Agenda and minutes

Children's Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee - Tuesday 12 November 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Room THB-06, Town Hall, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW

Contact: Maria Burton, Email: 020 7926 8703 

No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 123 KB

    To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 05 June 2019 as a correct record of the proceedings.



    Lynette Murphy O’Dwyer requested that the minutes be amended to include her attendance.



    That, subject to the above amendment, the minutes of the meeting dated 05 June 2019 be approved.



Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP): Update Report pdf icon PDF 300 KB

    Contact for enquiries: Tony Parker, Director for Children’s Commissioning and Community Safety, NHS Lambeth CCG and LBL,


    Special Circumstances Justifying Urgent Consideration

    The Chair is of the opinion that although this report had not been available for at least five clear days before the meeting, nonetheless it should be considered now as a matter of urgency because of the special circumstances that the Chair has requested this report come to the November 2019 meeting.


    Additional documents:


    Annie Hudson, Strategic Director, Children’s Services, and representatives from the Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) introduced the report and showed Members a video of the LEAP’s work, stating that:

    ·         LEAP was now in the fifth year of the ten-year pilot across four wards (Coldharbour, Tulse Hill, Stockwell and Vassall) and the impact of the partnership would be evaluated from 2020-2025.

    ·         The programme ran from pregnancy to a child’s fourth birthday and focused on three key areas: diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and communication and language.

    ·         Through partnership working with Council, health and other partners, the programme aimed to improve the whole system as well as individual cases.

    ·         Engagement with the programme had increased each year.


    The Sub-Committee then heard from four Parent Champions on their experiences with LEAP, who raised the following points:

    ·         The programme had enabled them to engage with services that they may have otherwise not been aware of and helped them to create new social networks.

    ·         They had been parent representatives for up to two years, and all of the representatives commented positively on the support that LEAP had provided them, particularly in reducing feelings of isolation.

    ·         The parent representatives spoke of the fulfilment that they felt through being part of the programme.

    ·         Some parents spoke of the benefits that being a parent champion had had on their career prospects.  One parent was studying for childcare qualifications through the programme, one had been supported in finding work and one had been granted money to create a community group.

    ·         They stated that having advocates who had similar experiences to the parents using the services provided by LEAP was positive. 

    ·         More fathers were becoming involved with the programme, but more needed to be encouraged to be parent champions.


    The Strategic Director, Children’s Services, and representatives from LEAP stated the following information in response to questions from Members:

    ·         Parent champions did two hours of training per week for the first six weeks, which resulted in a Level 1 and 2 childcare qualifications.  Some parent champions who had started as volunteers now worked for LEAP or were apprentices.

    ·         LEAP was identifying the barriers to parents returning to work and exploring how the programme could remove them through a steering group, with the aim of developing a pathway for parents to return to work.

    ·         There were currently no specific efforts being made to encourage men into childcare, but this could be explored.

    ·         There were parent champions and contracts with the voluntary sector in each ward to ensure local links and contacts.

    ·         LEAP worked closely with nurseries to improve literacy and speech and language.  The role that LEAP could have in the transition between nursery and primary school could be explored further.

    ·         The longer-term outcomes for children after leaving the programme were not expected to be monitored, but it could be feasible to measure outcomes for a cohort of children as part of the evaluation.

    ·         The budget for LEAP was fixed until the end of the programme in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Implementation of new Relationships, Relationships and Sex (RSE) and Health Education curriculum pdf icon PDF 303 KB

    Contact for enquiries: Janis Marsh PSHE, EHWB & Healthy Schools Coordinator Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE), Emotional Health and Wellbeing (EHWB);


    The report was introduced by Cathy Twist, Director of Education and Learning, Janis Marsh, Healthy Schools Co-ordinator, and Kathryn Shaw, Early Years Improvement Lead, who stated that:

    ·         Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) was now required to be delivered within the wider Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) context, following changes to central government guidance. 

    ·         The introduction of the new curriculum had raised concerns amongst parents elsewhere in the country, particularly the lessons about different family structures, including LGBT+ families, and the content of sex education.

    ·         Many Lambeth schools had already been delivering the expected curriculum for a number of years.  Teachers were receiving training on the new curriculum.

    ·         Many schools had organised information sessions for parents to improve understanding of the new curriculum.  These sessions had been well attended, likely due to the coverage of protests in the news.


    The Committee then heard from Lucy Peake, Headteacher, Herbert Morrison Primary School, and Jane Scarsbrook, Headteacher, Glenbrook Primary School, who provided the following information:

    ·         Herbert Morrison Primary School had a senior member of staff lead on PSHE to ensure that it was valued and prioritised, as it related to all subjects.  Children were ambassadors for different subject areas, including PSHE.

    ·         There were elements of the new curriculum that were new, and could be difficult for classroom teachers to deliver without training.  Schools had been offered training from the Council on the new guidance.

