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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Blackpool

No. Item



Members are asked to declare any interests in the items under consideration and in doing so state:


(1) the type of interest concerned either a


(a)   personal interest

(b)   prejudicial interest

(c)   disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI)




(2) the nature of the interest concerned


If any Member requires advice on declarations of interests, they are advised to contact the Head of Democratic Governance in advance of the meeting.


There were no declarations of interest on this occasion.



To agree the minutes of the Special meeting held on 12 January 2022 as a true and correct record.


The Committee agreed that the minutes of the Special meeting held on 12 January 2022 be signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record.



To agree the minutes of the last ordinary meeting held on 9 December 2021 as a true and correct record.


The Committee agreed that the minutes of the last ordinary meeting held on 9 December 2021 be signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record.



To consider any applications from members of the public to speak at the meeting.


The Committee noted that there were no applications to speak by members of the public on this occasion.



To receive an update on the activity of the HeadStart Programme and the wider Resilience Revolution.


Additional documents:


Ms Pauline Wigglesworth, HeadStart Programme Leader presented the Resilience Revolution’s annual report, covering the period from September 2019 to August 2020. She informed the Committee that the report had been co-produced alongside young people, parents/carers, practitioners, leaders and academics.


The Committee was informed that the HeadStart programme had been funded by the National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF) as part of its strategic programmes. Ms Wigglesworth reported that an investment of £13 million had been made over six years in order to test and learn new ways of supporting youth mental health. Blackpool had been selected as one of six sites nationally and had developed a community approach to building a resilient town for young people to grow up and thrive in, under the banner of the Resilience Revolution. She informed the Committee that TNLCF funding would cease on 31July 2022 and assured Members that there had been rigorous attention to sustainability over the last 12 months, with funding for successful projects having been identified and sourced by the Council, schools and the NHS.


The Committee sought additional information around the sustainability of projects and the levels of further funding which had been achieved. Ms Wigglesworth explained that as part of the grant award from TNLCF, a phased funding approach had to be demonstrated over the final three years which identified how the projects would continue to be funded. During that period, a number of activities had been withdrawn, some had been embedded by teams to be incorporated into new ways of working and a number of projects had continued via the allocation of additional funding from other sources, such as the NHS.


In relation to workforce training, the Committee questioned which groups had been trained on the resilience model and whether any gaps in training had been identified. Ms Wigglesworth reported that Children’s Services had engaged well with the training, as had voluntary sector staff. In terms of gaps, she advised that further engagement from Health would have been preferred but she acknowledged the difficulties faced by Health colleagues in taking time away from their places of work, particularly during the pandemic and noted that overall she had been pleased with the level of training completed.


Ms Wigglesworth summarised a number of highlights from the annual report, which included ‘A Year of Parents of the Revolution’, consideration of the in-depth analysis of the results of interviews held with a selection of young people who had been involved with Youth Engagement activities and details of actions being initiated by schools following audits undertaken to identify schools’ assets and to identify areas for resilience building.


The Committee noted that the report referred to 2019/2020 and asked for examples of any further successes which had been achieved since that period. Ms Wigglesworth advised that HeadStart’s final report was anticipated to be completed in April 2022 and offered to return to the Committee with the report once available. The Committee was informed that the report would be in both written and digital form,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



To update the Committee on the progress of Blackpool’s Youth Justice Service improvement journey.

Additional documents:


Ms Sara McCartan, Head of the Adolescent Service presented a report outlining the feedback from a recent inspection of the Youth Justice Service. She reported that the service had been inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) during May and June 2021 and that the service had been rated ‘Good’ and in three aspects ‘Outstanding’. The Inspectorate had worked jointly with partner inspectors from policing, health, social care and education to undertake the inspection.


Ms McCartan summarised the six recommendations which had been made by HMIP following the inspection and which aimed to further improve the service:


·       Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to ensure they are meeting children’s needs and reducing re-offending.

·       Provide thorough and effective initial assessment of children’s health and educational needs, including communication skills and dyslexia.

·       Reduce the unacceptably high NEET (not in education, training or employment) rates for the over-16 caseload by getting more children into further education provision and vocational training, including access to services where children can gain the personal, life and social skills they need to work towards employment.

·       Ensure that in all children’s records there is a plan to keep other people safe and contingency planning if issues in the child’s life increase the likelihood of harmful behaviour.

·       Where risk to the child’s safety or wellbeing is identified, put in place clear contingency planning for circumstances where the risk may increase.

·       Where risk to other people is identified, put in place clear contingency planning for circumstances where the risk may increase.


