receive an annual report on

Special schools and provision.


SEND Update pdf icon PDF 326 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Children, Adults and Families


A report was presented on progress made in relation to ensuring the needs of children and young people with SEND are being met.


The increase in EHC Plan reflects the national picture. Gateshead is slightly above the 2% national average of the total 0-25 year old population with an EHC Plan at 2.1%.  In terms of SEN Support, the number of children in receipt of this has increased from 3400 to 3471 which equates to 11.5% of all pupils in Gateshead.  Guidance has been prepared for all Gateshead settings to clarify what expectations are.


There continues to be pressures on special schools, there are now 641 pupils and 63 are in out of borough provision. There has been increases in all areas of need.


The SEND Strategy Group has been re-established and is looking at key transition points and the support to early years providers to improve inclusion for children with SEND.


The next steps include; reviewing the ARMS provision, review the need for increased SEMH provision, consider a reduction in central teams funded via high needs block and reducing the numbers accessing alternative provision.


RESOLVED    -           That the Committee noted the update on how the Council is

meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND and agreed the next steps outlined in the report.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 107 KB

Joint Report of the Chief Executive and Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance

Additional documents:


The Committee received the work programme report setting out the provisional work programme for the Committee for the year 2019/20.


RESOLVED    -           (i)         That Committee noted the provisional work



                                    (ii)        That Committee noted that further reports on the work

programme will be brought to the Committee to identify any additional policy issues, which the Committee may be asked to consider.