Meeting documents

Venue: Mezzanine Room 1, County Hall, Aylesbury. View directions

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No. Item


Apologies for absence

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Apologies were received from Mr D Babb, Mr M Hussain, Mrs W Mallen and Mr B Roberts.


A change of membership was noted. Mrs M Aston is no longer a Member of the committee.


Declarations of Interest

To declare any Personal or Dislosable Pecuniary Interests.

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Mr S Lambert stated that he had two non-pecuniary interests. He was a member of the review group for early help and the Home to School transport working group.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 177 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 2nd October 2018.

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The minutes of the last meeting held on the 2nd October 2018 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the chairman with two amendments:


·       Miss Callaghan gave a verbal update on an agreed action – she stated that they had investigated whether reported technical issues had any impact on recent 11+ test results. The provider had confirmed that all tests were fair and equitable, so no further action was required.

·       The chairman reported that an internal staff member had contacted the committee and informed that EHCP assessments don’t have to happen consecutively, but that they can happen concurrently. Mr Appleyard agreed this to be the case.


Chairman's Report

For the chairman of the Committee to provide an update to the Committee on recent scrutiny related activity.

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The chairman informed that there had been a recent attempt to gain Parent Governor Representatives from maintained Schools and from Roman Catholic Schools, which had been unsuccessful. He encouraged parent governors to apply. There would be another attempted election in the New Year.


Members of the Committee had recently visited the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). The chairman was pleased to report that all Senior Management posts appeared to be occupied by permanent staff and there were positive efforts to improve working practices. He noted that the committee had only spoken to the Head of Service and hadn’t yet spoken to front-line staff. A series of visits to front-line staff across the county would be set up and attended in the New Year.


Committee Member Updates

For members of the Committee to update the Committee on any issue they are investigating on behalf of the Committee.

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There were none, however, Members requested that they received adequate notice to be able to attend meetings with front-line staff in the New Year and that they would like to speak with the full multi-agency team at those meetings. The chairman


Public Questions pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Public Questions is an opportunity for people who live, work or study in the county to put a question to a Scrutiny Committee about any issue that has an impact on their local community or the county as a whole.


Members of the public, who have given prior notice, will be invited to put their question in person.


The Cabinet Member and responsible officers will then be invited to respond. 


Further information and details on how to register can be found through the following link and by then clicking on ‘Public Questions’.

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A local parent asked two questions:

·       Why drop in sessions for the home to School transport had not been held during the day, which had restricted attendance for parents who struggle with childcare issues?

·       Why subsequent dates for SEND children had not been included initially and had not been well-advertised?


In response to the questions, Mr Appleyard and Miss Callaghan informed:

·       That they believed they had good representation from parents of SEND children.

·       That no changes would be made to statutory home to school transport arrangements.

·       That they would facilitate more drop-in sessions if there was demand for them.

·       Parents could send ‘free text’ comments through the current online consultation, which would be considered prior to decision-making.

·       That more drop-in sessions were planned for different representative groups of parents in the near future.

·       That all consultation drop-ins would be advertised through the website and various partnerships, such as Schools and FACT (Families and Children Together).

·       That concerned parents could contact Mr Appleyard and Miss Callaghan directly in order to receive a response.



Home to School Transport Consultation pdf icon PDF 162 KB

To seek Member's views and answer questions relating to the proposed changes to Buckinghamshire's Home to School Transport policy.



Mr Mike Appleyard - Cabinet Member for Education & Skills

Mr Tolis Vouyioukas - Executive Director for Children’s Services

Miss Sarah Callaghan – Service Director for Education

Ms Tracey Lawrence – SEN Programme Manager 

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Mr Appleyard informed that there had been 11 meetings and that he believed parents understood the need to reduce the current spend on non-statutory home to School transport. He assured that they would continue to listen to parental concerns and take them into consideration. Public decisions were due to be announced in March 2019. He reiterated that only post-16 SEN transport would be considered within the consultation and that parents would be likely to be asked for a contribution towards cost. He stated that Buckinghamshire County Council provide extremely generous help with home to School transport in comparison to other Local Authorities. In response to questions from Members of the Committee he informed:

·       That they were aware of parental concerns and had sight of many emails alerting them to issues with public transport routes

·       That there would be a careful and phased transfer of services which will be monitored over a period of years

·       That Buckinghamshire County Council would be happy to accommodate parents organising their own combined transport arrangements, however, based on experience these had been unsuccessful and led to urgent interventions when the arrangements fell apart

·       That Buckinghamshire County Council’s own transport provision had experienced the same level of mechanical issues and reliability as public bus services

·       That all changes to arrangements would be made carefully


In response to committee Member questions Miss Callaghan reassured that:

·       The statutory transport for SEND children would not be changed and wasn’t part of the consultation

·       Buckinghamshire County Council would be promoting children’s independence and assisting to develop life skills by offering travel training, encouraging use of available college bursaries for travel and improving the needs assessments

·       That they aimed to reduce the vast amount of route duplication between public and School transport routes, reduce child safety issues and increase cost efficiency


The Chairman welcomed Mr Robson, Head of Integrated Transport, to the meeting. Mr Robson informed Members that all public and School transport routes had been mapped out and that they would be creating a more robust system which reduced duplication and dealt with existing transportation problems experienced by both School children and the general public. He stated that stakeholder events had been positively received and that they would focus on a phased approach which considered safe collection and drop off points.


