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Agenda item

Draft Children's Strategy

a)    Report of Corporate Director of Children’s Services

b)    Presentation by Head of Strategy


The Committee considered a report of the Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services which presented Members with the draft vision, aims and objectives of the proposed new Children and Young People’s Strategy, and received a presentation from the Head of Strategy (for copies see file of minutes).


The presentation included the rationale and proposed vision statement, including 4 key aims and how they would be delivered. 


In response to a question from Councillor Jewell the Head of Strategy confirmed that one of the key aims was to ensure the strategy was specific and measurable.  Detailed plans had been drafted, however Members were able to advise if there were any areas of vital importance to be included.


Councillor Blakey suggested two areas of importance;


·         The number of SEN children who stayed in Education or went on to Employment and;

·         CAHMS referral waiting times


The Head of Strategy commented that in terms of disability and employment, performance in the County was poor and consideration on how to improve those figures was essential.


Councillor McKeown referred to a number of young carers, caring for adults with mental health problems.  Many were unaware they were caring for people.  She also commented on a rise in private sector companies employing young apprentices as cheap labour with no intention of employing them at the end of their apprenticeship.  In response the Head of Strategy confirmed that work had been undertaken by Economy and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee with regards to the DurhamWorks partnership.


Councillor Hall highlighted the ability for the Committee to address issues for the next generation.  One area for concern was the transition from primary to secondary school.  There was also a significant skills gap between 14-16 year olds.  Other areas to consider were home schooling and alternative provision, and unemployment in young people.  The Head of Strategy commented that Attainment 8 score was a measure for average achievement which was being used as an alternative to academic achievement.


The Strategic Manager Support & Development added that work had been undertaken in Seaham School and one pupil had observed the difference in school management.  In primary school a teacher would speak to pupils about behaviour, however in secondary school immediate sanctions were issued.


Councillor Crute confirmed that issues raised with regards to youth unemployment were being monitored by Economy and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  He referred to the impact of austerity which had undoubtedly created more deprivation, and the reductions in Local Authority funding and the National Funding Formula which had both impacted on schools.  Despite this, he remained positive that this would improve.


The Head of Education confirmed that children were all equally bright.  The determination of teachers was key to success and Durham would aspire to lead in Education in the North and nationally.


The Corporate Scrutiny & Performance Manager referred to comments submitted by Mrs Evans who had queried the input of children and young people into the County Durham Plan and would like to see more explicit links with the Children’s Strategy.


In response to a comment from Councillor Charlton, the Head of Strategy confirmed that children with mental health issues were considered under one of the key aims, emotional wellbeing, however specific reference would be made to mental health in the final draft.


Councillor McKeown commented that the North East region was amongst the lowest in terms of achievement and suggested Local Authority partnerships to try and improve.


In response to a comment from Councillor Patterson the Head of Strategy confirmed that children in need would be included within the 4 key aim and confirmed that Councillor Patterson suggested children and young people contributed their views on the Strategy.




That the report and presentation be noted.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714