Agenda and minutes

Children, Families and Education Select Committee - Wednesday, 15th November, 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 Kamal Kaur substituting.


Apologies were received from Councillor Tony Gill with Councillor June Nelson substituting.


Apologies were also received from Councillor Kishan Bhatt.



Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting





Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 304 KB


Members commended 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


Review topics pdf icon PDF 310 KB


Members heard from a number of senior officers on the topics of:

·         Court system/ social work: The Children’s Court and Legal System

·         County Lines and Youth Justice

·         Communication with schools

·         The number of children arriving in the country and staying in hotels and how their access to education is impacted

·         Absenteeism in schools: statutory school age children in Hillingdon


The Chair thanked officers for attending the Committee to help Members to gain a further insight into each of the topic areas. Members were asked to note that some of the briefing notes were marked as confidential.


Children's court system

The Assistant Director for Permanence and Specialist Services noted that the court system falls within this remit.


As a Local Authority, Hillingdon had a statutory obligation in terms of safeguarding children, assessing risk, and putting support in place. The process started with early intervention, and then progressed as the risk escalated. If services were not working in the intended manner, legal proceedings were the last resort option where all other possibilities had been exhausted.


The process would start with early intervention, move to a Child Protection (CP) plan if necessary, and then through the legal route via the Public Law Outline (PLO) if the risk could not be managed.


There were pre-proceedings and care proceedings. Pre-proceedings were where families were given the opportunity to work with officers to try to avoid final escalation into the court arena/ legal proceedings. This also allowed parents to get legal representation in order to try to reduce the risk that had been identified. Pre-proceedings also involved detailed assessments and work expectations from both the social services department as well as parents/ family members. Involving all family members helped to explore other possibilities, not just alternate care, but also in terms of support. Assessments may include specialist assessments such as psychological assessments, parenting assessments. Parent Assess was a new assessment which helped families where there was an element of learning needs or disabilities.


Generally, a Public Law Outline (PLO) would last around three months, pre-proceedings would be around three months. There was a possibility for ‘purposeful delay’, but this needed to be planned and focused.


Before moving into the court arena/ legal proceedings, a meeting was held with parents and their representatives to inform them what the Local Authority’s intentions were, what their rights were and what the remit of the proceedings were. This involved the Local Authority pulling together all the information and assessments and presenting this in a statement to the court. This needed to evidence the risk, the harm, what support had been put in place, and where the gaps were. The Local Authority had to consider what was the best option to safeguard children and will look at the Nolan Principles in terms of the Childcare Act.


The Local Authority could ask for a supervision order where children remained within the family home if the risk was not imminent. The Local Authority could ask for an interim care order which would look  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


SEND Strategy - TO FOLLOW pdf icon PDF 778 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair noted their appreciation for the document's comprehensive nature, emphasising the "how to achieve each ambition" section's effectiveness.


The Director of Education and SEND presented the report, detailing its significance and importance, particularly regarding the review of feedback since the previous version was brough to the Select Committee in November 2022. The approach involved considering residents' and schools' input, indicating an attempt to address feedback constructively rather than in a tokenistic manner. It was highlighted that this was a local area approach, not a Council strategy.


Officers highlighted a shift in the strategy's approach, aiming to be more ambitious and having listened closely to the voices of children, families, and professionals involved in SEND. Emphasising the importance of children's perspectives, efforts had been made to capture their experiences and opinions on early interventions and the flexibility of support within school settings.


This strategy had been scrutinised and positively received by the SEND Executive Partnership Board, reflecting collaboration among various stakeholders (including Health and Social care, education, parents/ careers, and voluntary organisations). However, challenges arose from schools, citing concerns about increasing levels of inclusion and the pressures to adapt to varying needs, leading to a discussion about finding a balance between inclusive practices and acknowledging the challenges faced by schools.


In summary, the five ambitions were:


1.    The right support, at the right time, in the right place: this was about early intervention and meeting need earlier. For example, young people fed back that they felt they should not need an EHCP in order to get support. Also, not all children wanted a Teaching Assistant supporting them.

2.    Fully inclusive education for all

3.    Provision meets the needs of Hillingdon’s children and young people: this involved looking at the spectrum of provision – not just special school places, but also in mainstream schools, SRPs and designated units. It was noted that young people were positive about SRPs.

4.    Children and young people live happy and fulfilled lives where they are included in the community: this referred to outcomes outside of education. It was typically quite difficult for families with children with particularly complex SEND to access clubs, and so this ambition aimed to assist with this.

5.    There is a flexible offer and range of interventions available for children to access Alternative Provision: this was important because there was pressure on schools which could lead to disruption and exclusions, so this ambition aimed to avoid exclusions where possible. This would provide outreach and inreach as well as alternative provision places.


The discussion revolved around the SEND strategy's ambitious goals and the importance of translating these ambitions into tangible outcomes. Members highlighted the importance of monitoring the strategy's outcomes. Concerns were voiced about funding, suitability of placements, and varying percentages of EHCPs (Education, Health, and Care Plans) across schools. There was a shared consensus on the necessity to closely monitor the strategy's progress and outcomes.


Officers acknowledged these concerns, assuring a monitoring system through priority groups around each ambition within the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Draft minutes from the Corporate Parenting Panel - TO FOLLOW


Officers informed Members that prior to the meeting, the Chair had agreed to defer this item to the next meeting, due to the short timeframe in between the Corporate Parenting Panel and Select Committee meetings. This would enable officers to receive feedback/ amendments to the minutes before they were presented to the Select Committee.


RESOLVED: That the Children, Families and Education Select Committee deferred this item to the next meeting.



Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 237 KB

Additional documents:


Consideration was given to the Forward Plan.


The Chair noted that the previous major review report on the Stronger Families Hub had been presented to, and recommendations agreed at, November Cabinet.


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



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Additional documents:


Members considered the Work Programme.


Members noted that the possible review topic of engagement with schools could be a future Part II item.


Members further noted that ‘in-year admissions to secondary schools’ and associated difficulties could be a future agenda item.


RESOLVED: That the Children, Families and Education Select Committee considered the report and agreed any amendments