Agenda and minutes

Children, Families and Education Select Committee - Tuesday, 19th September, 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 Peter Smallwood with Councillor Philip Corthorne substituting. Apologies were also received from Councillor Rita Judge with Councillor Kamal Kaur substituting.



Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting





Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 297 KB


Members thanked officers for the additional information supplied on the previous Select Committee’s Twice Yearly School Places Planning agenda item.


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


Mid-Year Budget/ Budget Planning Report pdf icon PDF 355 KB


Officers presented the mid-year budget/ budget planning report for items within the remit of the Children, Families and Education Select Committee.


It was noted that this was the first appearance at the Select Committee for the new budget cycle. The consultation budget would be presented to Cabinet in December 2023, and would come back to the Select Committee as part of the consultation in January 2024, before being fed back to Cabinet in February 2024.


For 2023/24, the Council was forecasting a net underspend of £23k, with the services with the remit of the Children, Families and Education Select Committee underspending by £174k. This was being driven by a reduction in for Looked After Children through an improved mix of service delivery alongside staffing underspends.


There were £1.4M of savings to be delivered in 2023/24. £774k of this was designated as ‘Amber II – potential problems in delivery’:

£229k for SEND Transport Management;

£130k for Early Years Centres; and

£415k related to Fees and Charges uplifts.

Most of these were recorded at Amber II due to the difference between the financial year and the academic year.


The school’s budget was forecast to overspend by £4.5M, with this being wholly driven by the high needs block where funding had not kept pace with inflation and demand.  


On the Medium-Term Financial Forecast (MTFF), in February 2023, the Council’s saving requirement up to 2027/28 was estimated to be £55.4M, with the single largest factor being exceptional inflation, with this adding £60M to the budget gap. Within the remit of this Select Committee, the main inflation drivers were contracted spend for care provision and SEND Transport, with these two areas accounting for £7.8M of the £60M requirement.


Service pressures were forecast to be £23M, up to 2027/28, predominantly driven by demographic growth within the Borough, with £7.7M of this related to services within the remit of this Committee:

£3.7M for demand for Looked After Children;

£3.2M for SEND Transport;

£0.6M for Asylum Services; and

£0.2M for Children with Disabilities


In terms of the Council’s wider budget strategy, Corporate Items were adding just under £12M to the Council’s savings requirement, with £6.5M of this related to the Capital Programme and £4.1M related to Transport for London Concessionary Fares which was related to the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Officers were going to continue to assess the budget gap prior to December Cabinet, with inflation remaining high, and the demand for Council services being linked to the cost-of-living crisis. Officers will also be looking for ways to reduce Council expenditure through efficiency gains while protecting front-line services.


Members referenced the new and emerging risks and noted that the Committee’s current major review was looking at the Stronger Families Hub, during which witnesses had expressed the need for more resources. With this in mind, Members asked whether this had been taken into account within the current budget setting. Officers noted that as part of analysis of the budget gap, officers looked at the three main drivers:

Inflation;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Children's Safeguarding Partnership Annual Report pdf icon PDF 11 MB


The report set out the work of the Safeguarding Adults Board and the Children’s Safeguarding Partnership for the year 2022/23. It provided an overview of how the partnership had strived to continuously improve safeguarding practices and how they had worked across the multi-agency network to keep children and adults safe.


The vision of the partnership was that every child and young people is safe; that they feel safe; that they enjoy good physical, emotional and mental health; that they can take pride in their unique identities; and that they can feel that they belong and have opportunities to thrive.


The Safeguarding Partnership was made up of the three statutory partners: the police; the Local Authority; and the Integrated Care Board. They each had an equal responsibility for safeguarding within the Borough and made up the Executive Leadership Group. The Children’s Safeguarding Partnership and the Safeguarding Adults Board reported to the same Executive Leadership Group.


On an annual basis, the Executive Leadership Group commissioned independent scrutiny where an external expert provided an independent review around the work being done. On the work on contextual safeguarding – risks that young people face in the community – no areas of poor practise in service provision for adolescents at risk of harm were found. Strong leadership was identified from the leadership group.


