Synergy Child Services Ltd (SCS) & Oras v OFSTED, Court of Appeal, October 16, 2009, [2009] UKFTT 260 (HESC)

Resolution Date:October 16, 2009
Actores:Synergy Child Services Ltd (SCS) & Oras v OFSTED
 
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Case No: [2007] 1042, 1071.CH

[2007] 1043, 1044.CH

[2007] 1072, 1073. CH

IN THE FIRST TIER TRIBUNAL

HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL CARE CHAMBER

BETWEEN

SYNERGY CHILD SERVICES LTD (SCS)

BRETT JACOBS

CLAIRE KELLY (NEE DIPPER)

Appellants

-and-

OFSTED

Respondent

BEFORE

Maureen Roberts (nominated tribunal judge)

Ronald Radley (specialist member)

Christopher Wakefield (specialist member)

Sitting at the Castle Hotel Taunton on 6,7,8,9,10, 13,14,15,17,20,21,22,23, 29, 30 July 2009 and sitting at the North Somerset Courts Weston super Mare on 14,15,16, and 17 September 2009.

The Appellants represented themselves. Mr Stephen Hyland the managing director of SCS acted as the main advocate but when he was absent because of ill health or for other reasons then Mr Brett Jacobs the second Appellant took over the work of representation. Mrs Rachel Hyland the company secretary and financial director for SCS was present throughout the majority of the proceedings. Ms Claire Kelly was present except on the 14,15, and 16 September.

Mr Rodney Dixon of Counsel instructed by Laura Smith of Bevan Brittan represented the Respondent.

The tribunal heard from the following witnesses, unless otherwise stated they appeared for the Respondent. They are listed in the order that we heard from them and their position at the time of cancellation is noted together with their present work position.

Theresa Lawrie: from April 2004 to January 2007 care worker (and for a while trainee manager) for SCS. Currently a housing and support worker for Knightstone Housing Association.

Susan Stephens: from January 2006 to February 2007 care worker for SCS. Currently a purchase ledger clerk.

Fiona Bates: from June 2005 until February 2007 care worker for SCS and presently a community care assistant employed by Somerset County Council working with people with profound learning difficulties.

Margaret Docherty: from May 2004 to mid March 2007 care worker and registered manager. Currently an administrative assistant with Children’s Social Care Department Somerset County Council.

Yvonne Haramis for the Appellants: a residential care worker for SCS from January 2004 until August 2007. Presently a matron at a boys’ preparatory school.

Nick Taylor: care worker for SCS from summer 2005 until August 2006. Currently a Governor level 5 dealing with drug and substance misuse with prisoners.

Glynis Marsh: a team manager for looked after children 0-16 Isle of Wight County Council. Presently a practise learning co-ordinator for the Council.

Ian Stokoe: at the time assistant team manager with Reading Council Disabled Children’s team and from December 2007 assistant team manager Protection and Planning.

Lee Booker for the Appellants: care worker and registered manager for SCS from July 2004 to 1 June 2007. Presently a probationary police officer with the Metropolitan Police.

Debbie Flint: Children’s inspector for the Respondent.

Mark Douglas: head of community support in the children’s directorate at Northumberland County Council.

Ken Smith: Inspection team manager for the Respondent.

Joe Mohammed for the Appellants: Foster parent; acted as an independent visitor for one of the young people placed at SCS.

Jayne Fenton: care worker and senior supervisor for SCS from mid 2001 until 2007. Presently a support co-ordinator for Autism Solutions.

Carl Solle for the Appellants. Care worker/co-ordinator for SCS from June 2003 to July 2007. Presently working with a company in Southampton.

Maurice Cove: Team manager for Cardiff County Council leaving care and related services.

Dr Alix Brown for the Appellants: Independent consultant, social work trainer and therapist.

Peter Vallelley: at the time service manager for placements panel and emergency duty team Children’s and Young People’s Services Nottinghamshire County Council. Presently assistant director for safeguarding for Pathways.

Richard Horrobin: Children’s inspector for the Respondent and presently retired.

Judy Birch for the Appellants: administration manager for SCS from 2002 until 2007.Presently a receptionist.

Simon Brazier for the Appellants: initially care worker and subsequently head of care for SCS from 2000 until August 2006. From August 2006 until May 2007 bank worker for SCS. Presently a sales representative.

Roger Reed for the Appellants; employed by Town and Country; a maintenance firm owned by Mr Hyland the director of SCS. Also trained and worked as a carer for SCS.

