Agenda and minutes

Children, Families and Education Select Committee - Tuesday, 14th March, 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Ryan Dell  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Councillor Kishan Bhatt with Councillor Philip Corthorne substituting.



Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting


No interests were declared.



Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 238 KB


Members thanked officers for the minutes.


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the previous meeting be agreed.



To confirm that the items of business marked as Part I will be considered in Public and that the items marked as Part II will be considered in Private


It was confirmed that all items would be heard in Part I.



Witness Session 5 - Partnership Working pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee held its fifth witness session into its review of the Stronger Families Hub. This session focused on partnership working with health representatives. Witnesses in attendance were the Head of Service, First Response, MASH and Out of Hours Social Work; the Assistant Director for Safeguarding Adults, Safeguarding Children and Children Looked After; the Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children (Hillingdon)/ CNWL Interim Head of Safeguarding Children), and the Head of Children’s Services for Hillingdon.


The Head of Service, First Response, MASH and Out of Hours Social Work introduced himself and his role with the Stronger Families Hub. It was noted that this session related to partnership working with health representatives and that a future session would be held with education representatives. The partners worked with families who were under pressure, and also dealt with impacts of COVID-19 and the cost of living. Despite the challenges, the partners remained committed to providing support, and there was close collaboration between health partners and the Stronger Families Hub. The main source of referrals had come via the Police, with up to 11 officers on site within the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH*) to enable the quick exchange of information. The second most referrals had come via health partners.


(*MASH was the Stronger Families Hub's safeguarding element where professionals shared information quickly about police referrals of domestic abuse (Merlins) and referrals where there were concerns about a child's safety or welfare.)


The Head of Children’s Services, CNWL, noted that their portfolio included children aged 0-19, health visiting, school nursing, child development centres, community paediatricians, children integrated therapy, occupational therapy, paediatric occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language, children’s community nursing team and working with those with life-limiting conditions. Health representatives were a large partner of the Stronger Families Hub. The above noted services had been asked about their experiences with the Stronger Families Hub prior to this witness session, and the feedback was positive, despite some teething problems. Partners highlighted the benefit of the Stronger Families Hub as one forum for a range of issues, and this was linked to the early identification of needs. It was also noted that partners had a strong relationship with the Local Authority.


The Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children (Hillingdon)/ CNWL Interim Head of Safeguarding Children noted that they worked with all children’s services when they had safeguarding concerns and delivered training to staff. They line managed the MASH Health Practitioner within Hillingdon. There was lots of interaction with MASH and these services used the Stronger Families Hub a lot. The Named Nurse further noted the initial teething problems but that they were pleased with the work of the Stronger Families Hub.


The Assistant Director for Safeguarding Adults, Safeguarding Children and Children Looked After at CNWL NHS North West London worked in close collaboration will all health services including Primary Care, Primary Medical Care, Acute Trusts and Community Trusts. Part of their role was to ensure that health colleagues were discharging their safeguarding responsibilities appropriately. The Stronger Families Hub  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.


Annual Education Standards pdf icon PDF 1 MB




The Interim Service Manager – Education Partnerships and School Improvement introduced the item on Annual Education Standards. It was noted that outcomes had depressed nationally in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was highlighted that there was some strong performance among Early Years, however there were concerns around performance at Key Stage 5, especially in A Level results and especially when compared to other London Boroughs, although this was again in line with the national picture. There was an element of reverting back to pre-COVID performance levels, although there was also a national issue around attendance, which had knock-on effects on outcomes.


Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) numbers were referenced, and it was noted that there was good information sharing with schools, as well as a partnership with the London Borough of Ealing. It was noted that there were currently just over 100 NEETs, however there were lots of unknowns, for example where young people may have left the Borough but were still identified as unknown. It was noted that more capacity was needed as some staff were currently borrowed from the DWP. Mental health issues leading to young people becoming NEET was highlighted, and this was linked to the capacity issues and being able to hold conversations earlier in the academic year.


Members referenced page 7 of the report, which stated that 56 childminders had resigned from the sector since the start of the pandemic and asked about the impact this had had. Officers noted that some young people were difficult to engage with, and this this was in part due to COVID-19, but schools were doing all that was expected of them to this end.


It was further noted that officers were tracking numbers of exclusions and suspensions, and reached out to schools where these numbers were high. Reference was made to the inclusion toolkit for early intervention and ensuring that the right steps were taken.


Members asked about the role of the Council in monitoring and evaluation and stepping in. Reference was made to previous questions submitted by the Committee for which answers were forthcoming.


