Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 20th July, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: 40 Cumberland Road, Wood Green, London N22 7S

Contact: Rob Mack, Principal Scrutiny Officer 

No. Item



Please note that this meeting may be filmed or recorded by the Council for live or subsequent broadcast via the Council’s internet site or by anyone attending the meeting using any communication method. Although we ask members of the public recording, filming or reporting on the meeting not to include the public seating areas, members of the public attending the meeting should be aware that we cannot guarantee that they will not be filmed or recorded by others attending the meeting. Members of the public participating in the meeting (e.g. making deputations, asking questions, making oral protests) should be aware that they are likely to be filmed, recorded or reported on. 


By entering the meeting room and using the public seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings.


The chair of the meeting has the discretion to terminate or suspend filming or recording, if in his or her opinion continuation of the filming, recording or reporting would disrupt or prejudice the proceedings, infringe the rights of any individual or may lead to the breach of a legal obligation by the Council.


The Chair referred Members present item 1 on the agenda regrading filming at the meeting.   The Panel noted the information contained therein.


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Dixon and Stone and Ms Denny and Ms Jakhu.


Items of Urgent Business

The Chair will consider the admission of any late items of urgent business (late items will be considered under the agenda item where they appear. New items will be dealt with as noted below).




Declarations of interest

A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a prejudicial interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered:


(i) must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent, and

(ii) may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must withdraw from the meeting room.


A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Register of Members’ Interests or the subject of a pending notification must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.


Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal interests and prejudicial interests are defined at Paragraphs 5-7 and Appendix A of the Members’ Code of Conduct.





To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, Section B, Paragraph 29 of the Council’s Constitution.





To approve the minutes of the meeting of 8 March 2021.




That the minutes of the meeting of 8 March 2021 be approved.



To note the terms of reference and membership for Overview and Scrutiny

and its panels for 2021/22.

Additional documents:


It was noted that Youth Services and youth justice, which had previously been within the portfolio of the Cabinet Member for Communities, were both now within the portfolio of the Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Families.  All of the areas within the terms of reference of the Panel were therefore covered by the Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Families.




1.    That the terms of reference and Protocol for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and its Panels be noted; and


2.    That the policy areas/remits and membership for each Scrutiny Panel for 2020/21 be noted.




An opportunity to question Councillor Zena Brabazon, the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families, on developments within her portfolio.


Councillor Zena Brabazon, the Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Families, reported on recent developments within her portfolio.  The key priority for the administration in the coming year would be early years.  Councillor Peray Ahmet, the new Leader of the Council, had made this clear and this had been well received by the community.  Very young children had been severely affected by the lockdown and the long term implications could be profound.   A review was taking place of early years provision with a view to strengthening it. Safeguarding and children’s social care were important additional priorities.  In addition, there was a lot to be done in respect of special educational needs (SEN).  Of particular note was the £17 million overspend in the Delegated Schools Budget arising from the high needs block and this needed to be addressed. 


School place planning was another important matter.  There was currently no sign that birth rates were likely to rise and schools were therefore continuing to respond to the reduced demand for places.  She paid tribute to the work that had been undertaken by the Council’s Education and Public Health departments for the work that they had undertaken since March 2020 to assist schools in reopening and keeping them safe. Schools had effectively been open continuously since March 2020 and had risen very well to the challenges that they had been faced with.  She had written to schools and governors to thank them for all their work.


In answer to a question, she reported that Amaze had been commissioned to review parental involvement in special educational needs and the development of a new parents forum.  Their review had 59 recommendations and these were being implemented.  The contract for developing the new parents forum had been awarded to the Bridge Renewal Trust and it was hoped that the new arrangements would be operational from September 2021.  The Cabinet Member felt that it was important to establish the right culture, where parents were listened to and difficult things could be said without rancour.  It was noted that the procurement process for the parents forum had been undertaken with input from parents. The first project for the new arrangements would to review the local offer.


In answer to another question, the Cabinet Member stated that the Bridge Renewal Trust was an established local organisation with a wide range of contacts and a good reputation.  They were also being supported by an organisation called Contact, who would ensure that they learnt from best practice elsewhere. 


The Panel noted that some schools were in the borough were struggling to claim for monies owed to them in respect of Education Health and Care plans for children living in neighbouring boroughs.  Jackie DiFolco, Assistant Director for Early Help and Prevention, reported that there were two ways in which the Council could assist schools who were experiencing difficulties with this.  Firstly, a temporary cash flow could be agreed so that schools were able to continue with their normal activities.  Secondly,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Youth Services pdf icon PDF 476 KB

To receive an overview of the youth services and their development within the borough.