Mr Vouyioukas encouraged Members of the Committee to be involved with the Members group which shapes the consultation, to ensure the offer is right for all School children within Buckinghamshire.


Cabinet Member Question Time pdf icon PDF 86 KB

For the Committee to ask Cabinet Members questions on current key issues for their portfolios.


I.                Mr M Appleyard, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills


II.              Mr W Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services



This agenda item will also include an update on the performance of the Educational Psychology Service.


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Miss Callaghan delivered an update on behalf of the Educational Psychology service. She informed that they had dealt with twice the number of EHCP’s, that they had issued contracts to transfer agency staff to the associate model. In response to Member questions she stated that:

·       There had been ongoing capacity issues but they would shortly be appointing an interim Principal EP

·       The service could be more proactive in anticipating periods of high volume referrals

·       The service’s priority had been to catch up with statutory assessments and there would be a shift to preventative work once this is completed, which would alleviate pressure on the service

·       Many EP’s were part time due to the fact BCC was a flexible employer

·       They had quality-checked assessments which locum EP’s submit and that they had distributed clear SLA’s and expectations of quality

·       They intended to transfer the existing 9 locum EP contracts to associate contracts by January.

In response to concerns about BCC not being an attractive place for EP’s to work, Mr Vouyioukas reassured that it was an attractive place to work, that agency staff were low and that the service was fortunate to have an interim Principal EP starting soon.


Ms Wood asked for an update about Penn School and was informed that BCC had not contributed to the free School application due to not wanting to put additional strain on existing budget pressures.


Mr Whyte provided an update about Youth voice’s representation at a recent full council meeting and looked after children’s representation on the corporate parenting panel, which had given the Council insight into issues affecting these groups. He encouraged participation in the current early help and short breaks consultations and discussed national challenges to deliver children’s services. He told Members that he had informed the Children’s Minister of current demand and demand pressures.


Members of the committee commended Mr Whyte on his consultation, stating that it had been well-publicised and they had listened to the general public. In response to questions Mr Whyte stated that:

·       Children in care and care leavers’ NEET figures had been good compared to neighbouring authorities. The social care and transitions teams would be ensuring that these children accessed all opportunities available to them

·       National Adoption week had assisted the service to inspire interest in finding forever homes for children who needed them   

Mr Vouyioukas informed that in-house capacity had risen and, where possible, the service placed children with connected people as children tended to do better within these placements.




Ofsted Improvement Plan Phase 2 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

For Members to be updated on progress of the delivery of the Council's Ofsted Improvement Plan, which is now moving into Phase 2.



Mr Warren Whyte – Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

Mr Richard Nash – Service Director for Children’s Social Care

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Mr Whyte, Mr Vouyioukas and Mr Nash updated Members about the actions which had been completed during phase 1 of the Ofsted improvement plan and of intended actions during phase 2. Mr Whyte informed that phase 1 had consisted of auditing and implementing urgent improvements, while phase 2 would focus on driving changes and improving outcomes for children in Buckinghamshire.


Mr Vouyioukas stated that a high level action plan had been devised and the senior management team had been in place for 6 months. His focus would be on assisting and improving performance and competencies of front-line managers, which would ensure that they deliver good supervision to workers beneath them. The new quality framework would produce learning opportunities for all staff across various divisions and would deliver on recommendations from Ofsted. Mr Lambert commended them for the clear report which had been provided to the committee.


In response to questions from Members, they confirmed:

·       A current review of CATCH would improve the prospects of children remaining with their families where it was safe to do so.

·       Hampshire’s involvement equated to fresh eyes and guidance. That it had provided challenging as well as support

·       That there would always be an opportunity to learn, work cooperatively and information share between Local Authorities, regardless of Ofsted rating, as this improves working practices.


Members thanked children’s services for all of their hard work  


Committee work programme


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Members noted the future work programme. Future agenda items for the meeting on 15th January 2018 were agreed to be:


·       The Q2 performance report

·       Ofsted monitoring report update

·       Buckinghamshire Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (BLSCB) annual update


A work programming workshop is to be held in the New Year to develop the annual work programme for 2019/20


Date of Next Meeting

To note the next meeting of the Children’s Select Committee on 15th January 2019 in Mezzanine 1, County Hall, Aylesbury.

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The next meeting will take place on 15th January 2018 at 10:30am, in Mezzanine 1, County Hall, Aylesbury