Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Board (Children and Families) - Wednesday, 29th November, 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 A Graham – Church Representative (Church of England)

Mr A Khitou – Primary Parent Governor Representative



Ms H Bellamy – School Staff Representative

Ms K Blacker – Co-Opted Member

Ms J Ward – Co-Opted Member


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 was no exempt information considered by the Board.


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 late items.


Declaration of Interests

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


There were no declarations of interest.


Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.


The Board received the following apologies:


Cllr F Venner - Executive Member for Children's Social Care and Health Partnerships

Cllr S Arif - Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Active Lifestyles, under item 7.

Cllr J Senior – Board Member

Nick Tones - School Staff Representative

Ms L Whitaker – Young Live Leeds

Julie Longworth – Director of Children and Families


Minutes - 4 October 2023 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 4 October 2023.


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 4 October 2023, be approved as an accurate record.


Impact of Vaping on Children and Young People pdf icon PDF 193 KB

To consider a further update report from the Head of Democratic Services on youth vaping setting out recent policy developments at Government level that impact on the work of the Board in this area. Included as an appendix to this item is a proposed consultation submission to the ‘Stopping the start: our new plan to create a smokefree generation Government’ for board comment and approval as appropriate.

Additional documents:


The Board considered an update report from the Head of Democratic Services on youth vaping setting out recent policy developments at Government level that have impacted on the work of the Board in this area. In addition, included as an appendix to this item was a proposed consultation submission to the ‘Stopping the start: our new plan to create a smokefree generation’ for board comment and approval. The consultation response was based on previous discussion at the Board when considering this item in July and October 2023.


The Principal Scrutiny Advisor noted that questions 1 to 4 of the Government consultation focussed on smoking which does not come under the remit of the Children and Families Board and had not featured in previous consideration of this work item, as a result those question were not answered in the draft submission and it was agreed that those would not be completed due to restrictions in time to formulate a response and because of the issue regarding remit, the Board’s work on this was focussed on youth vaping.


The following were in attendance for this item:


Kathryn Ingold – Chief Officer Public Health

Helen Goddard – Advanced Health Improvement Specialist

Cllr Andrew Scopes – Chair Adults Health and Active Lifestyles Scrutiny Board

Cllr Sandy Lay – Otley and Yeadon Ward


Following questions and comments from members the following discussion took place:


·  Noting the planned action by the Government through the Tobacco and Vapes Bill that featured in the King’s Speech, the Chair suggested that by submitting a response to the consultation the Board could conclude their work on youth vaping for the moment and then await further developments through the planned Government legislation before considering any further action through an update item to the Board at its first meeting in the new municipal year in June 2024. The submission to the consultation would act as the Board’s recommendations or views on this matter and would contribute to the Government’s final legislative proposals. Whilst noting potential issues with timing on the legislation this course of action was agreed to.

·  In addition to national activity on youth vaping, the Council’s Public Health Service has been active in taking local action to prevent children and young people from vaping. This has included ongoing work with West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTS), posters, leaflets, animations and lesson plans provided to schools to raise awareness of the dangers of vaping and wide ranging communications and PR through social media and press coverage on the  front page of the Yorkshire Evening Post. In terms of current compliance levels based on the work being done in partnership with WYTS there is clearly an issue with illegal vape sales and compliance. In two days of activity visiting retailers in Leeds the following was reported; Day One 18 retailers visited in total, 13 in the city centre where just 3 were complaint and 5 in Morley where 3 were compliant; Day Two 18 retailers visited in the LS10/LS11 area where just  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.


Children and Families Transformation Agenda pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To receive a report from the Director of Children and Families providing an update on the Children and Families Transformation Agenda.


The Board received a report from the Director of Children and Families providing an overview of the work being done within the Children and Families Directorate on the transformation agenda. The report outlined the resources available for delivery, the workstreams of current and potential activity and the opportunities and challenges presented in delivering this work.


The following were in attendance for this item:


·  Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education

·  Farrah Khan, Deputy Director of Children and Families – Social Work

·  Phil Evans, Chief Officer Service Transformation and Partnerships

·  Sandra Pentelow, Programme and Partnership Manager


The following issues were raised in discussion:


·  Board members welcomed plans to work more closely with colleagues in Adults Services on commissioning to assist with problems that can occur when individuals transition from children’s services to adult services and plans to lever resources on commissioning across both directorates to maximise resources and conduct joint commissioning, including with the Integrated Care Board (ICB).

·  Board members raised concerns about some of the experiences that CLA go through in Leeds following attendance at a recent takeover event focused on care leavers and those in care. Often highlighting instances of bullying, lack of knowledge amongst professionals and feeling singled out at times through their lives in care. In response the Board heard that there is priority around social work culture and social work practice to get service delivery right for those in care and care leavers not just within the Children and Families directorate but also across the partnership and other public sector organisations.