Additional documents:


Ms DiFolco reported on the range of youth services that were currently provided, which included both universal and targeted work.  There was a lot of outreach work in the community and this often also involved partners, such as the Police and schools.  Mental health had been a key focus and not just because of the effects of the pandemic.  There had also been projects on a wide range of other subjects, including gardening, media, self-defence and music.  In addition, there had also been specific programmes aimed at vulnerable young people such as young carers and autistic young people. 


The pandemic had had a significant effect on participation, reducing numbers attending by two thirds.   A virtual offer had been developed in response and, in addition, targeted face-to-face work had continued.  Outreach and subsequently small group work had followed and the amount of face-to-face work was now being increased. 


She highlighted some examples of good practice:

·         Project Future was funded by Comic Relief and co-produced with young people. It involved a clinical and an assistant psychologist being based at the Bruce Grove Youth Centre and working to support the mental health needs of young men;

·         A Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PHSE) education programme had been developed for schools that covered a range of issues including transitions, on line safety and substance misuse; and

·         Seminars had been provided for parents and professionals on a range of relevant topics.


She reported that the service had five priorities for the forthcoming year:

·         Working with the National Youth Agency (NYA) to develop hard and soft outcome measures on the impact of their interventions;

·         Developing co-design in the planning and shaping of services;

·         Increasing the number of young people in education, employment and training;

·         Progressing significant capital projects, including the refurbishment of Bruce Grove Youth Centre and the opening of the new Wood Green Youth Hub, which was due to open next year; and

·         Securing longer term funding for a larger proportion of the service’s work.


In answer to a question, Ms DiFolco stated that the work with NYA was focussed upon the development of hard impact measures, such as impact on referrals, levels of anti-social behaviour and mental health.  These would supplement the softer measures that were already in place across much of the service.  Relevant performance data would be included in future reports when fully developed.  In respect of work with girls, she reported that there was a Girls Group and agreed to circulate details of their work to the Panel.




That further information on specific work undertaken by the Youth Service aimed at girls be circulated to the Panel.


Covid 19 - Impact on Children and Young People pdf icon PDF 4 MB

To consider the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children and young people within the borough.


Ms Graham reported that the events of the last 18 months had been unprecedented.  Prior to the first lockdown, which began on 20 March 2020, the service had been encouraging staff to work from home where possible.  Work had previously been normally undertaken on a face-to-face basis and changing this had been challenging.  The full impact of the lockdowns would not be known for some time.  She was mindful that some children had been born during a lockdown and had been deprived of early socialisation, with impacts on the development of language and social skills.  Other children had been affected by mental health issues or bereavement.


Normal Ofsted inspections had not been able take place and temporarily replaced by remote assurance visits to ensure that local authorities were continuing to safeguard and deliver outcomes for children.  Ofsted inspectors were offered to local authorities and Haringey had collaborated with other north central London boroughs to obtain the input of several of them, who had produced a useful report on the impact of lockdown on children. 


It had been known that some families struggled with poverty, including access to digital services, but the number that had been affected had been more than anticipated and not just amongst those known to the Council.  Responses had been required for all children irrespective of whether they had been previously known.  It had been established that food security was also not as strong as previously thought and systems had needed to be put in place to address this, including provision of food parcels.  There were concerns about the level of domestic abuse and it was known that many families lived in cramped conditions.  Poverty and family stress were also major issues and, whilst these were most prevalent in the east, they had also spread to the west of the borough.


Nick Hewlett, Principal Adviser for Early Years, reported that the impact on the youngest children could not be underestimated.  The childcare sector had been massively affected and most childcare facilities forced to close.  Only local authority and a few private nurseries had remained open.  However, the Council had been able to offer childcare to every parent or carer that had asked for it.  Childcare facilities had now re-opened.  There were still the same number of nurseries but not all childminders had survived. Parents had experienced isolation during lockdown and children had been deprived of much of the social interaction that they would normally have.  There was now a major focus on addressing this and especially speech and language development.   An Early Years Strategy was now being developed and these issues would be taken up as part of it.  Children Centres had been able to provide support to vulnerable families throughout the whole of the pandemic.  It was hoped to be able to provide a more extensive offer from the autumn onwards. 


Ms Riordan reported that it had been necessary to embed remote education very quickly after the first lockdown.  Collaborative work with schools had ensured that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Work Programme 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 207 KB

To agree the workplan for the Panel for 2021/22.

Additional documents:


The Panel noted that it had been proposed that the Annual Youth Justice Plan and the SEND Strategy be added to the work plan.  However, it there was currently very little space available within the proposed agendas for each remaining meeting of the year.  It would therefore be necessary to take some items off the agendas for remaining meetings in order to accommodate additional items.




That further discussion on the workplan for the remaining meetings for the year take place between the Chair and relevant officers ahead of the next Panel meeting.