Tamsin Higgins for the Appellants. Care worker for SCS from April 2004 until 2007. Presently working with adults with learning difficulties.

Claire Kelly (nee Dipper). Appellant. Care worker and manager for SCS from 2002; Head of Care from September 2006 until 2007. Presently parent and support adviser for Somerset County Council.

Brett Jacobs. Appellant. Care worker, manager for SCS from 1999; General Manager from January 2005 until 2007. Presently working in family business.

Stephen Hyland. Managing Director SCS, Appellant.

We have referred to the Appellants by name throughout the decision.

The appeals.

1. The appeals are brought by the Appellants ( SCS, BJ and CK) against decisions by the Respondent (OFSTED previously the CSCI) of 18 June 2007 to cancel their respective registrations to operate children's homes and as managers in respect of two single person children's homes, the Den 63 Bancombe Road Somerton and 59 St Cleers, 59 St Cleer’s Orchard Somerton.

The law.

2. The legal basis for the Respondent's decisions is found in section 14 (1) of the Care Standards Act 2000 (the Act). It provides that the Respondent may at any time cancel registrations in respect of an establishment on any ground specified by the regulations or on the grounds that ' the establishment is being or has at any time been, carried on otherwise than in accordance with the relevant requirements ' which are defined as requirements imposed by the Act and any other relevant enactment.

Under the Act appeals are made to the tribunal under section 21. This section provides

21 (1) an appeal against

(a) a decision of the registration authority under this part; or

(b) an order made by a Justice of the peace under section 20

shall lie to the tribunal

(2) no appeal against the decision or order made may be brought by a person more than 28 days after service on him of notice of the decision or order

(3) on an appeal against a decision of the registration authority the tribunal may confirm the decision or direct that it shall not have effect.

(4) on an appeal against an order made by a Justice of the peace the tribunal may confirm the order or direct that it shall cease to have effect.

(5) the tribunal shall also have power on an appeal against a decision or order-

(a) to vary any condition for the time being in force in respect of the establishment or agency to which the appeal relates;

(b) to direct that any such condition shall cease to have effect; or

(c) to direct that any such condition as it thinks fit shall have effect in respect of the establishment or agency.

3. The Children’s Homes Regulations 2001 provide the regulations which are to be complied with by the registered providers and managers.

Regulation 6 provides for the fitness of registered provider

(1) a person shall not carry on a children’s home unless he is fit to do so.

(2) a person is not fit to carry on a children’s home unless the person –

(c) is an organisation and –

i) the organisation has given notice to the Commission of the name and address and position in the organisation of an individual (in these Regulations referred to as “the responsible individual”) who is a director, manager, secretary or other officer of the organisation and is responsible for supervising the management of the children’s home; and

(ii) that the individual satisfies the requirements set out in paragraph (3).

(3) requirements are that-

(a) he is of integrity and good character;

(b) he is physically and mentally fit to carry on the children’s home; and

(c ) full and satisfactory information and is available in relation to him in respect of each of the matters specified in Schedule 2.

Regulation 8 provides for the fitness of manager

(1) a person shall not manage a children’s home unless he is fit to do so

(2) a person is not fit to manage a children’s home unless

(a) he is of integrity and good character;

(b) having regard to the size of the children’s home, its statement of purpose, and the number and needs (including any needs arising from any disability) of the children accommodated there –

(i) he has the qualifications, skills and experience necessary for managing the children’s home; and

(ii) he is physically and mentally fit to manage the children’s home; and

(c) full and satisfactory information is available in relation to him in respect of each of the matters specified in schedule 2.

4. Regulations 9 (Registered person – general requirements), 11 (Promotion of welfare), 16 (Arrangements for the protection of children), 17 (Behaviour management, discipline and restraint), 23 (Hazards and safety), 25 (Staffing of children’s homes), 26 (fitness of workers) and 30 (Notifiable events) were are all cited as relevant regulations in respect of the notice of proposal to cancel and the subsequent notice of decision to cancel registration.

5. The Children’s Homes National Minimum Standards (March 2002) provides standards for homes and requires, for example, that (Standard 20) persons notify the appropriate authorities within 24 hours of the occurrence of significant events. Standard 21 provides that relationships between staff and children must be based on clear professional and personal boundaries.

6. The Tribunal makes a restricted reporting order under Rule 14 (1) (b) of the Tribunal Procedure (First Tier Tribunal) (Health, Education and Social Care Chamber) Rules 2008 (the Rules), prohibiting the disclosure or publication of the names of the clients involved in the case and directing that reference to them shall be by their initials so as to protect...

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