Agenda and minutes

Children, Families and Education Select Committee - Tuesday, 18th April, 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 Rita Judge with Councillor Raju Sansarpuri substituting.



Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting





Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 265 KB


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.



Adult and Community Learning Review 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 1 MB


During 2020-2021 the Adult and Community Learning Service was reviewed by the former Residents, Education and Environmental Services Policy and Overview Committee, and the final report was submitted to Cabinet in November 2021. The current item provided the Committee with an update following this review. The final report made five recommendations to Cabinet. These were:


1.    That Cabinet recognises the good work and improvisation of the HACL service during the recent COVID pandemic and notes the new ways of working identified and underway.

2.    That the service be rebranded to ‘Hillingdon ACE’ (Adult & Community Education), supported by a communications campaign to support a ‘soft relaunch’ of the service to stimulate demand and uptake of courses.

3.    That the service continues with the new ways of working identified as a result of the pandemic, including increased use of technology, support for blended learning, instigation of new courses, and increased interdepartmental and partnership working via new processes.

4.    That officers continue lobbying the GLA to increase their grant funding allocation, in conjunction with the Cabinet Member for Families, Education and Wellbeing, and also investigate other funding or lobbying options.

5.    That Council continues to review and develop oversight and scrutiny, and includes an annual report to the Families, Education and Wellbeing Select Committee and Cabinet Member (inclusive of feedback from learners and tutors).


On recommendation four, Members asked what the Multiply project was. Officers clarified that this was a project that had gone out through the Further Education route, designed to aid adults with numeracy skills. There had been an opportunity for top providers to offer an expression of interest in delivering the project, which was picked up quickly by the service. Funding of almost £300,000 over three years from August 2022 to July 2025 was received, which would help upskilling with numeracy skills, including every day, functional maths. Members further asked if Hillingdon had sought this grant, or if it had been given to all Councils. Officers clarified that this was a rare opportunity to apply for increased grant finding, so the service had applied quickly for it. It was noted that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and Greater London Authority (GLA) were funded by the Department for Education (DfE).


In terms of potential upcoming bids, officers noted the holiday activities and food programme. Officers were running the food element and this was linked to Marcus Rashford’s campaign for increasing the provision of free school meals. Following the move from the Brookfield site to the Civic Centre, a new kitchen facility was available for use. Over Easter, eight families came in to learn skills around cooking. The families were provided with resources covering, for example, growing a vegetable patch. Officers noted help from the Youth Service in this. Furthermore, a potential capital bid was noted.


Members further noted that they knew the service was functioning well (and the December 2019 Ofsted report validated this). Members asked if the transition to a more digital service had been well received, noting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 83.


Stronger Families Hub review: Early Findings pdf icon PDF 399 KB


The Chairman outlined the progress of the review to date including the five witness sessions held so far. The first witness session outlined the work of the Stronger Families Hub. The second and third heard testimonies from young people and their parents who had used the service. The fourth heard from staff at the Hub and the fifth heard from health partners. It was noted that a sixth witness session with education representatives was still to be arranged. The current meeting was aimed at considering findings, conclusions and early draft recommendations.


Members asked how the Stronger Families Hub was supporting women from ethnic minority backgrounds, specifically non-English speakers. It was clarified that this could be looked into outside of the meeting.


Members also asked about the suggestion, from witness session four (the voice of providers), of a larger out of hours MASH Team, and whether this was a want or a need. Members further clarified that this appeared to be a necessity, as this would, for example, aid in covering staff absence through illness. This was also a necessity due to the service becoming 24 hours. A team of 12-15 staff members would be beneficial. Members further suggested that there was an apparent fragility to the out of hours team, and that they were vulnerable to a staff shortage.


Members noted that the review will, in itself, promote the service of the Stronger Families Hub, and this would likely lead to an increase in its usage. As the team was understaffed currently an increase in demand would add further to staffing pressures. It was noted here that some internal covering of staff was already necessary, and that the Hub could function better with more capacity. Members noted here that the review’s recommendations to Cabinet had to be mindful of finance. However, the professionals had been clear in informing the Committee of what they needed.


Members noted that there was currently not enough awareness of the Stronger Families Hub, especially within schools and out-of-Borough schools. Also, further information was needed on how the process worked. One of the primary functions of the Hub was early identification, which could lead to an avoidance of the increase in the severity of issues experienced by families.


Members highlighted work with harder-to-reach community groups. Using community leaders to promote the Hub was suggested. Members also highlighted the importance of mental health provision and its links to schools. Members noted that there was good signposting for, for example, Looked After Children, but that the signposting for one-off cases, such as young parents, was less effective.


Members noted that the CAMHS referral pathway was the topic of a major review by the Health and Social Care Select Committee and suggested liaising with that Select Committee in relation to CAMHS.


Members noted the enthusiasm from the staff and health partners to make the Stronger Families Hub service work, and that this should be noted in the final report. Members questioned if there should be a clarification around the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 84.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 217 KB


Members asked about how the Committee can know if/ when it can make comments on specific Cabinet reports before the item is considered at Cabinet. Officers noted that they would look into this and come back to Members.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the Forward Plan



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 181 KB


Members raised the that the minutes of the previous meeting noted the possibility of the Committee receiving an audit of SEND children by school and an audit of asylum-seeking children by school. Members questioned if these could be received as future agenda items. Member asked about having an agenda item on the school’s capital programme.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the Work Programme