Agenda and minutes

Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 1st December, 2022 1.30 pm

Venue: Bridges Room - Civic Centre

Contact: Rosalyn Patterson E-mail: 

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Burnett, Cllr Davison, Cllr McCartney, Cllr McMaster, Cllr M Ord and co-opted member Rachel Walton.


Minutes of last meeting pdf icon PDF 73 KB

The Committee is asked to approve as a correct record the minutes of the last meeting held on 20 October 2022


RESOLVED    -           That the minutes of the meeting held on 20 October 2022 be

approved as a correct record.


Performance Management and Improvement Framework - Six Month Report pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Report of Strategic Director, Resources and Digital

Additional documents:


Committee received the Performance Management and Improvement Framework (PMIF) for the first six months of 2022/23, 1 April to 30 September 2022.


Following consultation the new PMIF focuses on six policy objectives from the Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the most relevant to this Committee being; Give Every Child the Best Start to Life.


A number of cross-cutting areas have emerged over the last six months, including;


·        Budget pressures – an increase to £55m funding gap

·        Increased demand pressures particularly in terms of Children’s Social Care

·        Impact of Brexit and the conflict in Ukraine in terms of costs facing local people and delivery of council services

·        Widening inequality gap – 2% increase in the number of people who are considered vulnerable

·        Staffing pressures across the Council presents challenges in delivering services


A presentation was given on the deep dive work undertaken around placement sufficiency which continues to be an area of challenge.  It was acknowledged that work continues on reducing demand through supporting families to prevent children from coming into care or to enable them to return to families where it is safe to do so.


The Early Help Offer aims to keep families together through such things as respite day care, parenting support groups and courses.  In addition, a good Edge of Care Service is essential, to provide a robust assessment of need and make sure intervention plans are in place.


A key part of the priorities is to look at how to help children return home, what can be put in the household to make that possible. This involves reunification planning as a partnership, not just Social Care.


A Trauma Informed Care Model is due to be implemented early in the new year, this will involve work with Children’s Homes to look at how the service responds to support those young people.


The Mockingbird programme is working well to create sufficiency of places and work is ongoing to look at how to broaden the model across Foster Carers to ensure all children and young people have that extended family.


Transitional Care Planning is in place for children with complex needs, work is ongoing towards a better model so that there are more flexible routes.


It was noted that there are currently 38 children and young people placed outside of Gateshead in residential provision and this number needs to be reduced. In order to bring this young people into the Gateshead, additional provision is required in the following areas; child sexual exploitation, therapeutic support, multiple and complex needs and children with disabilities. It was acknowledged that the key challenge is ensuring the right care and accommodation is available in Gateshead, however, as is the same in other local authorities, this resource does not exist.


It was reported that there has been a huge increase in the number of Independent Foster Association’s (IFA) being used. The aim is to reduce the number of children in IFA’s as these cost more and the money could be better invested for in-house foster carers.  ...  view the full minutes text for item F64


SEND Local Offer and Tribunal Update and Inclusion in Mainstream pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Children’s Social Care and Lifelong Learning


The Committee received reports and a presentation on the local offer, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities tribunals and the inclusion in mainstream schools.


It was reported that 16.5% of children in Gateshead have some degree of SEND, 52% of Gateshead pupils with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) are taught within special schools, this compares to regional and national figure of 35%. There has been a 70.9% increase in the number of Gateshead EHCPs over the last eight years with a 117% increase in plans being issued for the first time.  It was reported that in January 2022, 15.9% of children in Gateshead had special needs and a quarter of those children had EHCPs.  It was noted that Gateshead is the highest in the region for the number of school age pupils with an EHCP, this is higher than the national average.


In terms of what is going well, over the last year SENDCo Networks and Cluster Meetings have been developed. Larger cluster meetings are now held for all SENDCos and half termly SENDCo Network Meetings. Training is provided and information shared by SEND teams to their schools to create a more inclusive environment. SENDCos also have access to the digital SENDCO handbook which provides clear information on services and guidance on completing paperwork. There is a dedicated SENDCO inbox which is triaged to ensure queries are directed to the correct place.


There are eight Additionally Resourced Mainstream Schools (ARMS) units in Gateshead with the main remit to look at integration into mainstream whilst providing specialist support. It was noted that there have been some positive success stories from the ARMS units with one EHCP being removed completely and the child returning to mainstream provision.  There has been the creation of an Inclusion Lead post which will oversee all teams involved with SEND, which will help to organise and streamline the systems.


In terms of the Local Offer, there has been a lot of work undertaken to make it more accessible and easier to travel through. In addition, the SENDCo handbook is not restricted so all parents and carers can access this.


In relation to SEND Tribunals it was noted that the service is working well with parents to resolve matters prior to actual appeal hearing. It was reported that of the 145 lodged, only 14 had gone to a final hearing.


The challenges remain that there are inconsistencies in approaches to inclusion in schools, with some schools feeling they do not have the knowledge, skills or capacity to be as inclusive as they need to be.  It was also noted that the places at ARMS are limited and additional provision is required which would alleviate the demand for places in special schools.  A further challenge is the increase in demands for statutory assessment, this places an enormous strain on the team and the Education Psychologist team is overwhelmed by referrals.


Further challenge around the Local Offer is maintaining the accuracy of information on the site with constant work  ...  view the full minutes text for item F65


Safeguarding Children - MASA and Business Plan pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Report of Strategic Director, Children’s Social Care and Lifelong Learning

Additional documents:


Committee received the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements (MASA) document for 2022-24.  The document sets out how the services will work together with other agencies to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in Gateshead.


The document was implemented in 2019 following new legislation on transitioning from the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.  The reviewed and updated document now includes reference to the changes from the CCG to the ICB and includes the strategic functions in place to safeguard children.


The new Gateshead Safeguarding Children Partnership’s Business Plan sets out the strategic business direction, identifying specific priorities;

·        GSCP leading the safeguarding agenda

·        Learning lessons

·        Embedding good practice and continually influenced by the views of children and young people


The document will be published on line by the end of the week.


RESOLVED    -           That the Committee noted the contents of the MASA, including

the statutory responsibilities and strategic functions.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 67 KB

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

Additional documents:


Committee received the work programme report which included items requested for the next municipal year.


It was suggested that the Committee should consider including in its work programme the lack of critical paediatric beds in the region and the step-down process / beds.


RESOLVED    -           (i)         That the provisional work programme for 2022/23 be



                                    (ii)        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.