·  The Board welcomed plans for eight additional places in smaller accommodation in Leeds particularly in the context of increased costs and profits made in the private sector through fostering services and wanted to know more about plans to enhance the offer for Leeds in house foster carers. The Board were informed that a ‘mixed economy’ on foster placements was being pursued and where there is capacity in house to meet specific complex needs a targeted approach will be developed to match needs to placements. In addition, further training and support is being considered to meet complex needs that would enable more placements to meet needs whilst reducing costs and also accommodating more children and young people in the city. Increased payments to foster careers are also being considered as part of this approach.

·  Members raised questions in respect of EHCPs and legal fees that can arise through tribunals. In response members were informed of the ongoing work on EHCPs which the Board is also carrying out an inquiry on. A request was made by the Chair on legal/tribunal costs associated with EHCPs and also the percentage of tribunal cases that are won by families. It was agreed that this would be provided outside of the meeting.

·  Members referred to previous inquiry work done by the Board on transport costs within the directorate, it was agreed that a written response will be provided on this.

·  The turning the Curve work stream was mentioned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.


Refresh of the Leeds 3As Strategy pdf icon PDF 195 KB

To receive a report from the Director of Children and Families that presents an update on the refreshed 3A’s plan following previous consideration by the Board in March 2023.

Additional documents:


The Board received a report from the Director of Children and Families that presented an update on the refreshed, draft 3A’s plan following previous consideration by the Board in March 2023.


This report summarised the new 3As plan which covers 2024-2026 and has been developed following wide-ranging consultations with school leaders and review of the previous plan by service providers. Appendix 1 to the report outlined full details of the five priorities, actions and impact measures contained in the plan.


In attendance for this item were:


·  Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education

·  Farrah Khan Deputy Director of Children and Families – Social Care

·  Cath Lennon, Chief Officer Learning Capacity and Development

·  Dave Clark, Chief Officer Learning Improvement

·  Liz Canning, 0-19 Consultant


Cllr Pryor introduced the report setting out the long standing aim to improve attainment, attendance and achievement in the city which was established through the first strategy in 2018. Post covid the 3As strategy has been re-evaluated and schools are still reporting that Covid is impacting pupils in Leeds in terms of enhanced support needs particularly amongst SEND children and young people. The new strategy sets out priorities for 2024-26.


It was emphasised that the document is very much focused on feedback from schools and academic leaders and is a delivery plan for the Council to deliver against using existing resources as opposed to a plan for schools to deliver, the aim is to support educational settings to deliver their priorities.


The following discussion points were raised under this agenda item:


·  Members were interested in Action 5 in respect of secondary schools being offered KS3 reading reviews to ascertain progress in reading skills in Year 8. A question was raised in relation to students who were not at the higher levels at secondary schools but were able to ‘de-code’ and have functional literacy. Reassurance was provided that this was still part of the action to ensure that children and young people at all levels leave school with the ability to read effectively which would help them gain employment or progress into further and higher education.

·  Responding to a question around attendance and the rising number of suspensions, Board members were informed that suspensions have increased in response to some of the more challenging behaviours that are being experienced following Covid and that this was a concern within the service in terms of reducing those numbers and re-engaging children and young people in education. As discussion developed on this subject it was suggested that an update report could feature in the future on this following past Board interest in fixed term exclusions and off rolling. Leeds has consistently been an authority with one of the lowest rates of suspensions and exclusions compared to other local authorities. It was also noted that this is an issue being experienced nationally and is not unique to Leeds.

·  The Board wanted to know more about the link attendance officer in terms of how many schools they had responsibility for and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 142 KB

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

Additional documents:


The Board considered the latest position on the Board’s Work Programme for 2023/24 through the submitted report from the Head of Democratic Services.


The Scrutiny adviser highlighted the following points in relation to changes since the last iteration and other relevant information:


·  The planned EHCP inquiry session has now moved to the January meeting and will include the working group summary note from November and a planned Executive Board report on EHCPs scheduled for December.

·  There is a remote Budget Working Group for all Board members to consider the budget proposals for 2024/25 on 19 December at 1.30PM.

·  Responding to a question related to the impact of asylum changes on children and young people in Leeds, the adviser and the Chair confirmed that discussion was still ongoing in relation to the timing of it but that it was still planned to be brought back to the Board.


The Chair also noted that following the recent work on EHCPs it had become clear that the voice of parents and carers of children with SEND is an area that the Board could consider in terms of having representation in the future. It was agreed that this will be taken forward and could be considered as part of the co-opted members report in June 2024.


The meeting closed at 12.25PM.


Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next public meeting of the Board will take place on 24 January 2024 at 10.00am. There will be a pre-meeting for all board members at 9.45am


The next public meeting of the Board will take place on 24 January 2024 at 10.00am. There will be a pre-meeting for all board members at 9.45am.