1. Mr Doran introduced the report and pointed out that the 2015/2016 academic year had been a successful one for VSK. He highlighted the difficulty of comparing that year with previous as it had been the first year of Ofsted’s new performance measures and monitoring system. He updated the Panel on some latest figures, as follows:
a) the number of children who were NEET had dropped from 53% in September 2015 to 25.7% in September 2016. The ‘snapshot’ figure for January 2017 was 19.8%;
b) attendance and absence showed a variable picture across Kent. Attendance falling short of 90% was classified as ‘persistent absence’, but this threshold had been increased from 85%;
c) VSK was collaborating with the Fostering service on the Sense of Belonging programme and had added to its monthly performance dashboard the number of children experiencing two or more changes of placement. The Head of Fostering attended VSK team meetings and there was good two-way information sharing;
d) the VSK apprentices had continued their excellent work on increasing participation and engagement. One apprentice had taken a permanent post in the VSK team. Memberships of the various committees had increased, as follows:- Our Children and Young People’s Council: 42, Young Adult Council: 19, Junior Council: 15 – making an overall total of 76, which was very pleasing. There had been 19 activity days in the 2015/16 academic year, attended by a total of 450 children and young people. The number of activity days for young people aged over 16 had increased; and
e) Kent continued its record of innovative, collaborative support of individual pupils using Pupil Premium Plus (PP+).
2. Mr Doran responded to comments and questions from the Panel, as follows:-
a) Mr Doran received congratulations for the VSK team’s work and many years of dedication to supporting the educational success of children and young people in care. It was suggested that this work should be shared with a wider audience by the VSK annual report being reported to the County Council’s Education and Young People’s Services Cabinet Committee;
b) spending of PP+ was carefully monitored and Mr Doran offered to supply more detailed information outside the meeting. There had been much good practice and improvement since the inception of PP+ and it was hoped that more improvement would be achieved in the future. Examples were given of young people who had benefitted personally from PP+ investment;
c) Mr Doran explained that the figures quoted in the VSK dashboard and the scorecard presented to the Children’s Social Care and Health Cabinet Committee at its December meeting, in terms of the number of care leavers who were NEET, were not based on the same information or the same cohorts of young people. Figures used in the VSK report were concerned with 16–18 year olds only, whereas the scorecard was concerned with 18–21 year olds;
d) it was requested that induction training for newly-elected Members in May 2017 include details of the programme of participation events, so that all elected Members would have the opportunity to attend and become involved. Current Members who had attended such events had found them very enjoyable; and
e) it was important to look at patterns of demand across the county and ensure that services were provided where young people wanted and needed them and could make the best use of them.
a) the information set out in the report be noted, with thanks;
b) Mr Doran and his team be congratulated on the work of VSK; and
c) the annual report be referred to the County Council’s Education and Young People’s Services Cabinet Committee so that committee could be kept up to date with the work of VSK.