Medway Council Cabinet Meeting yesterday

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There was a packed agenda at yesterdays Medway Council Cabinet meeting.

I spoke in support of my colleague David Brake when he introduced his Obesity paper and reitereated my plans to encourage parents to change the School Run to the School Walk.

I also took the opportunity of congratulating Featherby Infant School in Gillingham for their fantastic efforts in promoting the Walking Bus and Walk on Wednesday (pictured above).

I then spoke at length on the subject of our Council Performance Indicators where it applied to my Portfolio of Children’s Services.

Here is what I said:

Thank you Leader,

If I could turn first to 5.1 where there is a disappointing downturn in the perception of  people who agree that our services enable children and young people to have the best start in life.

These figures belie the positive and improving information regarding school effectiveness on page 79 onwards in para 5.3.4.

We know that our schools are improving, despite the occasional set back, we know that our Key stage 1 is excellent, we know that there is a year on year improvement in Key stage 2. We know that GCSE results and A level results are improving. We know that more and more of our young people are going on to University and yet, I look at the table in 5.1 and see that the respondents don’t feel that.

I believe that the constant negative campaigning on education that we have endured from the Labour group, in particular their prospective parliamentary candidates has not, and is not helping.

I would like to draw colleagues attention to page 78 para 5.3.1. The voice of the child and in particular the penultimate paragraph highlighting the work of the Young Commissioners and their DVD  on their thoughts about living in Medway and the importance of  involving young people in the design and delivery of services.

My mantra, the Council’s mantra is to put children and young people at the very centre of everything we do and I am pleased to report to colleagues that this is the central theme of the launch of Medway Children’s Action Network , or Medway CAN next week when  we have around 100 partners attending for this event next Monday the 8th December at the Franklin rooms in Gillingham.

Pages 78 and 79 highlight the positive moves forward in children’s social care and this was reflected in the recent peer review group who gave extremely positive feedback following their return to review the work carried out since their first review earlier this year.

On pages 100 and 101 colleagues will have noted the red status on some of our indicators but I hope that they will also have noted the comprehensive notes on the right of each indicator.

You will see that when we are dealing with small cohorts, one or two changes make a great difference to the outcome.

In particular NI 147 which indicates a downward long term trend in respect of Care Leavers in suitable accommodation, and I would draw colleagues attention to the fact that some 5 young people who were 19 or over, 3 are in custody in different parts of the country, 1 of no fixed abode and 1 who resists all attempts  to attempt contact.

Colleagues could well surmise that being in custody was suitable accommodation but that of course is not the case. I fear that we are losing a crucial opportunity give them the best start.

On N23 , our vacancy rates have improved and this is in no small part to the tremendous corporate support that we have received from our HR department, in particular from Carrie McKenzie and I would like my thanks put on record.

Moving forwards, we have seen the tremendous improvements in the last 18months, in no small part due to the effort everyone involved has been making. However, we need to think seriously about spreading a positive message about our successful initiatives which can only be maintained by a strong Conservative administration.

Thank you colleagues.

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