    ·         Concerns from parents at meetings had been addressed by Council representatives, and following the session parents agreed that the curriculum was appropriate for primary-age children.

    ·         Teaching RSE was a core part of schools’ statutory safeguarding duties.

    ·         Parents still had the right to withdraw their children from sex education, but a very small number did so. 


    The Chair then opened up the debate to members of the Sub-Committee and in response to questions the Director of Education and Learning, Healthy Schools Co-ordinator, Headteacher, Herbert Morrison Primary School and Headteacher, Glenbrook Primary School, stated that:

    ·         At Herbert Morrison Primary School, children who were PSHE Ambassadors had taken part in LGBT+ training.  Children were taught from a young age that there were different types of families, but that all families were based on love and respect.  While children would ask questions relating to PSHE and the issues raised, they generally reacted positively.

    ·         The new guidance was statutory for all schools, including academies and independent schools.

    ·         Parents’ primary concerns were often around the naming of body parts, although their concerns were generally addressed after speaking to school staff.  There had been some concerns regarding the teaching of inclusive RSE, but the majority of these were from parents concerned that children would be taught how to be LGBT+.

    ·         Lambeth officers had visited some faith schools, and although there was more reluctance from parents, parents understood that different types of families existed in wider society and there would be children within schools in such families.

    ·         The Department for Education had promised training, but this was likely to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Financial Planning Report 2019/20 to 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 440 KB

    Contact for information: Amaris Wong, Group Manager, Strategic Finance;

    Additional documents:


    The Chair explained that no new savings had been identified for Children’s Services, and that this report would be brought to Cabinet the following week.


    The Strategic Director, Children’s Services, introduced the report, stating that:

    ·         Directorates had been asked to address the new funding gap of £5m.  Children’s Services did not have to find any new savings due to the significant savings already committed, which would largely come from Children’s Social Care.


    During discussion of this item the guillotine fell at 9.00 pm.


    RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.


    In response to questions from the Committee, the Strategic Director, Children’s Services, stated that:

    ·         The Children’s Services overspend was in the General Fund.  £1.3m of the overspend related to Children’s Centres, with the remainder of the overspend relating to children’s placement and Special Educational Needs (SEN) transport, due to increasing demand.  The majority of other London boroughs had also overspent in this area, a report on which would be distributed to Members.  A new SEN transport contract had started, which had started to deliver savings.

    ·         Additional funding was likely to be offered by central government to meet the anticipated Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) overspend relating to SEN for the next financial year.

    ·         The areas under greatest budget pressure were placements for looked after children and support for children with disabilities.  Many other authorities had also reported overspends in Children’s Social Care, and significant work was being done to manage the cost of placements.

    ·         The additional government funding for the DSG was to meet overspends relating to children with SEN.  If this funding was used for other areas, such as to keep children’s centres open, then other services could be jeopardised.

    ·         Funding in future financial years was not known, and would not be known until after the forthcoming Parliamentary Election in December 2019.

    ·         The organisation of the Youth Council had been brought in-house in August 2019, along with commissioning budgets previously managed by the Young Lambeth Co-Operative.  No changes to these budgets were proposed.

    ·         The SEN capital budget related to improvements to schools and the building of new schools, such as the new school for children with autism which was due to open in 2020.  These investments would allow more children with additional needs to be educated within the borough, with the added benefit of reducing the costs of SEN transport.



    i.              To request the report on spending on SEN provision across London outside of the meeting.

    ii.            To request that funding in future years be explored, considering the outcome of the forthcoming Parliamentary Election.

    iii.           That information on the recovery of outstanding funds following the reintegration of the Youth Council be provided outside the meeting.


2019-20 Children's Services Scrutiny Sub Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 305 KB

    Contact for enquiries: Maria Burton, Senior Democratic Services Officer, Legal and Governance;, 020 7926 8703

    Additional documents:


    The Chair requested that future reports contain more detail to better allow the Committee to scrutinise the issues concerned.


    It was noted that the previous Youth Council Co-Optee had moved away from Lambeth, and a replacement would be needed for the next meeting in January.


    The Committee discussed the work programme, noting that the next meeting in January would focus on the Children’s Social Care Improvement Plan, Exclusions and Serious Youth Violence.  It was requested that the Serious Youth Violence Update would include the use of custody suites.


    The Strategic Director, Children’s Services, explained that a SEND inspection was expected imminently.  A SEND update would therefore be added to the work programme for the March 2020 meeting. 


    It was requested that pupil place planning be added to the list of issues for potential future scrutiny.



    1.    That the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee on 23 January 2020 consider:

                          i.        Children’s Social Care Improvement Update

                        ii.        Exclusions Update

                       iii.        Early Help and Serious Youth Violence (including use of custody suites)

    2.    To add SEND Update to the work programme to be considered at the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee meeting on 18 March 2020.