Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Board (Children and Families) - Wednesday, 6th September, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR. View directions

Contact: Rob Clayton (0113 37 88790)  Email:

Link: to View Meeting Recording

No. Item


Mr E A Britten - Church Representative (Catholic)




Mr N Tones – School Staff Representative

Ms H Bellamy – School Staff Representative

Ms L Whittaker – Young Live Leeds

Ms K Blacker

Ms J Ward


Appeals Against Refusal of Inspection of Documents

To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 25* of the Access to Information Procedure Rules (in the event of an Appeal the press and public will be excluded).


(* In accordance with Procedure Rule 25, notice of an appeal must be received in writing by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting).


There were no appeals.


Exempt Information - Possible Exclusion of the Press and Public

1.  To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.


2.  To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.


3.  If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-


RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as follows:


No exempt items have been identified.


There were no exempt items.


Late Items

To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration.


(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes.)


There were no formal late items.


Declaration of Interests

To disclose or draw attention to any interests in accordance with Leeds City Council’s ‘Councillor Code of Conduct’.


No interests were raised.


Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.


Apologies were received on behalf of Cllr Senior and Cllr Stephenson. Councillor Amanda Carter attended in place of Councillor Stephenson.


Apologies were also received from Co-Opted Member Mr Andrew Graham and Julie Longworth, Director of Children and Families.


Minutes - 5 July 2023 pdf icon PDF 166 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 5 July 2023


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the previous meeting held 5th July 23, be approved as an accurate record.

Chairs Comment - Joint Ofsted/CQC Thematic Visit - Alternative Provision

The Chair indicated that the Board would briefly turn to an item that was not contained in the agenda pack for the meeting. This was an update on a Joint Ofsted/CQC Thematic Visit of alternative provision in Leeds. Given the timing of the visit it was felt appropriate to hear a brief update on this visit to Leeds.


Phil Evans, Chief Officer Service Transformation and Partnerships, provided the update.


The purpose of the visit is to:


·  find out the extent to which alternative provision is meeting the health, care and/or education needs of children and young people

·  better understand the purposes for which alternative provision is used

·  identify the enablers and barriers to local area partners working together to commission and oversee alternative provision placements 

·  highlight good practice in commissioning and oversight arrangements for alternative provision


Inspectors from Ofsted and the CQC will be in person in Leeds week commencing 18th September and in the interim period colleagues across the Council and partners will be preparing information for the visit and will be sharing that with the inspectors.


This type of visit should not be confused with Area Joint SEND Inspections. Whilst similar in length there are important differences in the focus of the two types of visit. An Alternative Provision thematic visit looks at alternative provision from a national, systems perspective, which means that all of the findings will be collated into a national report. There is no judgement attached to the visit, and no published letter or report that covers specific Leeds findings.


Following questions from Board Members, the following additional detail was provided:

  • The visit will include meetings with parents, children and practitioners with a survey provided to these groups for completion as part of the evidence gathering process.
  • Formal feedback from the thematic visit will be provided on the final day of the three-week visit to the nominated officer from the Council and also the ICB.
  • The report from the visit is expected to be published in November.



The independent review of children’s social care (Macalister Review) – Implementation Update pdf icon PDF 303 KB

To receive a report from the Director of Children and families setting out an update on implementation of the Macilster Review in Leeds.


The report of the Director of Children and Families provided a summary of the national Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, led by Josh MacAlister, and the government response to this review and implementation of its recommendations – the ‘Stable Homes Built on Love’ strategy and consultation. This item also considered the work in Leeds to keep and bring Leeds children closer to home, both through preventative and edge of care support and the approach to placements and the residential estate for children looked after.


The following were in attendance for this item:

  • Farrah Khan, Chief Officer Family Help
  • Clare Slaney, Head of Service Area Social Care
  • Councillor Pryor Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education
  • Councillor Venner, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships


Councillor Venner, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships introduced the report setting out the similarities in approach between existing practice in Leeds and the approach recommended in the Independent Review, a key theme being the moving of resource from crisis prevention into early intervention and prevention which has been a key focus in practice in Leeds for a number of years.


It was noted that Leeds is not a pathfinder local authority area which are being established as part of the government response to the independent review, and it was felt that this was to encourage local authorities who had not previously been involved in that type of activity, or who had been assessed as outstanding via Ofsted inspection, to be identified as pathfinders and to develop best practice approaches.


In terms of the Leeds response to the recommendations in the MacAlister Review, Cllr Venner highlighted the ongoing expansion of Early Help Hubs from three to seven, increases in the number of children’s homes to address issues around sufficiency of placements and edge of care work in Leeds is already active in terms of keeping children close to home and in their families where it is safe to do so. Kinship care is already a key element of the services offered by Leeds with many more placements in kinship care than the national average and Leeds has previously been highlighted by an All-Parliamentary Group in terms of good practice in relation to kinship care.


The Chair added that when looking through the report it is clear that Leeds is an exemplar in terms of practice that is already embedded in how the city works.


Responding to question from members the following discussion points were raised:

  • On recruitment and retention there are significant workforce pressures in social work currently. Leeds has already established a newly qualified social work programme over a two-year period which includes well-being support and resilience. However, recruitment remains a problem with less people coming into the profession and more social workers leaving. Leeds does offer an apprenticeship programme with 13 unqualified staff working towards qualification through apprenticeships and also the ‘step up’ programme which supports recruitment to the profession.
  • In terms of recent recruitment and existing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.


Impact of asylum changes on children in Leeds pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To consider a report from the Director of Children and Families setting out how recent changes to the asylum system have impacted children in Leeds.


The report from the Director of Children and Families set out how recent changes to the asylum system in the UK has impacted children in Leeds.

