Agenda and minutes

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Note No. Item



Items Requiring Urgent Attention

Items which in the opinion of the Chair should be considered at the meeting as matters of urgency.

Additional documents:


There was no matter raised as a matter of urgency.



Public Participation

Members of the public may make representations/presentations on any substantive matter listed in the published agenda for this meeting, as set out hereunder, relating to a specific matter or an examination of services or facilities provided or to be provided.

Additional documents:


There were no oral representations from members of the public.





Scrutiny Committee Work Programme

In accordance with previous practice, Scrutiny Committees are requested to review the list of forthcoming business and determine which items are to be included in the Work Programme.


The Committee may also wish to review the content of the Cabinet Forward Plan and the Children’s Services Risk Register to see if there are any specific items therein it might wish to explore further.


Additional documents:


The Committee received an update on the Scrutiny Work Programme.




SEND Improvement pdf icon PDF 857 KB

Report of the Head of Education and Learning, CS/21/01, attached. 


A full written report on the actions taken to deliver the Local Area SEND Written Statement of Action and progress since the report was published in January 2019.


Additional documents:


The Committee received a Report of the Head of Education & Learning (CS/21/01) updating Members on the actions taken and progress made in implementing the Written Statement of Action (WSOA) following the SEND

review in January 2019.


The Report provided a summary of progress against the 4 areas of improvement identified in the SEND Review, which were:


A.    Strategic plans and the local area’s SEND arrangements were not embedded or widely understood by stakeholders including schools, settings, staff and parents and carers;

B.    The significant concerns that were reported about communication with key stakeholders, particularly with parents and families;

C.   The time it took to issue Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and the variable quality of these plans. Plans did not consistently capture a child and young person’s needs and aspirations so that they were a valuable tool to support the planning and implementation of education, health and care provision to lead to better lived experiences for the child and their families; and,

D.   Weaknesses in the identification, assessment, diagnosis and support of those children and young people with autism spectrum disorder.


The Head of Service advised that the local area strategy for SEND included input from all areas of Education, Health and Care.  The Report included bullet points highlighting what had already been achieved and blue text which highlighted the impact of the actions taken to date. Key points highlighted within the Report included:


Section A:

·       The Local Offer Webpage had been redesigned in consultation with all users over the last 12 months and was due to be launched in February.

·       Induction training for all staff – this had now been rolled out to over 7,000 people and had been recognised as good practice by NASEN and was being rolled out nationally.

·       SEND Strategy – the Council’s policy had been due to run from 2017-2020, so it was business as usual to update strategy. The new SEND Strategy 2021-2024 had been widely consulted on, and would be launched in January 2021. 

·       SEND Transformation Programme – aimed to improve parents and young peoples lived experienced of SEN support by designing and implementing an integrated service that worked together to ensure young people received the right support at the right time. 


Section B:

·       Communication and Engagement – there had been an increase in the number of parents engaged with the Parent Carer Forum.

·       Parent Ambassador programme – parents were supporting other parents

·       Young Person led Champions for Change – work had moved forward despite the challenge of pupils not being in school.


Section C:

·       The number pupils with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) had increased and there had been no slow in the level of demand.

·       The number of plans issued on time had increased from 3% in 2019 to 68% in 2020 and was expected to rise to 73% by May 2021.

·       The pandemic had impacted the timeliness of some EHCPs.  The Council saw a reduction in the number of plans issued in June 2020, after the first  ...  view the full minutes text for item 204.



Domestic Violence and Abuse and Early Help pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Report of the Head of Public Health Nursing (CS/21/02), attached.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a Report of the Head of Public Health Nursing (CS/21/02) providing an update on the work to address domestic violence and abuse across Devon with a focus on Early Help arrangements.


The Report highlighted that the Community Safety Strategic Assessment brought together key information to assess crime, disorder and safety issues across Devon, which included domestic abuse. The Assessment for financial year 2019-20 showed a 3% increase in incidents recorded by the police linked to domestic abuse in Devon (11,000 incidents, 16.8 incidents per 1,000 population) on the previous year. There had been a steady increase in referrals and requests into domestic abuse services for specialist support for victims of domestic abuse in Devon in recent years, and a sharp increase since the Spring COVID-19 lockdown.


The Specialist Domestic Abuse Support Service for Devon commissioned by

Devon County Council and led by Splitz Support Service had seen a 60% increase in calls in April 2020 compared to April 2019. This demand had since eased but was still around 50% higher than the previous year. An increase in the complexity of cases included mental health and drug and alcohol issues

being worsened by lockdown pressures, child contact issues, perpetrators

moving back into the family home and other factors. The Council had

responded to these pressures by allocating an additional £250k of funding

from the COVID-19 emergency funding received from Government.


In addition to the £250k, the Council had allocated £150k of COVID-19 emergency funding to strengthen the ability of the multiagency Early Help locality teams to provide direct support to families experiencing domestic abuse where appropriate. Additional funds had also been allocated to enable locality teams to commission support for children and families to recover from the impact of abuse.


The Council currently had no specific statutory duty in the area of domestic abuse support services. The Domestic Abuse Bill that was before Parliament would introduce a new duty on the Council to provide domestic abuse support for victims and their children who were living in safe accommodation.


Discussion points with Members included:


  • funding for the Service was fragile and relied on short term grant funding. Further involvement from Scrutiny to look at how a more robust and sustainable service could be created was welcomed.
  • work was ongoing with colleagues from Plymouth and Torbay, looking at the lived experienceof sexual violence and abuse.
  • an update on how Operation Encompass was working during the pandemic, given that this was more difficult when a child was not in school.
  • an overview of where domestic violence was occurring across the County to ensure funding was in place to support services.
  • during the pandemic, services were working hard to engage with those individuals who could not leave their home.
  • the Active Bystander training which had been very useful and would be worthwhile rolling out to all councillors.


It was MOVED by Councillor Hannaford, SECONDED by Councillor Aves, and


RESOLVED that a reference to the Member Development Steering Group be made to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 205.


Youth Offending Service Peer Review pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Briefing on the Peer Review of Devon Youth Offending Service by Essex Youth Offending Service, attached

Additional documents:


The Committee received a briefing paper on the Peer Review of Devon Youth Offending Service by Essex Youth Offending Service.  The Report outlined that following an inspection by HMI Probation in July 2015, there were areas of excellent creative work and areas that were not so adequate within Devon Youth Offending Service.  A Peer Review was therefore undertaken by Essex Youth Offending Service, rated as Outstanding by HMI Probation in October 2018, to provide a sense check on the quality of service that was currently being delivered and serve as valuable preparation for the forthcoming HMI Probation inspection.




Children's Standing Overview Group pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Notes from the December Standing Overview Group, attached.

Additional documents:


The Committee received the notes of the Standing Overview Group from December 2020.



Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) Joint Scrutiny Group pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Report of the Chair of the RAA Joint Scrutiny Group, attached.

Additional documents:


The Committee received the Report of the Regional Adoption Agency Joint Scrutiny group from November 2020.