The Committee was informed that the HMIP recommendations had been incorporated into the revised Youth Justice improvement plan and that the plan would continue to be monitored by the service and bi-monthly via the Executive Board.


Ms McCartan reported that the Youth Justice Executive and Shadow Board had held a Development Day on 26 January 2022 with the aim being to further strengthen the service’s partnership and problem solving in order to achieve consistently positive outcomes for all our children and to create a 2022 development plan to get the Youth Justice Service (YJS) to Outstanding. The event had originally been hoped to be held in person at the Winter Gardens but due to continuing Covid restrictions, the decision had been made to hold it virtually. The Committee extended its congratulation to the YJS for the progress made and supported its aims of striving towards Outstanding.


The Committee noted the disappointingly high number of our children presenting as Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) and sought assurance that this would remain an area of continued focus for improvement. Ms McCartan confirmed this to be the case and outlined a number of actions being implemented to help address the issue, which included:


·       An Employment and Skills Board had been established with a wide range of partners;

·       A strategy was to be co-produced with youth advisers to identify a joined up approach to reducing NEET figures;

·       Close working with the Council’s wholly owned companies was in place to identify employment and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



To provide the Committee with data around the support given to young people turning 18 and the number of vulnerable young people accessing services.


Ms Sara McCartan, Head of the Adolescent Service provided the Committee with data around the support given to young people turning 18 and the number of vulnerable young people accessing services, as requested by the Committee at a previous meeting. She explained that the majority of 17 year olds currently open to the Adolescent Service were our young people and as such they would remain supported by their Leaving Care Personal Adviser until at least aged 21 and up to aged 25 if they chose to. The Committee gave consideration to the presented data, noting in particular that only 53 per cent of Blackpool’s care experienced young people reported positive outcomes in education, employment and training.


Further clarification was sought around the reported 102 care leavers aged 21-25 years who were receiving support from an Adolescent Service Personal Adviser. Ms McCartan advised that the support offered to this group of young people could be for a range of concerns, both financial and emotional and that all our young people were entitled to continue to receive support until they reached 25.


The Committee requested that recognition be paid to the excellent work undertaken by foster carers and special guardians in helping to take care of our young people, which often continued well beyond them reaching 18 years of age. Committee Members also welcomed the extension of the Awaken project to include young people over 18 years old, with Ms McCartan acknowledging that these young people often remained at risk of exploitation after turning 18.


The Committee agreed: To receive periodic future update reports on the support offered to our young people post-18, at a frequency to be agreed with Ms McCartan.




To consider an update on the Council’s Literacy Strategy.


Mr Paul Turner, Assistant Director of Children's Services (Education, SEND and Early Years) provided an update following the launch of the Council’s Literacy Strategy in September 2021. Mr Turner advised that the Strategy was now being operationalised through the Literacy Strategy Steering Group, which consisted of members from across the town, at all levels of education from Early Years to Adult education. Furthermore, professional academic input was also being provided to ensure that the most current educational research was included in the planning.


The Committee was informed that significant project support was being provided through a contract with Right to Succeed and that part of their role would be to continue to source funding. Two leads had been identified from within the Blackpool education community to champion literacy and to engage with businesses who wished to support the Strategy. In addition, Officers had met with the Showtown museum staff to consider how the Literacy Strategy could support their work and be integrated into the work of the museum in engaging families. Mr Turner noted the gratefully received ward budget funding provided by a number of Councillors towards the purchase of books and other resources.


Further information was requested on the work underway to secure additional funding to support the implementation of the Strategy, with Mr Turner reporting that the two education leads were actively engaging with businesses to seek financial support and sponsorship for specific literacy initiatives.


In response to a question from the Committee regarding how volunteers were recruited to hear children read in school and whether there were sufficient numbers of volunteers, Mr Turner advised that recruitment was via the Council’s social media platforms and he agreed to provide the necessary link to Committee Members in order that they could access the information.


The Committee requested a future update on Blackpool’s Library Service, seeking to determine if Blackpool’s libraries were well used. In addition, the Committee asked Mr Turner to provide quarterly updates on the progress of the Literacy Strategy.


The Committee agreed:

1.     To receive a report on the work of the Library Service at a future meeting of the Committee;

2.     To request quarterly updates on the progress of the Literacy Strategy.



To consider an update on the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy.


The Committee considered an update on the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy, with Mr Paul Turner, Assistant Director of Children's Services (Education, SEND and Early Years) reporting that work had begun in late spring 2021 to refresh the Strategy and that this would recommence now that the underpinning work on the Needs Assessment and self-evaluation was reaching a conclusion. He advised that the next stage in the development process would be to agree a set of key priorities for the Strategy, based on the outcome of the co-production sessions which had been held last year along with the findings from the self-evaluation exercise. Mr Turner stressed the importance of avoiding rushing the Strategy as buy-in from a number of partners would be vital to its success and as such it was necessary to ensure all parties were in agreement with its contents.