The following were in attendance for this item:

  • Farrah Khan, Chief Officer Family Help
  • Patsy Burrows, Head of Service Corporate Parenting
  • Sara Townend, Principal Legal Officer
  • Jonathan Nevill, Service Delivery Manager
  • Councillor Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education
  • Councillor Venner, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships


Councillor Venner, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships introduced the report highlighting the particular impact of recent changes on Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC). These children often arrive in Leeds having experienced significant trauma, in some cases having escaped difficult, inhumane conditions and very difficult journeys to arrive in the United Kingdom. This means that they often present in Leeds with very complex needs and mental health challenges. A further challenge relates to the age at which young people arrive in Leeds, typically aged 16/17 years old meaning that they often very quickly become care leavers and are at an age where finding placements in foster care can be difficult due to availability of suitable places.


The Executive Member also highlighted some funding challenges linked to meeting the needs of UASC both in Leeds and nationally with a particular impact on border area councils such as Kent. In addition, there are problems associated with age assessments for UASC arriving in the country. This has led to young people being wrongly identified as an adult and subsequently being placed in inappropriate provision. 30 out of 35 UASC who were referred for further assessment due to concerns about the accuracy of age assessments were then identified as being a child or young person.


Despite this Leeds delivers positive work in this area an example highlighted by Cllr Venner was the ‘Cooked with Love’ project which saw the creation of a cookbook through a joint project between the Council and British Library containing recipes from the UASC young people that have arrived in the city. The book will live in the British Library forever and is provided to all UASC that arrive in Leeds.


Responding to question from members the following discussion points were raised:

  • In terms of age assessments and UASC being wrongly identified as adults, the board were informed that the age assessment carried out in the ports in Kent are not as detailed as those carried out in Leeds. Following identification of an individual who may be under 18 through welfare assessment in the hotels used in Leeds, a ‘Merton Assessment’ is carried out promptly, often within days of arriving in Leeds. This is a full assessment which can lead to a more accurate picture of age being determined. This can be time consuming and involve several appointments with appropriately qualified social workers and interpreters these can take between 6 and 8 weeks to finalise. There are no additional costs associated with this other than the use of officer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.


Provision of EHCP support – Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services that presents, for agreement, the revised terms of reference for the planned scrutiny inquiry into the provision of EHCP support in Leeds. This document reflects discussion held at the July board meeting when draft terms of reference were considered.

Additional documents:


The report of the Head of Democratic Services set out Terms of Reference for Board Members to agree to guide the inquiry into the Provision of EHCP support in Leeds.


The following were in attendance for this item:

  • Councillor Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education
  • Councillor Venner, Executive Member for Children Social Care and Health Partnerships
  • Farrah Khan, Chief Officer Family Help
  • Phil Evans, Chief Officer Transformation and Partnerships
  • Ben Allchin Statutory Provision & Assessment Lead
  • Sandra Pentelow Deputy Head of Business Administration


The Principal Scrutiny Advisor presented a report setting out the revised Terms of Reference for the inquiry into the provision of EHCP support in Leeds. This followed consideration of a draft terms of reference at the July Board meeting with the Terms of Reference presented today taking account of member amendments made in July.


Members were also informed of a change in the scope of the inquiry which will now feature the findings of independent work being carried out by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) into EHCP support in the city.


The Board were also reminded that a remote Working Group on the EHCP inquiry will take place on 22 September at 10.00AM.


The Chief Officer Transformation and Partnerships provided some additional context on the PWC work. They are currently conducting the work and will attend the planned working group on the 22 September, at that meeting an update will be provided by PWC on their initial findings and hypotheses. In addition, discussion will take place on future work both in terms of PWC and the Children and Families Scrutiny Board and seeking to align those two work streams.


Responding to questions from members the following discussion points were raised:


  • The Board were keen to ensure that stakeholder consultation was thorough, and that parents, young people and carers were contacted as part of the PWC work and were keen to be involved in engagement with stakeholders as part of the inquiry, if appropriate and in conjunction with PWC.
  • The Board also raised wider concerns around school SEN support for children who have additional needs but do not fall into the EHCP support category. In Leeds there is Funding For Inclusion (FFI), and it was thought that the inquiry could cover aspects of this around timeliness of funding being provided to support children and young people in school. The Board were also assured that the PWC work is broader than just the statutory framework of EHCPs and will cover FFI as well.




The Board:


a)  Approved the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into the Provision of EHCP Support in Leeds, including the work being undertaken by PWC

b)  Noted the scheduling of a remote Working Group on 22 September at 10.00AM to begin consideration of this inquiry through a report from the directorate and attendance from PWC.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 143 KB

To consider the Scrutiny Board’s work programme for the 2023/24 municipal year.

Additional documents:


The report of the Head of Democratic Services presented a report setting out the Board’s work programme for the 2023/24 municipal year. Appended to the submitted report were a copy of the work programme and the Executive Board minutes from the meeting held Wednesday, 26th July 2023.


Responding to a question on the planned school attendance update scheduled for the October Board meeting, The Principal Scrutiny Adviser noted that the item has been scoped based on member comments from the June meeting of the Board and will include some of the challenges linked to children and young people who are struggling to attend school settings due to additional needs and support requirements, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic but also more broadly.


RESOLVED – To note the contents of the report and work schedule for the 2023/24 municipal year.




Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next public meeting of the Board will take place on 4 October 2023 at 10.00am. There will be a pre-meeting for all board members at 9.30am


RESOLVED – To note the date and time of the next meeting as Wednesday, 4th October 2023 at 10am (with a pre-meeting for Board members at 9:30am)


The meeting concluded at 12.05PM.