Officers referenced the school improvement approach and the three-tier approach of universal, targeted and intensive. It was noted that this depended on the school type and for academies, the process would have instead involved the Regional Schools Commissioner. There were regular meetings with the CEOs of multi-academy trusts (MATs). Two new School Improvement Partners (known as Education Advisors in Hillingdon) had been appointed, and there was a Primary and Secondary Lead. 16 schools were listed on the Council’s Schools At Risk Register at the end of 2021/22; this comprised of 8 academy schools and 8 maintained schools. It was noted here that concerns could be educational or financial.


Further to this, Members referenced section 1.6 Performance Outcomes of the report, and it was noted that there was a Regional Schools Commissioner for academies. Some schools were within Single Academy Trusts which presented challenges.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.


Ukrainian Children Update pdf icon PDF 181 KB




The Corporate Director of Central Services introduced the report on the Ukrainian Children Update. The Corporate Director of Central Services coordinated an officer group comprising a range of services, such as Children’s Services, Adult Social Care, Counter Fraud and Housing with a view to placing guests with vetted hosts. Over the past year, officers had been working with the voluntary sector to help, for example, register with GPs, to obtain school places, and to connect with other Ukrainians. The focus had also turned to adult learning and preparation for work and other employment opportunities. It was highlighted that schools had been provided with information and access to the LEAP digital platform, and that officers had responded to needs including psychological needs, and the Virtual School had helped with the placement of refugee children and with help for non-English speakers.


There was also the intention here of avoiding children becoming NEET and that the Council had access to grant funding based on head count. Support had also turned to achieving educational outcomes, and it was noted that Ukrainians were not saturated in specific schools. A cluster model had been employed and met the needs of both the individual and the school. Internal services were all involved in this process, to identify any red flags, and to identify any issues at an early stage. It was noted here that some websites were available in Ukrainian.


Members asked about how targeted support was measured, and officers noted that it was too early to say at this point, although a further report could be brought to a future Committee.


Members highlighted the difference between Ukrainian children placed under the Homes for Ukrainians scheme, as opposed to those that were not placed under the scheme. Officers noted that this related to the type of visa and to funding. Funding was received for those placed under the scheme only. In November 2022, Hillingdon had received notification of a grant of £712,896 for the integration of Ukrainian children into schools and the wider community on arrival into the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. The grant funding was to be distributed throughout 2023/24 on a needs basis.


Members put on record their support for Ukraine. Member asked about numbers of bi-lingual officers; about how the Council was supporting those who had suffered bereavements; and about the partnership with Wealdstone FC. Officers noted that there was a shortfall of bi-lingual officers, but this was not seen as an issue as there were other avenues/ networks to deal with this; there was an educational psychology service and health services available for help with bereavement, and officers were making schools aware of this; and the partnership with Wealdstone FC offered places for children to attend training events and to watch matches.


Members asked about preparations for longer-term arrangements and plans for more integration. Officers noted that arrangements were being made for the next financial year with a focus on integration and re-settlement. There  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74.


Corporate Parenting Panel minutes of 24 January 2023 pdf icon PDF 219 KB


CPP MINUTES (Agenda Item 8)


Officers noted that the minutes of the Corporate Parenting Panel held on 24 January 2023 had come to the Select Committee for noting.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the minutes of the Corporate Parenting Panel.



Corporate Parenting Panel Terms of Reference Update pdf icon PDF 177 KB




Officers highlighted the two updates which the Corporate Parenting Panel wished to make to their Terms of Reference. These updates were brought to the Select Committee for their approval.


RESOLVED: That the Committee:


1.    Noted the contents of the report; and


2.    Approved the updates to the Corporate Parenting Panel’s Terms of Reference



Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 217 KB


FORWARD PLAN (Agenda Item 10)


Members asked about the Early Years item and whether the Select Committee would be consulted. It was confirmed under the Work Programme item that Cabinet may agree to consult on the ‘Hillingdon 0-19 years core offer to children, young people and their families’ and on the ‘Hillingdon's Youth Offer and Delivery Model’. If Cabinet agreed to consult on these items, the Select Committee would be part of the consultations and so these items had been provisionally placed on the Work Programme for June 2023.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the Forward Plan



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 181 KB


WORK PROGRAMME (Agenda Item 11)


Members clarified the above. Officers noted that the SEND Strategy Update had been added for June 2023. The Twice-Yearly School Place Planning report had moved from April and September to July and November at officers’ request in order to provide better information to Committee. Members asked if the Youth Offer report would include information from, for example, any third-party groups, as opposed to a Council-only view. Officers noted that the report that may be considered for consultation by Cabinet was on Hillingdon’s Youth Offer. In terms of the wider offer, which included the Youth Directory of Services, this would not come to Committee in June, but could be scheduled at a later Committee.


RESOLVED: That the Committee considered the report.