As per the reported expected timeline of progress, the Committee was informed that further development of the draft SEND Strategy would take place in February 2022, following which it would then be shared with Headteacher groups before consultation with wider stakeholders, including a Scrutiny working group. Mr Turner advised that all Committee Members should have received an invitation to take part in the working group but suggested that any Members still wishing to join should contact him following the meeting. The Committee was informed that the final version of the Strategy was anticipated for completion in late March 2022 and would be submitted for consideration by the Committee at its next available meeting following that date.


The Committee agreed: To consider the final SEND Strategy once completed and by no later than June 2022.




To receive an update on the proposals for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision at the Oracle building.


Mr Paul Turner, Assistant Director of Children's Services (Education, SEND and Early Years), provided an update on the proposals for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision at the Oracle building.


Mr Turner reported that following a public consultation, planning continued for the transfer of Park Community Academy’s post-16 students into the Oracle building on St Anne’s Road. He advised that Sea View Trust was still awaiting the outcome of its application to the Education and Skills Funding Agency regarding the proposed change in the use of the facilities. Furthermore, discussions were continuing with the Trust regarding tenancy arrangements, which would include continued access for those community groups who currently used the Oracle.


The Committee sought assurance that children using the facility would be safeguarded whilst also ensuring that community groups were still able to access the building as appropriate. Mr Turner advised that use of the premises would be compartmentalised, with children using it during the day and other groups accessing it at other times and that children would be safeguarded throughout.


The Committee questioned whether approval might be denied and if so, what alternative plans were in place to ensure the Council met its obligations in the provision of appropriate SEND places. Mr Turner reported that refusal was always an option but that he felt confident that the plan would be approved. He reassured the Committee that pupils’ families had not been advised of an anticipated completion date but that he was optimistic that the provision would be available from September 2022. In relation to an alternative plan in the event of the Oracle not being available, Mr Turner advised that a back-up plan had been formulated to ensure sufficient SEND places were offered.


In response to a question from the Committee asking how many community groups had previously been using the Oracle building, Mr Turner was unable to provide the specific number but informed Committee Members that all groups were currently still able to use the facilities.


The Committee noted that places at Blackpool’s special schools continued to grow in popularity despite the aim of the Council to integrate more pupils into mainstream education settings. Mr Turner acknowledged that despite the Council’s desire to place children within mainstream schools where possible, provisions for SEND within schools were not always suitable to meet all pupils’ needs. He informed the Committee that pupils would continue to be supported to attend mainstream schools wherever possible, alongside the placement of children in special schools as necessary. He also advised that as parents and carers had the choice of where to send their child, further work was needed on improving families’ confidence of the availability of sufficient support for their children within mainstream education.


The Committee agreed: To receive a further update report on the proposed SEND provision at the Oracle building at a future Committee meeting as appropriate.




To consider the contents of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee’s Workplan.

Additional documents:


Members considered the Committee’s Workplan for 2021/2022 and requested that a report on the nutritional content and cost of school dinners in Blackpool schools be added. Mr Turner suggested that information on the work of the Chef’s Academy also be included within the item. The Committee noted the previous request to add information on the Library Service to the Committee’s workplan, acknowledging that both would need to be included on the 2022/2023 workplan as only one meeting remained within the current municipal year.


The Committee requested an update in relation to two items within the Recommendation Monitoring schedule:


·         ‘That the data relating to the proportion of Our Children who were looked after be reported to a future meeting of the Committee following the outcomes of the working party examining the issue.’ Ms Sara McCartan, Head of the Adolescent Service agreed to review the original request and to circulate information to Committee Members following the meeting;


·         ‘To receive further data on Blackpool’s mental health hospital admission rates once available.’ The Committee was advised that Mr Stephen Ashley, Children’s Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) Independent Scrutineer would be attending the next meeting of the Committee in March 2022 to provide an update on the work of CSAP and would be asked to provide the requested information at that time if available.


The Committee agreed:

1.      The Workplan for 2021/2022;

2.      That a report on the nutritional content and cost of school dinners, including information on the work of the Chef’s Academy, be added to the 2022/2023 workplan;

3.      That a report on the Library Service be added to the 2022/2023 workplan.




To note the date and time of the next meeting of the Committee as 24 March 2022, commencing at 6pm.


The date of the next meeting of the Committee was noted as Thursday 24 March 2022, commencing at 6pm.