One of the areas of focus in the past year was ensuring that the voice of the child and the voice of the adult was effectively sought.


The partnership had its very first children’s annual report. This was the culmination of a several months-long piece of work that included a co-produced quality assurance that sought to understand the experience of children and adults who received a safeguarding service in Hillingdon.


On the children’s report, children were asked questions such as: ‘how do you feel?’; ‘do you feel listened to?’; ‘what is going well?’; ‘what can we do to make things better?’; ‘what worries you or makes you feel unsafe?’; and ‘what can we do to change it?’. Children reported that they could tell when professionals were going above and beyond. Children also commented on the impact of awareness raising work such as Child Exploitation Awareness Day. Children identified that all childcare professionals should have mandatory training to understand what it is like to be a young person. Walking in Our Shoes training was noted. Meaningful engagement and early intervention were important. Children would like to see more life skills in schools and wanted improved youth provision. Peer mentors was suggested as a possibility.


Each Board had a variety of priority areas of focus. The multi-agency sub-group used a simple framework of prevention, identification and response. Over the past year, the partnership had progressed work within the safeguarding sub-group, including the launch of the contextual safeguarding strategy and the education inclusion toolkit, which was designed to support education professionals to recognise where a child's behaviour might be indicative of an unmet need and to then be able to access support for that need.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.


Policy Review Discussion and Guidance pdf icon PDF 317 KB


Members suggested a number of potential topics for the next major review. These included:


a)    Absenteeism in schools and related problems in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and its recovery (lessons to learn/ practices to adopt);

b)    Statutory pathways/ court system/ social work. How social workers work with the legal system;

c)    Youth Justice System/ numbers of secondary school children involved in County Lines;

d)    Children not in education/ permanent exclusions;

e)    Mental health;

f)     School standards/ improving communication with schools;

g)    Increase in cyber-bullying of young people and its links to mental health;

h)    Social media and its links to mental health; and

i)     Impact on mainstream schools of additional SEND places


RESOLVED: That the Committee:


1.    Noted the guidance on undertaking policy review in Appendix 1;


2.    Sought to make use of the scorecard attached in Appendix 1 (Annex A) to assess any policy review topic ideas;


3.    Developed a single or shortlist of potential topic ideas over the coming months or year for officers to scope further and report back to the Committee on feasibility; and


4.    Delegated to the Democratic Services officer, in conjunction with the Chairman (and in consultation with the Opposition Lead) any further agreement on review topic selection as required


Final Review Report Agreement


Members considered the final draft of the current review into the Stronger Families Hub. Members thanked everyone involved in putting the report together.


Members suggested some amendments to the wording of recommendation three, to include reference to comments made by the witnesses.


RESOLVED: That the Committee delegated to the Democratic Services Officer, in conjunction with the Chairman and in consultation with the Opposition Lead, the amendment of the wording of the recommendations.



Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 237 KB

Additional documents:


Members considered the Cabinet Forward Plan.


Members noted an item coming to the 12 October Cabinet meeting on School Admission Arrangements. Noting that the Select Committee meeting was the 10 October, Members asked if the Select Committee would have an audit of the schools whose admission arrangements would be changed. Officers would review this and come back to Members.


Members also noted an item coming to the 09 November Cabinet meeting on DPS for Alternative Provision – Education and SEND. Members asked if an update on this could be added to the Work Programme.


RESOLVED: That the Children, Families and Education Select Committee noted the Forward Plan



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Additional documents:


It was noted that at the recent Cabinet meeting, it was suggested that the Select Committee add a one-year review on the 0-19 family hubs strategy. Members suggested the same for the Youth Offer strategy.


Members further suggested inviting the Youth Council to a Select Committee meeting, with a view to getting their thoughts on the Youth Offer.


It was confirmed that an item on DPS for Alternative Provision – Education and SEND would be added to the Work Programme.


RESOLVED: That the Committee:


1.    Noted the Work Programme; and


2.    Added an item on DPS for Alternative Provision – Education and SEND to the Work Programme