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Children's Trust
09-03-2010, 01:28 PM
Post: #1
RE: Children's Trust
We have the Somerset Children's Trust Scrutiny Panel. Can send you our terms of reference if you give your email.
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10-03-2010, 09:15 AM
Post: #2
RE: Children's Trust
Many thanks Gemma:

reece.bowman@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

My initial view is that there are two options:
  • Scrutinise predominantly through the CYPS Scrutiny Committee
  • Set up a standing working group of the above to undertake the scrutiny

I'd welcome colleagues' views on the pros/cons of either of the above approaches.

Regards,

Reece
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23-03-2010, 08:02 AM
Post: #3
RE: Children's Trust
Reece - have just emailed you the ToR. Minutes etc can be found here: www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/boards.asp

Our panel was set up in 2006, when we had about 5 scrutiny committees. Since the conservatives came in last May we are down to only one scrutiny committee, but the Somerset Children's Trust Scrutiny Panel sits alongside this still. The panel is in effect a permanenet task and finish group of the committee. It has admin/minuting support from Community Governance (what used to be Democratic Services... what used to be...) and the agendas and minutes sit in the same section of the website as other committees, but offer lead and support is based in the Children and Young People's Directorate (as obviously have closer links with Children's Trust partners). By sitting outside of the main committee it allows us to have comprehensive representation on the panel, we have 4 young people, 4 parents/carers, 4 reps from the children's trust, and 4 councillors.

The Panel meets approximately 7 times per year. Some of its meetings are formal, others informal and/or fact-finding including some visits to local service providers. The sessions rotate on two topic-based plan-do-review cycles: plan: briefing on service from manager, do: field visit to service, including meeting with users, review: discussion based on field visit, report findings, and agree actions. For our most recent topic of anti-bullying, the panel met with youth workers, PCSOs, Emotional Health and Wellbeing Workers, PRU pupils, placement officers, peer mentors and headteachers. This seems to work well for us, and gets good support from officers being scrutinised.

Interested to hear what other people do.
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23-03-2010, 10:59 AM
Post: #4
RE: Children's Trust
gwaugh Wrote:Reece - have just emailed you the ToR. Minutes etc can be found here: www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/boards.asp

Interested to hear what other people do.

Me too. We have a standing panel (permapanel?) that sought to scrutinise the work of the Children's Trust but it seemed essentially to receive briefings/updates rather than scrutinise from our own officers. And so I tried unpicking whether the Trust per se was actually accountable to the OSC in the first place ... The best I could come up with (c. 2006) about the accountability of analagous bodies was various departmental statements:
  • ODPM 2002: "Within an LSP it is intended that individual partners will remain responsible and accountable for decisions on their own services and the use of their own resources. Accountability to the partnerships therefore cannot override those individual commitments."
  • ODPM about a year later: "Local authorities are democratically elected. As such they have the mandate to improve social, economic and environmental outcomes across the local area. LSPs are therefore ultimately accountable to the local authority."
  • DoH: "Involvement in LSPs is the role of executive councillors, whereas non-executive councillors participate in overview and scrutiny. The two roles complement each other, with the executive taking decisions on behalf of the local authority, and the non-executive holding them to account."
  • DES's Statutory Guidance on wellbeing of children never once mentioned scrutiny, rather: "The local authority should establish a framework of accountability and seek to ensure that all of the partners are clear about their roles and responsibilities within the local arrangements... Local accountability frameworks should support decision making and provide clarity about how the governance arrangements interact with and support other related partnerships ... Over time, the aim will be to migrate other partnerships, such as Children's Fund Partnerships, into the children's trust."

As it turned out, I was asked to help draft a constitution for the Children's Trust and slipped in a clause that, in a spirit of partnership, partners would co-operate with inquiries from the OSC. It may be that more recent legislation re scrutiyn of partners has changed things and people's views on that would be interesting to have.
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24-03-2010, 09:07 AM
Post: #5
RE: Children's Trust
Yes, as far as I am aware, ours functions on goodwill rather than OSC statute. We do the more theme based partnerships rather than the OSC which does service based projects.
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24-03-2010, 10:44 AM
Post: #6
RE: Children's Trust
gwaugh Wrote:Yes, as far as I am aware, ours functions on goodwill rather than OSC statute. We do the more theme based partnerships rather than the OSC which does service based projects.

Thanks for this Gemma and Nick.

Both your authorities have went towards the working group model, as opposed to conducting the CT scrutiny in the full OSC. Is there a particular reason for this?

I ask because I've been weighing the two options up and I can see beneffits and pitfalls in both.

Was there any particular line of reasoning that led to the scrutiny being conducted in a sub-group?
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30-03-2010, 02:42 PM
Post: #7
RE: Children's Trust
My reply never seemed to make it onto here - hopefully this one will work!

I wasn't around when the Somerset Children's Trust Scrutiny Panel was set up so can only guess at the reasoning for it being a sub group. Now with the reduced OSC capacity due to only being one committee it makes even more logical sense - but which came first chicken or egg?

I think a sub group was decided because ultimately, if you are scrutinising the Children's Trust, you are scrutinising yourself and partners in a joint way of working. It is perhaps unfair therefore to have only council members on the OSC scrutinising it. Our sub-group, the Somerset Children's Trust Panel, therefore has council members, co-opted members from 4 of the organisations on the Trust, and parents/carers and young people. The wider group all share the responsibilities and rights normally only held by elected members (perhaps due to goodwill on the groups behalf) which only seems fair if more than one organisation is being scrutinised that the scrutiny also comes from more than one.
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